There are times when great gorges of the past come to the Mother Platform that make us nostalgic for the greatness when we looked in awe and admiration at the 120 pixels in front of our screen. After Sony's big foray and its now timed-exclusive releases (along with ports of older titles), Nintendo has tentatively begun to make a tentative entry into our screens. One of the titles that had been released on Switch was a remake of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World. The spirit of the games approved for Nintendo's ecosystems is driven by simple principles in design with the main focus being that they should be accessible to as wide an age range as possible. It must, in other words, be fun for both young children and elderyoung adults.
The latest addition to the library of these games comes with a legendary title (GotY-esque) to those who were lucky enough to live through the golden age of the coin-operated arcade (or the silver age of Mame32). As the title has already given it away we're referring to Bubble Bobble. The brainchild of TAITO (and not Mama Nintendo), this too had a simple idea from conception: to be accessible to everyone with a particular focus on the female audience. In its plot, Bubble Bobble was simplistic: Baron Von Blubba kidnaps the "girlfriends" of two young boys and turns them into (soap) bubble dragons, Bub and Bob. By releasing bubbles they try to trap their enemies and "pop" them until they reach the coveted prize: their girlfriends.
This basic gameplay formula remains unchanged in the fourth installment of the series we're reviewing here. The Baron, as a doll, pushes Bub (another doll) out of bed. The latter through 50 different levels and several bosses will try to defeat the evil Baron. So far so good. The levels are characterized by escalating difficulty as in the first title, and there are clever mechanics (different types of shots, setting up the track to end in one shot, etc.) that separate the experienced players from the beginners. The addition of leaderboards and the second difficulty level (Hard) once the game is finished promise to keep players busy for quite some time.
But is this really the case? The truth is that it is not. The game suffers too badly in its most critical area: handling. Any attempt to play with an Xbox controller or equivalent is failing. The only way out is to use either a DXInput controller (like the Steam controller) or a keyboard (like we used to do... back in the day). The game doesn't recognize the controllers correctly and seems to perceive movement-commands that are never given or has hypersensitivity to those controllers. This problem has been identified by many, many users and a solution is already being worked on in an upcoming patch. But it's a wonder how something so obvious could have escaped quality control before the game's release.
Some other title misdemeanours take a back seat in this light. Indeed, the Workshop mode, while having all the makings of something special, is a curious case in itself. On the one hand we have the ability to create any track. On the other, accessing other creators' tracks is a slow and torturous affair, as every time we try to enter the menu the game refreshes the available tracks, which takes time.
We are rather hesitant to recommend Bubble Bobble 4 in its current state. Even having the original, orthodox Bubble Bobble embedded in the game only serves to sugarcoat the pill. Which is particularly large and bitter to swallow especially at the price point available. We'd advise patience till is up on some offer or as part of a bundle.