Wii

North America

Bubble Bobble Plus!

by Zachary Miller - July 3, 2009, 5:31 pm PDT
Total comments: 26

6

It’s the same game you know and love, plus some tweaks, and one major flaw.

I love me some Bubble Bobble on the NES/VC. The infectious music, mere presence of dinosaurs (or “bubble dragons”), the silly enemy designs, and creative levels all come together to make a fantastic game that I still play today. Bubble Bobble Plus is a WiiWare remake that features a whole slew of new features that add longevity to the title, only developer Taito forgot one very important thing that I’ll get to in a minute.

For those of you who somehow missed out on the original Bubble Bobble, it’s a game roughly similar to Rainbow Islands (its sequel) and Snow Bros. in that your character—in this case a little bubble-blowing dinosaur—runs around a stage trying to kill all the enemies in order to move on to the next stage. There are one hundred stages total, and they vary in complexity, as do their enemies. You blow bubbles at enemies to trap them within the bubble, then jump on the bubble or pop it with your dorsal spines to kill the encapsulated foe. Dead baddies always leave fruit behind, which you collect for points, and various items and fruits are constantly dotting the landscape of each stage. There’s a wealth of items:warp umbrellas, speedy sneakers, bonus round activators, rapid-fire bubble blowers, enemy-destroying plagues activated by crosses, special bubbles that spell out “EXTEND” for a 1-up, and many more. Although it may at first seem like most items appear randomly, in fact many have specific requirements that must be met before they appear..

The bubble dragons (Bub & Bob) can move around and jump, as well as bounce on bubbles (hold down 2). If you don’t pop an enemy bubble in time, they will escape and become an faster red version of themselves. This will also happen automatically to the last enemy alive in the room (unless he’s in a bubble). Every stage employs a creative tile design that will have you thinking on your feet, though cheap deaths are one of the game’s trappings. Happily, the game has a wortwhile two-player co-op mode, and you can continue from where you left off endlessly….

Providing you don’t turn off your Wii. Bubble Bobble Plus lacks any sort of save feature. If you quit on stage 34, for instance, and then go back the next day, you will start from stage 1. Apparently, unlike the original Bubble Bobble on NES (which featured passwords), you must slog through the entire game in one sitting. This takes a few hours and is completely unacceptable in a modern console game. The lack of a save feature is bad, but the lack of a password system, something Taito could have lifted from the original game, is downright horrendous. And since this is WiiWare and not VC, you can’t suspend your gaming session. I understand that Taito was, perhaps, trying to replicate the experience of the very first Bubble Bobble (an arcade cabinet), but they should have given players the option of saving.

It makes you want to play the other modes less. Bubble Bobble on the old brick Game Boy featured a Hard mode, accessible after beating the main game. It was harder because it remixed the enemies (just like Super Mario Land). That same mode is present here as Super Standard. It’s the same 100 stages, but the top-tier enemies are present from the get-go. The newest addition is Arrange Mode, which features 100 brand-new stages that are playable with four players. It gets very chaotic, but in a fun way. This mode introduces slopes, which cause your bubble to angle diagonally. This isn’t revolutionary, but it adds to the strategy somewhat. Bubble Bobble Plus also supports downloadable content (DLC) in the form of two additional level packs, 50 stages each, for the truly hardcore among you. The game touts online leader boards so that you can see how slowly you can complete 100 stages compared to kids without jobs or families.

Bubble Bobble Plus would be the ultimate Bubble Bobble experience, were it not marred by the lack of any kind of save or password feature. It’s enjoyable, no doubt, until you realize that you have to start at stage 1 every time you start it up. As a result, I have to recommend the original NES VC version over this one. It doesn’t have four-player co-op, but it does let you save your progress.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 4 8 8 4 6
Graphics
7

Calling them modern is a stretch, but the character sprites are larger and smoother than in the NES game, as well as more cartoony. The tile sets are bright and varied.

Sound
4

I love that Bubble Bobble theme as much as the next guy, but it does eventually wear thin during Standard and Hard (Super Standard) modes. The sound effects remain virtually identical to the NES game.

Control
8

You hold the Wii Remote NES-style, and the game handles exactly the same as the NES version.

Gameplay
8

Despite its simplicity and age, Bubble Bobble has legs and remains incredibly fun. The multitude of items adds plentiful variety, and the addition of Hard and Arrange modes are appreciated. The latter in particular, with its party game vibe, is very fun.

Lastability
4

This number would be much higher if there were a way to save my game somehow. Like so many people, I just don’t have time to sit and play through 100 stages in a row anymore. The fact that such a fundamental feature is absent thoroughly destroys the game’s replayability.

Final
6

The omnipresent awareness that you will be forced to go back to Square One should you fail to complete Bubble Bobble Plus in a single sitting cripples the fun factor, which is otherwise very high. Between this upgraded version on WiiWare and the NES original on Virtual Console, I have to recommend the latter.

Summary

Pros
  • Great choice for two more more players
  • Super Standard and Arrange modes add depth and length to the game
  • Updated 2D graphics are colorful and vibrant
Cons
  • Did I mention the "no save" thing?
  • Some of the new levels must be purchased as additional DLC
  • The music only changes in Arrange mode, and only every 20 stages
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJuly 04, 2009

Wait, the original let you save your progress? How? I don't recall any feature.

The original (NES game--and GB game) had a password. The original arcade game did not, seeing as it was a quarter-muncher.

TJ SpykeJuly 04, 2009

No save mode is inexcusable in 2009. Hell, the reason I didn't buy Tetris Worlds was because it had no save feature (half the fun in Tetris is trying to beat your high score). It's also the reason I never got Electroplankton, you could spend hours putting a piece together and it would be erased as soon as you turned the game off.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJuly 04, 2009

Wow I strongly disagree with your scores it seems like you intentionally sabotaged it just because it plays like the arcade game(lack of a save). I think the game is a incredible value at 6 dollars and if you want more levels it's only 2 dollars more per pack. 

MaxiJuly 04, 2009

Can't you use the suspend feature for this game?

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJuly 04, 2009

To be completely honest I don't mind the lack of a save feature in a game like this. To me, Bubble Bobble has never been the kind of game you have to beat. Its all about how far you can go in one sitting or quarter as the case may be. Many old games lacked a save feature for this exact reason. Pac Man, Mario Bros. and many more challenged you to complete the game and get the highest score in one sitting.

If you see Bubble Bobble as this type of game then it shouldn't be a problem. Its all about gamer perspective.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJuly 04, 2009

Quote from: Maxi

Can't you use the suspend feature for this game?

WiiWare doesn't have a suspend feature, the only thing the game saves is scores.

The no save feature would bug me... but wouldn't be a major gripe, i would learn to deal with it. Although that is probably my inner Bubble Bobble Fan Boy Speaking

I agree with Zach. The lack of any kind of save feature completely ruins this game for me. It's a fun game, but having a lack of a save feature makes the game very futile, especially if you play through Arrange mode with four players. Sometimes you might only get four people together at certain times. It'd be nice to not have to repeat the entire game every time you played it.

This game also doesn't support progressive scan.  Completely unacceptable.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusJuly 04, 2009

I've enjoyed the game, I bought all of the DLC too. For $10 I got a remake of the original Bubble Bobble (which I already own an NES cart of), and something like 300 new levels (could be counting wrong). As a Bubble Bobble fan, that is some incredible value.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJuly 04, 2009

IMO this game is an 8 or 9.

You should at least have the option of saving/resuming.  It's so silly that you can do that on the NES cartridge but not this version.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJuly 04, 2009

Once again I didn't see an issue with the lack of a save feature since Bubble Bobble doesn't strike me as the type of game you HAVE to complete or offers anything rewarding if you do. Its an old school arcade game where its all about getting the high score and getting far with few continues. Now I may sound like I am excusing the lack of a save feature. I understand where everyone is coming from. If Bubble Bobble was a game that tracked your progress, your characters leveled up and there was a deep story to explore then yeah, not being able to save would be the balls.

Besides the ranking mode, there is unlimited continues (if I'm not mistaken), so why not have a save/suspend feature?

Bubble Bobble has a pretty clear and defined end, so therefore it is a game that people will strive to complete. It's not like a puzzle game without a defined end.

Saying that this is an arcade game at heart and shouldn't have a save feature is a bullshit excuse that alienates people who grew up with the game on NES and Game Boy and had a save feature.

KDR_11kJuly 04, 2009

I hought thwe one flaw would be the busted bubble physics that make many levels MUCH harder than they should be, especially the ones involving three tile holes where you have to blow bubbles to use as platforms with the game popping the bubbles if you're one pixel away from the opposite wall (in the original that wasn't a problem). Also some say the original let bubbles fly straight through one tile gaps in a wall, I can't remember enough of the game but BBP doesn't let you do that either and many levels seem like they require it.

The GBA version saved your progress and let you continue from any stage you've reached (but only saves if you go game over and don't continue...).

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterJuly 04, 2009

Quote from: nron10

Besides the ranking mode, there is unlimited continues (if I'm not mistaken), so why not have a save/suspend feature?

Bubble Bobble has a pretty clear and defined end, so therefore it is a game that people will strive to complete. It's not like a puzzle game without a defined end.

Saying that this is an arcade game at heart and shouldn't have a save feature is a bull**** excuse that alienates people who grew up with the game on NES and Game Boy and had a save feature.

I'm sorry but its not defined enough. All it talks is about a "wonderful journey" that doesn't even tell you why you are killing enemies by encasing them in bubbles. I honestly didn't even know that you had to rescue someone at the end. As a kid I just played the game as I did Pac-Man and Mario Bros.; get as far as I could and try to achieve the highest score.

And I played the original Bubble Bobble TO DEATH so I don't feel alienated by this one. Its all about gamer perspective. If you see this game as a game with a clear and defined goal then yeah it sucks that it doesn't let you save. But if you see this as a classic style game where you try to achieve the highest score in one sitting them it shouldn't be a problem.

KDR_11kJuly 04, 2009

There's a ranked mode for score hunting, someone who's playing with infinite credits probably doesn't care much about score.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJuly 04, 2009

Quote from: KDR_11k

There's a ranked mode for score hunting, someone who's playing with infinite credits probably doesn't care much about score.

That's why online ranked mode only gives you 10 credits.

KDR_11kJuly 05, 2009

Yes and that's a separate mode from normal mode.

I still don't get why a feature that was in the NES and Game Boy versions was removed for a remake (plus more). Maybe it doesn't matter for some people, but there is a feature that was in previous games that wasn't there before.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJuly 05, 2009

Quote from: nron10

I still don't get why a feature that was in the NES and Game Boy versions was removed for a remake (plus more). Maybe it doesn't matter for some people, but there is a feature that was in previous games that wasn't there before.

1. Because the remake is based on the arcade game not the NES or Gameboy versions. 2. The arcade and console versions play a lot differently and  have different features.

So the fact that this is a remake of the arcade version means that the NES and Game Boy versions don't matter?

Not having a save feature makes the game less accessible, which is stupid for this game in my opinion.  This isn't Ikaruga.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJuly 06, 2009

Quote from: nron10

So the fact that this is a remake of the arcade version means that the NES and Game Boy versions don't matter?

If you are going by complete accuracy, yes.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusJuly 07, 2009

I think the lack of a save feature is definitely inexcusable, but I don't think it downgrades the experience that dramatically. Realistically, I wouldn't suggest buying this game just to play the levels of the original. If you buy this game, buy it because you want to play new Bubble Bobble levels.

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Genre Action
Developer Taito
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Bubble Bobble Plus!
Release May 25, 2009
PublisherTaito
RatingEveryone
jpn: Bubble Bobble Wii
Release Feb 10, 2009
PublisherTaito
RatingAll Ages
eu: Bubble Bobble Plus!
Release Apr 10, 2009
PublisherSquare Enix
Rating3+

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