Bubble Bobble

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Bubble Bobble
Bubble Bobble flyer
Promotional US flyer for the original arcade iteration of Bubble Bobble
Developer(s) Taito
Publisher(s) Taito and Romstar
Designer(s) Fukio Mitsuji
Composer(s) Tadashi Kimijima
Platform(s) Arcade, Various
Release date(s) 1986
Genre(s) Platform game
Mode(s) One player or 2 players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
Display Raster, standard resolution 256×224 (horizontal), 256 colors

Bubble Bobble (バブルボブル Baburu Boburu?) is an arcade game by Taito, first released in 1986 [1] and later ported to numerous home computers and game consoles.[2] The game, starring the twin Bubble Dragons Bub (Bubblun) (バブルン Baburun?) and Bob (Bobblun) (ボブルン Boburun?), is an action-platform game in which players travel through one hundred different stages, blowing and bursting bubbles, dodging enemies and collecting a variety of items.[3] The game became very popular and led to a long series of sequels and spin-offs. The main goal of the game is to rescue Bub and Bob's girlfriends from Robots, among other enemies. It is an early example of a game with multiple endings, which depend on the player's performance and discovery of secrets.[citation needed]

Game mechanics[edit]

In the game, each player controls one of the two Bubble Dragons, Bub and Bob. The player can move along platforms, as well as jump to those above and to the side, similar to most platform games.

The player can also blow bubbles. These can trap enemies, who are defeated if the bubble is then burst by the player's spiny back. Bubbles that contain enemies can be popped at the same time resulting in different foods being projected around the level. Each enemy trapped in a bubble equates to a different food. Food is consumed and transferred to points (an increasing scale of 1000 points is awarded for each enemy burst in tandem with another meaning: one enemy burst equals one food item worth 1000 points, two enemies burst equals two food items worth 1000 and 2000 points, three enemies burst equals three food items worth 1000, 2000 and 4000 points, and so on), which results in earning lives. These same bubbles also float for a time before bursting, and can be jumped on, allowing access to otherwise inaccessible areas. Players progress to the next level once all enemies on the current level are defeated.[4]

Enemies turn "angry" — becoming pink-colored and moving faster — if they are the last enemy remaining, escape from a bubble after being left too long or a certain amount of time has been spent on the current level. A monster will also become angry if either player collects a skull (the only negative item in the game), and the monster is hit by the resulting comet crossing the screen (however, this is a rare occurrence).

After a further time limit expires, an additional invincible enemy appears for each player, actively chasing them using only vertical and horizontal movements. These do not need to be defeated to complete the level, and disappear once a player's life is lost.

Contact with enemies and their projectiles (rocks, lasers, fireballs, etc.) results in death.

The game's music was written by Japanese team Zuntata. Peter Clarke, Tim Follin and David Whittaker converted the music for the home computer ports (some versions feature the ending sequence track for the title screen music, such as on the Commodore Amiga version by David Whittaker).


The popularity of Bubble Bobble led Taito (or its licensees) to port to many home computers and video game consoles. Ports of the game were released for the Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Atari ST, MSX, Amstrad CPC, Sharp X68000, PC (DOS, 1989 and 1996), Apple II, FM Towns Marty, Sega Master System, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom Disk System, Sega Game Gear, mobile phone (Sprint PCS), Texas Instruments TI-8x series of calculators[5] and UltraCade's Taito Arcade Classics. A version also exists for the BBC Micro on public domain though never officially released. The original Sega Master System version had two hundred levels.[6] Of the original 8 and 16 bit ports, the NES and Game Boy ones were made by Taito themselves. Sega converted Bubble Bobble for the Master System (although this version was not released in North America). The Commodore 64 and Spectrum versions were published by UK-based Firebird Software, and most of the other computer ports by US-based Novalogic. Commodore 64 coder Steve Ruddy recalled,

It wasn't daunting originally, as it looked like a fairly straightforward platform and sprite game. However, once you start playing you noticed how the bubbles followed air flow patterns and how they all gathered in fixed places - lots of sprites on the same line meant a sprite multiplexer wasn't suitable. Fortunately, having worked on the BBC Micro and Mystery of the Nile, I wasn't averse to using software sprites. ... We didn't understand all of the secrets so we just implemented the game to mimic what we did notice. So how the pick-ups appear isn't the same as the arcade on the C64, but it should be very similar to how the pickups appear after the machine is powered up.[7]

In 1996, Taito announced that they lost the original source code.[8] As Probe Entertainment was in charge of the home conversions, Taito sent them a Bubble Bobble arcade PCB so they could play the original game and reproduce its mechanics. This led to the release of Bubble Bobble also featuring Rainbow Islands for Saturn, PlayStation and PC (DOS) in 1996.

The original Game Boy and Game Boy Color versions have a Moon Water storyline, and are known as Bubble Bobble, and Classic Bubble Bobble respectively.[9]

In 2002, a homebrew version for the TI-83 graphing calculator was released.[10]

In October 2005, a version was released for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC as part of the Taito Legends compilation of classic arcade games.

At the end of 2006, a new port for mobile phones in Europe and Japan was released.

On December 31, 2007, the NES version of Bubble Bobble was released on Nintendo's Virtual Console service for the Wii. It costs 500 Wii Points, the equivalent of US$5.

During Christmas of 2011, a new version for the Amstrad CPC, entitled Bubble Bobble 4 CPC or BB4CPC was released for free by programmer CNGSoft, as an update to the original/official CPC version.

The Famicom version of Bubble Bobble was also released for the Nintendo eShop on October 16, 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS and on January 29, 2014 for the Wii U.


Review scores
Publication Score
Computer and Video Games 27/30[15]
Crash 90%[13]
Sinclair User 8/10[14]
Your Sinclair 90%[12]
TGM 93%[18]
Zzap!64 97%[19]
Publication Award
Zzap!64 Gold Medal

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".[20] The Spectrum version was also voted number 58 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time.[21] 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.[22]


Bubble Bobble inspired many sequels, including:


  1. ^ "Bubble Bobble Video Game by Taito (1986)". klov.com. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  2. ^ "Bubble Bobble Games". mobygames.com. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  3. ^ "Bubble Bobble". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 4 Oct 2013. 
  4. ^ Dawkes, Adam (2004). "Bubble Trouble". Retro Gamer magazine (8). adamdawes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-11. 
  5. ^ "Bubble Bobble 8x". Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  6. ^ "Bubble Bobble Cheats, Codes, and Secrets". GameFaqs. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Bevan, Mike (December 2013). "Bubbles, Baseball and Buzz Saws...". Retro Gamer (122) (Imagine Publishing). pp. 74–79. 
  8. ^ "Bubble Bobble video game, Taito Corp. (1986)". arcade-history.com. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  9. ^ "Bubble Bobble StrategyWiki". strategywiki.com. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  10. ^ "Bubble Bobble 8x". Dwedit.org. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  11. ^ Couper, Chris. "Bubble Bobble-Review". Allgame. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Bubble Bobble". Ysrnry.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  13. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  14. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  15. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  16. ^ Shau, Austin. "Bubble Bobble Review". Gamespot. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  17. ^ . videogamecritic.net Video Game Critic's NES Reviews http://videogamecritic.com/nesbb.htm#Bubble_Bobble=The Video Game Critic's NES Reviews. Retrieved April 12, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  19. ^ "Zzap!64 100th Issue Pull-Out Special Page 5". Zzap64.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  20. ^ Rignall, Julian (August 1992). "Bubble Bobble review". Mean Machines (23). Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  21. ^ "Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair. September 1993. 
  22. ^ "Best NES Games of all time". GamesRadar. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 

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