Bubble Bobble is one of the games that I never played until I started collecting games. I liked the NES version of the game and was looking forward to trying this version. On an unrelated note, Bubble Bobble 2 on the Game Boy was cheaper than the NES version when I last checked.
This is a simple pick-up and play game. Taito made a lot of games like this. It is part of the reason that they had so much success in the late 70s and early 80s.
The quick arcade-style of games served them well until they needed to do more in the late 90s. I’m not sure what the company has been doing since the arcade compilations on the PS2.
The Game Boy version is a fun recreation of the NES version. Vertical and horizontal scrolling was added to see what is going on. This works well for Bubble Bobble for the most part.
TLDR: The gameplay is good, but the visuals can lead to cheap deaths.
Taito published Bubble Bobble as an arcade game in 1986. It was distributed in North America by Romstar and by Electrocoin in Europe. It was ported to everything!
The arcade game was released worldwide in 1986, the Famicom Disk System got the game in 1987, and North America and Europe got the NES version in 1988 and 1990, respectively.
The Game Boy got the game in 1991, and a Game Boy Color version came out in 1996.
In 1996, Taito announced that it had lost the source code for Bubble Bobble. This always confuses me, but I don’t know enough about how that could be possible. It probably sounds stranger than it is, especially how some companies treated their legacy games back in the day.
You play as a little dragon, and you blow bubbles at your enemies. Once the enemies get trapped in the bubbles, then you kick them off the screen by running into them. You also have to collect fruit.
You also have to jump around platforms. This is where things get a little shaky. Because the Game Boy screen is smaller than an arcade monitor or a TV, you scroll up when you jump.
When this happens, you can accidentally jump into an enemy. I’m not sure how this would be fixed. I guess it is just one thing you must deal with on the Game Boy.
The scrolling is more of a minor issue. For the most part, it is fine, and you don’t run into any of the bad guys. The game doesn’t send too many enemies at once, so you only have to deal with three or four at a time.
The controls are pretty good! The jump and shoot buttons are responsive, making it easy to move around the screen. Overall, this is a good port of the game.
Bubble Bobble looks good on the Game Boy. The sprites are about as detailed as they can be. It was a little hard for me to tell what the enemies were. I couldn’t make out what they were supposed to be.
This might have been an issue with the contrast. I was playing it on a Game Boy Pocket, which might have made the experience a little different. If I played it on an emulator or a Retro 5, I might have been able to tell what they were.
The visuals are hampered by the screen size and what the Game Boy can do. It can be hard to separate how games look now from how they looked back in the early 90s.
I think Bubble Bobble looks good, and with the hardware they had to work with, they made it look as close to the arcade and NES versions as they could. It is a primarily faithful port of the game.
This is one of those games that is meant to steal your quarters. It was an arcade game, after all. It is a long game; you only have to get a high score and see how long you can play.
The arcade-style of gameplay makes it an enjoyable game to play over and over.
8/10. It is a very fun game that doesn’t require you to know much about it. It is a pick-up and play game.
- Easy to learn, hard to master
- Good controls
- Works well on a handheld system.
- There isn’t a story to this
- The scrolling can lead to cheap deaths
- It can get boring after a while
I feel that Bubble Bobble was a good game for its time. It does highlight some of the issues that arcade manufacturers had when they started to rely on consoles.
Players started to want more from games, and some companies failed to respond. Bubble Bobble is a game that falls into this category.
I like the game, but that is me changing as time goes on. Games like Bubble Bobble appeal more to me now than when I was younger. It feels like it goes in cycles. If you don’t have the time to go through a lengthy game, then games like Bubble Bobble are perfect for you.