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
Series Bubble Bobble
Platform(s) Arcade, Various
Release date(s) August 1986[1]
Genre(s) Platform game
Mode(s) One player or 2 players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Main CPUs: 2x Z80 (6Mhz), Z80 (3Mhz), M6801 (1Mhz)
Sound Sound CPU: YM2203 (3Mhz), YM3526 (3Mhz)
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 [2] and later ported to numerous home computers and game consoles.[3] 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.[2] 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 the Cave of Monsters. It is an early example of a game with multiple endings, which depend on the player's performance and discovery of secrets.[4]


Bubble Bobble Arcade Screenshot

"Baron Von Blubba" has kidnapped the brothers' Bubby and Bobby girlfriends and turned the brothers into Bubble Dragons, Bub and Bob. Bub and Bob have to finish 100 levels in the Cave of Monsters in order to rescue them.[5]

In the game, each player controls one of the two dragons. The player can move along platforms, as well as jump to those above and to the side, similar to most platform games. Each level is limited to a single screen, with no scrolling.

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.

On level 100 you face the final boss, the "Super Drunk" (an enlarged version of one of the games monsters the "Drunk"). It has to be defeated by catching a "Lightning Potion" that allows you to shoot lightning bubbles and in turn burst them to deal damage to the boss.[4][5][6]


The game was one of the first video games to feature multiple endings. If the player completes the game in single player mode, they will get the "Bad ending", with the remark: "Try again with your friend". If it is finished with two players, they get the "Good" ending, where the brothers are changed back and reunited with their girlfriends. Also a code is revealed that has to be deciphered that enables "Super" mode. "Super" mode is enabled by inputting a special code (Start - jump - Bubble - Left - Right - Jump - Start - Right) at the title screen. On the US version it can be accessed directly from the title screen. "Super mode" is effectively a faster and more difficult version of the game. Completed in "Super" mode with two players, on top of the results of the "Good" ending, the players get the "True" ending, in which it turns out that the final boss of level one-hundred, the Super Drunk, was Bub and Bob's parents under a spell. They are released and everyone lives happily ever after (at least until the events of Rainbow Islands)[5]


The game's music was written by Japanese team Zuntata. Ports for home computer versions were made by Peter Clarke (Commodore 64), David Whittaker (Amiga) and Tim Follin (Atari ST, ZX Spectrum). The music is based upon a popular folk song called "Sing Jemima Sing".


The popularity of Bubble Bobble led Taito (or its licensees) to port the game to many home computers and video game consoles. Ports of the game were released for the Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Atari ST, MSX2, Amstrad CPC, Sharp X68000, PC (DOS, 1989 and 1996), Apple II, FM Towns Marty, Sega Master System, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom Disk System, Sega Game Gear, mobile phone (Sprint PCS) and UltraCade's Taito Arcade Classics. The Sega Master System version is noted for having two hundred levels (in effect the normal and super modes consecutively) and is considered one of the best conversions available.[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 in Retro Gamer:

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.

In the Game Boy and Game Boy Color versions, since the Game Boy is in its nature a single player device, the storyline involves Bub looking for "Moon Water" to cure his brother, they are known as Bubble Bobble, and Classic Bubble Bobble respectively.[6]

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.

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.

Clones and remakes[edit]

The Arcade version of Bubble Bobble was widely bootlegged in its day, but due to a security chip installed by Taito (known as the PS4, based on a Motorola 6800) none of the bootlegs played exactly like the original. Through a technique called "decapping" the MAMEDEV team has been able to reverse engineer the workings of the chip and emulate it perfectly.[9] Following that, project Bubble Bobble REDUX has been able to implement an exact version of Bubble Bobble on bootleg boards.[10]

A version also exists for the BBC Micro in the public domain though never officially released. According to one of the creators it was coded by them independently in 1988 as a clone of the C64 version, but when they approached publishers it was deemed that it would not be financially viable to release a licensed product for the BBC micro at that time.[11]

In 2002 a homebrew version for the Texas Instruments TI-8x series of calculators was released.[12]

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.

In 2012 a pair of "hackers" released the Bubble Bobble: Lost Cave project where they have created a new version of Bubble Bobble with 100 new levels that runs on the original arcade hardware. The levels are not created from scratch though, they have been selected as the cream of the crop from the various official ports of the game, since Taito granted almost every Bubble Bobble version some kind of unique content.[13]


Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame NES: 4.5/5 stars[14]
Computer and Video Games 27/30[18]
Crash 90%[16]
Sinclair User 8/10[17]
Your Sinclair 90%[15]
The Games Machine 93%[20]
The Video Game Critic NES: B+[21]
Zzap!64 97%[22]
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".[23] The Spectrum version was also voted number 58 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time.[24] 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.[25]


Bubble Bobble inspired many sequels, including:


  1. ^ http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=bubble-bobble&page=detail&id=343
  2. ^ a b "Bubble Bobble Video Game by Taito (1986)". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  3. ^ "Bubble Bobble & Rainbow Islands games". mobygames.com. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  4. ^ a b c Dawkes, Adam (September 2004), "Bubble Trouble", Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (8): 36–41, retrieved 2013-01-11 
  5. ^ a b c "Bubble Memories", Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (95), October 2011: 26–35 
  6. ^ a b c Campbell, Stuart (July 2006), "The Definitive - Bubble Bobble", Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (28): 58–68 
  7. ^ Bevan, Mike (December 2013). "Bubbles, Baseball and Buzz Saws - Software Creations". Retro Gamer (122) (Imagine Publishing). pp. 74–79. 
  8. ^ "Bubble Bobble The [Coin-Op] Arcade Video Game by Taito Corp. (1986)". arcade-history.com. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  9. ^ Salmoria, Nicola. "Completed, at Last". Archived from the original on 2013-05-08. Retrieved 2014-06-25. 
  10. ^ "Bubble Bobble REDUX". Archived from the original on 2013-08-30. 
  11. ^ "Lost and Found". stairwaytohell.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  12. ^ "Bubble Bobble 8x Project Page". Dwedit.org. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  13. ^ "Bubble Bobble: Lost Cave Project Page". Lost Cave Project. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  14. ^ Couper, Chris. "Bubble Bobble-Review". Allgame. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review", Your Sinclair (69), September 1991: 56, archived from the original on 2006, retrieved 2012-08-10 
  16. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review", Crash (45), October 1987: 132–133, archived from the original on 2006, retrieved 2012-08-10 
  17. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review". Sinclair User (68). October 1987. p. 50. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  18. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review". C+VG (72). October 1987. pp. 14–15. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  19. ^ Shau, Austin. "Bubble Bobble Review". Gamespot. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review". The Games Machine (1). November 1987. p. 66. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  21. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review". videogamecritic.net. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review", Zzap!64 (Newsfield Publications) (30), October 1987: 12, retrieved 2014-06-23 
  23. ^ "Bubble Bobble Review", Mean Machines (23), August 1992, archived from the original on 2006, retrieved 2009-06-04 
  24. ^ "Let the People Decide", Your Sinclair (93), September 1993: 11, archived from the original on 16 August 2006, retrieved 2014-06-24 
  25. ^ "Best NES Games of all time", GamesRadar, 2012-04-16, retrieved 2013-12-05 

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