Format reviewed: Sega Master System
Publisher: Taito Corp.
Developer: Taito Corp.
Submitted by: Lee Tatlock
Ain't it always the way – a boy and a girl, and another boy and a girl are having fun in the wood when a deranged witch snatches the girls and turns the boys into bubble dragons! Bit of a kick in the pants for the boys, but hey now they are wicked cool dragons and have the awesome might of…well…bubbles to help them rescue their beloved lady friends. So can they drag their scaled, washing-up-liquid-drinking, hides through cave after cave of monsters, wind up robots and rock throwers in a bid to get back the loves of their tiny lives? Or will they be slapped daft by the subterranean denizens and send screaming to the password screen? Only you can decide!
This game is an absolute classic and if you haven't already encountered Bubblen and Bobblen (Bub & Bob for short) in this particular game then you're sure to have seen them in one of their many cameos in other Taito titles. The aim of the game is to jump around self contained environments that the booklet calls caves but for most part look like multicoloured acid trips and bear little resemblance to their real world rocky counterparts. While legging it around said environs you will have to dodge and blast enemies with your bubble power and then burst the bubbles they are contained in to get to the juicy goodies inside and move onto the next cave. The more bubbles you manage to burst in a chain the higher your points will be and the better the delectables that burst forth.
In addition to your own bubbles there are various other bubbles that float around certain levels that contain water, and thunder, and other doom bringing elements, and if you burst these nearby enemies will be washed away in a flurry of seething torment! Joy!
There are tons of secret bonuses to be had and not only can you encapsulate the enemies in bubbles and burst them but you can also ride your bubbles for a time to either get out of dodge or get to some glimmering prize that may be out of your reach. Oh, also, one other thing I forgot to mention is that if you are close enough to an enemy when you blow a bubble you will bite them, but this is a risky business and not usually worth the pay off as you'll want to be going for those all important combos.
When you've cleared a certain amount of levels you'll get a password and also you'll have to face a boss or two. Most of these bosses are large, king-like versions of their tiny brethren that infest the massive amount of levels that are on offer. All in all it's a challenging ride but one so addictive and fun you'll be glad you bought the ticket. In addition to all this two player only adds to the fun and longevity of the whole glorious, retro-classic, package.
Graphically it's bright, colourful, functional and nearly a spot-on little clone of it's big arcade brother – which is no mean feat on the SMS. A lot of people claim that not only game play wise but graphically this is one of the closest conversions of the original and I would have to agree. A mighty fine job has been done all round and it all moves at a slick pace. Great job!
As for the sounds effects, well they're bleepy boppy affairs, but the music goes a little like this – STEP ONE – 'Ooh this is nice and cheery' – STEP TWO – 'Dear God, I'm humming that tune in my sleep!' – STEP THREE – 'Sweet vampiric zebra's from Valhalla this music is annoying beyond compare, I never want to hear it again as long as I'm still breathing!' Soon enough I was listening to the Misfits on my MP3 player and getting along with the game just fine again, ah sweet technology.
The controls are as tight as a manager's wallet and smooth as a creamy vanilla slice. As near perfect as perfection can get!
So in conclusion It's a 'classic' for a reason, and it ain't one of those 'cult' classics where only freaks think it's great when in reality it's about as fun as an excursion to Dorothy Perkins with your other half, no sir, this is the real thing and with a near perfect conversion and tight controls beyond belief this is one to grab, hold onto, and never let go of, even if you're drowning or at a funeral. A shimmering diamond in the pantheon of SMS games. So there.
Format reviewed: Famicom Disc System
Submitted by: Mohammed Soussi
This game is simply brilliant, very addictive and fun. I remember the day I bought this game and hurried back home to play it with my cousin – we played on it until midnight with no breaks!!
Taito done very well porting their smash hit Arcade game onto the Famicom Disk System, its a close Arcade conversion. The game uses basic colourful graphics, the sound and theme music go hand in hand with this game. Even though there is just one tune it fits the atmosphere and mood of the game, you never seem to get sick of it. This game is all about progression, as you advance into higher stages the game becomes more difficult and your skill also improves.
Bubble Bobble is a true testament to Taito’s ability to port a hit Arcade game onto the Famicom, a unique platform/puzzle game!
Format reviewed: Commodore 64
Developer: Stephen Ruddy
Submitted by: Al Busby
You know the tune, it dings and blings around in the back of your head as you vainly search for the yellow sweetie, narrowly missing the flung rolling pin of doom. Bubble Bobble on the C64 was fantastic, but not, as I had once believed, as good as I thought it was.
It’s a great conversion – no doubt and Messers Ruddy and Threlfall really did well with regard to collisions, colours, sprites and speed and there are even the hidden extras in there, but, well…
Myself and a friend, fuelled with beer one evening set out, with our limited credits, to fully complete Bub and Bob’s quest. We loved the game, he didn’t mind playing blue and I Pon’d for green. We had all night, no distractions, we were fed and watered and I should point out, around 24 years old and the game was nearly 15 years itself – and we’d never, ever done it, so, we shucked off another can and launched our crusade.
I unequivocally adore this game – the arcade of course is nigh sheer perfection (depending upon which difficulty level the board is set on…) and at still only 10p per credit, well, you’re mad for not hitting the arcade under the Palace Pier, Brighton every weekend, but, well with my beloved C64 conversion – I found faults…
You see, we played that fateful night, taking turns to leap levels utilising the EXTEND function, umbrellas and more, we failed a few times around the 70s, sometimes earlier with our limited credits, but we continued into the morning hours, relentlessly slogging back through the early levels, relentlessly playing Bubble Bobble on my C64, sitting, cross-legged on my bedroom floor. Adults.
And we did it – we survived the hideous space invaders and the ridiculously evil later level design and we found ourselves facing a bloody super-huge rolling pin thrower on LVL 100. Having never reached this point, it took a few moments to work out what to do and we struggled and muddled our way through the boss pattern until finally – he just disappeared!
We’d done it – we’d got to the top of Bubble Bobble. However, this was a short-lived elation, as even though we knew we’d really completed the game, we also knew that we now had to fight our way back down the tower, as in the arcade, to get ourselves and our prize back home again. We glanced sidelong at our lives/credits tally. Not too good.
Thing was, with the C64, that was it – Game Over.
Simultaneously one of the greatest achievements and absolute disappointments of my entire life.
Format reviewed: Arcade
Submitted by: Mat Corne
Bub and Bob's girlfriends have been captured by some big geezer in a white cloak, who has also turned our heroes into unfeasibly cute bubble-blowing dinosaurs. To rescue their sweethearts (and presumably get turned back into unfeasibly cute humans) they must successfully negotiate 100 levels by capturing all enemies on each level in bubbles, and bursting them.
I first played this game in an arcade in around 1987 and have loved it ever since. So much so, in fact, that I have bought a version of it for pretty much every system I have owned – Commodore 64, Sega Master System, Gameboy, PC and finally it was one of the primary reasons for me buying a JAMMA arcade machine. I also have the game’s wonderful theme music as the ringtone on my mobile phone!
Bubble Bobble is incredibly simple to get to grips with – only truly crap gamers won’t get past the first 5 or 6 levels on their first play – but as the levels progress it gets harder and harder, yet never ceases to be playable or addictive. The key to getting big scores is by triggering what at first seems to be the random appearance of power-up and bonus items, and after countless games I recently finally managed to score over a million points on a single credit, and yet only reached level 37 in the process. So 20 years on, there’s still plenty of life left in this game for me!
Bubble Bobble was followed by a number of sequels featuring Bub and Bob, including Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars, Bubble Symphony and Puzzle Bobble, but none of them hold a candle to the original…