Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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!

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors – Switch Review!

TAITO has been known for creating amazing video games such as Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, and Space Invaders, since the early 1970’s. In 1987, TAITO brought us The Ninja Warriors, a side scrolling action game for the arcade venues, and later on, the home consoles. The arcade version included a 3 screen display for players to enjoy their ninja action in a unique wide-screen format.

In The Ninja Warriors arcade game, you controlled 1 of 2 robotic ninjas created by an anarchist group led by Mulk. The ninjas were built to assassinate Banglar, the Tyrant president of the United States, who has issued martial law and given total control to the military.

On October 15th, TAITO released The Ninja Saviors: Return of The Warriors in North America on the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 home consoles. This release was a reboot of their 1994 sequel, also titled The Ninja Warriors, which was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Instead of going with a modern art style, TAITO chose to remain faithful to the original release and keep the 16-bit art style while improving on the actual game resolution and animations.

With many companies bringing older 2D titles to modern consoles with 3D character models, I’m quite happy that TAITO didn’t go the same route. Sure, the game might look good if a lot of effort was put into the 3D models, but that has not been the case with many of the reboots from other companies. The character animations in The Ninja Saviors are quite smooth and the background artwork is fantastic. I’ll take gorgeous 2D artwork over mediocre 3D character models any day of the week!

The Ninja Saviors include 5 ninjas for you to pick from, with 3 being available from the beginning. Each ninja has their own move set which consists of basic attacks, aerial attacks, specials, etc. One example would be the red ninja, who is able to unleash a round of shurikens in front of her by spending some of her stored up battery power. The ninjas are also able to block many attacks, as well as pick up various objects in a stage to use against their adversaries.

The game consists of 8 stages, each more challenging than the last. As you progress into the later stages, previously defeated bosses are thrown into the mix to push your skills to their limits. With how challenging the game can get, you need to make sure your reflexes are as fast as ever. During my play-through, I didn’t notice any major frame-rate issues and the character movement seemed to be on point. The load time between stages was minimal as well, which is always a good thing.

Another addition to the title are online leaderboards and a Time Attack mode. In the SNES title, you had a timer that counted down in each stage that you were in, pushing you to complete the stage before it hit 0. With the reboot, the counter is now going up. If you can beat the game without dying (as you only get 1 life before having to re-pick your ninja), your time will be uploaded to see where you rank against fellow ninjas. Since you only have the 1 life to get onto the leaderboards per run, you’ll want to utilize the items placed throughout the stages to help replenish your health and battery power. As you complete each stage in normal mode, a time attack mode will unlock for that stage. This allows you to challenge each stage individually for the best time instead of going through all 8 stages each run.

The game does have 2 difficulty modes, normal and hard. Hard mode is locked when you first start the game, but will unlock after you’ve beaten normal mode at least once. The game also allows you to customize your controller buttons, which is something folks are always happy to see included. The developers included an option to enable / disable blood effects, which is something the SNES was known for having removed from many titles that were published to the console. While the SNES version was only a single player game, this reboot provides you with a local co-op mode so that you and a friend can unload some ninja mayhem on the enemies together.

The developers have included multiple high quality audio soundtracks in this reboot, but only 1 is available by default. Luckily the game tells you what you’ll need to do to unlock the other soundtracks for your listening enjoyment. Multiple language options are available as well for those who want to play the game in a language other than English.

The Ninja Saviors include a built-in manual which is a nice touch. The pages list each ninja’s move sets, so you don’t have to randomly press buttons to figure out which button does what. I am surprised that the manual shows off the character moves for the 2 hidden ninjas though right from the start, which essentially spoils what the 2 ninjas look like. I would have preferred that the manual hide those pages until the appropriate ninja was unlocked.

TAITO has done a wonderful job in bringing The Ninja Warriors to modern consoles with their reboot of the SNES classic. Even though the game can be completed within an hour or 2 once you’re familiar with everything, the unlockable difficulty modes & bonus characters help justify playing through the game multiple times.

Between the graphical improvements, audio soundtracks, new game play modes, online leaderboards, extra playable characters, and revised character move sets, this is one reboot you don’t want to miss out on. If you enjoyed The Ninja Warriors back in the day, or if you’re just looking for a challenging side-scrolling action game, make sure to check out The Ninja Saviors – Return of the Warriors!

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