Retro Re-release Roundup, week of December 29, 2022

Bub and Bob's classic debut finally makes its way to Arcade Archives for Nintendo Switch.

Yes, this is a rather empyu week, but I mean... would you want your game competing with Bub & Bob? I didn't think so.


Bubble Bobble

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / Taito

What's this? Taito's beloved co-operative fixed-screen action game starring a pair of cute bubble-blowing dragons, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Taito in 1986 and ported to every platform imaginable (including Arcade Archives on PS4, six years ago!). The players' primary goal is to destroy all the enemies by entrapping them in bubbles and smashing them together; the player can also ride bubbles as temporary platforms, and simultaneously smashing multiple enemies leads to big point bonuses and other surprises.

Why should I care?  For all the many, many times Bubble Bobble has been re-released, the original arcade version has been seldom reissued (owing, perhaps, to a complicated anti-piracy chip that took hobbyist emulators decades to properly negate), and while many of the popular home conversions acquitted themselves admirably, there's no beating the original article. As for the game itself, it spawned an entire subgenre of copycats but one might argue it has never been topped: behind the game's cutesy facade lies a cavalcade of levels designed to expertly test the characters' unique bubble mechanics, and a ton of tricks and secrets that make it ideally suited for a home experience, ie one where you and your pal can play at your own leisure and figure things out without spending hundreds of dollars in quarters to do so.

Helpful tip: An emulated version of the original arcade Bubble Bobble is also present in the recent Bubble Bobble 4 Friends for PS4 & Switch — the emulation quality's sound, especially after a patch to address some aspect ratio issues, but there are a lot of little quality-of-life features in the ACA version that make this version more convenient to play (aside from the whole "being embedded in another game" thing, obviously).