Friday 19 October 2012

Bubble Bobble Double Shot Review (DS)

Bubble Bobble Double Shot

Bubble Bobble is one of the most loved platform games of all time. Ever since it first appeared in the arcades punters have been clamouring to play it. Unfortunately almost every attempt to bring the game to a new audience has met with  somewhat mixed results. Bubble Bobble Double Shot is the latest attempt to make a new generation of gamers fall in love with the brightly coloured dinosaurs.

In this latest adventure Bub and Bob are joined by newcomer Bubu. With the basic idea still being the same as before. The dinosaurs must navigate a double screen level and catch monsters in bubbles. Once trapped, the bubbles can be burst and the creatures will be destroyed leaving behind a bonus. Now players can cycle through the different dinosaurs with the L and R buttons. This feature is essential as certain monsters can only be caught by certain coloured bubbles.

There are one hundred levels in total and every tenth level offers a boss fight. These are slightly different and require one of the dinosaurs to eat a power up, which depending on the colour of the character activates either a fire, water or thunder power. The boss must then be pummelled with the new skill until victory is secured.

Graphically the game is charming and bright and there is no virtual gap between the two screens, so characters and monsters are visible at all times. The monsters aren't the most imaginative of creatures but they are faithful to the games of old. So far it all sounds promising, but alas all is not well. The game has a number of needlessly frustrating problems. First of all the three heroes are cumbersome to control and slow moving. Sometimes you need a fairly precise jump to advance and it can take several attempts to get it right.

Another issue is the stupid game over screen. Once you lose all your lives there is the opportunity to continue by taking part in a short mini-game. The problem is that one of the offerings requires you to pop different bubbles and is not configured to the touch screen properly. Despite hitting bubbles clearly you will more often than not burst one behind it or off to the side. This is a ridiculous oversight that should have been corrected before the game shipped.

Of course the game over screen would not be such an issue if someone had actually thought about designing the levels with an ounce of common sense. Bubble Bobble contains some of the worst level designs we have ever seen, which is an absolute travesty compared to the simple grace of the original. You will spend half your time not being able to reach your destination because the designers thought it would be a great idea to make funny shapes out of things. What is even worse is that often the enemies become stuck in certain places with no way to reach them.

We had high hopes that this title would bring back some of the fun of the original. It was hard to imagine the game could become so frustrating, boring and illogical. Yet someone worked very hard to make sure it did. There is a nice multi-player option which allows up to three people to play in local play (no online either), but would you really want to inflict this on someone else?

You can pick up the NES version of Bubble Bobble on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console for just three-pounds fifty, or the arcade version on Taito Legends or even Bubble Symphony, which features on the Xbox edition of Taito legends 2. These versions of Bubble Bobble are fun, while this is certainly not. If you really must have a Taito classic on your DS then go for New Zealand Story Revolution instead.


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