Bubble Bobble

David Yun David Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-05-20 20:49:23

Bubble Bobble - Rank S

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ROM Filename: bublbobl
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Date: August 1986

Also available in Taito Legends (Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC); new version on Nintendo DS, and NES port for Virtual Console on Nintendo Wii

Bubble Bobble is simply one of the greatest arcade games of all time. It's one of those special experiences that is instantly accessible, yet ridiculously deep enough to satisfy the most ardent hardcore gamer.

Controlling Bub or Bob (the two cute dinosaurs likely familiar to contemporary gamers via Bust A Move), players jump around platforms blowing bubbles to trap enemies. That's it: joystick to move, jump button, and bubble button. Once the enemies are trapped inside a bubble, popping them turns them into delicious score yielding fruit. Clear all the enemies and move on to the next level.

But for anyone willing to invest toward mastery of this game, it provides numerous techniques and the potential for strategic play, from riding your bubbles to managing enemies to maximize your score. These are features hitherto nonexistent in platform games. The challenge ramps up nicely as you advance through the 100 levels, and tantalizing secrets are strewn throughout the game. Once you're good at the game, it still delivers a pleasurable experience each play through. When I was a kid, and I only had a single quarter, this is the machine I would hit up without a second thought.

Best of all is its cooperative play. This wonderful experience is only intensified by sharing it, especially with another skilled, strategic player. And at the risk of sounding sexist, it's also extremely girl friendly. When I'd drag my girlfriend to the arcade and she'd have to sit around waiting for me to get knocked off the Street Fighter II machine, the only thing that would mollify her afterward would be a joint session of Bubble Bobble. It would ungrumpify her and the rest of our day could happily proceed.

Plus, the soundtrack is one of the most joyously infectious tunes ever to grace a video game. I've used it as my ring tone.

Bubble Bobble has been ported numerous times over the years, most recently in the Taito Legends collection released on Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC. This is more or less a faithful emulation. A revamped release hit the Nintendo DS, and the NES port is available for the Virtual Console on the Nintendo Wii. Purists should stick with the original arcade version.

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