Bubble Bobble first appeared in 1986 in arcades. I was 16 the first time I saw it. My focus on other games kept me from ever really having an interest in it, but it was always very interesting to gaze at. Bubble Bobble has transcended video game history and has 21 games and spin-offs. It’s probably one of the longest-running series in video games. To keep that energy going, Taito released Bubble Bobble 4 Friends in 2019 for the Nintendo Switch and today on the PlayStation 4.
The great thing about the Bubble Bobble games is the simple and straight forward gameplay. You play one of two dinosaurs named Bub and Bob. You clear levels by blowing bubbles to entrap the enemies and then burst the bubbles to defeat them and take the fruits of your labor. While there have been deviations to the gameplay in some of the spin-offs (Puzzle Bobble), this is what made the game popular and is still at the core of BB4F.
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends on PS4 has 200 levels of gameplay. That’s 100 more than the earlier Switch version, which will get the extra levels in a free update. As you play through the game, you can earn letters that spell out the word EXTEND. Once you spell it out, you’ll unlock special skills like Lightning and Bomb bubbles. At the end of every 10 levels, you’ll have to face a boss. If the game gets too hard for you to play by yourself, you can add up to 3 more co-op players. You can challenge your friends’ scores online by ranking up on one of the many leaderboards.
The big surprise for me was the inclusion of the original Bubble Bobble arcade game. It even includes options like scanlines and screen ratio for those who want the classic CRT look of the ’80s. It’s fully emulated all the way down to the ‘Add Credits’ function. As a huge fan of arcade emulation, this was a very nice touch.
Bubble Bobble is a modern take on a retro classic. It has that same gameplay from the 80’s while sweetening the pot with pretty graphics. The new options and features will keep fans busy and hopefully hungry for more Bubble Bobble games.