Bubble Bobble Revolution (Nintendo DS) Review

By Mike Mason 20.03.2006 6

Rising Star Games are a company that is currently in the process of re-inventing and rejuvenating Taito’s arcade classics – though quite whether they need remaking isn’t clear. Nevertheless, Space Invaders Revolution was their first step in their campaign, but it was not met with critical acclaim by any stretch of the imagination. Now, as Rising Star turns their eye to Bubble Bobble, will they get it right on their second attempt?

Bubble Bobble. Those two words alone likely set thousands, millions of games’ or ex-gamers’ hearts a flitter with joy at the memories. Shame on you if you’re not familiar with this, one of the shining gems of Taito’s arcade crown, and it can perhaps even be considered as one of the best games ever written, nevermind just one of the best arcade games. The tale should be one known to many – two guys, Bub and Bob, are set upon one day by an evil magician, who curses them and turns them into bubble-blowing dinosaurs, while also kidnapping their girlfriends. Not being ones to take things lying down, Bub and Bob vow to get back their beloved ones and remove their curses, despite their new and unfamiliar forms and slightly pathetic special powers.

With this simple (yet utterly bizarre) story set, the game beginneth. In Bubble Bobble Revolution, Rising Star have kindly included both a whole new version of Bubble Bobble, designed especially for the DS, and the original game. The basic play styles remain the same in both – 100 levels, destroy all enemies to move onto the next stage. Enemies are destroyed by blowing bubbles at them and then popping the bubbles that the bad guys get trapped in, or by using special bubbles that unleash elemental effects such as floods of water, rains of fire and strikes of lightning. Oh, and also a scoring system that involves gobbling fruit. All sounds very simple, yeah? That’s because it is – but not necessarily in terms of difficulty.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble Revolution on Nintendo DS

Bubble Bobble has always been a difficult game. With no save feature, players of the original game must play right through in one sitting, the only evidence of their achievements appearing in the high score table. Thankfully, this has been rectified with the New mode, which saves after each level is complete, which you soon find out is pretty essential for this new iteration. Fear not, for the save-less challenge is still whole in Classic mode, as is everything about it; it’s basically a perfect conversion of the arcade original (which also appeared on a number of consoles and computers, included the NES) and still plays as well as it ever did. It’s still a treat in every department, the infectious music tinkling along in note perfect form, taking us right back to our early years. Ah, nostalgia…

Regrettably, though, it’s unlikely that the ‘Revolution’ part of the title is going to be remembered as fondly in 20 years’ time – it might not even be thought of fondly 20 minutes from playing it, indeed. You can see a supreme amount of effort, but it all just feels…wrong, to be frank. The new graphics lose the cute charm of the original sprites, the enemies in particular looking quite horrid now, and the backgrounds often confuse the proceedings in the foreground. The music at least fares a bit better, consisting of remixes of the original theme song, ranging from ‘pretty good’ to ‘nasty’ in fairly equal proportions, but it’s nothing that’s going to really stick in your head like the original theme (which is so great and addictive that parakeets once sung it perfectly upon hearing it emanating from the TV – in this household, that’s a fact!).

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble Revolution on Nintendo DS

It’s all very well wanting to make use of the DS’ unique features – in fact, it’s encouraged by us, definitely. The first thing you think of when thinking of a remake of Bubble Bobble on DS? Dual screens, of course! Potential for huge vertically stacked levels await, how could that go wrong? Refer to this as an example. Oh sure, the levels go vertically across both screens…but why were they made to scroll horizontally as well? There would have been enough space to make some superb fixed-screen levels with the second screen plonked on top as well, but the levels are made bigger. Enemies literally come from nowhere at times and barge into you, taking away some of your energy (the New mode has energy bars as opposed to ‘get hit and you lose a life’ – not a bad idea, but will probably annoy some purists), just because you can’t see them scurrying in horizontally. There’s no use of the touch screen aside a mini-game, happily, but the microphone is used to set off fans that can blow bubbles about. The problem is, none of the DS features’ usages are offensive, some being quite good ideas, but they’re coupled with some design decisions that just undo their hard work. The handling of our little dragon friends can be abysmal too, which doesn’t help matters.

Other additions? Well, some are quite good, as mentioned above. A favourite idea implemented was one of ‘ghosts’ – we weren’t quite sure of it at first, but once we actually figured out what we were doing we decided it was a fairly clever idea. Players hit a ‘ghost’ power up bubble, and, lo and behold, a ghost Bubble or Bobble appears parallel on the opposite screen to you – when you’re on the bottom it’s on the top, and automatically switches to the other as you hop up and down between screens. It moves where you move, and with the press of a button it vanishes and you teleport into its place – very handy for getting into hard to reach spots. Sadly, there are some bad changes and additions too, and at least one which might send fans of the original into some kind of ‘semi-hibernation/hermit state’, accompanied only by a comforting cup of Horlicks, a nice fluffy blanket and the original game. When you took too much time in the original game, ‘hurry up!’ appeared on the screen and the music became more hurried, the enemies became more dangerous and true evil appeared in the form of the invincible Baron Von Blubber. He would stalk you around the screen, steadily increasing in speed until you either killed the remaining enemies or he killed you. Remember him? He’s now been reduced to a mere ‘normal enemy’. He still stalks about, but is he easily caught in a bubble and disposed of. Replacing him in the ‘hurry up!’ stakes is the almighty ice – how we quivered in our boots. Basically, the arena gets slippier, making the handling even worse and making some levels pretty much impossible if you hadn’t worked out how to complete them before you were ushered to stop being such a slow coach.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble Revolution on Nintendo DS

Now, as you can see from our recent Gaming Factory features, we’re not adverse to re-imagining old games, but perhaps Bubble Bobble is just one of those games that doesn’t need a re-make. This version never captures the feeling of the original, and we sincerely hope that Rising Star’s Rainbow Island recreation, Rainbow Island Revolution, fares better. If you can grab this cheap, it may be worth getting for the Classic mode alone (where we’ve spent most of our time, to be perfectly honest, and it never gets old), but if you’re expecting a fantastic, creative new version of an old game, you’re going to be sadly mistaken in looking towards this. Lots of effort, bad implementation.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble Revolution on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

It could've been really excellent and some of us were quite excited about it (alright, I was quite excited, everybody else wisely regarded it warily), but it's just not. It's sad to see a game which clearly has effort put into it, with imaginative uses of the DS and attempts at re-capturing the joys of the Taito original, fall so flat on its face. Bad implementation lets this down, so it's another disappointment added to the list of 're-makes of Taito games by Rising Star Games'.

Developer

Rising Star

Publisher

Taito

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

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

Comments

Been waiting for this review, a real pity it's such a bad game. I adore the original aswell.

Yeah, sorry to keep you hanging for so long - I was originally going to give it a higher score but decided to absorb it more, but it became more and more disappointing, so perhaps a good job I did hang on and play more. Still, the Classic mode's worth it if you can somehow find it cheap...not that the Classic mode isn't worth full price, but that you'll just be angry that you got the New mode for full price as well, and it's marketed as the 'main' game.

Maybe I should rob GAME for the classic mode...

Actually, I think quite a few of retro gamers were enthusiastic about this. So you're by no means alone.

It's the age old question of how one can, if one can, beat the classics. Perhaps just a remake alone with much MUCH more aggressive graphics and effects updates may have off more? I don't know, I'm just guessing.

Different graphics wouldn't have solved this, it needed a whole overhaul. The design is simply terrible in parts, sometimes you have no idea whatsoever what to do at first, and whoever decided it should scroll horizontally as well...well, they're very silly, I'll put it nicely.

it doesnt help that the new characters are ugly, and the box art is atrocious...

Co-founder of the PDSLB - Pink DS Lite Buddies Fraz: Cheerios are made from fairy orgasms.

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