Review: Bubble Bobble: Double Shot (DS)
The original Bubble Bobble was released by Taito in 1986 and offered a memorable concept, pitching two dragons, Bub and Bob against 100 floors with only bubbles at their disposal to overcome enemies and obstacles. Numerous sequels have since followed but none have quite reached the high standards set by the original, particularly the awful Bubble Bobble Evolution on the PSP that I previously reviewed for www.femalegamers.co.uk. The first question I asked when faced with Bubble Bobble: Double Shot was how does it compare to the original?
Set in the Rainbow Islands (many of you may remember the classic game from the late 80s) the story sees Bub and Bob visit their cousin Bubu. The trio, with nothing to do, decide to head for their grandfather’s house to do some exploring. There they discover a map that points to a mysterious treasure. What the treasure is the map doesn’t reveal but Bub, Bob and Bubu set out together to search for it.
Bubble Bobble: Double Shot is more faithful to the original game than Evolution was with the player required to negotiate 100 levels, each one comprised of the two screens on the DS. The two screens is, in essence, a good idea but can be difficult in judging where enemies are when they move from one screen to another. The object of each level is very simple. All enemies on each level need to be captured in bubbles and burst while they’re still trapped inside. Double Shot allows the player to switch between Bub, Bob and Bubu at any given time and this becomes essential if you wish to progress. While many enemies can be caught in bubbles fired by any of our three heroes others have special requirements. Some enemies will appear with green, blue or red stars circling them and this is your clue to which of the trio is needed. Bub fires green bubbles, Bob blue ones and Bubu red. An added complication comes when enemies are circled by stars of different colours e.g. purple. In this instance you need to combine bubbles from Bub, Bob and Bubu to create the correct colour.
As with the original Bubble Bobble there are various items and bonuses to collect on each of the levels. Defeated enemies turn into an assortment of delightful looking food including bananas and desserts while other useful additions appear sporadically as you negotiate the levels. Such bonuses as shoes to help your characters run faster and sweets that improve the speed of their bubble projections are all useful in helping negotiate the later levels. After so many levels you are faced with a boss battle and these tend to require something other than a simple bubble to defeat them such as bursting elemental bubbles – lightning, fire and water – which releases that element into the level where they can do a lot of damage to the enemies they hit.
Another new feature to Bubble Bobble: Double Shot is one that proves to be the game’s undoing. There is no save option here! If you want to see the game in its entirety then you will need to work your way through it in one sitting. I have previously done this with the original Bubble Bobble but that was when playing alongside my best friend, Kevin, and our cause was facilitated by alcohol. I could never face going through 100 levels alone without a break or save point somewhere in between. The other new addition is when you lose all your lives you are invited to play a series of mini games which, if you complete them successfully, will allow you to start the level again with your lives restored. There are three mini games that you could face. One sees you have to draw bubbles with the stylus, as many as you can in the allotted time. The second game sees you being chased by a monster and you have to hit two feet alternately to keep your character moving before selecting an option in the centre that allows them to leap to safety. The final game is the match up where the screen is filled with a series of bubbles of different colours and patterns and you have to correctly pick out the corresponding one that appears on the screen above. The mini games are fun to begin with but having to go through them just to continue becomes tiresome very quickly. The multiplayer option is also left at the mercy of the mini games with all players having to complete them for the game to continue! Unless you have a lot of patience it will be difficult to get through Bubble Bobble: Double Shot.
Many sequels have been made to the original Bubble Bobble and none seem to retain the charm of the first game. Bubble Bobble: Double Shot contains many of the qualities of the original but is let down very badly by the lack of a save option and the mini games you have to play through simply for the liberty of continuing. An improvement on Bubble Bobble: Evolution this is still something of a disappointment. It does prove that potentially a Bubble Bobble game can be made and still be enjoyable but unfortunately it hasn’t happened with Double Shot.
(Game source: reviewer’s own copy)
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