Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! Review - Screenshot 1 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

One of the biggest games to dominate the scene of the golden age of arcades was Bubble Bobble, a cute Japanese action platformer centered around little dinosaurs that could shoot bubbles out of their mouths. While that original game eventually went on to spawn a ton of sequels and ports that iterated on the concept, it also led to the development of spin-offs like Puzzle Bobble in 1994. Ditching the platforming roots, this new game put an action-focused twist on tile-matching and quickly garnered a following of its own. Now Taito has seen fit to continue the legacy with Puzzle Bobble Everybubble!, a new entry that brings new ideas.

Puzzle Bobble follows a relatively basic gameplay formula wherein you fire colored bubbles from the bottom of the screen at a mass of bubbles at the top of the screen, which disappear when your shots produce a group of three or more like-colored bubbles. A big part of the challenge comes from being constantly under pressure to perform, as bubbles are usually either slowly pressing down on you from above, or you’re only given a limited amount of time to clear everything out. Couple this with the fact that you can never quite tell exactly where your shot is going to land, and it's an experience that straddles a fine line between being stressful and relaxing. Mistakes pile up fast and make it that much harder to make the shots you intend to, but playing things too slow and methodical means that you’re at risk of failing or, at the very least, receiving a lower ranking for that stage.

Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! Review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There are fifteen levels available in each world—with more EX stages being unlocked if you can meet the three-star time requirements for each level—and each world introduces some new gimmicks to help keep the gameplay varied. For example, one level introduces clear bubbles that take on the color of the one that you shoot at it, while another introduces bubbles that switch between colors at set intervals. Though some of these gimmicks can feel like they throw off the difficulty curve a bit too much, either by making levels suddenly much easier or much harder than the ones you just finished, we nonetheless appreciate how a few tweaks can make you approach the board in a totally different way.

Those of you who aren’t as enthused by the more bite-sized, objective-driven nature of the story mode levels will be pleased to learn that you unlock the Baron’s Tower relatively early, which acts as an endless survival mode that tasks you with clearing out bubbles until you inevitably get overwhelmed. Your score is then compared with a global leaderboard, and there are a few higher difficulty levels you can attempt that turn up the heat quite a bit. There’s also a rather bizarre Space Invaders (another Taito property, of course) crossover mode where you run your dino back and forth and shoot bubbles up at an invading alien bubble force while dodging lasers. This mode doesn’t offer much of a departure from the core gameplay formula, but it’s a cool addition that’s worth a look.

Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

While it feels like the story mode was designed to be played solo, you can also opt to have up to three local friends or AI companions to help you out, with the board changing its size and design to accommodate the additional firepower. Though it’s fine playing like this when you have friends on hand who you can communicate and strategize with in real time, the AI is another story. For much of our experience, the AI companion would competently and accurately shoot bubbles, but the mistakes that it made were costly and irritating. Sometimes it felt like it was outright trying to sabotage an otherwise solid run at a level, and we even encountered some instances where our companion just stopped shooting bubbles entirely, requiring us to hopelessly pull double duty to try beating back the tide. Playing co-op with friends is fine, then, but we’d suggest playing completely alone if you don’t have anyone nearby to play with.

Those of you who want something more competitive will be pleased to see that there’s a vs. mode as well, and this can be played both online and in person. The rules here are mostly the same as the story mode—all participants start with mirrors of the same board and clearing out big swaths in a short period of time will send a bunch of trash bubbles to all opponents’ boards to trip them up. Though not terribly fleshed out, this head-to-head puzzling nonetheless offers up some simple and addictive fun that just about anybody can grasp pretty quickly. We weren't able to try the online version of this mode during the review period, the online features random matchmaking and ranked tiers that are sure to add lots of playtime to those who want to climb the ranks.

Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! Review - Screenshot 4 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

On the presentation side of things, Puzzle Bobble does a solid job of showing off a bright, rainbow-infused world as the backdrop to the endless bubble boards. Though the visuals aren’t particularly flashy, the boards are always easily readable, and we appreciate how the backdrops change with every world to create a sense of ‘traveling’ around Rainbow Island. Still, there is a lingering feeling that more effort could have gone into producing a more visually distinct art style; what’s here is fine, but we often felt like these assets could’ve easily been ripped from a lower-effort mobile title.

As for the soundtrack, Puzzle Bobble features a collection of lighthearted tunes that feel like an oddly fitting mixture of the whimsy of Kirby music and the weirdness of Splatoon’s music. This is punctuated by frequent exclamations in Japanese, whether it’s an overexcited “GoOoOoOOOOO!!!!” when you start a stage or the victorious “Payonpah!” when you clear all the bubbles out. Nothing here is especially memorable, but never let it be said that Puzzle Bobble lacks energy.


Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! feels like a fitting, worthy new entry in the long-running series. There’s a rich mixture of single and multiplayer/online modes on offer here, and though the AI bots can leave something to be desired, this is overall a well-rounded and appealing package that’s sure to appeal to any action puzzle fans. We’d give this one a recommendation to anyone looking for an addictive puzzler that doesn’t require too much mental investment to ‘get’ and that keeps you on your toes. The simple and brilliant game design on display here is admirable and it’s sure to eat up hours of your time once it gets its hooks in you.