Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: A Nostalgic Return to Greatness

Bubble Bobble is back baby!

A long time ago on in an arcade far far away, Taito made a game featuring two chibi dinosaurs that blow bubbles, trapping monsters in them before stomping them to oblivion. With a 100 stages (to play through twice, once with a harder difficulty in multiplayer to unlock the true ending) and a soundtrack that’ll be stuck in your head for years, Bubble Bobble was a revolution in gaming, being ported to every imaginable platform at the time.

An absolute classic.

33 years later and 10 years after the last Bubble Bobble game, developers ININ games have made a genuine sequel. Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, named so for two reasons, it is the story of Bubble Bobble 4 and 4 player, best enjoyed with friends, though unfortunately lacking online multiplayer. Take Bub, Bob and their girlfriends Peb and Pab through a brand new adventure of once again trapping monsters in bubbles before popping them.

Bouncing on bubbles has never been so much fun.

Being a reimagined arcade game, gameplay is king and as a massive fan of the original, I’m overjoyed to say Bubble Bobble 4 has got it right. You run round small simple levels blowing your bubbles and bursting them with your spikes or spiking by holding down in the air as unlike the original you bounce on bubbles by default and bounce higher on them by holding jump. A new feature is ducking to get through tight spaces allowing for extra level variation. Air flow pushes the bubbles about bringing a fresh new concept to the arcade classic sequel and creating interesting subtle changes between levels. Once you beat the 50 new levels, much like the original you unlock hard mode. There is some real challenge when it comes to this mode and completing the 10 stages in each area without using a continue and losing all your points is a massive achievement. On the other end of spectrum if you die a lot you’ll get the option to play with invincibility, making Bubble Bobble 4 a fantastic game to play for or with your kids.

Hard mode is hard.

The arcade original Bubble Bobble is included in this release so you can relive the joy that is the 1986 classic. Bubble Bobble is one of the few games from the 80s that still holds up today and it’s awesome to have it on my Switch.

The giant boss fights get hectic.

The replay value in Bubble Bobble 4 comes from trying to get massive scores by chaining your kills (getting enemies stuck in bubbles together and popping them all at once), giving you huge fruit and pudding bonuses at the end of each level. This combined with 5 unlockable and selectable powerups to vary gameplay a bit and earning up to 3 stars and collect ‘EXTEND’ for each area (these will take a good chunk of time to do on hard mode) plus the option to change the strength of the air flow. All giving real reason to play through Bubble Bobble 4 multiple times but with only 100 levels including hard mode, Bubble Bobble 4 will take about 4 hours to play through once so to make it worth your purchase you really need to replay as well as play through the original.

Get all the enemies together, then trap in bubbles and execute them.

The graphics are perfect for a retro remake, you can clearly tell it’s arcade inspired but Bub and Bob have never looked so good, being crisp and clean. It’s just a shame there’s no real change in environments or big difference in enemy design between the 5 areas but there are some nice blocky backgrounds based on classic Taito games.

I want a peach pudding that big!

The first area has a remix of the original catchy tune from Bubble Bobble, the other songs are okay, not as catchy as the original masterpiece of a tune. Bubble Bobble 4 does feature voice acting; a few random noises, it adds some charm to the characters though.

I actually love the art style.

I want to recommend Bubble Bobble 4 Friends with every fiber of my body as for fans of Bubble Bobble it is amazing, a classic sequel done right. The only problems are the price, only a handful of levels and the lack of online multiplayer, especially given the price.

There’s a good reason to collect the EXTEND bubbles.

A huge thank you to Taito for supplying the review code. Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is available both physically and digitally in the EU November 19th for £35.99/€39.99 and in the US Q1 2020.

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