Final Bubble Bobble, my eye. Bub and Bob are just getting started.
The dinosaurs’ cuteness overpowers the bland wire frames.
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: 07/02/88 – (JP), 12/91 – (EU)
Wait, what? Bubble Bobble on the Master System?! Yup, it happened. Sorry Americans, only Japan, Europe and Brazil got what is reported to be one of the finest Bubble Bobble home versions available. Crisp summertime graphics. 200 different levels, not just 100 levels repeated twice as in the other ports. Three different endings. Same old co-op that makes you want to call your gaming buddy from third grade to come over and play, despite the fact that he lives in Cambodia and your friendship ended on bad terms (he probably still has your Shinobi, the bastard). Yeah, Bubble Bobble is pretty alright if you’re into gap-toothed dinosaurs, scores of bubbles, and repetition galore.
Bub’s got fruit, ocarinas, and contentment.
In Bubble Bobble, you play as Bub or Bob (Bubblen and Bobblen in Europe), dinosaurs who have a penchant for blowing bubbles and trapping creatures within them. Each level is a one-screen layout filled with enemies and items. You blow bubbles around the enemies, and pop the bubbles while they’re inside. The enemies don’t die, but they do turn into delicious life-giving fruit. Keep an eye on the numerous other bubbles and items that appear, as well. Red, green, and blue bubbles, once popped, will inflict fire, flash, and water damage respectively to enemies throughout the level (and you, if you’re not careful). Different-colored umbrellas warp you ahead a few levels. Laboratory beakers suck you into mini-games. Basically, if an item appears in a level, touch it. Good things will almost always happen. Three crystal balls are also the key to making it past level 100. If you don’t grab them before level 100, you’ll get the bad ending, even if you beat the last boss, Super Drunk.
Celebrating E3, seven years before the expo began.
But should you conquer Super Drunk with crystal balls in tow, you’ll face off against another hundred levels. May I say, if you plan on beating all two hundred levels in one go (you don’t have to, there’s a password system), bring a friend. Co-op really is Bubble Bobble‘s saving grace. Teaming up with a companion to encapsulate hordes of purple whales, floating elephants, and those wind-up jerks lends the game a purpose that it doesn’t have playing alone.
So very bored.
With a friend, each of you can convince the other that Bubble Bobble is worth trudging through, that the game’s couple hundred levels are all essential. Cups of coffee, pats on the back, loud music, together you will curb stomp Super Drunk. Playing by yourself? Well, you might have to do some serious rationalizing to make Bubble Bobble worthwhile. Far be it from me to criticize an old game with such a generous amount of content, but I don’t think Bubble Bobble‘s lightweight gameplay warrants the two hundred levels it provides. Trapping enemies in bubbles and stepping on them isn’t as fulfilling as, say, shooting Mets in the Mega Man series or stomping Koopas in Super Mario Bros. And shooting/jumping on enemies are only two aspects of those games. All Bubble Bobble has is the trapping and stepping followed by more trapping and more stepping. Bub and Bob are still the best bubble exterminators in video games, but without a compadre, a little of their antics is all you’ll need.
SINGLE PLAYER: C+