A different sales pitch
Close your eyes for a second and Imagine this; two brothers rush into a cave to rescue their girlfriends, who have been kidnapped by an indestructible white ghost whale called Baron Von Blubba. Mysteriously the brothers transform into brontosaurus-like creatures and now their only way to escape is to blow bubbles trapping monsters for then to jump upon and pop and thereby turning those said monsters into fruits – If you came with a sales pitch like that, the person you’re selling the idea to might think you finally have lost it, but this is nonetheless how Taito’s 1986 arcade game Bubble Bobble plays out – it is just as adorable, crazy and fun as the pitch makes it.
In the mid-eighties, Taito was the world’s largest manufacturer and operator of arcade machines, including the hit arcade game and probably one of the single most important video games ever created, Space Invaders, originally released in Japan in 1978 and later released by Bally/Midway in the US. Space Invaders really started a new era in entertainment – the golden age of arcade video games was born.
Founded back in 1953 by Michael Kogan, Taito of Japan started out importing and distributing vending machines and would not venture into the arcade entertainment business until the 1960s with mechanical arcade machines. In 1973 Taito makes it into the video arcade industry with its first video arcade machine, the same year Taito America division is opened, handling the licensing of Taito’s video games to American third-party publishers. It was not until the late 1970’s that Taito America began to self-publish Taito’s video games in North America.
Bubble Bobble blowing and popping
100 levels of bubble blowing and bursting while trying to avoid enemies, collecting a variety of items, leveling up, and even skipping levels to get closer to that final level and rescue the girlfriends.
The game could be played either as single-player or as two-player, it played as an action platform game on a single screen, changing when completing a level. The game had multiple endings (the bad, the good, and the true) depending on how the game was played and completed.
If the game was completed as a two-player game a code would appear after the two brothers had reunited with their girlfriends, this code could be deciphered and then used to allow the game to be played in a “super” mode, which played faster and was more difficult.
The different endings can be seen below:
The bad ending – freeing only one of the girlfriends (single player game).
The good ending – freeing both girlfriends (two-player game),
The true ending – freeing both girlfriends in super mode.
To complete the final level you have to capture and pop Super Drunk, the guard of Bub and Bob’s girlfriends.
In the English manual Baron Von Blubba were listed as the one who kidnapped Bub and Bob’s girlfriends but originally the story goes like this:
In a certain village where everyone lives peacefully, Bub and Bob lived alongside their girlfriends, Betty and Patty. One day, the two girls left the village to explore the nearby woods, stumbling into a mysterious area known as the Wizard’s Forest. Due to their unfamiliar surroundings, the two became lost, accidentally wandering into a cave deep in the forest known as the Cave of Monsters. The girls proceeded to encounter Super Drunk, master of the cave, who kidnapped them and trapped them on the 100th floor. Bub and Bob set out to rescue the two, but ran afoul of Super Drunk as well, who transformed them into Bubble Dragons. Using their newfound abilities, the two set out to journey through all one hundred floors of the cave in order to rescue the girls.
Bubble Bobble was ported to a number of different home systems (and consoles) including a Commodore 64 and Amiga version by UK-based Software Creations and an IBM/PC version by US-based NovaLogic (probably more known for the simulators, like the Comanche series). NovaLogic also ported Taito’s Arkanoid and its successor to the IBM/PC.
Bubble Bobble became extremely popular and led to a long series of sequels and spin-offs, even today it can be enjoyed – most recently a PS4 version saw the light of day.
Besides the arcade version I have played multiple ports of the game (C64, Amiga, and IBM/PC) and all have played really good, great visuals, lovely music but most of all just damn adorable… it’s a difficult game and I have never reached the final level.
Below we have my two original US releases, the album style folder for the Commodore 64 – Taito released a number of games in the album style folder (just like Electronic Arts, Mindscape and Activision did in the mid-eighties) and the boxed version for the IBM/PC.