Game Review

Bubble Bobble Plus! Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Space Invaders Get Even proved that drastically changing a classic Taito franchise works very well. Bubble Bobble Plus, however, is more of a flat-out remake - is it a good one?

Bubble Bobble's one of the most well-known arcade games - If you so much as hum the theme song to someone it's very likely they'll recognize it. As such it's really a no-brainer to have on the Wii Shop. But wait a minute - the NES port of the original game is already available on the Virtual Console! Surely remaking it for WiiWare and making it cost more would just be a waste of time? Thankfully, Taito proves everybody wrong!

A quick recap of the gameplay for those (unlucky) people still unfamiliar with Bubble Bobble: you are presented with a stage the size of the screen. A number of enemies will appear on it, and your objective is to trap each one in a bubble, then pop it to defeat them. Defeating enemies or doing certain (secret) other things will also make items appear. Most of these just give you points, but some of them will give you temporary boosts, such as increased speed or the ability to spit insta-kill fireballs.

Bubble Bobble Plus! has a whopping six different gameplay modes. In Standard Mode, you (or you and one other friend) can tackle all 100 original arcade stages. These are completely unaltered and play exactly the same as they always did. There's also a remix of the original music, and, as always, it plays during all 100 stages! The graphics are almost unchanged, although all characters are now 3D models instead of 2D sprites. They look a little jagged, but are otherwise pretty good.

Arrange Mode drastically changes the whole game however - You can not only play it alone or with a friend, but also with two or three friends! It has 100 completely new stages, which take advantage of a single new gameplay element - Slopes! These did not exist in the original game, but they're all over the place in Arrange Mode. If you stand on these you'll be aligned diagonally - This allows you to spit bubbles in diagonal directions, which can prove very handy sometimes. Arrange Mode also has some other changes, although these don't really directly affect the gameplay, such as there being new items. There's also completely new music, with a new song playing about every 20 stages.

Super-Standard and Super-Arrange are basically just as their name implies - harder versions of Standard and Arrange Mode. The only thing that really changes here is that weaker enemies are gone entirely - you'll start encountering the strongest enemies right away, making it a challenge from the offset.

Following on from Space Invaders, there's some downloadable content as well. It's much cheaper here though: there's two packs, and each costs 200 Wii Points. These unlock "Expert-1" and "Expert-2" on the main menu. These are a bit of a mix between Standard and Arrange Mode - each has 50 new levels, which use both the classic enemies and the new ones. The slopes from Arrange Mode also appear, and there's two new bosses, one in each pack. For the most part these levels are much harder than those in the other modes, so if you like a challenge these are definitely worth the price.

If all of the game's modes weren't enough, there's even more replay value in two extra features. The most obvious is online leaderboards, a particular challenge seeing if you can beat the best scores of the Japanese players who've already had the game for months! A bit more surprising is an item catalogue, which can be found under Options: here you can see all the items you've collected, along with the special requirement to make them appear (if there is one). If you're a completionist the urge to fill up the whole catalogue will be irresistible!


On the surface Bubble Bobble Plus! looks like a simple remake of the original arcade game, but a ton of new levels and a few new gameplay elements make it a far superior experience, which is worth buying even if you already bought the NES game. Taito played it safe by keeping the gameplay exactly the same, and that turned out to be a good decision, because the game is just as enjoyable as it always was.

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

User Comments (73)



ReZon said:

Glad to see it received a good score - I loved the original Bubble Bobble.. I will most likely download this at some point once it is released in North America.



Bahamut_ZERO said:

Must buy this ASAP it comes out in the US. Happy to hear a positive review, no I'll have no regrets buying this



Lode_Runner said:

I had a feeling this game was gonna get an 8/10.

And it's cool to see you guys updating the site on weekends. Alot of gaming websites don't do that.



Olimar_91 said:

I wish this had some Wi-Fi coop, but I guess one can't get everything one wants



Adam said:

Huh, I was skeptical about this since it was essentially a remake of the one I already have, but if you included DLC, that's 200 new levels! Sounds like a deal to me!

Wish I hadn't bought the original now, though. I don't like having redundant content. Oh well.



MasterGH said:

Completely agree with the review! I've had a lot of fun with this game the last couple of days. Playing with 2 other people in Arrange mode was a blast! Level 21 is proving extremely difficult, though. When I was playing through with the two others, we only managed to 'capture' one enemy in the top part. When I was watching those two do it on their own later that day they managed to get 5 I think, but had to stop. Anyone else have trouble on this one?



Philip_J_Reed said:

From reading that, I can almost guarantee it'd get a solid 10 from me. Bubble Bobble is one of my favorite games of all time, and I can already see myself lapping this up.

I can't wait for this. The review only has me even more antsy.



Spocker said:

It's a bit "buggy", they've changed the range when you pop the bubbles, without compensating the levels, so you can get stuck in narrow spaces, like on level 99, and plenty others. The bubbles pop as soon as you touch them, so it's impossible to blow any in spaces that are 2 "squares" wide. One other bug is that you no longer can blow bubbles through narrow spaces, one square high, also unbalancing some of the levels.



Twilight_Crow said:

My most anticipated wiiware game, followed too closely by Cave Story; It's so nice to here it's a worthy game, especially since I didn't DL the NES version hoping for this one to be any good, now, lets hope it comes to NA this monday.



Corbs said:

I'll be picking this one up when it hits the NA WiiWare service.



Tails said:

Something Makes me Think NA wont release till May I hope i'm wrong Bubble Bobble PLUS is Awe to the Some



calculon said:

I love this game - the only fault I have is that getting your high score up and checking your ranking is a little more convoluted than most WiiWare games that offer an online ranking feature.

Essentially, you have to play ranked versions of either classic or arrange mode (not the first two entires on the main menu) When you're done you need to drop out to the main menu, go to Rankings which connects to WiiConnect24 and manually upload your score, drop back to the previous menu (which disconnects from WiiConnect24) and go to the High Scores (which reconnects to WiiConnect24 - I know - lame) and then you have to manually update the scores to see your ranking. I can't see this feature used too often unless people make big strides between new and old personal bests and the whole process gets rather laborious if you do it to often.

It's still a solid game though. The graphics are a bit jaggy (maybe they'll fix that with an update) but the new modes and music mixed with great game play does make this a solid 8/10 game. Once again, a very good review.



Sean_Aaron said:

Yeah, the online ranking stuff is a bit annoying; try figuring it out when you cannot read the language it's presented in!

This one and Puzzle Bobble wisely stick to the tried and true gameplay. Rainbow Islands didn't and it's not as successful. I'll be interested to see the review when it comes to NA/EU.



SilentJ said:

I can't wait for this! I finally gave in and downloaded the original a few days ago in anticipation for Bubble Bobble Plus!




Pretty much agree with the review (good revw btw). I would've given it about a 7 or 7.5 at first, but on further play and on investigating the other modes, I would say 8/10 is spot on. Solid, quality addition to the wiiware selection



Clayfrd said:

Nice review. I've still not tried the original Bubble Bobble, but I'll definitely get this game



smetloos said:

I got it a few days ago and I am stuck at level 71. Someone got a suggestion?



Gh0sTiE5 said:

Awesome game. I paid for the DLC before actually playing any of the levels.
I still cant forget the first time playing it on the 'ole Commadore 64 back in the day...



KDR_11k said:

Spocker's post makes sense, I noticed getting stuck (impossible to move out of a hole, having to wait until the time runs out and the skeleton thing kills me) when I never had that issue in the GBA or C64 versions though I can't say what kind of port inaccuracies those had (in the C64 game you could move sideways while in a ceiling, allowed a LOT more moves). I'd consider those bugs gamebreaking because getting stuck is a sign of a broken game for me.



quakster said:

It's not really getting stuck since the ghost will come and kill you but yeah, they should've done something about that.

@smetloos: There are helpful videos on YouTube, you should check them out.



Airola said:


You don't have to wait to be killed in those narrow places. I know it's very frustrating to notice that you seem to be unable to blow any bubbles as they all seem to pop immediately (It's because you can't change direction without moving a bit and the bubbles pop much more easily in this version). But if you jump around a bit and keep on blowing bubbles, eventually one or two bubbles won't pop. It takes some time but I've always been able to do so (be warned that if you're not careful you'll sometimes pop a helpoing bubble by accident in that situation and that's not funny at all). I do agree that it's a programming fault in the game and should not be like that though.

Anyways, the game is definitely one of the best titles WiiWare has at the moment. The Arrange mode levels are amazingly fun to play. I feel that they are even better than the original levels.

I'm still having one proble though.... I can't find the way to the REAL boss on the Arrange mode... I've been able to get the first item needed but I don't have a clue of what to do with that big mirror in one of the levels (well, I did have one thing in my mind but wasn't able to try it yet. I doubt it'll work though).



quakster said:

To break the hourglass/mirror thingy, zap it with lightning.
To break the egg, drop some water on it.

As far as I know, those two are the only items in Arrange mode.



Sean_Aaron said:

In the arcade version (which is normally the only one I play) you also get stuck in those channels; sucks, but the solution is to stay out of them!



Egg_miester said:

i have been waiting for a good bubble bobble game now i just hope it gets released in the states soon



Airola said:


There's no egg. First there is that hourglass with a heart inside. That was easy to break. The mirror was on level 85 I recall. Anyways, I managed to break it already and got to the real ending. Although I don't know what that talk about fairies and stuff is at the ending but I guess that's just some typically weird japanese nonsense



wiidel said:

I played a little this game and im currently very high in the rankings under the name pause m0de and i consider myself an expert in the original arcade version i play it for years!. what i can say is that this game is not even close to the original in terms of gameplay. So many problems... they should add the original arcade version with rankings co-op play and mic support and not this stupid remake. Some parts are so broken.. for example u cant make bubbles when u are in the top of a stage to appear at the bottom of the screen. u can get easilly stuck in some levels or lose important items due to this bug! the moves of the enemy sprites are SO annoying especially when they fall in the holes and they appear in an unpredictable place at the top of the screen. (different than the original).
the only good thing is the rankings although again there are some SERIOUS bugs with them.. for example.. in one game i managed to have a score of 1.700.000+ and i made the stupid mistake to continue the game.. to my surprise i lost that score.. it should be able to save it as my personal record. this was ridiculous!! and i almost broke my controller hahah (and not to mention that is not automatically uploading the high score so you have to make it manually EVERYTIME) Also.. i dont understand it why i dont take the real diamond room when i go to stage 20-30+ without dying why the game is not rewarding me and instead we have the stupid 700 score diamonds in that rooms?? grrrr anyway i will continue play this game due to the ranking mode but in general if u are a hardcore fan of the original one just avoid it! is not worth it. or try to erase hundreds of playing time hours from your memory to adjust to this new remake! (this is what im doing now haha)
Of course I DON'T agree with the reviewer that says that Bubble Bobble Plus is a superior experience and game from the original. IS NOT! at least we have mame...
i give it a 6/10 for hardocore bubble bobble fans
and 8/10 for newcomers



Sean_Aaron said:

Puzzle Bobble Wii also zeros your score if you continue, so if you want that score recorded, don't continue!



Omega said:

It is important to me, that I can play through a whole game. I don't like games where you die after a couple of levels, desperately trying to achieve a Hi-Score and then start all over again. Even with constant Continuing, I find it unsatisfactory, because I rarely play through a game in one sitting. And WiiWare games usually do not use the Suspension Save as VC games.
In the NES and GB versions, there is a password system that helps playing through the game completely. Is there a password or save feature also in the WiiWare version? And if so, for both the Classic Mode and the Arrange Mode?




To be fair, the reason why I wouldn't give it any higher than an 8, or even 80%, is for the reasons stated above. Despite that, I would recommend the game to anyone and everyone as the godd outweighs the bad ( by 80-20 lol )



Sean_Aaron said:

No save function I can see, which I agree is a bit shortsighted, though if you're good enough to make it to level 100, I'd expect you can do it in less than a couple of hours, surely.



Omega said:

Thanks, Sean. So this is clarified. Under this circumstances, I would prefer to buy the NES version on the VC. If I would not have it already. I do not think I have the endurance to play through all 100 levels without interruption.



Sean_Aaron said:

I don't think I've managed to get to level 32 even (the default highest level reached) except via continues which I never used even when I was playing Bubble Bobble on MAME.

I do recall splitting the cost of renting the game when a mate had an NES back in the day and we spent all day using continues to get to level 99 or whatever. Neither of us had ever laid eyes on the arcade game and we thought it was a real gem. Just played Bubble Bobble Wii again Tuesday night; still loving that music!



wiidel said:

I usually go around level 80 (via the 20 stages transfer gate in level 50) in ranking mode (standard game) with 1 credit, i still didnt upload my new score is around 2 million because i took the wii at work and i play there (no wifi). i know there is an item that gives u 5 potions in a row so its an easy 600.000 points but i never got that! damn! ;p



Rad-RKR said:

I've downloaded the original Bubble Bobble for VC a year ago and I loved it, especially with a friend. I am positive that I will be picking it up when it comes out in America!



Croz said:

Haha, this game is awesome! starting playing and before i knew it i was 2 hours late for work! brings back memorys of me & my mate losing weekends over this game! worth the 800 points.



evilralfwiggum said:

I already downloaded the NES version. I like the 600 point price tag on this one though. I might accidently download it in the future sometime haha. But since I already have the original I'll have to think twice about it. What I'd like to see is Bubble Bobble 2. Ehh Ehh? XD



Ragnor said:

I love it mostly, but I hate some of the changes. I cant get past a certain level in Standard Mode for example, becuase you start in an area where you have to blow bubbles then bounce on them or something to get out (Its a level with the words HI TECH). I cant get anywhere past there.



earthworm said:

I think the new character designs are kind of ugly. I wish they had included an option to play with the original graphics.



Twilight_Crow said:

I'm really enjoying this game; the controls are a bit tricky at first, but you get used them.

I second that, at least they should have make them with 16bit sprites instead of the 3D models.



KoKoO_Psy said:

Someone want to explain why Europe has to pay more for this. Because the way i see it, this is just foul play.



NESnes said:

I have the cart on the NES, it might be worth a purchase if the original arcade version is completely intact, as far as controls, graphics, and music. I wasn't clear if the review said the arcade port was perfect or not...



KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Kev: A lot of people seem to have encountered levels they seem to think is impassable, myself included. I made a thread on the Forum for us to help each other out and share our findings.



Kirk said:

It would have been great if they had included the option to view the game with the original sprite graphics if I wanted to do so.

How hard would it have been to let me switch between the two graphic modes? I mean really.



RaptureDJ said:

love this game. especially for a four player game, it can not be beaten!!! wait theres also tetris party!!



jbrodack said:

fun game especially for 600 points. I actually like the graphics and look similar to sprite graphics to me. has that cel shaded look. game is fun as always and arrange mode is really cool. would have liked the ability to save your game as it takes a while to get through 100 levels.



davegorack said:

Im not too sure if i should get this one.
I liked this game as a kid ( still cant get the tune outta my head)



outrun2sp said:

This is a terrible version of bubble bobble. The bite does not work close range as its supposed too and jumping slows you down.



Rarewarefan7495 said:

This game is the first WiiWare game I got. I'm glad I got it because it's a pretty good improvement. Obviously the seller for me was the 4 player co-op.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...