Bubble Bobble 4 Friends from TAITO a game that might be a dream come true for fans of the franchise? 33 years after the debut of the classic video game Bubble Bobble the two dragons Bub and Bob have returned exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. Over the years there have been many attempts to bring the game to a newer audience, but without any joy, even some crazy outings from the likes of Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars, some slot machines and even Roulette, gotta give it to them they did try.
Now after 33 years have they finally found the correct formula to bring the franchise back to life and into the hands of a new generation of gamers along with us older games that remember the original from the Arcade.
Play the Music, NOW!
Oh man, that soundtrack does not get old, does it? it made me smile when I first heard it, I must admit.
Yes, the two infamous dragons Bub and Bob are back in a whole new story that will have you smiling from start to finish or throwing your controller at the wall, who knows. There is not much of a story to tell at per se, but you do not play a game like this for a story. So here it is ‘Bub along with the series antagonist Bonner are tucked up in bed, as a spell awakens Bonner and the adventure starts’, and that’s about it from the start, everything else I leave to your imagination, it is simple yet charming. The original way of capturing enemies within bubbles is back while using Bub or Bob to pop them and cause a chain reaction, sounds easy enough, but it is not, there is more to it.
The game’s premise is simple you play as Bub or Bob in a 2D platformer set across a number of worlds which includes a number of set stages and a boss battle. You kill enemies by trapping them in a bubble that comes from Bub or Bob’s mouth. Then pop them by using Bub or Bob’s head or feet causing a chain reaction, the better the chain reaction the higher the score, P.S don’t forget to pick up all the yummy fruit, it’s fruitalicious.
The first set of stages teaches you how to play the game, so as you can expect they are relatively simple to complete, even though for some reason I kept on touching the damn critters and falling off the screen. Before you set off, you are greeted to a set of screens that tells you how to control your characters, how to attempt chain bursts, and what fruit is for and how to obtain higher-level fruits. Even more fruitalicious.
At the end of the set of stages, you encounter the boss of that world, for me, I sat there all chuffed that I got this far, then died, ‘looks down shameful at the ground’. There are 10 stages per world, with a total of 5 worlds to complete. You have unlimited continues, which make it fun and you do not have to worry about dying over and over if you do. Once you complete all the worlds you will unlock HARD MODE, this alters the layout of each stage and adds more enemies making the stage a little harder. Each stage is vibrant in colour, well designed and fun to traverse. You will most likely, like myself be coming back to almost every stage to work out the best way around to get the highest score possible.
So, in the end, you get to explore 5 worlds, which include a total of 10 stages and the same 5 worlds and 10 stages in hard mode making a total of 100 stages. At the end of each world, there is a star rating system, the better you do, the higher the rating obviously. I must admit, during one the stages I got diamonds instead of fruit, I must have done that stage very well.
As you progress and clear worlds you will unlock new abilities like being able to dash through enemies without being hit, to blowing bubbles out further, those pesky critters have nowhere to hide now. These abilities can only be used a set number of times so use them wisely, they can help you get that elusive high score if you are struggling. You will also notice letters throughout the 10 stages which create the word E-X-T-E-N-D. Collecting the letters allows you to use an ability more times. The new scoring system and abilities allow you to test your skills to push yourself to do better, allowing more playability of the game, and possibly more playthroughs.
I feel Bubble Bobble games have always been the type of game that pushes you to do better, it is not a simple, play once and move on. Even with the original in the arcade, I would go back to it over and over to see if I can score better than my last playthough.
As I progressed through the game, as I expected I got better and better and even the HARD MODE stages did not really pose must of an issue. But I must admit, I did come back to almost every world to see if I can do better than my first playthrough and get a better score.
You can also play with friends up to 4 players, they will control either Bub and Bob and their stunning girlfriends Peb and Pab. I found the game became more frantic and fun the more players joined in on the action, so I would highly recommend playing with friends. Just don’t expect online play, you are going to need to grab REAL FRIENDS in the real world.
After you have completed Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, why not have a bash at the original Arcade version Bubble Bobble, which for me brought back some memories. I actually remember the arcade machine at ‘Butlins Minehead’ along with games like Mario and R-Type. I would spend my daily pocket money on those arcade machines, spending hours bashing those huge arcade buttons, those machines gave me hours of joy. Until the fun ended, well when I had no more coins and I had to spend the rest of the day with my parents, sucks to be young.
After hours in the game and completing everything that was on offer, I think I have a few issues, first is the price £35.99, I personally think it should be £29.99 or less. Second, more levels, not just an alteration to add hard mode. I would have loved over 100 standard levels and then have all of them altered for Hard Mode.
I am not going to lie the game is really fun and addictive and the music brings a heartfelt smile to people that recall the original. The Game is charming, fun and enjoyable and suitable for all ages, play solo or with friends, you will really enjoy the game. It might be a little short, as I was able to complete the game in 4hrs, but that does not mean everyone will be able to do complete the game that fast, some will struggle, some will not.
You can purchase the game here.
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is exclusive for the Nintendo Switch