News Article

First Impressions: Bubble Bobble Plus!

Posted by Sean Aaron

Bub and Bob hit the WiiWare service in style.

I've got a confession to make, and it's not that I don't like Bubble Bobble, because I do like it and the two arcade follow-ups: Bubble Symphony and Bubble Memories. No, I actually want to confess that I didn't want to buy or play this game tonight.

Now, like everyone else I saw the announcement which came out of the blue and thought: wow, a new Bubble Bobble! Especially after the brilliant work done by Taito with Space Invaders Get Even. Then this morning WiiFolder put up a video and my heart sank. My first thought was "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?" because what I saw in the video looked like an exact remake of the original arcade game with some slightly tarted-up graphics.

Nevertheless I lived up to my commitment to WiiWare World and bought the game. Don't get me wrong, when I first launched the game I could only see the flaws (the jumping being slightly slower than in the arcade, which doesn't speed up even when you get the shoe; the enemy AI not matching the arcade exactly; the 3D rendered look to the game), but by the end I had no regrets.

But let's start at the beginning. After being prompted to create a save profile (you can have up to four and choose from Miis or Bubble Bobble characters) you get the choice to play the game normally, play the score attack mode (these are the scores that you can upload to the WiFi leaderboards), check out the WiFi leaderboards and upload your scores or check out the options.

Options are the usual BGM/SE levels as well as being able to change the Mii associated with your save profile, but the main reason to check out this section will only be revealed after playing the game for a bit.

The basic game is a one or two player affair featuring Bub and Bob. It's a shot-for-shot remake of the original game with a sprite texture laid over 3D renders of the characters and backgrounds. Some people will hate this; I'm largely indifferent though I don't see why we couldn't just have higher-resolution 2D sprites (might have made the games take up less blocks, too). If you've played Bubble Bobble there's no real surprises here: you get the same opening text and the same opening graphic, the same fruit rewards, special items, levels, etc. One of the other three choices is a different version of the normal game which features harder enemies (they resemble the ones from the Super Bubble Bobble bootleg), but is otherwise the Normal game.

The other two game choices are Arrange modes with either original enemies or the harder ones. Arrange Mode can be played with 1-4 players and has different (though possibly more bland) levels. The characters are fixed (the yellow and pink dinosaurs are Pub and Pob incidentally), so if you play solo you're Bub and that's it. Weirdly you can start with up to four players, but if no other controllers are active the other characters aren't AI controlled, but just sit there and get killed over and over again. I'm not sure why there's an option to start with more players than there are active controllers, but that's what they did.

There are menu choices to play the two DLC packs: Experts Map 1 and Experts Map 2, but you'll need to buy those (200 points and 50 levels each) so they're initially greyed out. Go back to the main menu and choose the second option and you can play these four modes, but record the scores and time and upload this information for the WiFi leaderboard which offers choice of Japan or Worldwide rank views. I'm so pleased to report my awesome score of over 400K on Arrange Mode has landed me a 4th place position (far ahead of Joshy from WiiFolder), but I cannot imagine this will last.

My first play of these modes I wasn't terribly thrilled and thinking dark thoughts, but after trying each of them a second time the negative feelings melted away and I was just enjoying playing Bubble Bobble on my Wii. Even better, when I revisited the Options menu I checked out the final two entries and found that they're lovely little virtual card albums: one for special items like power-ups and one for fruits and other treats you collect for points. Initially pages of blank squares, as you earn them in play you'll find them here. Very nice touch and gives you playing incentive to complete your photo album of Bubble Bobble trivia.

If you like classic arcade fun or you like Bubble Bobble you really cannot go wrong with this one; just try not to let the new look put you off the game and give it a chance. You've got 200 levels out of the box (the change of enemies doesn't count as new levels for me, despite the adverts to the contrary) with another 100 to download -- that's more Bubble Bobble than you can probably handle.

Now, when are we getting an updated Elevator Action Taito?

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User Comments (49)

Chunky_Droid

#1

Chunky_Droid said:

I already have Bubble Bobble NES and I can't be stuffed with leaderboards. So probably won't bother with this now, I thought it'd be all new!

Sean_Aaron

#2

Sean_Aaron said:

I agree that if this was the normal game with the 3D characters it wouldn't be worth it and I would probably have slated it, but it's a bigger package than that: the Arrange levels are all new (if plainer-looking than the original game) and you can download another 100 new levels in the two packs. I think it's well worth it.

I played the NES game before this so I could mentally compare them and whilst the 2D graphics are a bit closer to the arcade in the NES version and the enemy pattern on the first screen is the same, the fruits are not (starting with 1000 point oranges -- what happened to the 500 point bananas, and where the hell did the bell peppers come from?) and that's enough for me to not bother with it again (that would be my "arcade purist" coming out).

dwhicker

#3

dwhicker said:

I had a pretty good taito rendition of the original on the C64. I wonder if this has the same bonuses for not dieing (the diamond bonus screens). Anyway from screen grabs I ve seen the C64 version was closer to the arcade version graphically.

dwhicker

#4

dwhicker said:

Oh, does anyone know if they are planning on any C64 releases for north america?

DazzaAdmin

#5

Dazza said:

Nice impressions as always Sean! I'm really looking forward to this now.

@dwhicker - As far as I know Commodore don't plan to bring C64 to VC in North America anytime soon! :-(

CorbsAdmin

#6

Corbs said:

Sean's Impressions are quickly becoming my favorite feature of the site. Yes, even more so than my own reviews, if you can believe that! :P

Great job Sean...keep them coming! :)

Sean_Aaron

#7

Sean_Aaron said:

Stop it, you're making me blush!

Good thing about this game is that it's getting a worldwide release so we can compete for scores. I've never completed the game; best I've done in MAME is level 32 or so, but I'll be getting in some regular time on this one just to try to keep my score up.

One thing I didn't see was any kind of save feature, so I guess if you're going to play through to level 100, you'll need to have the time to do it in one go...

CorbsAdmin

#8

Corbs said:

I've long been a Bubble Bobble fan, so this one has been on my wish list for some time. Can't wait to give it a go. I was going to import a Japanese Wii console, but changed my mind and bought an import Xbox 360 because of all the shooters coming to it this year. :)

Pablo17

#9

Pablo17 said:

Great impressions Sean. It is nice to get an advanced look at a game I am interested in.

Olimar_91

#10

Olimar_91 said:

I love how your impressions keep beginning with a confession of some sort. :P

Anyway, nice article. I'm looking forward to this one, especially since I held off on Bubble Bobble for NES. I need my Bubble Bobble fix :D

themortalangel

#11

themortalangel said:

Nice job...just do us a favor and don't confess your a member of AA or something next week. Seriously though great job Sean....I'm still dying to see that robot battle game you played.

Adam

#12

Adam said:

Are the downloadable levels available now? What are they like?

Sean_Aaron

#13

Sean_Aaron said:

I've haven't tried them yet; I might download them tonight though as well as try out the "Hard" and "So Hard" difficulty levels to see if the enemy behaviour changes on the first level.

It's worth noting that the enemies bubbles decay with greater rapidity than in the arcade, even on normal difficulty, and the "ghost's" fireballs come at you so fast you need to jump when you first see them or you're toast (the "toasting" animation is pretty cool as is the "death spin" animation), so you're getting a more challenging game than you might be used to in the NES or arcade versions.

I'm going to hold off on a full review until one of the WiiWare World regulars gets a shot at the Western release of the game, but I'll post more thoughts here as they have them.

And no, I'm not a member of AA, though I won't guarantee I'll have no more confessions to make in the future!

Chris_Neilson

#14

Chris_Neilson said:

Hey I want one Bubble Bobble wii next week, need add level editor and more 200: 100 for old level, 100 for new level you could add more level.
plz more screenshot

Draygone

#15

Draygone said:

"the jumping being slightly slower than in the arcade, which doesn't speed up even when you get the shoe"

That's a bit of a bummer, because even the NES version the shoe sped up jumps. But at the same time, I never liked the shoe anyway.

But it's a real shame to hear nothing about a level editor. Does the DLC menu lend to the possibility that another feature might be added to the list of downloads?

Sean_Aaron

#16

Sean_Aaron said:

Doesn't look like it to me; I loved jumping about with the shoe. I suppose there's the possibility that there's another new powerup or possibly this is an effect added in a higher difficulty level though...

Given that they already have the menu choices in place for the two Expert Map packs I'd be surprised if they added anything else. Doesn't mean it can't happen, but there's no friend codes, so how would you share levels? I think they'd have to change too much existing game code to make this work and it's something that would have been in the basic game if they were going to do that.

Popyman

#17

Popyman said:

Sounds great! I'm glad I ended up never getting any of the BB games on the VC.

Draygone

#18

Draygone said:

Well, that's okay. 200 new levels in addition to the original 100 is going to keep me busy for a while. No, wait, the NES vesion had something like 110. Is the secret exit of the level 99 still there?

Ricardo91

#19

Ricardo91 said:

Not too disappointed about the shoe. I always thought that thing was annoying.

It's disappointing to see the original levels being recyled YET AGAIN, but there seems to be enough promising features here to warrant a purcvhase from me, despite having the NES version on my Wii already.

Great coverage, Mr. Aaron! :)

Terra

#20

Terra said:

Another great first impressions, Sean. I do like these much more regular First Impression articles. We need more interesting stuff like this. Not saying that WWW is boring but interesting articles such as this are always great. Any other games you plan to look into Sean? I have wondered what games like Shootanto and Sorcery Blade are like.

Sean_Aaron

#21

Sean_Aaron said:

I've owned Shootanto Kakohen for awhile, but I've been waiting for the sequel to do a big round-up of them.

Since I'm still teaching myself hiragana and katakana with kanji and detailed language comprehension being a years-long work in progress I cannot say I'm keen to dive into any RPGs or other content that requires Japanese competency for full story comprehension.

I've also got Nintendo's terrific online mahjong game which there's pretty much zero chance of seeing on a non-Japanese system and has fantastic online support (mahjong is still massive there). I've written a review for it already; if the powers that be want me to rewrite it for publication here I'm happy to do that, but I'm not sure there's a lot of interest in that sort of thing.

I'm mainly getting stuff I want to play -- not like I'm getting paid for this -- but rest assured I do buy a lot of WiiWare content so I plan on continuing to contribute.

KnucklesSonic8

#22

KnucklesSonic8 said:

I really enjoyed these impressions. What I love about this game's DLC is that it's actually WORTH IT. :D I'm so getting this, especially since I've never played the original.

Also, with regards to this bit:
*Weirdly you can start with up to four players, but if no other controllers are active the other characters aren't AI controlled, but just sit there and get killed over and over again.

How strange... XD

This is making me happy that, like Popyman, I didn't buy Bubble Bobble on the VC after being sorely tempted to.

Question is, how long do we have to wait to see this stateside...

Kaeobais

#23

Kaeobais said:

@8. Corbie: Yeah, I'm obsessed with bubble bobble. Bought it on VC the first day I got my wii. Can't wait for this.

Watched the WiiFolder vid: It seems you run slightly faster then you did in the original. I also don't have a problem with the graphics, their fine to me. This looks like good old bubble bobble with some extra features. Plus I'll actually have something to spend the extra points I always have left over.

I think the reason the shoe doesn't make you jump faster is because in the original it made it a pain in the ass to jump on bubbles.

How much did this cost?

anthonyb

#24

anthonyb said:

I'm not sure I need a review after reading this- I haven't played Bubble Bobble since it was on the NES. I will definitely be getting this one. Thanks!

Bahamut_ZERO

#25

Bahamut_ZERO said:

Cant wait. Good to have you with a non region-locked Wii Sean :)

Love this game, but should have been 2D. I personally hate the mouths of the 3D ones (those things creep me out), and I have a soft spot for sprites (I prefer FFIV GBA over FFIVDS soley because I enjoy 2D sprites). But still an insta buy. How much is it?

On a side note, I have learned a bit of Japanese from watching tons of anime (its true. Not enough to make me fluent, but not bad. I can decipher a sentence heer and there. I cant read though, so I guess I cant import :P ).

SmaMan

#26

SmaMan said:

Does this game let you continue like in the NES version? The arcade version didn't let you.

Btw, you can play the arcade version on Gametap for free right now.

Objection

#27

Objection said:

I need to see some videos of this as I've never played BB. Anyway, nice preview. Keep them coming.

Golgo

#28

Golgo said:

great preview sean, and - better still - top marks for hangin round to feedback to forum.

Sean_Aaron

#30

Sean_Aaron said:

Okay put in another hour and I bought the DLC.

Sorry I forgot to put the points in, it's 800, with the DLC at 200 each.

Bahamut, I don't have a region-free Wii or anything, I actually own two unmodded Wiis: one PAL one and one Japanese one.

With regard to other queries: regular mode games have unlimited continues. The score attack modes have 10 credits.

Score attack modes have unchangeable settings, I guess that's to ensure everyone in the leaderboards is playing under the same conditions. Before you start a game it shows you the settings: Normal difficulty, 10 continues, first free guy at 30,000, additional at 100000. Since this comes up and cannot be changed, I'm thinking that maybe this is Tournament Mode or something -- like the tournaments in Tetris Party and therefore these might change over time.

Difficulty changes affect the normal play modes. Looks like I was playing Easy difficulty yesterday without realising it; changing it to Normal resulted in enemy behaviour being more what I expect. Jumping speed might be the same as the arcade after all, but the 3D character animation makes it only seem slower. I'm pretty sure the characters move at the same speed though. Hard difficulty wasn't very much noticeably harder than Normal, but So Hard difficulty was pretty hard -- enemies will go after you en masse; if you're a long time Bubble Bobble player this is the difficulty setting you want.

The harder modes with alternate enemies are Super Normal and Super Alternate, so my comment about Super Bubble Bobble seems pretty right on.

The DLC is pretty good and really really tough. The levels are more interesting in design than the Alternate levels. My score in Alternate on the leaderboard has slipped to 11th, but my score for the Normal game is up to 36th. Nobody is on the DLC boards yet (for some reason I couldn't upload my scores yet...maybe I'm the only one in the world that's purchased it?).

Rumour has it this is coming out next week in NA/Europe, but I have only some random poster on Joystiq (or is it WiiWare World?) to credit for this.

The more I play it, the more I like it!

Chunky_Droid

#31

Chunky_Droid said:

@Sean: Well the arrange mode sounds more like something I'd be into, and the DLC sounds cool, so I may end up getting this.

Draygone

#32

Draygone said:

Actually, if the original Bubble Bobble ending works the same in this, I'm glad that you can bring in a second player without a second controller. (In the NES version at least, you got a bad ending if you didn't have player 2 onscreen when you beat the game.)

As far as "Super Bubble Bobble" goes, wasn't there a secret mode in the NES game callled that? Pretty sure it was basically the same levels but with all the game's enemies swapped around (the whales and starfish switching out for each other, for example).

And I just watched the video. Wow, the bubbles do burst sooner. Can't set up combos as easily. Unless the video is showing a harder difficulty.

Sean_Aaron

#33

Sean_Aaron said:

No, three things are the same regardless of your chosen difficulty and make the game a bit harder:

1. bubbles burst sooner (on Arrange Mode and the Expert Maps you can probably forget about setting up combos as a point-getting strategy)
2. enemies that throw/shoot things shoot a lot faster
3. jump speed remains the same even if you get a speed up

I've never beat the game Draygone, but I have read what you're talking about. I should note that being able to start multiplayer without controllers configured I only tried on Arrange Mode; not the Normal game, so I'll confirm if that's true tonight. I don't see how you would continue without the additional controller, so unless you're defending player 2 sitting in the corner on every level, they're not going to be there by the end are they?

Last new thing I noted yesterday and confirmed this morning: the game runs in 480i. Now, this is the Japanese release, so it is possible that when released to NA/PAL territories it will be 480p, but it might also be that NA also gets a 480i release and PAL gets 576i. This has nothing to do with image quality as the game is very sharp and detailed and I didn't notice any flickering on my plasma set, but it's well-known that not all flat panel TVs support interlaced resolutions over component video connections, so check your TV owner's manual and realise that you may have to swap cables and change Wii settings to play this on your TV.

I don't understand why this decision was made (especially considering Pole's Adventure, a retro release is 480p and 16:9), but it's something to check the reviews for when this gets released elsewhere if it's an issue for you.

MasterGH

#34

MasterGH said:

Good article Sean!

From what I've seen, I'd probably rather them go the Cave Story route as far as graphics goes, but it still seems like it'll be great fun. I've held off getting the NES version on the VC since I heard a WiiWare version was coming out, so, as you can imagine, I'm fairly excited that it has shaped up quite well.

Going to get 4000 Wii Points soon (or 6000, depending on how I feel), so I'm planning on spending it on F-Zero X, Super Mario World, and Megaman 2 on the VC, as well as this and Cave Story when they come out in Australia. My collection is already growing fairly large, considering I've had my Wii for less than a year :)

Sean_Aaron

#35

Sean_Aaron said:

I've had mine for a little over a year; I don't want to count how many points I've spent on VC/WiiWare between my PAL and JPN Wiis...

Draygone

#36

Draygone said:

Actually, you could revive the other player by sacrificing one of your own extra lives. I believe this was done by pausing the game and pressing Select. So as long as you had one extra life when you're about to deal the last boss a final blow, you're good.

Hey, do you still have to "kiss" enemies to stand a chance of killing them in later levels? (Kiss being, blowing a bubble at them right when you're touching them.)

Sean_Aaron

#37

Sean_Aaron said:

Well, this isn't based on the NES port, but the original arcade game, so I don't know. I only ever made it to level 32 or so in that and don't recall having to get that close to enemies. It'll be something to work up to! I'll also have to see if there's additional options in multiplayer. The only choices I have when I press "+" on the wiimote in single player are resume and quit.

Awesome5

#38

Awesome5 said:

I might be interested in this. The selling point for me would be the DLC and leaderboards. I hope it earns a good review...

Ren

#39

Ren said:

Geez. I follow WWW reviews and articles religiously but actually haven't bought that much stuff since I'm seriously pinching pennies so when I do it's so hard to choose now. So much fantastic time wasting material to choose from. I really haven't played this since my nes days way back and it was a blast then.
Thank you Sean, your coverage of it is so comprehensive I feel like I could write my own article on it now, it's great having all your well written points here.

Bahamut_ZERO

#40

Bahamut_ZERO said:

You have Japanese Wii? How much did that run you up?

Also, Im liking your previews. They're kind of like early reviews. Keep up the good work.

Sean_Aaron

#41

Sean_Aaron said:

@Draygone: 2 player Normal Mode, like 1-4 Arrange Mode, puts a 2nd player on screen even no 2nd controller is activated, however there is no option to gift any lives to player 2 when they die (so, as suspected more like the arcade game). I would have to think if a 2nd controller was active that player 2 would be able to continue, but I didn't test that (still trying to complete Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the sixth or seventh time).

Oh and there's a fourth harder difference between this and the arcade/NES versions: enemies don't "reset" after you die, so if they've turned red and are moving fast and one kills you that will still be the case when your next life appears on screen! That was a bit of a bummer. I haven't played Easy difficulty yet, so possibly some of these harder things are removed in Easy difficulty -- I'll have to give it a go.

Looks like Super modes aren't getting as much competetive love. I played Super Normal Mode last night and only got to Level 9 for 180K, but still placed in the top 10 online. The fact that you have to choose to play the set options games to get a score you can submit will likely mean that people will either play lots of Bubble Bobble Wii or might separate into camps with one playing the regular game and one going for scores. I'll be playing more Bubble Bobble!

@Mr. ZERO: Unmodded Japanese Wiis seem to go for a decent price on Ebay (at least people were unloading them in December trying to make some dosh for the holidays). I got mine for £80-90 with posting. I definitely wouldn't have paid full price for it.

Cheers again for the comments. Naturally if you dig my stuff there's more over at my blog though I warn you I like some games a lot of people think are crap and write long, detailed reviews about them!

HappyHappy

#42

HappyHappy said:

This is a buy for me. I've been a Bubble Bobble fan since I first played it on the NES.

Sean_Aaron

#43

Sean_Aaron said:

Just in case anyone is still reading, I was doing some memory backups and forgot to check on the Bubble Bobble Wii save files.

If you have Space Invaders Get Even then you know the DLC is massive; all-in it's bigger than the initial game and shows up on your system as a 2nd Data Save file.

Bubble Bobble Wii isn't like this. In fact it's not actually DLC at all, but just unlocks content already in the game (hence the extra levels being greyed-out). Checking the Data Save area you end up with two 1-block files, one with a Bub icon and one with a Bob icon. The one that's the game save data cannot be copied; you can copy the other one, but there's no way that hundreds of new levels would fit in one save block, so it looks like you're paying to access what's already there.

On the one hand I'm thinking "good, no more stuff to download," but on the other hand I'm thinking, "wait, the basic game could have been smaller and less memory used for people that don't care about the Expert level packs."

Anyway, thought that should be pointed out. Clearly I need to play this more because my scores are taking a beating!

Sean_Aaron

#45

Sean_Aaron said:

Sorry, no, but I've noticed that only the basic game scores can be uploaded; the other leaderboards have been wiped -- possibly in anticipation of worldwide release?

Toddr

#47

Toddr said:

@ Sean Aaron

I would have thought that even though you had a japanese wii, it would access the shop from the region that you live in.

Skarnet

#48

Skarnet said:

Finally got my copy of Bubble Bobble wii, and I'm currently in 8 position on the world leaderboard :-)

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