Bubble Bobble Sequels – Initial Reactions

Yesterday’s review on Bubble Bobble piqued my curiosity to look into the series, so I read up on the sequel games and played a bit of Bubble Bobble 2. Image

Image I’ll include a formal review later, but I felt inclined to share my thoughts. See, I usually laud the video game industry as the one area of storytelling that understands how to improve on the original instalment of a series.  If Hollywood had produced the first Mega Man game, one look at the promotional art would have sent him to rust on the scrap heap. Don’t believe me? Just look at what they did to the Star Wars prequels, the Jaws movies, and thank the higher deity of your choice they never made any sequels to The Matrix (No they didn’t! Shut up!) Meanwhile, Final Fantasy, the Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Resident Evil, and a plethora of other games all succeeded right from the beginning, but it’s hard to argue that their sequels didn’t show them up at every chance.

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Bubble Bobble, however, missed the boat entirely, and only survived onto sequels because the shark from the Jaws sequels was too stupid to eat it. The games all have very nice graphics, some even updating to 16-big home systems such as the Sega Genesis, and have much smoother mechanics and presentation, but as the whole philosophy of my blog states, better technology does not automatically ensure a better game!

Bubble Bobble 2–officially titled “The Story of Bubble Bobble 2” features a similar gameplay to the first. As sequels go, it’s not as bad as the rest. You’re still playing as Bub and Bob, the Bubble Dragons from the first game. Rather than 100 stages played through in order, the game grants you some degree of control over which path you take. The game even introduces boss fights, where you drink a potion that allows you to spit rainbow bubbles, and pop them to cause damage. Image

I’m glad to see Bub and Bob came out of the closet on that one. To add further innuendo, one of the bosses appears to be a female tanuki (sorry…you’ll have to find your own image there). Don’t even ask me how that one works.

Unfortunately, the two player mode, one of the better aspects of the first game, goes so far as to damage the mechanics of the sequel. Play is parallel, like the original Mario Bros, and it doesn’t run cooperatively, like Mario 3, where players clear levels to help the other advance. In fact, while on single player mode, you can resume play mid-stage when you get hit, but two-player mode ends the turn to alternate to the next player.

My initial reaction is that the game is worth playing, but not for more than one player.  And since the multiplayer option gives most of the value to the first game, that adds up to a big strike against Bubble Bobble 2. The following sequels don’t even sound interesting, as they’ve turned the loveable cartoonish bubble dragons into … wait for it … regular people. I’m sorry, Taito. You’ve lost me.

Yet, as I mentioned earlier, I write this after a ten-minute session of playing the game and a late-night boredom-induced scouring of the internet for images of bubble dragons. When I get a chance, I’ll focus on writing a more formal review.

Coming up soon: Radiant Historia for the NDS. I’m working my way through Twilight Princess since I felt the beating I gave it in my Oracle of Ages/Seasons review may have been done with a outdated stick, so don’t pick up the crap raining from the fairy pinata just yet. Anne wants to watch that one, though, so it may be a few weeks before I get that one posted.

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