Title: Bubble Bobble 4 Friends
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: ININ Games
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: https://bubblebobble4friends.inin.games/
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Where to buy: Physical or Eshop
Bubble Bobble always has and always shall be one of my favorite games. I absolutely adore the 1986 original and spent a good chunk of my childhood playing the GameBoy version, not to mention the colorful NES version. It’s such a great game with music I’ll remember till the day I die.
Fast forward to 2020, and a new Bubble Bobble has made its way to the Nintendo Switch. Bubble Bobble 4 Friends.
Those of you reading from Europe may well have already played and completed this new version as, for some reason, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends released at the tail end of last year; however, America had to wait until the end of March for the release. Don’t ask me why.
Full of Hot Air
The premise is simple; players take control of 2 dinosaurs by the name of Bub and Bob, who can fire bubbles to trap enemies. Pop those bubbles with an enemy inside, and they die. Simple.
This time around, things are a little different. The basic premise is the same, but up to 4 players can take part on the screen at any one time. This isn’t called 4 friends without reason.
The gameplay here is split up into a number of worlds that culminate with an end of world boss and for anyone who has played Bubble Bobble before things will seem familiar for the most part.
Each level features a number of enemies that Bub, Bob, and the other two non-descript characters must take out in order to continue.
To do so, they must traverse the various pitfalls on offer before trapping enemies and popping the bubbles. Some of the levels are extremely simple and involve just jumping across a few blocks to reach the bad guys, while others might include various spikes and traps that lead to doom.
The enemies themselves have different patterns to try and throw players off, some just walk across the ground while others can fly around or fire projectiles.
Completing a level rewards players with a ton of giant, point giving fruit to increase that ever-important high score.
All of this is set to a beautiful colored world with fantastic, upbeat music that some will love, and others will find mind-numbing. If you can live with the music of the original, you’ll do absolutely fine here.
Out With The Old, In With The New
A bit of a difference this time around is the upgrades. As I said earlier, each world ends with a boss. These encounters are fun, but a little straight forward. The boss usually takes up most of the screen and must be shot with numerous bubbles before they are trapped and defeated. Like most bosses, it’s a case of learning their pattern should you not emerge victorious on the first try.
Once the boss has been dispatched, the reward is a power-up based on whatever powers the boss had – these range from extending bubble firing distance to explosive bubbles that detonate after a countdown. The power-ups can even be leveled up, and they do add a new layer to the gameplay that makes getting through some of the levels much more manageable.
So far, so good and fans of the series should find something to enjoy here, although this is not a game without issues.
Firstly, the game is ridiculously easy. The simple platforming, cutesy looks, and co-op play are definitely aimed towards the younger player, but for fans of the series, like myself, the lack of challenge is disappointing. The whole game wouldn’t take anyone more than a day to finish.
Playing with others makes the whole thing easier, too, as getting hit by an enemy won’t kill you like it would in single player. Instead, the playable character is trapped inside a bubble and can be released by one of the other players.
Add the fact there is an invincibility mode that doesn’t really punish you for using it, and we have a game in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends that can be beaten by anyone. I guess that’s the point really, and it does make the whole package easily recommendable to younger players. Personally, I’m disappointed. Even the bubbles don’t automatically pop when you jump on them; it’s not like the old days.
No Need To Rush
Other than that, I found the character movement to be incredibly slow. For the most part, the controls are responsive, but Bub and Bob just seem much more sluggish here; they are pretty old now, I suppose.
These issues aside, I didn’t encounter any others. There were no bugs for me, the levels loaded quickly, and everything looks great.
Disappointingly, I don’t have that much more to say about Bubble Bobble 4 Friends. It is what it is. A perfect game for the younger audience and one that fans will get some enjoyment out of for a short while.
Overall, the choice of whether to buy this or not lies with you. Should the short length and easy difficulty not put you off, it could be worth a download. I’d say it is pretty perfect should you want to play something on the big screen with your kids.
Let us know your thoughts on the series in the comments, and be sure to give us your verdict on this entry, especially if you’ve been playing this for months.
Verdict: Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a short game with moments of joy. It’s bright and colorful but too easy and quick. For nostalgia’s sake, the original game is included and is actually the best part of the package. I am extremely biased, though.
- Bright, colorful looks
- Easy to play
- Original included
- Too easy
- Slow-moving characters