IGN Review of Bubble Bobble Revolution
Those green and blue dinosaurs have a special place in the hearts of arcade gamers -- speak the words "Bubble Bobble" and thousands of retrogamers will return words of fondness for the bubble blowing platformer from Taito. But this so-called Revolution for the Nintendo DS is anything but, unless we're talking a mob revolt that's sure to rise up from the masses if they see this travesty. Yes, you can still play the original game in its entirety in Bubble Bobble Revolution, which is fine and acceptable. But the meat of the production is the awful and broken remake that throws out the classic look for something hideous and unnecessarily stylized. And a game breaking bug cuts the game short a third of the way, making it even more damaging to the property...and your collection.
The original Bubble Bobble concept hit arcades two decades ago. In the game, you controlled either Bub or Bob, two adorable dinosaurs, in a single-screen level of platforms, taking out enemies by blowing bubbles to trap them inside; a level's cleared out when players wipe out the enemies by popping them from the screen. The arcade game had 100 levels to progress through, and in retrospect (and after playing through it recently on our Ultracade breakroom arcade machine), the game design -- as-is -- would never fly today due to some sloppy level designs and other development issues. But back in the day we accepted the flaws -- mostly because most players didn't have enough quarters to get to some of the ridiculous level challenges. See no evil and all that.
Everything that was in the arcade original is in the Nintendo DS game is brought back in this package in a pixel-perfect arcade port. It can even be scaled back so you don't have to deal with the screen scrolling due to the lesser pixel real estate of the Nintendo DS screen. The lack of the second screen's use is a little silly (it just displays an NES-quality "Bubble Bobble" logo), but the real horror is that this game, probably only a few kilobytes big back in the day, can't even support the Nintendo DS system's single cartridge multiplayer function. Half the fun of the original arcade game was having a friend join in to help clear out a few levels, but to require two copies of the game for something that could have easily been downloaded to a second system is unacceptable.
But worse is the game's "Revolution:" a "New Age" mode that takes the original concept and retools it with new elements and a new look. And honestly, this game has gone in a direction that's sickening: gone are the cute, classic, and recognizable Bub and Bob critters, replaced by stupendously ugly recreations. The game's levels not only span two screens now, but they're so large that they have to scroll around. Two problems: the DS screen puts a "split" down the middle of the display, and the scrolling means that players can't see enemies that are off-screen. The designers take advantage of this lack of visibility, as enemies tend to throw items at players when they can't even be seen.
Other than in the menu interface and a silly bonus stage, the touch screen never comes into play with Bubble Bobble Revolution. The microphone, however, does, requiring players to "blow" into it to activate fans that will blow around bubbles and enemies within the arena. But here's the problem: in thirty levels, we never had to use this function. When faced with a level that featured fans, the game simply skipped over it for no obvious reason, sending us right to the next level instead of letting us explore.
Wait, thirty? Only thirty levels? The game promises 100 levels just like the original arcade, but the icing on the cake is the game-breaking bug at level 30. Players will find themselves in a boss battle arena, with no boss to battle. And with no boss to defeat, there's no way to clear the level, and no way to die. This bug has been tested on multiple copies of the game, and we have been unable to advance through more than a third of the game because it's impossible to continue beyond level 30. Codemasters has been informed of this issue, but as of this writing has not been able to respond with a solution to the problem.
©2006-10-06, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved