Bubble Bobble Revolution Reader Review
This is a difficult review for me to write - for as the final levels tumble away I still don't know whether I actually like this game or not. Bubble Bobble (the original) is one of my favourite games of all time - I'm a sucker for the franchise having bought it on Amstrad, Amiga, PSOne, GBA, and PS2 - and each time I've played the same game, over and over. Loving it everytime.
Bubble Bobble Revolutions (BBR) was meant to be bringing something new. Not ‘new’ in the "Bubble Bobble Old and New" GBA sense and simply tarting up the graphics; rather ‘new’ in the sense of bringing the essence of the original arcade game, and combining it with the innovative opportunities the DS presents. A mouth watering concept for someone like me, but doubts started creeping in when it was rather quietly released, and not a review was to be found anywhere. Despite this doubt, I knew I had to experience the game, so I went ahead and purchased it against my Christmas budget wishes.
The main part of BBR is a single player game where you are in single rooms (a-la the arcade original) that are roughly four DS screens high and wide. The screen scrolls around as you move (top and bottom screen) – but you do not see the whole room at one time. Within this room are the usual baddies to be bubbled and popped. Clear the baddies, and you move onto the next screen. Other than the graphics, BBR also includes the following additions: Super Bubble, which charges like the beam in r-type, and can catch multiple baddies in one bubble (essential in completing the game); ghost bubbles, which allow you to appear on the opposite screen to where you are – pressing the right shoulder button transports you to where the ghost was; health ‘hearts’, meaning you can take three hits before losing a life; fans that can be operated by blowing into the DS mic which blow bubbles in certain directions; and a touch screen bonus game that’s an overly simple waste of time.
My indecision on whether I actually like the game or not started when I first booted the cartridge: it defaulted to the original Bubble Bobble conversion (a near faultless version despite an annoying glitch that means that the room is slightly bigger than the DS screen, so it jerks when you get to either the top or the bottom). I couldn’t resist playing the original first, but it did raise questions why the cart defaults to it. In my mind it was almost as if the developers tipped their hat too far in reverence, and conceded defeat before the player had time to assess – a little point I know, but one that shaped my views before I started playing.
Eventually I did get around to playing BBR, and my first impressions were mixed. The graphic design and sound are both ok, and the gameplay itself was competent – but something was lacking when comparing it to the original I had just being playing. However, sticking with it, I found a few points to enjoy. Many baddies from the original reappear, as do many of the bonuses – which never fail to bring a smile to my face. The super bubble is probably the best of the new features, and timely use can help enemies drop a key, combining this with the usual fire, lightening and fire bubbles can cause a lot of destruction.
So far, so playable – but I never really feel like I’m enjoying the game. The level design is patchy at best, with a difficulty curve replaced by a series of spikes (room 42 anyone?? What the hell is that all about?). These spikes often appear physically in the game, positioned on ceilings where the top screen meets the bottom - it is very hard to judge whether you have the room to jump or not, which leads to many unnecessary deaths. The boss encounters every 10 screens are simplistic, bland and unchallenging – and are something of an anti climax after you’ve just scraped through nine tough levels to get to them. And for me, the biggest sacrilege is that you can bubble and pop the Baron Von Bubba character!! He’s supposed to be the big, bad, unstoppable baddie – but here he can be easily removed. Instead this game hurries you along by advancing through seasons in the background from spring through to winter. When winter arrives, the ground freezes over, making to slippy for Bub and Bob to navigate – and that’s as bad as it gets. I can understand the reasoning for the design choice, but weakening Baron Von Bubba in such a way was a hard pill for me to swallow.
Overall, I cannot really recommend this to anyone. It’s enjoyable as far as it goes, but it quickly becomes a bit of a drudge to plough through once you hit the difficult rooms that are scattered randomly throughout the 100 rooms. The bubble burst early with this release, but there is enough here for me to look forward to a potential pot of gold that the “new” Rainbow Islands offers.
5 / 10