Bubble Bobble 4 Friends – Switch Review!

If you were around in the 1980s, you were no stranger to the Video Arcade scene. Kids and adults alike would gather at their local Arcades to compete for the top score of their favorite video games. Some of these games included Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Dragon’s Lair, and Pac-Man. In 1986, TAITO released Bubble Bobble to the arcade scene, a challenging co-op platformer which became a huge success. The game included 100+ stages, secret levels, various power-ups, and multiple endings for the player to uncover.

With the release of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, TAITO aims to bring the joy the bubble busting back with their new entry in the beloved Bubble Bobble series for 1-4 players. The game uses cute 3D models, reworked music, and brand new stages. TAITO also included the original arcade release of Bubble Bobble for those wanting to play the cult-classic that started it all.

The game starts off showing you the night sky, with the camera then moving backwards into a child’s bedroom via an outside window. You can see the classic Bubble Bobble arcade machine at 1 end of the room, along with some toys on the ground and someone sleeping in the bed at the other end. You can also spot Bub and Bonner laying on the bed. After some glowing lights fly through the bedroom window, a couple bubbles enter the room and hit the 2 dolls. A few moments later, Bonner awakens and strikes Bub on the head. Bub proceeds to jump off the bed, which then brings us to the world selection screen.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is made up of 5 worlds, each containing 9 normal stages and 1 boss stage. While progressing through each world, players will come across various letters trapped in bobbles. If you manage to pop the letters before they disappear, you’ll end up spelling the word EXTEND. When you did this in the original game, you were granted an extra life. With Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, each collected letter provides 1 extra life. When you spell the whole word, something special happens but we won’t spoil the surprise for you. You’ll also earn up to 3 stars in each world, depending how well you’ve performed.

For those experienced with platforming titles, this game might be on the easier side for you. The main title can be completed within 1-2 hours, depending how quickly you go through it. For young kids or those that have trouble progressing through the game, you are provided an option to become invincible if you die too many times in a stage. I’m guessing TAITO has taken a page out of Nintendo’s handbook with this one, as the most recent Yoshi games provide a normal and casual mode to assist those that really need it. Once you manage to complete the main game, you are presented with a new difficulty level. This new difficulty adds in more enemies and disables the option to become invincible.

The 3D artwork in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is quite adorable. While many developers have used mediocre models in some of their games on Switch, TAITO has done a great job with their character models, backgrounds, and game animations. Player and enemy movement appear to be quite smooth and there’s no noticeable slowdown in the game. As you progress through the various stages, the background shifts to various places in the bedroom. The shifting background is quite a nice touch versus having just a static black background like in the classic title. The background music is essentially the same as the original game, but remastered a few different ways. Most of the music tracks sound great, but there is 1 that sounds a bit off for some reason. You’ll probably know which one I’m referring to when you hear it.

Even though Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a fun game for all ages, they did make some changes to the game that I was surprised to see. One of the cool features of the original was finding power-ups to help you along the way, which lasted until you lost your life. Bubble Bobble 4 Friends does have power-ups, but they are unlocked after you defeat the boss for that world. Even though the game has 5 power-ups to choose from, you can only equip 1 of them on your hero before starting a world. The game also shows you air currents in the background, so you know which direction your bubbles will float. Luckily you can hide this within the game settings if you wish to make things more challenging for yourself.

A couple other differences in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends would be related to the use of bubbles. There’s a few stages where platforms are positioned at slightly different angles. When you attempt to hit enemies with your bubbles when positioned slightly above them, they end up missing. The classic game was a bit forgiving by allowing bubbles to capture enemies, even if those enemies were slightly below your bubbles. The 2nd change relates to bouncing on bubbles. If you didn’t hold your jump button down in the classic game, you would pop the bubbles. In Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, your hero will bounce on the bubbles until you press the down arrow to make them pop.

At the end of the day, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is definitely a fun title that anyone can pick-up and enjoy by themselves or with others. Not only do you get 50+ new stages to work your way through with up to 4 players, but you also get to experience the original 100 stage co-op cult classic in all its glory. I hope to see TAITO bring more classic titles over to Switch, such as Rainbow Islands or Arkanoid.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends launch March 31st on the Nintendo Switch eShop!

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