Most couples have their own song, a song that defines their relationship or a special occasion between the two. Me, and my wife have a special game instead: Bubble Bobble for the NES. We used to play it coop all the time when we started dating, and I managed to show her both my love and how to beat level 63 successfully. Now Taito has finally released the classic game for the iPhone, and they even packaged it with something new.
Classic Style Bubble Bobble is such a classic everyone should have experienced it. You control Bubblun, and have to clear the level from enemies. Movement is controlled by a virtual joystick, the A button for jump, and B button for shooting bubbles. The controls work alright, but for historical accuracy I would have preferred a virtual keypad.
The original graphics, and music are all there in full glory. Sadly the playing area is tiny, and even zoomed it covers about half of the iPhone screen. I don’t understand this choice, and it spoils my immersion in the game completely. It is probably mean to look like you are holding a handheld console, but it ends up looking stupid. Hopefully there is a way to fix this, and let us play it full screen. I would rather loose a life from covering something up with my thumb than dying from not seeing anything as it is so tiny.
Another thing sorely missing is the local multi-player. Bobblun stands around in the corner, and says “press start”. There is no start button to press, and no setting to get any kind of Bluetooth game going. Sadly this is not the Bubble Bobble me and my wife share.
The New Style is a combined Sneezies/Chain Reaction/Splode game with some quick tapping action. Bubblun floats in space, and enemies swarm from all directions. Tapping an enemy once bubbles it up, and another tap bursts the bubble sending the enemy to oblivion. Surrounding enemies get killed as well, and you can move the bubble around by flicking for maximum damage. Popped enemies turn into the classic fruit, cake and diamond pickups that you tap to collect. As you progress in the New Style you fill up the item library with the new items.
There is a branching zone structure to the game, and you get to meet some cool bosses. The bosses bring some twists to the gameplay letting you flick bubbles, enemies and get the timing right. Completed levels are judged, and if you are a S chaser you have some work to do. There is also a timed challenge mode where you have to survive for 2 or 5 minutes. It is a ok mode, but it takes a bit too long to get hectic.
The presentation of the New Style is excellent with great bubble popping effects. Graphically it feels just as fresh as Space Invaders Infinity Gene. So does the new take on the classic soundtrack. Already on the title screen I am psyched to get popping.
OpenFeint caters for online leaderboards and 14 achievements. There is also a soundtrack player in the New Style option menu. I would love to export these tracks to my iTunes library.
Bubble Bobble Double is a mixed bag with a seriously disappointing rendition of a classic bogging down an interesting new game. I would have liked to see these games separated because a lot of people will be all over it for the classic game, and it is sadly not up to par. If you want to play Bubble Bobble it is better to dig out that old NES or buy it for virtual console on the Wii. The New Style is quite good, and can certainly get intense. I am dubious whether it is worth $5 though. I really hope that the Classic Style will get an update both for screen size, and local multiplayer pronto otherwise Bubble Bobble Double will be forgotten soon in the App Store.
Bubble Bobble Double $4.99
Tested on an iPhone 4.