Review: Bubble Bobble Revolution (DS)

Bubble Bobble Revolution
Developer: Taito Corporation
Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 10/2/2006

Ah Bubble Bobble. One of our most popular games of all time. One of MY most favorite games of all time. Hell, we named the site after it. Bubble Bobble Old and New was the last game to get a 9.0 from me. So of course when I heard that they were releasing a brand new BB game, I had to have it. At the time, there was no US release date, so I did what I had to. I traded a mint copy of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment to Misha in exchange for picking this up for me. Yes, a game that goes for over $50 USED on Ebay. That’s how badly I wanted this. It’s Bubble Bobble! With the original packaged in just like O&N! BONUS!!!

This was in the winter of 2006. Yes, I’ve had this game for almost a year. And in English. So why did I wait so long to review it? Because to be honest, it’s a truly awful game. Awful. Tom Pandich, another NaTE staffer got it about the same time I did, and we both couldn’t play the game for more than 15 minutes with out being sick. Seriously. A year later I can play it without the feelings of nausea, but I shudder every time I see the game in my DS collection.

So what went wrong? How could a company that made one of the greatest games ever and even made the GBA follow up just as wonderful tank so heartily on the DS?

Let’s Review

1. Story

With the original Bubble Bobble, you’re given a full story. Monster steals your girlfriend and turns you into a dragon thingie. You have to get her back. Classic story for an early video game combined with little hints and taunts from the big bad as well as the occasional shot of your girlie-girl in peril. It was good for its day, and still holds up, especially for a puzzle game.

With BBR, there’s no plot. You’re just a dinosaur blowing bubbles. The closest you get is “Let’s go save our friends!” at the beginning of the game. Nothing else. I had to look in the manual and in exceptionally small type there is ONE paragraph talking about the plot, and it’s essentially saying the same thing “You’re friends are in danger on an island somewhere. Kick some butt.” Unlike the original, you aren’t given the special bonuses or secret stages integral to the plot. Indeed there’s no plot at all, which is a big disappointment.

Possibly worst of all is that the main game is one player only. BUBBLE BOBBLE is meant to be a multiplayer game almost above and beyond any other. It was the only way to get the TRUE ENDING in the first one, and here, you get a very limited vs. mode for two players. Again with no plot.

This is really disappointing because the original was so cute with the occasional girlfriend going, “help!” and the fun of trying to decipher the big bad’s hieroglyphics. Here storywise, you got nothing. I can’t give it a zero because there’s some attempt and there IS an ending, but it’s just out and out a disappointment in every way compared to the original.

Story Rating: 1/10

2. Graphics

The graphics of the game are fitting with what you’d expect from a DS game. Bright colours, detailed background and enhanced enemies that are reminiscent of the original ones. The problems however are subtle. Bub for example looks downright evil and Bob looks like he’s suffered major brain damage. They’ve lost their cute factor and are so up there with Bubsy or Ruff Trigger. It’s disheartening. At least Bub looks as angry and unhappy with this game as I feel inside. Hate the game Bub, for we all feel your pain.

Enemies are enhanced by still lacking any real sophistication in design compared to a lot of other DS games. BBR basically looks like an SNES game, which isn’t bad at all and a big step up from the original’s appearance, but it still looks really dated and for a new game, that’s not too good of a descriptor to earn.

Graphics Rating: 5/10

3. Sound

This is by far the best quality of BBR. They’ve taken they remixed music of Bubble Bobble Old & New and plunked it in here. The main Bubble Bobble theme remains one of the best known and most catchy themes in all of gaming. Even the remixed theme is excellent. Listening to the game almost makes up for having to play it.

The sound effects aren’t too different from the original, but they don’t need to be. It’s mainly jumping noises and the sound of bubbles popping. They’re cute and as always, Taito delivers in the sound department.

Again, I can’t believe I’d ever try to sell you a game on sound alone, but this would have to be it if I ever did. There’s not much else enjoyable here, but musically, BBR holds true to its namesake.

Sound Rating: 9/10

4. Control and Gameplay

Controls are simple and intuitive. One button shoots the bubbles, another lets you jump. You can get the occasional bubble oriented power up and there’s the new super bubble option which, if you hold down the bubble button a bit, lets you shoot a super bubble, trapping up to 4 bad guys at once. Nice, eh? The controls are solid, but it’s the gameplay that is awful.

You see, the game just doesn’t work with the DS. Yes, you’ll be climbing several levels and it is nice in theory to have the ability to jump between both screens, but the developers made a big snag. There’s a gap in the graphics. Not just between the screens. This means sometimes, your Bub, or worse…an enemy, can’t be seen for a bit and then…BAM! You’re dead. This was always one of my biggest fears that would occur with the DS’ two screens. Why did it have to be this of all franchises? Boo-urns. To say this is awful is an understatement and at times it robs the game of any and all fun. Just thinking about it…arrgh.

Other would-be issues involve things like walls that appear to be in the background that actually aren’t. You can’t shoot through those walls either, but the enemy sure can. This is an awful development. Man, I’m using awful a lot as an adjective in this review. GET USED TO IT.

Pretty much every innovation Taito thought of for this game came out badly in the end. They’ve added spikes that cause instant death, which are almost always preventing you from jumping and often where they appear, it is in situations where you’re almost guaranteed to lose a life. Sad really. The same too with weather. Clouds and ice will shorten the life of your bubbles, and ice even makes you slip all over the place. It theory, this would be a nice added challenge to gameplay. In practice, it makes this already badly designed game even worse. Controls solid, engine awful. Smoke good, fire bad.

The best way to describe playing this game is that it is bad in every way the original was great.

Control and Gameplay Rating: 3/10

5. Replayability

Thankfully there is the original Bubble Bobble on here. That will keep you coming back for more if you don’t have it on any other system. Even with BBR though, the multiplayer vs. mode can be enjoyable. Especially as you can have 4 players. But that enjoyment lasts only for a very brief time due to the exceptionally limited nature of that mode. It’s on a time limit and nothing really changes each time you play. It’s cute the first few times, but mediocre after that.

I honestly can’t think of a real reason to pick this up except for BB diehards like myself. Bad engine, bad interface with the DS screens, and it’s simply not fun. The level designs are crap and it’s basically turned BB into a platformer instead of an action-puzzle game. You know it’s bad when I dislike a game yet can’t be bothered to spew vitriol at it.

Replayabilty Rating: 3/10

6. Balance

Bad engine + a gap in the graphics + poorly implemented new features = dismal play experience. Factor in the time limit for each world is gone and the AI is more limited than that of the original 8 bit game, and we’re talking an overall recipe for disaster. It’s an exceptionally easy game with the only challenge involving overcoming the buttload of flaws in the game.

Where the original BB was challenging and fun, this is tepid and boring

Balance Rating: 2/10

7. Originality

BAD BUBBLE BOBBLE REMAKE. I wish I could leave it at just that.

There is some new stuff here. Some new innovations, moves, power ups, and even enemies, but for the most part, it’s yet another attempt to remake a game with only pay cursory lip service to the original. The developers of Bubble Bobble Revolution seem to be completely ignorant of everything that made the original so beloved and amongst the most classic games ever made. At least they gave us Shadow Bob and icey floors.

Ugh.

Originality Rating: 2/10

8. Addictiveness

None. None at all. Nothing about this game made me want to keep playing it. After the eighth level, I wanted to stop. After the 16th, I wondered why I kept playing. After the 30th I was amazed how many awful level designs could be contained in a single game. By the time I beat the game, I was wondering where my copy of Ravenloft: Iron and Blood was. You know, so I could play a game with a distinct jump up in quality.

Multiplayer is cute for a bit though, so it gets points there. Honestly, I haven’t heard of a single person on either side of the Atlantic who doesn’t just outright loathe this game.

Addictiveness: 2/10

9. Appeal Factor

Bubble bobble fans boys who can’t accept that Taito can make a bad game will be all over this. So too fill follow the mentally handicapped, people who cut themselves to feel better, and possibly the dimmer chimps out there. Everyone else, stay very very far away. I wracked my brains trying to think of anything enjoyable about BBR. All I can say is “GREAT MUSIC.”

Appeal Factor: 2/10

10. Miscellaneous

This game was so dismal that I couldn’t even get my crazy anger going here. With truly bad games I berate the hell out of them in a way that is both funny and cruel. It broke my gaming heart so to speak. Sure there’s the original Bubble Bobble, but for even that you need two copies of this game to play in multiplayer format. AN NES GAME! The GBA version didn’t even give you that problem. I should give points for having this, but you can buy BB Old and new on the GBA for half the cost of this game and have a fun enjoyable NEW Bubble Bobble game along with the classic. No. I can’t. Everything about this cart is awful. Hideously awful. Run from this game boys and girls. Run and hide and let it grow into a legend of such hideousness, even the mere whisper of its name makes babies cry and old women cross themselves.

Bad Taito. Just…bad.

Miscellaneous Rating: 2/10

The Scores
Story: 1/10
Graphics: 5/10
Sound: 9/10
Control & Gameplay: 3/10
Replayability: 3/10
Balance: 2/10
Originality: 2/10
Addictiveness: 2/10
Appeal Factor: 2/10
Miscellaneous: 2/10
Total Score 31/100
Final Score:3.0 (BAD BAD BAD!)

Short Attention Span Summary
A bad Bubble Bobble game is like waking up with the hot chick you banged the night before in and seeing her in the morning realizing she wasn’t that hot. And that she wasn’t even a chick. And that one of her limbs is prosthetic. It’s that bad. BBR ties with Crime Stories as the worst game I have played all year. The only redeemable quality is the original game is here in a bastardized form, and the music is top notch. Without the music, you’d be looking at possibly the lowest score I have ever given a game. DO NOT BUY THIS. Say that to yourself repeatedly until it sinks in.