Bubble Bobble: Double Shot (Nintendo DS) Review

By Mike Mason 19.08.2007 2

It seems that remaking Bubble Bobble has become somewhat of a trendy thing in the last couple of years, as this is at least the third one that has appeared recently (the others being another DS title and a PSP title). With more complexities added to this new version, can Dreams create a version that can compare to the legendary original?

Frankly, we’re surprised that this game exists – not for any shot at its own quality, but because of its predecessor. Dreams previously developed the abysmal Bubble Bobble Revolution on DS (reviewed here, receiving a magnificently prestigious 4/10), which had a sole saving grace of including the original, unaltered arcade game, and yet they have somehow been granted a second shot at the series. Perhaps somebody lost a bet. Maybe money exchanged hands in dark alleys. Or is it, perchance, that it’s because half of the team that developed Revolution has been culled from the development of Double Shot? Hmm…

Either way, it’s a definite improvement over the previous abomination – not that much would be required for that criterion to be filled. As always, you’re playing one of the cute little bubble-blowing dragons, capturing cretinous monsters in said bubbles and then popping the soap-liquid-y folds with the spines on your reptilian back, absolving the land of the beastly creatures in the process. Though wait – as with many re-imaginings of past games, there’s a twist, whether we want one or not. This time there ISN’T just one little dragon to play as at a time, but three. While previously you could choose either Bub or Bob to play as, you now play with both dragons and the extra red Bubu (their cousin, apparently…it seems they’ve always been dragons now and aren’t cursed humans as in the originals) in each sitting.

Starting out as Bub, the green one, you can switch between the other two at your leisure by use of the DS’ shoulder buttons, all of whom spit a different coloured bubble. Lovely, but what purpose does this have in the game? Well, it is part of the new gameplay handle. While many creatures can be captured by any of the dragons’ projectiles, there are certain ones that have a coloured star floating around them which can only be nabbed by a bubble of the same colour. That’s it, really. Oh, and there are some which have other colours of stars around them that mean you need to mix your bubbles to capture them (example: enemy has a purple star, so fire a red bubble followed by a blue one, then submit it to the same cruel fate as every other thing in your path). It’s a bit intrusive at first, but it’s quite a good idea overall.

The levels have thankfully also gone back to their original formats: the screen is displayed all at once, and they’re vertical, unlike the rubbish seen in Revolution where the screen was all over the place and scrolled both horizontally and vertically, which was an absolute atrocity. The graphical style is back to being similar to how it was originally (though we don’t see why the dragons look like star-nosed moles when they die). The remix of the Bubble Bobble theme played throughout levels is less appalling then in the predecessor, though of course still doesn’t match the simplicity of the original. The fruit scoring system, with stacked points for multiple kills in one hit, is all present. The nemesis Baron von Blubber is back to urge you to hurry your way through levels, tragically dismissed as a common grunt previously. The health bar system has been replaced with the original one-hit kills (a nuisance for some we’re sure, but we’re sticklers for tradition). There’s also co-op of the entire game for three players, but we were unfortunately unable to try it out due to our lack of friends and because we’re too poor to fork out for multiple DSes. It seems that, in general, Dreams have really made a concentrated effort to pull the series back to basics but added in some new touches.

It’s all rather admirable, but not without its faults. The switching colour system can get irritating when the game thrusts a multitude of enemies at you in a clump, each with a different shade of star sidling around them; a good idea, but one that can get overbearing until you’ve had some practice in dodging, switching dragons and shooting bubble simultaneously. This pales to some of the level design, however. It’s just not as good as the original’s, and we can’t see anything ever really matching up to it. Some require pixel-perfect jumps all too often just to scale up the level, leading to deaths more frequent then necessary. This is a particular insult considering the intelligence of the enemies, who follow set paths as they always have (fine by us) but manage to get caught in small gaps in the scenery until you go nearby, in which case they will happily spring out and steal away a life the second you get a millimetre from them. This doesn’t seem like a conscious design decision; the monsters just get stuck and miraculously become free once you’re in a position to be smacked into.

We’re quite peeved at the allocations of the face buttons to actions, too. For some reason, B is jump and Y is blow bubbles, which surely is one of the more awkward set-ups they could have chosen, aside using X and Y in conjunction, considering there is a perfectly accessible A button available. These controls are not alterable, which is a big shame. A welcome point is the continues system, presumably added to aid those handicapped by the return of one-hit kills, which seems to allow infinite continues with one catch: you must best a mini-game first before you are revived. These games are nothing exceptional (spin a circle to make bubbles, a rip-off of the ‘find the character’ minigame from Super Mario 64 DS/New Super Mario Brothers only with bubble types), but functional with the exception of the terrible one where you must run away from a rock monster who is trying to gobble you up; the problem being that it asks you to tap two feet alternately on the touch screen to run, which unless you have a flat surface and a stylus in each hand is pretty much impossible. “Use your fingers!” you might cry. We tried. It didn’t work, only being responsive to the touch of swift sharp stabs of slender stylus.

It’s a lengthy game that should last you a while, as it is quite difficult. We wouldn’t throw it out with despair if somebody gave it us as a present, or wouldn’t pass up on buying it if we found it on sale (as we would with Bubble Bobble Revolution), but there could have been more time devoted to testing which parts worked and which didn’t, as the ones in the latter category are really detrimental to a game that would have been a worthy successor to the original were it not for some poor choices. We will finish on a good note though: gorgeous artwork is included between the levels.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

An above average effort for the series, but much more could have been done for it; had the faults been ironed out, this could have leapt up a couple of points. As it is, it’s worthy of a play if you come across it, but not worth hunting for. Perhaps the developers will Dream (groan) up an improved sequel in the future.

Developer

Marvelous

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

3

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Wow. Here I am, wanting to read a good rip-apart of a poorly made game and it's above average...?!
Sure, it's not worth considering, as there are so many high-class DS games out there. But I was so eager to get entertained by a ripv-view. Oh, dear...

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

I found it pretty good; it's not an example of the highest caliber of games, but I had fun with it aside the frustrations I mentioned.

What about it didn't you like? Or is it a case of you not liking the same sort of stuff as me but it getting on your nerves a bit more?

Thanks for your comments all the same. :Smilie

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