[Review] Bubble Bobble 4 Friends – Nintendo Switch

Written by Paige Deltefsen
  • Developer: Taito
  • Publisher: ININ Games
  • Release Date: 19/11/2019
  • Price: £35.99 / NA release TBD
  • Review code provided by: ININ Games

To Bub or Not to Bob

The original Bubble Bobble was a platforming arcade game for one or two. It has had a few subsequent releases particularly on handheld devices. Now a new entry comes to the Switch allowing for four players.

Popping Off the Chain

In Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, Bub (and three friends if you choose) must go through five worlds, each with nine levels and a boss fight. These little dinosaurs can not directly touch enemies. Instead they must encase their foes in bubbles they shoot out. Then the bubbles can be burst with your spines or by jumping down hard on them. If enemies wait too long before being popped, they will land where they are and become angry (making them faster if they move). Platforming is another aspect in most levels, there are air currents in every level which bubbles will float along. For some levels you will need to hop on bubbles while they ride the current.

Once all enemies on screen are cleared, you can grab some bonus fruit before proceeding to the next level. This game takes a more puzzle approach, as the more enemies you burst at once the better points you score. Here is where you use the air currents to gather the enemies together with bubbles before popping off a chain. Otherwise you can be like me and simply defeat enemies one at a time. When you lose all your lives you can continue from a game over, but your score will be wiped (making high score attempts pretty useless if you’re not great). When playing with multiple players you get a few more lives but they are shared. It is possible to save each other from dying by bursting their bubble but that rarely happened as we were always pretty far apart.

After beating a boss you’ll gain new equipment. This could be bomb bubbles, or long reach bubbles of a finite quantity per level. If you collect the EXTEND letters that appear for a short while in some levels you’ll gain an equipment upgrade. Thankfully you don’t have to do that in one run of the world. With the exception of one level I didn’t really use the equipment at all.

There are five worlds, making it a total of fifty levels. Once you’ve beaten the final boss you’ll unlock hard mode. Here you have the same stages but the enemies are already angry and there are more and harder ones at that. By this point I’d gotten the hang of the platforming and enjoyed stomping through the worlds. 

Netting high scores in the main game will unlock music. This game also comes with the original Bubble Bobble allowing for two players. With no need to unlock it. While the old physics are a bit harder to get used to I also enjoyed this and my co-op partner preferred it.

Toy-Box Terrors

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a 2D game done with 3D art. It’s simplistic but cute. As the entire game is set in a bedroom, parts of it will be in the background. While the levels themselves are made of blocks, presents and some grid shaped platforms. It can be difficult to tell what is meant to be a platform or decoration at first. There are also two types of blue grids, one of which you can jump on while the other blocks you. In one level I couldn’t see the platforms at first because there was a blue decoration. 

The soundtrack is okay, as the focus is mostly on arcade-y gameplay I didn’t feel the need to unlock the whole of it.

Not a coin sink

I had no technical issues with the game. While I’m not much of a handheld player I found that this is the perfect kind of game for it. This game is pretty easy considering I can continue infinitely, it didn’t get hard until quite close to the end. It could be a good game for kids if they are interested in the gameplay, as there are only a couple of tricky platforming levels. My main issue with the game is the price. As each world only took me fifteen minutes with the non-puzzle approach. I finished the main mode in an hour and a half. If you play this to the fullest including the original game, and hard mode I could say you’d get six hour of entertainment at the absolute most.

Bubble Trouble

Once I got the hang of the controls I really enjoyed platforming across bubbles on air currents. I appreciate the game having an option for four players total. The original game is also a nice bonus to have. The main drawbacks of this game are that it’s hard if you want the best scores but you can blast through it if you don’t care. As well as if the content is worth the price point, which for many it won’t be.

Pros

  • Four player local co-op
  • Fun simple platforming
  • Comes with the original game

Cons

  • Little incentive to get high score
  • Mostly easy
  • Very short

Verdict
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is a fun and cute little puzzle platforming game. Sadly it is over far too soon, but the right co-op partners might make it a better game for you.
2.5/5

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