05th Dec2019

‘Bubble Bobble 4: Friends’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

BB4F_NSW_Cover

After more than 10 years,the classic Bubble Bobble franchise is back… on a Nintendo console no less! Yes, available now, Bubble Bobble 4: Friends is a VERY long-awaited sequel of the cult 80′s game series by TAITO. As in the previous highly popular series, the thrilling and epic bubble fight starts again! One night, a child’s room became enfolded by a miraculous light and every object under its rays suddenly came to life – including the child’s most favourite toy, the little dragon called Bub. Full of jealousy, the wicked magician Bonner challenges the friendly dragon to battle.

The new Bubble Bobble 4: Friends was developed by the original studio TAITO Corporation and – unlike previous entries in the franchise – includes, a 4-player cooperative mode, providing the true meaning behind the games sub-title, Friends. In terms of the rest of the gameplay its very much business as usual, but when business is as good as this franchise there’s not much to complain about!

If you’ve every played a Bubble Bobble game before you;’ll know what to expect from this outing: you play as a cute dinosaur who blows bubbles to trap enemies. Popping those bubbles kills the enemies and leaves fruit behind for you to collect. Theres’s also the opportunity to collect letters to spell out “EXTEND” and gain bonuses (as in extra lives etc.).The biggest difference between this new entry in the series and previous games is that is seems Tatio have toned down the difficulty level… Yes, Bubble Bobble 4 feels a hell of a lot easier than those original games back in the 80s. Though to be fair, you can replay the game in Hard Mode should you desire, something whch adds an extra depth and playability to a game that feels a tad shallow.

Also in a change from the original, as you work your way through all the levels, defesating bosses along the way and – when you finish one of the games 5 worlds, which are split into 10 stages each – you can grab extra skills to use in the next world. Skills that include a dash ability, improve bubble-blowing and even the ability  to shoot bombs. Though the downside to these new skills is that they’re somewhat limited in terms of useability – a lot of the time I found the skills expiring long before I wanted them too.

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The biggest change however is in the presentation. Not only have the graphics been updated for current gen systems but there’s a new look to the games level select screens – Taito have introduced CGI-style cut scenes set inside a child’s bedroom and the camera pans between different areas, different toy boxes and different toys – it feels like a fantastic riff on the likes of Toy Story; and that’s a good thing, because Bubble Bobble 4 is, like those films, very family-friendly – so much so that I could see parents and kids playing this game together without any issues for either generation of gamers. And with a total of four players being able to take on wave after wave of enemies at the same time Bubble Bobble 4: Friends is a perfect party game.

If you enjoyed the original games, if you’re looking for a hint of nostaglia, or if you want a fantastic party game, then Bubble Bobble 4: Friends is most-definitely for you. However if you’re going to pick this up I’d recommend paying for the physical release, especially given there’s no difference in price with the digital release!

Bubble Bobble 4: Friends is available on the Nintendo eShop now. Or you can buy a physical copy via Strictly Limited Games.

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