|Title: Bubble Bobble
Rom Player: NESticle
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Synopsis: Everybody loves dinosaurs, right? Right. Everybody also loves bubbles, right? Right. It’s only natural that the two would be tied together for at least one Nintendo game. In this case, our story takes place in a magical forest filled with “jolly round dinosaurs” and the like. With jolly round dinosaurs, however, come equally jolly and round villains. Two of the rounder variety of dinosaurs, named Bub and Bob, catch word that Baron von Blubba (Yes, THE Baron von Blubba) has kidnapped two of their fellow dinosaurs and has carted them off to the very similar-looking, yet obviously evil, forest. So they go, prepared to take down whatever disgustingly cute monsters get in their way.
The first thing that you will notice is the little notice that the game gives to say that you are headed to the “cave of monsters” instead of the evil forest described in the manual. Of course, that will not be of much concern because of the second thing that you will notice: You do not start off in, nor do you ever travel to, any sort of forest at all. Instead, Each level is a single box-like structure, some of which have holes in the bottom that lead to holes in the top of the box. As an added bonus, some levels are shaped like different things, from happy faces, to hearts, to likenesses of the enemies. All this helps to drill the wanton cuteness of the game right into your brain. All together, there are a staggering 226 different levels. Your only hope to make it through the game is to either make use of the password feature, or utilize the save state feature that emulators have. I can assure you that Baron von Blubba was PO’d about all that (Love that name).
Normally, if you wanted to combat waves of adorable foes, you would need either a cartoon mallet or a sand blaster. Your dinosaur pals, however, have devised a new way: spit bubbles. They don’t have the guts to come out and say that the large bubbles that fly out of their mouths are made from their Mesozoic saliva, but what the hell else could they be made of? Happy thoughts? Anyway, they come out at a high enough speed so that any enemies hit by them become trapped inside. Then, you must finish them by popping the bubbles by jumping on or into them. Additionally, both empty and full bubbles can be bounced upon to add some height to the otherwise feeble jumping of the soft, round dinosaurs.
Bubbles with things inside them, as well as empty ones, will float about the rooms on air currents that are different for each level. In some cases, all the bubbles will be bunched up in one location, allowing you to take out all of your contained foes in one fell swoop. Other times, they will follow a route that will take them around the entire level. After some amount of time, the bubbles will turn red, then pop by themselves. Unfortunately, enemies who are trapped inside of bubbles are let free if they are left unchecked for too long. Once out, they will change color to reflect their anger at smelling like dinosaur spit. When angry, they will rampage about at a much faster speed than they normally would until you either encase them again, or they kill you. Rest assured that no matter how cute they look they are without remorse. Should you take too long in a level, you will be told to hurry up, both with a message, and with a change in tempo of the music. Plus, all the enemies will become angry from having to wait on your bubble-blowing ass. If this still doesn’t provide enough incentive for you to pick up the pace, you will soon find yourself face to face with the Baron himself. While he appears to be just a regular bad guy, he is more or less a homing missile with no vulnerabilities.
The cuteness abounds with the inclusion of throngs of different powerups and bonus thingies. The most common of these things are various types of food and precious stones, which boost your score. The next category of powerups includes candy, which makes your bubbles travel farther, and shoes, which make you run, jump, and for some reason, fall faster. The next most useful category, also very large, is one that holds several items that will blast the living cute right out of every bad guy on the scene. The rest are just run-of-the-mill crap that will boost your score in higher degrees or do something in the mysterious boss stages.
There are two powerups that I find to be the most useful for traversing the unbelievable amount of levels in this game. The first is actually a collection of letters that spell out “extend” when you collect all of them. Once you do spell out the word, you get to skip the level that you are currently on. The second is a parasol (That’s an umbrella, for you unedjimacated folks) that lets you skip not one, but five levels. It doesn’t appear that often, but when it does you better not let anything stop you from snagging it before it vanishes.
In case you haven’t picked up on my subtle hints, I don’t care much for cutesy game nonsense. Bad guys, though they are so cute that it seems impossible that they could be evil, uphold the proud tradition. They range from things that look like wind-up toys to things that look like rejected Star Wars characters. The most entertaining part of this is the names given to the little darlings. The less dangerous the creature is, the less ridiculous its name is. For example, the earliest bad guys are named things like Coiley, Beluga, and Stoner (No, not that long-haired Grateful Dead fan you shared a dorm with in college.). The deadliest, however, are given names such as the irrepressible Baron von Blubba, and the delight Grumple Grommit. I assure you that, were I not stuck trying to decide whether to laugh at the strange names or to seethe with anger at the horrible adorable, I would have something wittier to say on the subject.
The music is the final, child-safe nail in the coffin. There is only one song. One song, for 226 frigging levels. There are a few short ditties for the title screen, when you die, and when the Baron takes the scene, but they can hardly be called songs.
The sounds are not as bland, since there is more than one of them, but that isn’t saying much. They consist of squeaking sounds, beeps, and other noises that will simply annoy you to no end.
There’s a reason dinosaur went extinct. They saw that they would be portrayed as cute little dumplings in this game, so that opted to just leap into the nearest tar pit. The game is challenging, and fun to some extent, but not 226 levels fun. Save me, Baron von Blubba, save me!
Best Cheats: Level select - To start on any level, enter the password "DDFFI". Move the cursor to one-player or two-player continue, then press B to change your starting level.
Game Play: 8
Overall Rating: 7
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