RetroReview: Bubble Bobble (1988)

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 is the Master System version. However, most didn't have the Master System (I had it via the Power Base Converter for my Genesis) so the version they might remember is the NES version. 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.

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.

These simple, single board at a time games were huge on the original Nintendo Entertainment System and they are just as fun today as they were then. Don't be a snob, check out these classic platformers instead of booting up another round of Fortnite!

- The Big Geek

Release Date: 1988

Publisher: Taito

Developers: Taito

Original System: Nintendo Entertainment System