The Game: You control a friendly-looking lizard named Bub (and, if you have a second player, they control his blue-tinged twin, Bob). Your mission is simple – use your natural defenses to do away with a multi-tiered screen full of monsters. And your natural defense? Of course, like so many members of the reptile family, you blow bubbles which trap your enemies, and then jump up to pop those bubbles (popping the predators in the process). In many cases, a just-popped enemy will deposit a tasty treat which you have to grab for bonus points within seconds before the treat vanishes. Clearing the screen of critters takes you automatically to the next level. (Taito, 1986)
The Game: I’m not going to delve too deeply into how original this game is (or isn’t) – one can see the Mario Bros. influence pretty clearly – but Bubble Bobble is a lot of fun, and it’s the starting point of Taito’s most enduring “cute” franchise. Bub and Bob have gone on to star in Rainbow Islands, Puzzle Bobble, and other games (including one, Parasol Stars, which never made it to the arcade but was released in several home versions), and it’s easy to see why – they’re great video game mascots. Bubble Bobble arrived at a time when there was just enough graphic detail to make these little guys downright huggable.
Bubble Bobble is enduring enough to still be a going concern – not only are the original game and Rainbow Islands included on the Taito Legends compilation (the latest in a series of console ports stretching back to the NES, but a new version of Bubble Bobble is, at the time of this review, being prepared for the Nintendo DS. It seems that, unless you happen to be a monster chasing Bub and Bob, the bubble hasn’t burst yet.