My father was quite an avid gamer, back in the day, with a particular skill for puzzle games. His high scores were eternally etched into the cartridges in our house, far beyond the reach of my juvenile gaming abilities. He was also the only one in my family to actually obtain the Pink Tail on the original Final Fantasy II cartridge. Performing mindless tasks to perfection for hours on end seemed to be his specialty.
So, thinking back, it seems odd that Bubble Bobble was generally ignored by the man. Instead, my memories of the game mostly involve my friends who only enjoyed mashing buttons and seeing colors appear on the screen. I believe that my friends wouldn’t have been able to tell if the controller was unplugged, and, in fact, I recall some of them being content to pretend to play games at arcades, messing with the controls while the game was in attract mode.
But, the point has nothing to do with the actions of my easily-entertained friends. The point is how strange it is that a man who has been playing Minesweeper for almost two decades now, and who has spent a number of years playing through each game of Freecell sequentially, could not stand to play Bubble Bobble.
I suppose, however, that there is a difference between the mindless gameplay of Bubble Bobble and the repetitive, structured form of play found in a game such as Space Invaders. I still remember how disappointed he was when the game simply looped back to Level 1 after he’d been playing for hours. Yet, he never played Bubble Bobble long enough to make any worthwhile achievements. Endlessly repeating the same tasks without a break didn’t seem to prevent him from seeing space shuttles in Tetris. Why not Bubble Bobble?
Oh, that’s right. Bubble Bobble is a dumb game.
It’s the bane of gamers everywhere. It’s the kind of thing grandmothers and politicians think of when they hear the term “videogame”. When gamers, especially back in the days before the PlayStation, tried to defend their hobby as requiring skill and being more than just a mindless twitch-fest causing parents to seek diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder in the ’90s, Bubble Bobble was there as a shining example to prove that games were just idiotic wastes of time.
The graphics, while somewhat cute, quickly become repetitive and dull. I suppose that this is a trait of puzzle games—if you can really call Bubble Bobble a puzzle game—but the black background and the same five or six enemies does little for the game.
All I have to say about the music is that, when I looked at the Wikipedia article for the game, I was confused when it said that The Advantage covered two songs from Bubble Bobble.
Going by the Wikipedia article and other things that I’d heard about the game, I had high hopes that the game had a secret saving grace in its behind-the-scenes mechanics. Apparently, the entire game operates by recalculating numbers generated in play, giving bonus items based on jumps and bubble blows and bubble pops and such. I’ve always loved the concept that games might be keeping track of such things—I’ll often reset an RPG if a character dies in battle, hoping that, like in Lufia, the game was keeping track of such statistics the whole time, and I can have the smug satisfaction that I cheated the game into thinking that I was pretty good.
However, it turns out that the game really doesn’t have any point, and it’s not worth the effort to try to play the game to maximize the number of times that you jump through the bottom of the screen. This is more disappointing than finding out that Lufia is pretty much the only game to keep track of that stuff, because this game does keep track and it’s still not worth trying for it. I suppose that the same could be said about Lufia, but you’re dumb, so there.
Really, I don’t understand Bubble Bobble. It ranks up there with sports games in terms of “Why would anyone actually pay to play this?”itude. It only seems to exist to annoy parents and entertain small children, yet it appears to have been relatively popular and enjoys a number of spin-off games involving its characters.
The concept beneath the game seems to have been so great, yet the game itself turned out to be ridiculous. Why did it end this way?! Why couldn’t it have been a good game?! Why do I care so much?!
I don’t know. But, Bubble Bobble is a pretty dumb game. Sorry, guys.