Bubble Bobble Old and New

Somehow I managed to miss out on the whole ‘Bubble Bobble’ thing until many years after the machines had disappeared from the arcades and the surviving NES systems turned into little more than grey paperweights. Though I did hear about it. Just about every book that I bought or was given that was about ‘How to Win’ at Nintendo games mentioned it, and offered stratagems to guide me to victory. But still, to this day, I’ve never seen a copy of the game for the NES in the wild.

But! Fortunately the fine folks at Taito saw fit to release it on the Game Boy with some… enhancements.

So Bubble Bobble is about two guys who were turned into dinosaurs and then had their girlfriends kidnapped. They, as dinos, have the ability to blow bubbles to trap enemies, and then pop the bubbles to take out the foes. You have to use this bubble blowing ability to make it down through 100 rooms full of deviously-placed enemies, wind currents, and just plain mean level design to get your girls back and turn back to normal.

Yes, it all makes perfect sense… I guess.

You’re going to notice that the theme song is ridiculously catchy. If you’re not careful, it’s going to get stuck in your head and won’t leave for days. The other thing, which isn’t immediately obvious, is that the game likes to mess with you.

See, the thing is, you can finish the game the ‘traditional’ way: plowing ahead and beating all 100 levels. This is no small feat, and if you do so you’ll get the ‘bad ending’ if you’ve died more than zero times and if you don’t have a second player. Yep, you don’t get the best ending unless you finish the entire game without dieing, and in a game where you die in one hit, this is a bit of a challenge. Now, there are hints that tell you all about it, but the thing is, to get them you have to make it to certain milestones without dieing. Then you’ll get the chance to enter a secret room. In the secret room is a wall decorated in some odd symbols, looks kind of like just background art. Turns out that it’s a coded message that tells you how to finish the game properly. So you have to make it to at least level 20, get in the secret room, decipher the coded message, and then know that you have to finish all 100 stages without dieing and have both players in play at the endto get the ‘true’ ending. I don’t have that kind of perseverance, but I can totally understand the motivation. If I was making a game and had complete control, I’d screw with the player too.

The game is called ‘Old and New’ for a reason. In addition to the original arcade mode, there’s a revamped mode. It’s basically the same but with updated graphics, updated music, and the ability to continue where you left off. This is pretty handy, but still ridiculously hard. But with the advantage of unlimited continues and the ability to call in the second player in the 11th hour so you can see the ‘good’ ending, I was able to finish the ‘New’ part of the game and experience what those ‘How to Win’ books were talking about all those years ago.

And another game was checked off the list.

One Response to “Bubble Bobble Old and New”

  1. [...] Bubble Bobble was a bit of an oddball game. Not because of the barely comprehensible storyline, but because of the way it screwed with you. [...]

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