Maybe it’s age related, but after first booting up Bubble Bobble I felt happy and comfortable. I was in familiar territory with Bub and Bob.
As with many of the real classic titles from those golden days of gaming, it is playability that counts, and this is something that Bubble Bobble oozes in spades. A pure-bred, current-generation player may find this difficult to see, but back when games like this were created by talented programmers, they had to be playable to keep the gamer engaged. Unlike some of the retro revivals on Xbox Live Arcade, Bubble Bobble still delivers.
At its most basic, this is a single-screen platform game. You play as one of two little boys trapped in the body of a cute young dragon. In this form you can jump around the level and trap enemies in bubbles that you blow from your mouth. Once they’re trapped you have a limited amount of time before you need to burst the bubble to defeat them. Defeated enemies drop collectable fruits, and fruits mean points. There are also special bubbles that float around the levels that can give you some extra help: water bubbles, fire bubbles and lightning bubbles that will help clear a level when used effectively. Once you get the hang of the gameplay, you will start seeing various items appearing in the levels. These items are generated by a combination of your actions and offer a variety of game-changing bonuses when activated. An expert will know how and when they are generated; most of us are just happy that they turn up.
The gameplay offers single and co-op multi-player (local only), with the expected selection of online leaderboards; there are two variations of the 100-level story mode and a four-player versus mode.
Once you get past the initial difficulty and start making the most of the playability on offer, you will find that hours have gone by and the old addiction for ‘just one more go’ has taken hold, without ever feeling the bitter frustration offered by a game like Trials HD.