Bubble Bobble is an arcade game created by Taito. The arcade version of the game was released in 1986, with console and computer releases coming soon after. The game is a co-op platformer starring twin dinosaurs named Bub and Bob as they travel through one hundred one-screen levels. Bubble Bobble became very popular, inspiring a number of sequels and spin-offs.
Bubble Bobble follows Bub and Bob as they venture through 100 different levels. The dinosaurs have the ability to blow bubbles, which they capture enemies within. Once an enemy is captured inside of a bubble, Bub and Bob must pop the bubble to defeat the enemy. Once defeated, the enemy will fly off and turn into a tasty treat, which can be snagged by Bub and Bob for points. The object of each level is to eliminate every foe. When one foe remains, they will become enraged and move faster. If Bub and Bob take too long, ghost whales will come and destroy the dinosaurs. Each level consists of one screen with a complex series of blocks. Bub and Bob can jump through thin layers of blocks, as can their enemies. There are two holes on the top of the screen and two holes on the bottom. All characters can travel through these to the opposite side of the screen.
There is a large number of enemies, all of which have different traits. The most basic of these enemies is a small, square robot that runs around. Others include witches that create boulders,
whales that bounce around, helicopter blobs, and more. As the game progresses, more enemy types appear in all sorts of locations, and the challenge comes in figuring out how to take out each type of enemy. Some offensive items that will commonly appear are waterfalls and lightning bolts. Waterfalls will sweep up any characters they pass and dump them down the hole. Lightning bubbles will fly horizontally across the screen, shocking anything they touch. There are also powerups that create short bonus rounds, such as one that spreads large cookies over the screen, and the players must gather them before the time runs out.
There are a large variety of powerups to collect in the game, and some must be used to safely complete a level. Each one arrives randomly, and many are quite rare.
- Yellow Sweetie: Bubble firing speed increases
- Purple Sweetie: Long range bubbles
- Blue Sweetie: Increase bubble firing speed across screen
- Red Ring: Points increase per bubble fired
- Purple Ring: Added points every jump performed
- Blue Ring: Added points for every pixel travelled.
- Red Shoe: Faster movement
- Clock: Timer freezes
- Orange Umbrella: Skip 3 levels
- Red Umbrella: Skip 5 levels
- Purple Umbrella: Skip 7 levels
- Blue Cross: Flood screen with water killing all enemies
- Red Cross: Shoot fireballs instead of bubbles
- Yellow Cross: Lightning flash kills all enemies
- Blue Lamp: Gives effect of all three rings
- Yellow Lamp: Gives effect of all three Sweeties
- Red Lamp: Gives effect off both Blue and Yellow Lamps
- Purple Lamp: Kills all enemies
- Bomb: Kills all enemies
- Book: Kills all enemies
- Diamond Pendant: Stars flood the screen killing all enemies
- Lightning Potion: Fires Lightning bolts instead of bubbles
- Red Bracelet: Causes E.X.T.E.N.D Bubbles to appear at next available opportunity
- White Bracket: A Ball bounces around the stage killing all enemies
- Flashing Heart: Enemies freeze, dinosaur becomes invincible
- Crystal Ball: Causes Item spawn frequency to increase
- Dungeon Door With Flames: Secret room with hidden message
- Wooden Dungeon Door: Only Appears on Lv 50. Passageway to lv 70.
- Skull: Immediately initiates "Hurry up!"
- Coloured Potions: Cause enemies to die and the screen to fill with special items which increase score. A timed "collect as many as you can" mini game begins.
- There are many other powerups not listed, most of which increase the player's score, or aid in doing so.
- Bubble Buster: A Grey clockwork robot. Moves along the ground and can jump to higher platforms.
- Coiley: An orange spring robot. Bounces to traverse the stage.
- Stoner: A white cloaked enemy that moves along the ground and can jump to higher platforms. He Can also fire rolling rocks in the players direction.
- Incendo: A Fast moving character with limited jump ability. Shoots fireballs in the players direction.
- Hullaballon: Moves diagonally by floating around the stage. Coloured Pink with a purple propeller.
- Beluga/Blubba: A purple copy of Baron Von Blubba. Diagonally traversing the stage. Unlike Baron Von Blubba this enemy cannot traverse through walls.
- Super Socket: A space invader inspired enemy. Behaving as one would expect a space invader to behave.
- Willy Whistle: A smaller, scalled down, version of Grumple Gromit (Boss). With Fast Movement and high jumping abilities. Can throw beer bottles towards the player which act similar to boomerangs.
- Grumple Gromit: Giant Boss. Moves diagonally and is only injured by lightning attacks.
Taito Bubble Bobble Arcade System
- Graphics: Raster
- Orientation: Horizontal
- Resolution: 256×224 pixels
- Color on Screen: 256 (8-bit)
- Color Palette: 4096 (12-bit)
Bubble Bobble was well received in arcades. In Japan, the Gamest Awards gave it the Silver Award for being one of the four best games of 1986, along with Taito's own Arkanoid, Sega's Fantasy Zone and Tecmo's Rygar (Gamest, The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, pages 6-26). In Europe, Bubble Bobble was the most popular arcade game on Euromax's nationwide UK charts during the period of May-July 1987, above Capcom's 1942 at second place.
The arcade game also received positive reviews from European critics. In the November 1986 issue of Computer and Video Games, Clare Edgeley described it as an "addictive" game that "sounds quite easy", letting "you in gently", before "the nasties get faster, more of them appear and they're harder to catch." She stated the "continue play facility" is "a great help and allows you to see much more of the game" if "you've got the cash", and the "two player option is more fun as" both "can act as a team" to "clear the screens quickly" and "get to the harder levels." She also noted "the sense of competition is heightened as the player who grabs the fruit gets the points, regardless of who burst the bubbles", which "fast develops into a race against each other." In the April 1987 issue of Crash, Gary Penn described it as a "deceptively simple" arcade game "that proves very addictive and lots of fun to play." He concluded that it was "very compelling" and recommended readers to "Invest a few coins as soon as you can."
The home console and computer ports were also well received. Mean Machines gave the Game Boy port of the game a score of 91%, noting that while some changes had been made, the game played identical to the original arcade port and "provides much addiction and challenge". The Spectrum version was voted number 58 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time. GamesRadar ranked it the 24th best NES game ever made. The staff praised its advancements over other platform games of its time and its use of multiple endings.