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Bubble Bobble 4 Friends

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 18 - 2019

Bub and Bob are back again. Bring out the bubble machine!

 
Taito’s Bubble Bobble originally launched in 1986. In the more than 30 years since that launch there have been multiple sequels and spin-offs, along with releases of the original game on pretty much every platform. While none of these subsequent games have really matched the quality of the original title, they have all managed to ensure that most gamers out there will know of the two little dinosaurs Bub and Bob, with many having fond memories of the duo. Well, the time has come to make more memories as Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is launching exclusively on Nintendo Switch and promises more bubble-popping fun as players come together to complete level after level of 2D platforming action.

 


 
I guess it is conceivable that there would be some gamers out there who don’t know Bubble Bobble, and so for those a quick explanation. The player, or players, take on the role of a small dinosaur that can blow bubbles. Landing on a single screen 2D level, the player is then tasked with removing all of the enemies from the level. This is done by blowing a bubble at the enemy, which will trap them in the bubble, and then jumping from above or below to pop the bubble, removing them from play. Once an enemy pops, they leave behind fruit that will give the player points. Manage to get multiple enemies in bubbles and pop them at the same time to get better fruit worth more points, but wait to long and the bubbles will dissolve, freeing the enemies and leaving the player to start all over again. There is a current to each level that guides where the bubbles move too once floating, which can sometimes leave the player having to chase around the screen after a bubble, and may involve the player having to use the other mechanic of the game, the bubble jump. The little dragon is able to jump on bubbles, including their own, to reach other parts of the screen. It can be a little tricky to master this move at the beginning, but once it all clicks, it almost becomes muscle memory and will stay with the player for life.

 
The great news is that those who pick up Bubble Bobble 4 Friends will be able to access the full original game through an arcade machine in the level selection screen. Sure, it looks very dated now, but is still great fun to play. However, the real reason for picking up Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is to experience something new, and the game drops a rather enjoyable 50 levels for the player to enjoy. Hang on, only 50 levels? Yeah, that is one of a couple of disappointments with the game. Admittedly, these 50 “family friendly” levels are followed by 50 “challenging” levels, but the challenging levels are just the first 50 levels repeated with more complexity. So, 100 levels of sorts is what the player can expect.

 


 
But what wonderful levels they are. It all starts quite easy, but before long the player will find themselves having to negotiate enemy attacks and difficult to reach areas in order to complete each level within the time limit. Every ten levels is also book ended with a boss battle, which pits the little dinosaur against a massive enemy and will see the player avoiding attacks before unleashing their own bubbly offence. It really is great fun. The player will earn special moves as they progress, from exploding bubbles that will take out enemies in a row, to bubbles that travel further than regular bubbles. These can be further improved by collecting the EXTEND bubbles that will show up in the levels, although catching these can be tricky.

 
The visuals are simple but really nice. It is all bright and colourful, and easy to see what is going on even on the smaller Switch screen. Things can get chaotic, what with all of the bubbles floating around, but that is all part of the fun. The soundtrack is also a real highlight, with a modern version of the catchy Bubble Bobble theme tune still managing to get lodged in the head and hummed for days on end.

 
As given away by the title, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends allows the player to bring along three more friends. This four player co-op is an absolute blast, but is limited to local play with no online component, and only consists of the core game. There are no extra modes for playing with friends, no competitive play to raise the tension, and even the score is combined so players can’t compete for the most score. This really does limit the longevity of the game. That being said though, the family friendly nature of at least the first 50 levels means that Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a great choice for family get togethers as it will cater to all levels of player, and even those that don’t usually play games will find it difficult to resist.

 


 
It is always great to get a new Bubble Bobble game, and Bubble Bobble 4 Friends really does capture the magic of the original. The lack of modes, online multiplayer and small number of levels is a disappointment. However, the joy of playing Bubble Bobble again really can’t be understated, and having the original included in the package is a great bonus. It is the sort of game that can easily be picked up by gamers of any level and enjoyed. For bubble-blowing fun, with friends or alone, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends proves that the Bubble Bobble formula is as much fun now as ever.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 



 

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