31/07/2012 17:09 | By Stuart Dredge, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Bubble Witch Saga: app of the day

Popular social bubble-popping game makes the leap to iPhone and iPad.

Bubble Witch Saga (© Bubble Witch Saga)

What is it?
An addictive casual game that sees you firing bubbles at other bubbles to create matches that then disappear, while competing against Facebook friends.

Coolest feature
The social element is the key, as you strive to overtake those friends on high-score tables, while bragging about your best scores on the social network.

iPhone / iPad - Freemium

Bubble Witch Saga has been one of the hot things in Facebook gaming in recent months, despite its gameplay being distinctly old-school - by which I mean familiar to anyone who's played a Puzzle Bobble / Bust-a-Move console game.

King.com's revamp of the bubble-popping genre has attracted more than 40 million players since launching on Facebook, and at the time of writing it's the fifth most popular game on the social network.

Now it's gone mobile, for iPhone and iPad. The game and its social features remain the same, but players can now get popping wherever they go.

The plot, such as it is, concerns witches seeking your help to "fend off the dark spirits that are plaguing the country". It's not something you'll think about often, once enmeshed in the business of popping bubbles.

As with Puzzle Bobble, you do this by aiming coloured bubbles from your cauldron at the bottom of the screen at other bubbles hanging from the top. Make matches of three or more, and they'll disappear, which if you're playing strategically, can often make others drop down.

There's more to the gameplay than this: spiders at the bottom of the screen and pots into which balls fall to boost your score, and power-ups - potions and charms - to boost your strategy. Fail a level, and you lose one of your hearts (you start with five).

The game has more than 150 levels to pop your way through, arranged on a map. You're scored on each level with one, two or three stars, Angry Birds-style, with a running star total indicating your progress through the game.

Bubble Witch Saga (© Bubble Witch Saga)

This being a freemium game, there is lots of stuff you can pay for: extra hearts, extra balls if you're in danger of not finishing a level, and virtual coins for the power-ups.

You don't have to buy anything - one heart gets replenished every half an hour, for example, and you get 20,000 coins just for connecting your Facebook account in the first place, while earning them in small amounts for playing.

Bubble Witch Saga is fun, and the bubble-popping gameplay is addictive, just as it was in those older console games that inspired it.

Geekier gamers like this writer may gravitate more towards games like Pocket Planes for their freemium fix on iOS, but if you're one of those 40m Bubble Witch Saga players on Facebook, its mobile version will be a must-download.

4 stars