Bubble Bobble – Taito (1988)

I figured that since I listed Bubble Bobble as my favorite game of all time, it deserved a review on this site. This is the kind of game that everyone loves, and pretty much everyone has played. People have noted that the version of Bubble Bobble that is most like the arcade version is the Master System version. However, most of us, including me, didn’t have the Master System, and most people remember this game on the NES. When I make mention of the game, people will usually jokingly start to whistle the song from the game. If you’ve played it, you know what I’m talking about. And if you’ve played Bubble Bobble, you’ve probably played it a great deal.

From the story in the manual: “In a strange and magical forest full of danger and delight, where everything is good to eat and jolly round dinosaurs bounce and play in peace, lived two such creatures named Bub and Bob.” I believe that this magical forest was called Bubble Land. Two of Bub and Bob’s friends are kidnapped, and they must travel through the forest (which is, strangely, a vertical forest of rooms of multi-colored blocks) and use their bubble-blowing abilities to save them. Yeah, the story is weak. The intro to the game doesn’t make up for the weakness of the manual, either: “Now it is the beginning of a fantastic story! Let us make a journey to the cave of monsters! Good luck!” In fact, all the game does is disagree with the supposed setting of the game. However, I’m sure no one played Bubble Bobble for the story. I certainly didn’t.

The biggest asset of Bubble Bobble is the gameplay. The action takes place on one screen and you control a dinosaur who shoots bubbles from his mouth. The enemies are always visible right from the start, and your goal is to capture your foes inside the bubbles, which you then pop, killing the enemies. It sounds good because it is good. To top that, the enemies will then turn into food. There are a whole slew of bonus items that you can pick up, including shoes that make you run fast, candy that makes your bubbles better, magic books that destroy everything on the screen, and potions that throw you into a cookie-collecting bonus round. After finishing a round of enemies, a bubble surrounds you and takes you down to the next screen. This goes on for many levels, totaling in at 226 if you play both worlds. This is gameplay that a little kid could really love, as well as an adult. Playing two players makes the game even more fun because you are always chasing after the food and bonus items. This is probably one of the best two-player games available on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The graphics of Bubble Bobble are remarkably good when you consider how early it was released on the NES. It had a black background, so there was no need for a black border around your character at all times. Because of this, the characters are small and detailed, as opposed the the blocky, strange characters of Bubble Bobble 2. The rewards you get for beating enemies are an array of fruit, vegetables, and other food items, all of which are nicely detailed. Also, I always liked the face that the characters made whenever they stepped into the fire.

The sound of Bubble Bobble is definitely an issue. There are those that would say that the music in the game would justify turning the volume down entirely, but these are most likely our parents who had to listen to the same twenty-five seconds of music, over and over. Frankly, I love the song. It’s going on in my head right now, and it probably won’t stop until I go to bed. But yeah, there’s only one song. And it never stops, it just loops, and it is wonderful. The sound effects are adequate as well. I particularly recall the sound of the water bubble sliding you down the screen, or the sound of the lightning bubble cracking a bolt through the enemies.

When it comes to replay value, this game has got everything going for it. The two player mode is very addictive, and there always seem to be more of those magically appearing bonus items to grab. (Remember the first time you got the book?!) In fact, the two player mode is especially great because you must beat the final boss using two players in order to get the real ending.

Although I have gotten rid of some of my older systems in an attempt to clear out space in my closet, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of my top-loading Nintendo Entertainment System. I’ve kept the twenty or so games that I’d feel wrong in selling, and the one that sticks out of the top of the system most of the time is this game, my favorite game of all time. I really recommend that you get out your old system, hook it up in your living room, find a copy of this game, grab a friend, and enjoy.

Reviewed by SteamBeaver

Cheats & Strategy

Level Select:
Enter DDFFI as a password, and select the one player continue round option. Press A or B to select a new starting level from 1 to 112.

99 Lives:
Enter BACCF as a password.

Expert Mode:
Enter BBDAD as a password. A sound will confirm correct code entry. The monsters in each level will change and make the game slightly more difficult.

Super Bubble Bobble Graphics:
Enter HCICD as a password.