Bubble Bobble is a classic arcade game turned childhood favorite NES game. These are also the same characters from the Bust-a-move games, which is a “match the colors” style puzzle game where you ricochet different colored marbles off the walls from a cannon in an attempt to match up orbs stuck to the ceiling. Clearing a set of colored marbles makes them fall off, and takes anything that was holding on to them with them.
(Arcade, NES, 1986. Taito)
Designed by Fukio Mitsuji (Rainbow Islands and Darius II)
Composed by Tadashi Kimijima
Taito’s name is synonymous with early arcade greatness. Along with Konami and Capcom, Taito has created some of the best arcade games and series of the 80s and 90s. Amazing pixel artist Paul Robertson often cites Taito and Irem as some of the inspirations for his artwork. Taito is responsible for games such as Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Darius, Elevator Action, Growl, Legend of Kage, Kick Master, and Ninja Warriors. Interestingly, Taito was founded by a Russian Jewish businessman named Michael Kogan. Founded in 1953, they didn’t start off making games, but rather worked on importing games and distributing Vending machines.
Bubble Bobble stars two adorable dinosaurs who can spit bubbles out of their mouths to trap enemies. The enemies then float to the stop of the screen and you have to jump on top of them. There are pits, but falling down them cycles you back to the top of the screen. Each stage takes place on one screen, and there are dozens of levels. Holding down the jump button while hopping on top of a bubbled enemy doesn’t pop the bubble, but rather launches you into the air. You can also collect candy, which allows you to move faster and your bubbles travel further.
Grabbing an umbrella will allow you to skip levels. There are also element bubbles, which, when popped, shoot some kind of projectile across the stage damaging whatever it touches. Making contact with an enemy will kill you instantly, so you have to play carefully. Additionally, there is a terrifying whale ghost that will chase you under certain circumstances, which adds an unbelievable amount of stress.
The game features multiple endings, in which beating it with a friend gives you the good ending along with a code for a harder mode. Beating the hard mode with a friend gives you the real ending. Bubble Bobble was ported to several different systems, had sequels, remakes, and clones. This game also is home to one of the catchiest tunes ever to grace a video game.
Bubble Bobble holds a place near and dear to most gamer’s hearts. It’s got charming graphics and amazing music. It’s just good fun, but don’t let the saccharine exterior fool you, it’s a challenge. Give this game a shot, it’s awesome.