Bubble Bobble 4 Friends (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 26.11.2019

Review for Bubble Bobble 4 Friends on Nintendo Switch

Taito's tale of two brothers turned into bubble-blowing dragons was a mainstay of '80s arcades. The iconic theme tune is able to ingrain itself into the minds of fans with the simple mention of the title's name. Since its initial entry, the series has received ports, remakes, and sequels through numerous generations of handhelds and home consoles over the following decades. Now over 30 years later, Bub and Bob are back, and they've got some brand new friends with them.

Instead of the brothers returning to the story, the story actually picks up in what seems to be the bedroom of a child who is a gigantic, obsessive Bubble Bobble fan, with a full sized-arcade, and a handful of merch (that should really exist in the real world) scattered between standard old-school toys like lettered blocks and wooden castles. In this room, a plushie of Bub comes to life alongside a plushie of "Bonner," the classic, green-hooded, cane-wielding enemy from the series history. These two look pretty horrific and low quality in this introduction, but it serves its purpose of giving a basic premise - and then the important thing hits, the gameplay.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble 4 Friends on Nintendo Switch

Just like its original form, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends brings a series of 100 stages to play through, but this time, they're separated into 10 stage levels, with a boss awaiting at the end of each. For those who never played the original, the gameplay itself couldn't be simpler. Bub and pals leap through these stages, blowing bubbles to use to help reach other areas or to trap enemies within. Hopping on the bubbles let Bub and friends bounce atop them, stamping down or pushing into the bubbles with spikes will pop them, killing the enemies trapped within. The enemies are all basic enough, following set paths and patterns, with the later enemies capable of a few simple projectile attacks.

So far, so similar to the original game, including special bubbles containing the letters 'E,' 'X,' 'T,' 'E,' 'N,' and 'D' that are scattered through the stages. Finding these grants a bonus life, and also powers up the unlockable special ability that is acquired after defeating the boss of the level. This is something entirely new, giving equippable abilities that have limited uses per stage; Lightning Bubbles, long shot Bubbles, time-delayed exploding bubbles. These replace the random items from the original and are one of the few elements that feel an improvement.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble 4 Friends on Nintendo Switch

The original was quite challenging, but this is not. There are infinite continues, and for those who cannot overcome the levels, and die too many times, there's even an option to retry the level with invincibility. One of the most challenging aspects of the original was the regular appearance of a ghostly, skeletal whale-like creature entitled "Skela-Monsta" or "Baron von Blubba." This unstoppable entity would add a level of difficulty and frantic anxiety in its every appearance. His absence along with the other mentioned aspects makes the whole affair far too easy.

That's in single player mode too, and it gets even easier with friends. Friends. Plural. It's not just Bub and Bob this time - there are more bubble blowers than ever as Bubble Bobble 4 Friends offers up to four-player local co-op on a single console. No online functionality available, though, and there are no additional game modes for multiplayer. No competitive levels, no party levels. Just this.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble 4 Friends on Nintendo Switch

Fans of the original picking this up are going to be quite disappointed. The visuals are scruffy with some strange design decisions based around the toys come to life theme. Similarly and unforgivably, the iconic theme is only used in the first couple of stages, and not even in its original form. Remixed. Remixes are fine, just keep the original too, and leverage its iconic nature by including numerous remixes of it throughout the game. This relies on its own, utterly forgettable themes.

Thankfully there's a lovely little addition to this release that addresses that somewhat. That being the original game, in all its glory. All 100 original stages with all the original music, sound, and visuals. It's a crime this hasn't already been long available on every console out there, but the price tag tacked on to it here is simply too much.

Screenshot for Bubble Bobble 4 Friends on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The current price tag is insanely high for what's on offer. The new levels can be smashed through in a few hours, and the low difficulty means there's little replayability in aiming for high-scores and rankings on each stage. Nostalgia and an 8-bit classic simply aren't worth the price of admission. That being said, it's fun. Somewhat. If it had included some others from Bubble Bobble history like Rainbow Islands, it would have been more appetizing.

Developer

Taito

Publisher

ININ Games

Genre

Puzzle

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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