Bubble Bobble (NES) Review

By Gabriel Jones 05.12.2016

Review for Bubble Bobble on NES

When it comes to comical action games, there is none more definitive than Bubble Bobble. Wait…What's a "comical action game"? Essentially, they're single-screen platformers. The goal is to get rid of a bunch of monsters. This involves the usage of traits unique to the player character. There's rarely (if ever) a direct approach, like throwing a fireball or swinging a sword. In the arcade classic Mario Bros, the heroes couldn't simply jump on evil turtles. Instead, they had to punch the ceiling underneath them, which caused the floor to knock those creepy reptiles down. It sounds a bit confusing, but it works quite well in practice.

Progressing through this game is simple enough. Bub and Bob are a couple of bubble-spitting dinosaurs. Their bubbles are capable of trapping hapless baddies, which turn them into delicious food when they're popped. Once the brothers defeat all of the enemies, they move onto the next level. Of course, just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy. Death is very easy to come by, considering the multitude of monsters and their love for projectile tossing. The levels get increasingly more complex and harder to traverse. If that wasn't enough, the ghost of a long dead whale starts hunting down anyone who is taking a little too long to get rid of everyone.

The reason why Bubble Bobble is so revered goes far beyond its fun concept and charming characters. This game took it to the next level via a slew of clever ideas. First off, every level is special in its own way. Aside from the structure of the level, the player also has to account for the enemies, and the wind. Depending on the level, the wind can carry bubbles to different locations and at varying speeds. It's a neat aspect that's bound to trip up anyone who isn't paying attention. Bub and Bob can deftly bounce onto bubbles when the jump button is held down. The massive array of handy power-ups lends more flavour to the action. There's also support for two-player co-op. A couple of friends or lovers working through the game can be especially fun. By the way, playing co-op is required in order to see the good ending.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble on NES

Part of what makes a comical action game fascinating is that despite the puzzle elements, it never actually feels like puzzle solving. There's always an immediate focus on the action. Part of the challenge of this game is due to its scoring system. Destroying several enemies at once results in a huge amount of bonus points, along with more valuable foods. The first few levels make it easy by practically lining everyone up for optimal point grabbing. The later levels complicate things immensely, forcing the dinosaurs to come up with solutions in a matter of seconds, and trying not to get killed in the process. While navigating a labyrinth of platforms, the gears in their heads are spinning at overtime. The pacing only lets up in between levels.

The NES port is solid. It captures all of the elements that make the game so good. However, there is one glaring issue and that's the sprites often flicker. This can be attributed to the prevalence of bubbles and enemies, which is sometimes too much for the NES to handle. Other than the minor possibility of not noticing an errant life-ending fireball, this port isn't quite as difficult. The NES version is far more generous with extra lives. Overall, this is a fine port.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble on NES

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Bubble Bobble is an arcade classic. There's so much depth and nuance to the scoring system. For example, players can obtain bonus fruit if the second and third digit of their score matches (330, 770) when the last enemy is destroyed. There are loads of other secrets that lend the game an immeasurable amount of replay value. The whimsical characters are a perfect match for all of the absurdity that happens onscreen. It's also a fantastic two-player game. For NES gamers, it's well worth checking out.

Developer

Taito

Publisher

Taito

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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