Bubble Bobble 4 Friends Review

Bub and Bob, the cute bubble-blowing dragons, are back in this brand new adventure in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends on Nintendo Switch.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a reimagining of the classic Bubble Bobble franchise from Taito. You play as Bub and Bob, 2 dragons that have to solve puzzles, use their bubble-blowing skills to defeat enemies and collect all the treats that defeated enemies leave behind. Work your way through a series of levels in this bright, vibrant update to the series.

The controls are familiar – you can either jump or blow bubbles. Trap your enemies in the bubbles and then burst them with your dragon spikes to kill them. You can trap enemies in bubbles and try to catch multiple enemies at once to chain together attacks and get the most amount of points possible. Once you have cleared the screen of all the enemies they will drop fruit and it’s your job to pick them up for even more points. Don’t get hit by your enemies otherwise, they’re going to kill you. As well as using your bubbles to trap enemies you can also use them to travel around the stages. Blow a bubble in front of you and then bounce on it to reach those places you couldn’t reach before, or use the wind currents to travel in different directions.

The updates to the series include frantic boss battles which are good set pieces in the game. Work your way through a number of levels and then take on the big boss, which all have different mechanics and numerous ways to beat you. The boss battles are fun figuring out the mechanics but they’re not too hard so you won’t get frustrated. Once you’ve beaten the boss you can pick up loot to extend the abilities and skills of Bub and Bob. Use these skills to shoot modified bubbles for extended reach or special abilities like thunder, bomb and long-shot bubbles. Both the boss and item updates add a layer of depth to Bubble Bobble 4 Friends which we’ve not seen before.

There’s a single-player mode where you work your way through 100 stages and 5 bosses. The story is set in a kids bedroom, almost like Toy Story. There’s also a coop for player mode allowing you and up to three friends take on enemies together. The single-player mode is good fun and the puzzles aren’t too challenging, making this a great game to play for all ages.

Also included is the original Bubble Bobble arcade game which was a huge hit in 1986 and it’s here to play if you want to go fully into Bubble Bobble nostalgia mode. I remember playing the original game on the NES back in the day and it was great to find that the original has been thrown into the mix for players here. Bubble Bobble has appeared on over 20 platforms over the years from Sega Saturn to Xbox 360 and now a new generation of fans can enjoy Bubble Bobble.

Enjoy the original arcade game from 1986 in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends

The graphics are bright and colourful and the audio is fun too, bringing up the intensity for the boss battles. It’s nice to see some throwbacks to the 8-bit Bubble Bobble in some of the level design too.

As a fan of the Bubble Bobble series I was looking forward to this release and I enjoyed the puzzle-solving elements, chaining together attacks and killing multiple enemies at once as well as the new and improved boss battles. I liked the bosses dropped items you can use to upgrade skills that were based on the bosses skills. It reminded me of Monster Hunter or Destiny where you’d take down a boss and then have specific loot for that occasion. It’s not quite as in-depth at those other games, but it’s a neat nod to where the industry is now, without making the mechanics too complex for the Bubble Bobble audience. I would have liked it if the gameplay was a little faster, but the controls were nice and responsive.

Overall, I had a fun time playing Bubble Bobble 4 Friends. It’s a beloved franchise in the industry and it’s great to see Taito back with Bub and Bob for an updated adventure on Nintendo Switch. It would be a great game to play through with your kids or to pick up and play on a commute in short bursts on a train, bus or plane. We’re lucky too here in Europe as we’re getting it on November 19th 2019, a few weeks before the North American release of Q1 2020. If you enjoy the Bubble Bobble series then this is definitely for you, but also you could help introduce a new generation to the world of bubble-blowing dragons. Great fun!

Developer: Taito
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release date: November 19th 2019 (EU), Q1 2020 (NA)

Final Score76

Review copy provided by Taito.

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