Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 14, 2014

Email: Bubble Bobble

 It’s always funny when I talk with folks about their memories of the NES and then I mention Bubble Bobble and the number of friends who say “hey I remember that game. It was fun.”  I mean everyone remembers Mario, Zelda, Mega Man, Bubble Bobble often gets left out of various top ten lists.  For me it was the second game I ever owned after the Mario/Duck Hunt cart of course.  I actually first played it at my sitter’s house and it’s surprisingly addictive.
When you look at the box art, you wonder how this game ever got to be a hit.  I mean it’s so overly cutesy.  You play as cute little dinosaurs blowing bubbles at enemies.  No one could pitch that idea today unless it was some artsy indie game that hardcore gamers played “Ironically” so they could defend it on forums against the grim and gritty realism of today’s games (see Wind Waker).
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Bubble Bobble is actually surprisingly challenging.  Sure the first few levels give you plenty of time to clear out the baddies but later levels give you less and less time to finish.  There’s no actual timer, just a “Hurry Up” message that comes up then the music and enemies speed up followed shortly by this evil red eyed whale ghost thing that you can’t kill.  Despite having over 100 levels, the fun part is seeing which special item appears because some of these will make stages so easy.  The potion bottle turns the stage into a bonus game, the umbrella warps you past stages or things that make you invincible or turns the enemies into food.  The best part is, the items are random to encourage multiple playthroughs.
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Note: This was the arcade version which looks and sounds better than the NES version but lacks passwords.
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What also made Bubble Bobble unique was simply getting to the boss at level 100 wasn’t enough to beat the game.  First of all you had to have both players on screen to “win” (if you were playing solo, the trick was have at least one extra life, pause and hit select to spawn your partner) but also there’s an item called the crystal ball in level 99 you have to get, that makes a door appear that takes you through 13 more levels and if you fail to do THIS, you also get the “bad ending” that sends you back to the title screen (thank God for passwords).
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Also like Zelda, Bubble Bobble had a second quest.  The end credits have a password that starts the second quest which essentially is the same game with the stages reskinned in different colors and different baddie placement but it was still neat to have that and you’re rewarded with a slightly longer ending and a sound test.
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Still it was a good game and I love that I find a lot of NES owners either owned it or at least played it at some point.  Now it had a sequel called Rainbow Islands and my God was that game awful.  Bubble Bobble was cutesy but Rainbow Islands was too disgustingly cute to enjoy.  You play as a little boy in overalls who shoots Rainbows at enemies in an overly colorful world that makes Kirby look like Gears of War.  Not to mention the rainbows weren’t as easy to climb and bounce off of like the bubbles.
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*Ugh* tastes like diabetes.

 

I adore Bubble Bobble! I remember playing it the first time when I rented a large stack of NES games. It was insanely addictive. And, like you said, there is the second quest and the two endings. It’s a very, very good NES game, perhaps one of the best ones. I prefer multiplayer NES games over single player NES games (with the exceptions such as Zelda and Metroid) and Bubble Bobble is the perfect game to play with the girlfriend.

This reminds me that I need to go buy it.

Rainbow Islands seems like message forum over-hyped trash.


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