In recent times, it seems that video game comebacks are becoming a big deal and among them comes Taito with Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, which sees the return of Bub, Bob, and friends. However, it brings us curious: Is this another sleeper hit?
+Extremely polished gameplay mechanics
+The more, the merrier
+Each stage is a load of fun that’s packed with their very own puzzles
+Relives many of the franchises greatest and most well-defined moments
-Online play is a no-go for those wanting friends to join them
-You will need to chuck out a few extra dollars for the second set of Joy-Cons needed to get the full experience
Growing up, I don’t remember a time when my brother, our friends, and even our parents weren’t having a blast with Bub and Bob, the main protagonists of the Bubble Bobble franchise. For us, the franchise has remained a huge part of our lives, given the fact Taito has given them a second chance at life, it doesn’t really seem to hurt our feelings as much as you would think.
We’ve gotten to see re-releases of some of their finest titles in recent years ranging from the Darius Cozmic Collection to Ninja Warriors, which we had the fortunate chance to review the latter of the two. Now, here we are, with a series that is an arcade-classic, one that dominated the arcade scene when I was a kid: Bubble Bobble.
Now, we see Bub, Bob, and their cast of wild and wonky friends come back to life on Nintendo Switch, giving us a modernized and definitive feel for what the series has had to offer for so many years. It’s a reminder, however, that when the late Fukio ‘MTJ’ Mitsuji designed the games, he knew what he was doing and his legacy continues to spread joy around the world.
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends brings Bub and Bob back to the big screen
Originally released as a Nintendo and Arcade classic in 1986, Bubble Bobble has remained a franchise that has captured our hearts for many years. It’s a series designed for fun, for the challenge and a blissful celebration in cooperative play. You will still jump, you will still work together and you’ll still find that there is plenty of challenge to go around. You’ll still trap enemies in bubbles, you’ll pop them using Bub or Bob’s serrated spines, watching enemies explode in a delightful ‘popping’ manner as bubbles burst across the screen.
Somehow, even as you go through all 100 levels, it never gets old and it does become more apparent with any given amount of time that Bubble Bobble 4 Friends doesn’t really does not mess with the well-established formula in any way. While you will that some – almost the entire last half of the levels – are re-imagined versions, rather, ‘remixes’ if you will. You won’t be disappointed, it’s a family-friendly title, one that’s friendly enough I’ve let my six-year-old nephew play a couple of rounds with me when he was here. It’s fun and Taito’s optimism in giving the franchise a second wind was nothing short of clever.
You’ll even find that Zuntata – the in-house band for Taito – remains respectful to the original designs of the series. Every track is beautifully scored, giving the game an even better feel for what it offers. Each track offers a sense of nostalgia while remaining perky and upbeat.
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, challenges you to play your way and experiment
One of the interesting things about Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is that it challenges you to play with your very won style. It’s all about exploration, finding what works best for you and ultimately running with it. As crazy or weird as it sounds: It works, which makes this one of the most unique titles the franchise has to offer.
However, there is one downfall here, which comes in the shape of doing just that: Playing with friends and experimenting, that is. You can’t go online. This title, for whatever reason, restricts fans of Bubble Bobble to stick to experiencing the title on the same couch as your partner.
While that does sound, well, troublesome, it does limit what kind of experiences you will have and how you will approach the challenges put before you. Instead, you are limited to same-seat multiplayer, which also requires you to ensure that you or your friends have an extra set of Joy-Con controllers lying around. You’ll need them if you plan on experiencing the cooperative play to its fullest extent of four players.
That aside, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is spectacular and it does have a lot to offer those willing to jump in and give it a whirl. But speaking of giving it a chance: Let’s talk about performance for just a second. Just remember to try out the new various bubble abilities you will get as you play. Our favorite? The lightning bubble that shocks a single row and takes out any enemies it can with an electrical shock.
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends runs buttery smooth and sets the par for games of its kind
Now, look: We all know the Nintendo Switch isn’t the most powerful console on the planet. We’d be fooling ourselves if we thought so. Almost everyone knows the Switch is incredibly unpowered compared to its console competitors, but what is incredible, is that games like Bubble Bobble 4 Friends can run as smoothly as they do.
It’s impressive seeing a game as chaotically busy as this one is and still run buttery smooth, never once dropping a single frame or having any weird graphical anomalies. You won’t see graphics popping in and out either. This game is simply a technical marvel and Taito should be patting themselves on the back for what they have accomplished.
The only real downfall here? Battery life. It will eat at your battery life rather quickly unless you play in docked mode, which we highly recommend. When we didn’t, my nephew and I saw ourselves charging the Nintendo Switch in a matter of around two hours before moving back to having it propped up in tablet mode once again.
Even with that said: This isn’t a game to bat your lashes at. It’s beautiful, it’s well designed and the level designs along with their color schemes just pop in ways you wouldn’t be able to imagine.
Bubbling the last Bobble before moving on – The Conclusion
Regardless if you are a well-established fan or not, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is an extremely light-hearted experience. It’s a game that doesn’t hold back its punches and it’s a game that wants you to enjoy what it has to offer whether you play with friends or alone.
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Inin Games
Release Date: Available Now
Again, the only downside to this game is that you will need a second set of Joy-Con controllers if you plan on having four friends join you for the fun. Regardless if they do or not, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a blast and it’s an absolutely amazing addition to the 30+-year-old series. You really should give it a try if you haven’t already.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!