Bubble Bobble 4 Friends Review –

still remember the first time I rented a Bubblegum in 1991, when I was only seven years old and had just become a Nintendo owner. I don’t remember why I decided to play this game I knew nothing about, but it resulted in many more rentals, more possible purchases, and a lifetime of addiction. I still play it at least a few times a month because it’s still my favorite game. Over the years there have been several remakes, ports and reissues – and almost all of them have disappointed me. Some, like Bubble Bobble Old & New for the GBA and Bubble Bobble DS, are near-perfect portals of the arcade version (which is very similar to the NES version), but all the new games, sequels and spin-offs are either terrible or simply unable to capture the magic and fun of the original game. I was really looking forward to Bubble Bobble 4’s friends coming to the show, but having been disappointed before, I didn’t have the highest expectations.

For those who don’t know how to play, the game consists of single-screen stages with different monsters and settings for each stage. You play as a dinosaur, Bub and Bob. The goal is to catch the monsters in the bubbles and shoot them. Once all the monsters are defeated, you have little time to collect the prizes, then move on to the next level, which becomes increasingly difficult. There is a wide variety of healthy monsters, all with unique attacks and patterns. At each step, you must form a quick attack method by navigating through the room design. In the classic Bubble Bubble, the stages gradually progress to 100, with only one final boss fight at the end. There are big changes here with different themed worlds (Library Forest, Toyland Terminal, etc.), each consisting of 10 stages – the last of which includes a boss fight. When you complete the world, you will receive a statistics table and be awarded 1, 2 or 3 stars based on your total score, time and achievement. There are unlocks and bonuses for the 3-star world, so there’s a lot to do.

For almost 30 years, I’ve called the NES bubble my favorite video game and I know every step of it inside and out. My dream would be a true arcade sequel with identical gameplay and mechanics, with new levels and new enemies. Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is another version that can be found everywhere. The principle and goals remain the same, but for a veteran like me, too much has changed or seems out of place. Two of my biggest problems are mechanical. It’s now very easy to make bubbles, that is, to bounce bubbles to make them go up, because now you have to push them down to make them burst instead of just dropping or crashing them. Jumping into a live opponent and shooting the bubble is a common and necessary strategy in the classic version. Here, if you do this, you’ll die forever. This may seem trivial to a newcomer to the series, but it completely changes the pace of the game, resulting in so many cheap and unfair deaths throughout the game.

The classic version is filled with all kinds of bonuses and special randomly generated items to help you out. Lightning, bombs, fireworks, flooding, freezing the enemy are basic elements of the Bubble Bubble. They’re almost all gone. The bonuses you earn by clearing worlds and assigning one with limited use are given to you at the beginning of the game. Additionally, bonus prizes and secret rooms seem to be missing. Entering groups of opponents always gives you extra points and bigger prizes, which is an essential part of the game for high-scoring bitches like me. However, the price and points system is significantly different. I got used to it after a while, but why play with perfection?

Although I complain a lot about this game, I still found it fun to play, and it has some good points. First off, the boss battles are awesome. Each of them is a giant monster with a different attack strategy. They were all fun and very challenging battles. The game is still very difficult, especially to cross the world without using the continuations and trying to get a 3 star score. Of course, cooperative multiplayer is a major selling point. Here, lives are distributed evenly, and if a team member is hit, they are trapped in a bubble, and you can rescue them. Multiplayer here is very casual and designed for families, as there is no online help or competitive modes. Of course, my favorite part of the game is the port of the arcade version on my Switch. The NES version will always be my favorite, but it’s a very solid conversion that keeps track of your scores.

Thankfully the game has almost no plot, just a little clip of Baba being attacked in his room (with the arcade machine) by Bonner the wizard. I don’t really care about the graphic style. The monsters were cute in the original, but here they seem so cute. This artistic style seems to be designed for very young children, and in fact this game has a feature of invincibility, so it really suits all ages, even toddlers. If I like worlds and their themes, the scene lacks the originality and creativity of the original. The soundtrack is a nice touch, the first world has a remix of a classic theme, but the rest of the worlds have their own brand new music, all with the same happy and upbeat sound. One thing I hate, though, is the annoying screaming that Bub and his friends do.

For those who don’t have quick access to Bubble Bobble on the NES, this game is worth buying just for the inclusion of the classic arcade game. I have so many mixed feelings about a brand new game though. There are some great ideas here, but the wobbly game mechanics, childish graphics, and lack of power-ups, prizes, and iconic enemies left a strange taste in my mouth. There’s a lot of replay value here, once you beat Bonner, hard mode is unlocked, and normal mode wasn’t rushed. However, there are only 5 worlds with 50 scenes, which is far less than the 100+ that fans are used to. If you’re new to franchising, this is a good buy. Longtime fans may not appreciate some of these changes.

Overview of the 4 Friends bubble
  • Charts – 5/10
  • Sound – 7/10
  • Gameplay – 6.5/10
  • Last call – 9/10

6/10

Final thoughts : WARNINGS

It’s a game everyone should enjoy, but chances are you’ll spend a lot more time playing the included arcade port. One day I hope to see the quality series that fans deserve, but for now I’m happy to put my gum away on the Switch. I still enjoyed it and was satisfied with its realization, but the original is still light years away.

Aaron got his NES in 1991 and he has loved and collected video games ever since. Besides gambling, he enjoys Stephen King novels, twin baseball and his cats.

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