Developed by:Taito Published by:ININ Games Genre(s):
  • Action
  • Platformer
  • Platform:
  • Nintendo
  • Cost:$39.99 ESRB Rating:EVERYONE Players:1-4 Release date:March 31, 2020 Reviewed on:Switch

    Bubble Bobble 4 Friends

    We have all been waiting for this moment. And by we, I mean the fans of classic platformers. After over ten years of waiting, a new sequel to a most beloved franchise has made its way to my grubby paws!

    Bubble Bobble 4 Friends comes at a perfect time in my life, with school being out and current events requiring us to stay indoors. Memorable gameplay and mechanics are welcome while the 4-player couch co-op magically brings my family together during these tough times. It’s amazing that 34 years have passed since the world was introduced to Bub and Bob and even more so that its legacy has continued with sequels ranging from the 80’s arcade to the Xbox 360 and Switch. The longevity of this franchise is staggering.

    If you need a reminder of the greatness that is the arcade classic, you are in luck. The original 1986 arcade port of Bubble Bobble is available and playable from the moment you load the game up. It still holds up after all this time; I personally spent about 45 minutes just playing the original without even touching Bubble Bobble 4. The main game is where it’s at though. From the first level on, its apparent that Bub and Bob are back in full effect.

    For the most part, Taito stuck to the original formula. Players will need to bubble trap and pop enemies on their way through multiple single screen levels. These levels, once cleared, culminate into a stage anchoring boss fight. Rinse and repeat. New elements are sprinkled in – like limited power ups that are chosen at the beginning of each stage – to freshen things up a bit.

    Zooming out a bit more, each stage is comprised of ten levels. All of them are beautifully rendered to convey a child’s room motif; they feature bright and colorful LEGO-like block obstacles, playful backgrounds, etc. Enemies vary, growing more numerous/tougher as players progress to later levels. Things get tricky when swarmed from multiple platforms. The game’s new special abilities help in this regard. Collecting the bubbles with letters in them (spelling E-X-T-E-N-D) will allow you to use them more often.

    Getting through each level (by clearing all of the enemies) isn’t the only goal. Minimizing your time spent on each level, as well as popping as many enemies at once, will give you bonus multipliers and more fruit. The more fruit you have and the quicker you clear levels, the better your star rating at the end of each stage. This takes Bubble Bobble back to its arcade roots; at one point it was all about achieving a higher score than your peers. Once the main game is completed, players will unlock Hard Mode which offers 50 altered levels (for those of us looking for more of a challenge).

    Look, if you are a fan of Bubble Bobble, then you should pick this up just for the single player fun. That said, the added randomness of cooperative play also proved entertaining. Any given level can quickly turn into a madhouse, where one of the four players will lose track of their dragon. When I played with my family, we were yelling, laughing, and blaming each other for every mismanaged move. Very few games are as easy to pick up and addictive to play in a group like this one.

    These things aren’t deal breakers of course. The basic gameplay is fun, playing with friends/family is a blast, and the graphics are charming. Even the music is great; the orchestrated main theme filled me with joy thanks to Zuntata, Taito’s house band, and nostalgia. Which…I mean, is the main selling point. Being able to play as Bub and Bob again (this time with friends) is great.

    Taito has been on a roll lately with their releases and Bubble Bobble 4 is no exception. Here’s to them continuing their current run!



    Bubble Bobble is as fun as we remember. In some cases, even more so.



    Cutely rendered dragons; 4 Friends feels like how Bubble Bobble should in the 21st Century.



    Sound and music wistfully brings back memories and reminds you that Bub and Bob have been gone for far too long.

    Replay Value:


    Whether it is achieving a higher score or trying to get that third star, there will be something for you to accomplish for a good while after the credits roll.

    Final Score:


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