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Bubble Bobble Neo! Review

Taito’s 1986 classic is back but this time on XBLA arcade. The bubble burping dragons are once again on a 100 staged frenzy to trap their foes and pop them into oblivion. Question is, is this the best iteration out there? Let’s find out.

Story – N/A

It’s a level based, fixed mapped, platform game. Not enough of a story here to consider an entry for scoring. However, you’re a dragon and you trap your enemies in bubbles and then jump on them to pop them, that’s basically the principle and 100 levels of it too (not to mention the extra 100 stages available in forms of DLC now released)

Gameplay – 8

Bubble Bobble has three modes in this year’s iteration, though the distinct difference between the three will have you scratching your head. The core differential between Arcade and Extra Mode are mainly the fact you can have 4-players in Extra Mode and some of the playing fields have sloped platforms, trap enemies inside areas and use power-ups to kill them. Another difference is some of the enemy’s movement patterns some do not attempt to attack you, but instead move around in a way that makes it difficult to trap them in bubbles. There is also a Vs. mode where by you play the game out in frenetic game maps with tonnes of enemies whilst also retaining the ability to trap your opponent in a bubble so u can rack up a high score whilst they are encased. Unfortunately this game mode is particularly flawed because it’s very hard to see where your dragon is on each level, a shame really because it had the recipe of being very interesting. When I say particularly flawed, it’s pretty much broken unless you have the sensory perception of The Predator.

Now with the moan out the way, Bubble Bobble’s extra and arcade modes are great on the whole and whilst popping ghosts and sharks you can be rewarded by massive cake and sparkly diamonds. These items add to your overall score that mounts up through the game and contributes to your online leader board, nice! What isn’t as clear from the outset (unless you actually read the help menus) is that there are a number of manoeuvres you can do. If you jump just as you hit one of your bubbles, you can spring off it. If you turn your back on a collection of bubbles you’ve built up, the spikes on your back will pop all the bubbles at once and you can even use a chain burst which can pop multiple enemies and add a great multiplier to your score.

As well as the food and jewels you can pick up for score, you can also pick up items to aid your performance such as an orange parasol which will advance you 3 levels in the game, different colour crosses that offer fire, water and thunder power ups and not to mention different coloured candy which improves bubble distance and your dragons speed. If you’re clever you can utilize these item drops to your advantage as long as they are used before they disappear from the level map.

Taito have done an excellent job on these two game modes by offering an experience that is well enjoyed in single player (for those hardcore players) and multiplayer support locally for an intimate experience. No online multiplayer is included, but it would probably die an early death anyway, as with most XBLA titles (though it would have been nice). We did notice some item falling glitches along the way, but unless you are a high score whore, this doesn’t eliminate any enjoyment from the game.

With 12 achievements and a high definition experience of the original, Bubble Bobble Neo, despite its few flaws has great game play.

Graphics & Sound – 8

Don’t get me wrong, the graphics aren’t amazing in Bubble Bobble Neo but then it is a nice iteration of the yesteryear release. A classic mode of the game would have been nice to play for those retro purists but Taito didn’t deliver. What’s great about the graphical edge to this title is the fact there are no horrible HD borders in the way of play, the menu system is nicely presented and the sound is faithful to the original except from what I can remember the sound of enemies as they turn angry and red, there is no panic about them this time round, which is a shame because the retro version had this nuance about it that would often strike the player with a little fear, especially the red eyed sharks!

Online –N/A

No online play, just local play. You have an online leader board but that’s as far as this title goes. Not enough here to include it’s score.

Fun Factor – 6.5

Although Bubble Bobble’s experience is at times great fun, it’s another game that does its best when played with friends. With no online multiplayer those friends will have to be close by. That pretty much serves us up with a limited chance to play the mode as many in our social network simply ‘don’t get’ retro games. The Vs mode had the potential to be a cracking game mode but suffered from an over cluttered playing field and sadly that’s left it unplayable. You do have some replay value in trying to collect every item in the game but that will only keep the achievement score whores happy, for those not affected by the world of G’s they would hope for something to unlock, unfortunately that doesn’t happen.

Overall Score 7.5/10

800 Microsoft points isn’t a bad shout, anymore and it would have been criminal. A must have for the retro enthusiast and a pleasure to play with a friend. Unfortunately the lack of polish and online options stops this title from being an absolute purchase.

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Bubble Bobble Neo! Review , 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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