Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Game designer:||Fukio Mitsuji|
|Game modes:||Up to 2 players simultaneously|
|Controls:||Joystick (2-way); 2 buttons|
|First appearance of the popular video game characters Bub and Bob|
Bubble Bobble is the name of an arcade game by Taito, first released in 1986. It featured two cute dragons, Bub and Bob, who moved over a system of platforms, busting and pushing bubbles, avoiding bad guys and collecting a variety of power-ups.
Versions of the game were released for several home computer or game systems, including the Commodore 64, the Commodore Amiga, the Atari ST, and the Nintendo Entertainment System. A sequel to Bubble Bobble called Bubble Bobble 2 was also released for the NES, as well as Rainbow Islands, a sequel to the first two games. Rainbow Islands was later remade for the Sega Genesis.
The original arcade game, despite its release date (1986) and its apparent simplicity features some rather complicated and convoluted game mechanics, one of the main reasons that most computer or game console ports of the game, even when released several years of distance from the original, seem lacking and incomplete in many aspects.
Each level (or round) consisted of exactly one screen, with no scrolling or flipping. The dragons could move around the levels by walking on platforms, falling through empty space, jumping through platforms from below and (in some levels) falling through holes at the bottom of the level in order to reappear at the top, or even viceversa (see gameplat techniques below).
Each round also featured invisible pathways and custom bubble physics, causing all bubbles to move in predetermined trajectories like converging to a certain point, moving very fast or very slow, rising too fast or, on the contrary, being pulled down as by a strong gravity etc. usually with notable effects on a level's difficulty.
Also, some levels had got very short bubble popping times, down to the point of only being able to kill monsters by kissing them, or very short time limits, with a few rounds having no time limits and a few of them being potentially impossible to finish, under certain conditions (single player, lack or certain bonuses, wrong actions etc.).
There was a variety of enemies that moved around in different patterns. Contact with an enemy (or the missiles fired by some) would kill a dragon. The dragons' job was to complete the level by killing all enemies in it. If this was not achieved within a time limit , the enemies would become "angry" (making them faster and thus more dangerous and harder to kill) and one or two skulls appeared that would home in towards the dragons to kill them. after a "hurry up!" message was flashed across the screen.
There were 7 kinds of normal enemies, plus the final boss and two kinds of invincible monsters that appeared after the "hurry up" limit, each with their own names. Roughly, in order of appearance, they were:
- Pulpul: A box-shaped, clockwork walking monster with a medium moving speed and good jumping abilities.
- Mighta or Banebu : A walking monster with red eyes wearing a white robe, much like a ghost. Has a medium moving speed, good jumping abilities and able to shoot. This monster actually first appeared on Taito's 1983 game Chack'n Pop .
- Monsta or Beluga: A flying blue/dark purple monster shaped roughly like a small whale. It flies fast but can only bounce off walls to change direction.
- Hullabaloon: A pink flying monster looking like a toy bear with a small rotor on his head. Flies around slowly but with greater control than the Monsta . Can also creep in very small openings other monsters and players cannot pass through, making it very dangerous in some rounds.
- Incendo: A fast walking monster with shooting abilities, but poor jumping.
- Drunk: A fast moving monster with good jumping capabilites, and able to throw a bottle which rebounds off walls and is re-caught by the thrower. The final boss is modelled after them.
- Super Socket: A robotic-looking monster, fast, but can only move left or right. It can shoot, but only vertically (downwards), making it very dangerous in some stages. First appears on stage 60, and doesn't appear at all in the Super version of the game.
- Skel or Baron von Blubba: It is the invincible monster that appears after the time completion limit for a round has expires (note, this limit can be as low as 1 or 2 seconds on some particular rounds, and there are only two rounds with no time limit, round 94 and round 100 ). It looks like a white Monsta but it can only move vertically or diagonally and at timed intervals,but can pass through walls, ceilings, floors and speeds up each time players avoind getting caught, down to the point of moving continuously.
In two players mode, two Skels appear, each one homing on one player only, although both players can be killed by touching any of the Skels. Skel can only be destroyed by killing a player, or if a player who has just been killed touches his companion's Skel while he is still flickering, and thus invincible. Another way to get rid of Skel is to pick up the flashing heart powerup (the only one which remains on the screen after the "hurry up!" warning, apart of course completing a round.
A smaller Skel also appears in the secret diamaond-filled rounds, which can be accessed by special bonuses that sometimes appear on rounds 20, 30 and 40. Losing one's last life inside such a secret round will cause the maximum round reached to be "Round 102", "Round 103" or "Round 104" depending in which temple death occurred, and the first new game started after that will teleport players to the first secret round straight from round 1, but will also cause secret rounds to appear earlier, at stages 10, 20 and 30, and the special 20-stage skip bonus on stage 40 instead of stage 50.
Weapons and bonuses
The dragons' main weapon was their ability to breathe bubbles. After exhalation, these would shoot forward for a short distance, then float upwards slowly. It was possible to jump on bubbles to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. An enemy hit by a forward-shooting (not floating) bubble would be trapped in it. The bubble could then be popped, killing the enemy and turning it into bonus points. If left floating, it would become angry and escape the bubble after a while.
In some levels, there were special bubbles that appeared by themselves:
- Bubbles with letters that yielded an extra life when one had collected a complete set.
- Water-filled bubbles that could be popped to release a stream of water that would flow down and drown enemies, turning them into 7000-pts blue diamonds.
- Bubbles containing lightning blots that would, when the bubble was popped, shoot sideways (even through walls) and kill any enemies they hit, turning them into 8000-pts yellow diamonds.
- Bubbles containing flames that would, when the bubble was popped, drop downwards setting any surface they touched on fire for a short time. killing any monters they burned and turning them into 9000-pts red diamonds.
- A very rare red bubble with a pulsing yellow spark, which when popped awarded 100000 pts and gave the player which popped it the ability to breathe fireballs for the six consecutive rounds.
The main Power-ups were:
- Boots than enables faster walking and jumping
- A blue candy which increased the travelling and forming speed of bubbles
- A purple candy which increased the shooting range of bubbles
- A yellow candy that increased tha rate at which bubbles could be breathed.
- A yellow lamp which gave all three bubble-related bonuses.
- A Red cross which would give the player who took it the ability to breathe flames till the end of the current round.
- A Yellow cross which would cause 3 or 4 lighting bolts to cross the screen, killing any monster they would encounter, including bubbled ones.
- A Blue cross which would kill all monsters by flooding the round with water. This could take some 3 or 4 seconds to complete though, and players were still vulnerable.
- A Red Lamp which would instantly kill all monsters, turning them into 9000-pts red diamonds.
- A Bomb, which would instantly kill all monsters, turning them into 10000-pts dark blue diamonds.
Playing Techniques and styles
Bubble Bobble is a game heavily relying on gameplay and precise technique rather than graphics, and it features a series of special techniques and trick a player can perform to maximize his score, make some rounds of the game easier or faster to finish or just to be able to survive or ever finish a round.
Some of these techniques have special nicknames, which may differ from player to player and from country to country.
- Kissing monsters or just Kissing means killing a monster by blowing a bubble at almost contact distance: the monster will be instantly bubbled and the bubble will be instantly popped, giving the visual effect of the player killing a monster with a "kiss". Some players flip their joysticks in the opposite direction after pressing the bubble buttons, giving more chances of an "instant pop" and changing flight direction for the dead monster. This technique is useful in stages where monsters move too fast or bubbles last for a too short time or it's otherwise hard to bubble them normally. Of course good timing is required for this technique to work.
- Riding bubbles means keeping the jump button pressed when dropping on a bubble: if done correctly, instead of popping the bubble, you dragon will instead jump on it, possibly continuously, enabling him to "ride" bubbles in order e.g. to reach otherwise unreachable areas.
Some stages can't be finished without this technique.
- Bubbling oneself through means "riding a bubble" through the opening at the top of a stage or even just through the ceiling of a stage in order to appear at the lower part, like some flying monsters can do. This technique is required to finish some stages or to get unstuck from some places, or just to save time.
- Blowing against the wall means blowing bubbles against wall at contact distance: the bubbles will pop immediately thus giving the player 10 points per bubble pop. This can be used to either increase a player's score, or to set a player's score to a specific amount, in order to do other tricks.
- Two equal digits means using the "blowing against the wall technique or other score-adjusting techniques in order to make the two pre-last (100s and 10s) digits of at least one player equal e.g. 456770, before the last enemy bubble is burst. If done correctly and the score is not modified when this occurs, then all remaining non-special bubble on screen will be turned to 700-point bonuses, whose appearance depends on the digit picked. e.g. 7 gives Chocolate Ice Creams, 3 gives Hamburgers etc.
This trick is easier to do with two players (one adjust his score and the other burst the bubbles), but it can also be done with only one player, although calculating exactly how much (and if) one's score will be modified when bursting the last enemy bubbles can be extremely complex, if not unpredictable, especially if there are very large and clustered bubble bunches.
Rounds with numbers ending with 5 and 0 generate bonuses from bubbles automatically though, and some rounds (including round 1) do it by default.
Game Mechanics in conversions and ports
Bubble Bobble has been widely recognized as one of the most playable games of all time, owing much of its success to its previously described game mechanics, which are only apparently simple, and its many hidden features and secrets. Also, most Bubble Bobble players usually manage to master techniques such as riding bubbles, bubbling oneself through the screen or kissing monsters, and expect them to work all the time.
Some Bubble Bobble ports however, from the date of release of the Arcade version up to day, have been heavily criticized for the poor quality of their mechanics (or, rather, their not being similar enough to the arcade).
For example, in many versions of the game the two-digit trick to make extra bonuses appear at the end of the stage just doesn't work, or the score and bonus awarding system is entirely different, in part due to the complexity of the original one, and most of the aforementioned techniques can be much harder or impossible to reproduce, thus completely changing (or even ruining) the gaming experience.
Examples include even comparatively recent versions such as the (1996) PC/Playstation/Sega Saturn version by Acclaim: it had completely wrong game physics (too fast dropping speed, barely working shoes, bubbles going through walls, different jumping physics and many non-implemented techniques) or different (hence, wrong) behaviour for some monsters (especially the time-up monster).
Another example is the early 1989 PC version by Novalogic, which had the possibity of diagonal jumps with a single keystroke, enabling players to go through walls, and lacked completely the ability of kissing monsters.
In general, there as many variations to the game mechanics as there are versions, with some being better than others and some resulting in one's completely different experience with the game. Although that is a general rule regarding ports of any game, in Bubble Bobble it becomes very noticeable and annoying because of the game relying primarily on its fast paced and trick-filled gameplay.
One of the few versions having game mechanics and gameplay very close to the arcade is the Sega Master System version, despite its introduction of extra gameplay elements.
Bubble Bobble inspired many sequels, including:
- Rainbow Islands - The Story of Bubble Bobble 2 (1987)
- Rainbow Islands Extra Version (1988)
- Final Bubble Bobble (1988 Sega Master System)
- Parasol Stars (1991 NEC PC-Engine)
- Bubble Bobble Part 2 (1993 Nintendo Famicom)
- Bubble Bobble II (World) / Bubble Symphony (Eu,Jap,US) (1994 Arcade)
- Bubble Memories - The Story of Bubble Bobble III (1996 Arcade)
- Rainbow Islands - Putty's Party (2000 Bandai Wonderswan)
Bub and Bob also appeared in Puzzle Bobble, otherwise known as Bust a Move in the United States. Bust a Move was followed by many sequels, for many consoles, including PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and even the N-Gage, along with computer and arcade versions. It became more popular than the original Bubble Bobble game itself.
- The KLOV entry on Bubble Bobble
- Bubble Bobble FAQ
- Bubble Bobble HQ
- Bubble Bobble 2 Flash game
- Unofficial homepage of Bub and Bob
- Category at ODP
- BUBBLE BOBBLE by Taito Instruction manual.
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