Bubble Bobble returns to the Nintendo platform on the Nintendo Switch with Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, a game that hearkens back to the roots of the original, but adds modern game features to the experience.
The game plays a lot like the original. You can jump, shoot bubbles to catch the bad guys, use your spikes on your back or jump down on the bubbles to pop them, or create bubbles to ride to get to different platforms. However there are differences.
The first and obvious feature that is added is the ability to play with up to three other people, in local couch co-op. This is the best feature of the game. Bubble Bobble is so easy to pick up and play, and it's family friendly, so this is a great game to play with the kids. During my time with the game, I had my 5 and my 8 year old play the game and they were able to pick up on how the game works pretty quickly.
The game feels more grounded than it's predecessor too. In the original game, the characters felt so floaty, where in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, the controls just feel better.
The enemy AI isn't as good in this game, granted the enemy AI wasn't all that great in the original, but the patterns of the enemies in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends feels predictable, where as in the original game, the enemies felt chaotic. And in the original game, the last enemy on the screen became enraged when the rest of the enemies were killed on the level, where you don't get that same feature in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends. The new entry into the series feels a bit watered down, maybe because the game was designed to introduce a new, younger audience to the game.
The level design isn't bad in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, but again, there isn't anything overly challenging when it comes to the levels. Once you figure out how to get around the maze, you'll be able to clear with ease. At the end of a set of ten levels you'll fight a boss for that level.
These bosses do pose a bit more of a challenge than the regular monsters, however, even with the bosses, you'll be able to figure out their patterns pretty quickly. The bosses also drop equipment that you can use once you beat them. This is a nice change from the original game. The issue with the equipment is that it's not isn't really necessary in mastering the next set of levels. It seems weird to grant you equipment, but the equipment isn't necessary to beat the next levels or the next boss. It seems like this was a miss when it comes to level design.
Another aspect of the game is the fact that the graphics are updated, however, the graphics look like something from early 2000s. Personally I would have liked the game to incorporate the retro graphics with some of the modern game play and design.
For those of you that are looking for more of a challenge, the game does come with the original arcade game from 1986, however, you can only play up to two players in couch co-op. While this stays true to the original game, but it would have been nice to add the ability to play up to four players in the arcade version that was added.
Final Grade: B -
Overall, there are a lot of things to like about Bubble Bobble 4 Friends. It's kid friend, it's easy to pick up and play, the game feels and controls better than the original, and you can play up to four players. But even with these updates, it feels like there is some of the magic from the original game that is missing from the newest entry. The level design isn't exemplar, and the enemy AI will turn off players that are looking for a challenge. Sure you can challenge yourself to get the highscore in each level, but overall the level and enemies just feel lackluster.
The Tip and The Top:
Easy To Understand
Good Solid Controls
Can Play Up To Four Players In Couch Co-Op
Includes The Original Bubble Bobble
The Flip and The Flop:
Level Designs Lack Any Challenge Or Creativity
Enemy AI Is Weak
Review code provided by PR Hound