Adieu, Game Boy Advance: BUBBLE BOBBLE OLD & NEW

Bubble Bobble Old and New
Genre: 2D Puzzle Action
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Release Date 09/29/04

It makes sense to start off this series of talks with Bubble Bobble Old & New. Just look at the site name! It’s also the last game I gave a 9.0 rating to. Yes people, it’s been two years since a game received that high a score from me. That should tell you how bloody fantastic this is.

BBO&N proved to be not only one of the rarest GBA games ever made, but also one of the most sought after. It goes for about twenty bucks used, which is pretty pricey for a GBA game, especially one that only cost 19.99 new and MIB! Not only did it pack the original 100 level Bubble Bobble that remains near video game perfection since the days of yore, but it also gave us an updated version of the game with new graphics, remixed music, and even some new enemies. Most remakes/sequels never live up to the promise of the original. Even the DS’s Bubble Bobble Revolution is proof of that. But the “New” version of Bubble Bobble stayed very close to the original, almost to where the new version is just the original with some botox and a face lift.

If you’re not familiar with Bubble Bobble, then more’s the pity. The game is simple and cute. Two kids, Bub and Bob have their girlfriends kidnapped by a big bad and are turned into Dragons that breathe bubbles instead of fire. To rescure their lady loves, they must journey into the Cave of Monsters. Spooky! Well, not really, because the monsters are as cute as your playable dino buddies.

Half puzzle game, half action game, a gamer must be as quick with their head as they are with their fingers. Speed is also of importance for if you don’t clear the level in a certain amount of time, the monsters get faster and angier. If you STILL can’t clear it after yet another predetermined interval, an un-killable Bub/Bob seeking ghost will come for you.

Bubble Bobble Old & New takes you back to when games were still highly original and challenging as hell. To be honest, level 71 is still insanely difficult for me and I generally can only beat it in two player co-op mode. Of course, the preferred way to beat the game is in two-player mode. That’s the only way one can see the real ending to the game. Of course, if you do beat it on your own, you’re treating to what this website is named after. It’s rare to find a game that rewards you for playing it with your friends, complete with a special ending. But then, Bubble Bobble is one of those few games who excels in greatness in all ways.

The original Bubble Bobble in the arcade and on my NES still remains to this day one of my top twenty favorite games of all time, regardless of genre or system. It’s no wonder that when this game was released in Europe six months before it hit stateside, I imported it and had it within the same week it was originally released. Although the GBA version is still hard to find, you can easily pick up Taito Legends for the Xbox or Bubble Bobble Revolution for the DS and see why a twenty year old game continues to be re-released with each passing generation.