Codex Gamicus

Bubble Bobble is an arcade game developed by Taito. The game was later ported to many consoles, home computers and handhelds.


Bubble Bobble (バブルボブル Baburu Boburu?) is an arcade game by Taito, first released in 1986 [1] and later ported to numerous home computers and game consoles.[2] The game, starring the twin Bubble Dragons Bub (Bubblun) (バブルン Baburun?) and Bob (Bobblun) (ボブルン Boburun?), is an action-platform game in which players travel through one hundred different stages, blowing and bursting bubbles, dodging enemies and collecting a variety of items. The game became very popular and led to a long series of sequels and spin-offs. The main goal of the game is to rescue Bub and Bob's girlfriends from Robots, among other enemies. It is also notable for being an early example of a game with multiple endings, which depended on the player's skill and discovering secrets.


The game feature two dinosaurs, Bub and Bob, which had to rescue their girlfriends kidnapped by a monster.


Bub (or also Bob, if playing two-player) would encapsulate the monsters in bubbles and pop them, destroying the monster and leaving behind food or other items, worth points in multiples of 100.

Game mechanics[]

In the game, each player controls one of the two Bubble Dragons, Bub and Bob. The player can move along platforms, as well as jump to those above and to the side, similar to most platform games.

The player can also blow bubbles. These can trap enemies, who are defeated if the bubble is then burst by the player's spiny back. Bubbles that contain enemies can be popped at the same time resulting in different foods being projected around the level. Each enemy trapped in a bubble equates to a different food. Food is consumed and transferred to points (an increasing scale of 1000 points is awarded for each enemy burst in tandem with another meaning: one enemy burst equals one food item worth 1000 points, two enemies burst equals two food items worth 1000 and 2000 points, three enemies burst equals three food items worth 1000, 2000 and 4000 points, and so on), which results in earning lives. These same bubbles also float for a time before bursting, and can be jumped on, allowing access to otherwise inaccessible areas. Players progress to the next level once all enemies on the current level are defeated.[3]

Enemies turn "angry" — becoming pink-colored and moving faster — if they are the last enemy remaining, escape from a bubble after being left too long or a certain amount of time has been spent on the current level. A monster will also become angry if either player collects a skull (the only negative item in the game), and the monster is hit by the resulting comet crossing the screen (however, this is a rare occurrence).

After a further time limit expires, an additional invincible enemy appears for each player, actively chasing them using only vertical and horizontal movements. These do not need to be defeated to complete the level, and disappear once a player's life is lost.

Contact with enemies and their projectiles (rocks, lasers, fireballs, etc.) results in death.

The game's music was written by Japanese team Zuntata. Peter Clarke, Tim Follin and David Whittaker converted the music for the home computer ports (some versions feature the ending sequence track for the title screen music, such as on the Commodore Amiga version by David Whittaker).


There are a variety of enemies that move about in different patterns. Contact with an enemy (or the missiles fired by some) will kill a dragon. The dragons' job is to complete the level by killing all enemies in it. If this is not achieved within a time limit, the message "Hurry up!" will flash across the screen. When this happens, enemies become "angry" (making them red and move faster thus making them more dangerous). Approximately ten seconds later, one or two Skel enemies appear on screen. Enemies also become "angry" if they escape from a bubble that is not burst quickly enough by one of the dragons. They may but not always calm down when one of the dragons dies. When in Super Mode, most enemies get swapped with a counterpart, e.g. PulPuls replace Monstas and viceversa.

There are 8 kinds of normal enemies, plus the final boss and two kinds of invincible monsters that appear after the "Hurry up!" limit, each with their own names. Roughly, in order of appearance in the Normal version of the game, they are:

  • Benzo.gif Bubble Buster (Japanese "Zen-Chan"): A box-shaped, clockwork walking monster with a medium moving speed and good jumping abilities. He's the first monster that appears in the game at stage 1. Interestingly, this monster also appears in the graphic tiles of the ROM of the arcade game Chack'n Pop, along with the Stoner and Beluga, but doesn't actually appear inside the game. Super Mode counterpart: Incendo.
  • Ghost (Bubble Bobble) (modified).gif Stoner (Japanese "Mighta"): A walking monster with red eyes who wears a white robe, much like a ghost. Has a medium moving speed, good jumping abilities and is able to shoot. First appearing in this game at stage 6, this monster actually first appeared in Taito's 1983 game Chack'n Pop. Super Mode counterpart: Willy Whistle.
  • Blubba.gif Beluga (Japanese "Monsta"): A flying blue/dark purple monster shaped roughly like a small whale. It flies fast but can only bounce off walls to change direction. First appearing in this game at stage 10, this monster actually first appeared in Chack'n Pop. Super Mode counterpart: Hullaballoon.
  • Boaboa.gif Hullaballoon (Japanese "Pulpul"): A pink flying monster looking like a toy bear with a small rotor on his head. Flies around slowly but with greater control than the Beluga, and creeps in very small openings that other monsters and players cannot pass through, thus making it very dangerous in some rounds. It makes its debut at stage 20. (Super Mode counterpart of Beluga)
  • Mushroom.gif Coiley (Japanese "Banebou"): A mushroom shaped-monster which can only move by making short jumps, having a single powerful spring instead of legs. It makes its first appearance at stage 30, and is the only monster who stays the same in Super Mode (he is not swapped with any other monster).
  • Incendo.gif Incendo (Japanese "Hidegons", singular): A fast walking monster with shooting abilities, but poor jumping. Unlike the Stoner, he doesn't have to stop walking in order to shoot fireballs. He makes his first appearance at stage 40. (Super Mode counterpart of Bubble Buster)
  • Drunk.gif Willy Whistle (Japanese "Drunk"): A fast moving monster with good jumping capabilities, and able to throw a bottle which rebounds off walls and is re-caught by the thrower. He first appears at stage 50. The final boss is modelled after them, but is instead called Grumple Gromit or Super Drunk. (Super Mode counterpart of Stoner)
  • Invader.gif Super Socket (Japanese "Invader"): A robotic-looking monster, which behaves similarly to the enemies from the computer game, Space Invaders. Can only move left or right, and falls if it reaches the end of a platform. Shoots lasers downwards. It first appears at stage 60, but does not appear at all in the Super version of the game. (Incendo takes its place in Super Mode.)
  • Baron (Bubble Bobble) (modified).gif Baron von Blubba (Japanese "Skel-Monsta"): It is the invincible monster that appears after the time limit for a round has expired (this limit can be as low as 1 or 2 seconds on some rounds, but there are two rounds with no time limit: round 94 and round 100). It looks similar to a white Monsta, but can only move vertically or horizontally at timed intervals. It can pass through walls, ceilings and floors, and speeds up until either the level is completed or a player is killed. In two-player mode, two Skels appear, each homing in on a particular player, although either player can be killed by touching either of the Skels. A Skel can also be dismissed by touching a player who has just been killed and is still flickering, and thus invincible. Another way to get rid of Skel is to pick up the flashing heart powerup (the only one which remains on the screen after the "Hurry up!" warning.
  • Rascol.gif Rubblen (Japanese "Rascal") appears in the secret diamond-filled rounds, which can be accessed by special bonuses that appear on rounds 20, 30 and 40 under certain conditions (explained in later section). Losing one's last life inside such a secret room will cause the maximum round reached to be "Round 102", "Round 103" or "Round 104" depending upon in which secret room death occurred, and the first new game started after that will teleport players to the first secret round straight from round 1, but will also cause secret rounds to appear earlier, at stages 10, 20 and 30, and the special 20-stage skip bonus on stage 40 instead of stage 50.
  • Boss.gif Grumple Gromit (Japanese "Super Drunk") is the end-game boss that appears in level 100. It is large, bounces off walls, and fires arcs of bottles. The level contains a magic potion that allows the players to breathe lightning bubbles. It becomes trapped in a bubble only after being struck by many lightning bolts.

Secret Levels[]

Weapons and bonuses[]

The dragons' main weapon is their ability to blow bubbles. After being blown, they shoot forward for a short distance, then float upwards slowly. It is possible to jump on bubbles to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. An enemy hit by a forward-shooting (not floating) bubble will be trapped in it. The bubble can then be popped, killing the enemy and turning it into an item that can be collected for bonus points. If left floating, it will become angry and escape the bubble after a while.

In some levels, there are special bubbles that appear by themselves:

  • Bubbles with letters that yield an extra life and the ability to skip the current level when one collects a complete set - all six letters spell 'EXTEND'. Extend bubbles appear when one has popped several enemies at the same time. They will only appear on levels which have holes in the top or bottom of the screen.
  • Water-filled bubbles that can be popped to release a stream of water that flows down and drowns enemies, turning them into 7000-point blue diamonds.
  • Bubbles containing lightning bolts that, when the bubble is popped, shoot sideways (even through walls) and kill any enemies they hit, turning them into 8000-point yellow diamonds. The lightning goes in the opposite of the direction that the dragon that popped it was facing.
  • Bubbles containing flames that, when the bubble is popped, drop downwards setting any surface they touch on fire for a short time, killing any monsters that touch the flame and turning them into 9000-point red diamonds.
  • A very rare red bubble with a pulsating yellow spark, which when popped awards 100,000 points and gives the player which popped it the ability to breathe fireballs for the six consecutive rounds. This bubble appears randomly with a 1/4096 chance [1].

Power-ups include:

  • Red Shoes that enable faster walking and jumping.
  • A blue bubblegum which increases the travelling and forming speed of bubbles.
  • A purple bubblegum which increases the shooting range of bubbles.
  • A yellow bubblegum that increases the rate at which bubbles can be blown.
  • A yellow lamp which gives all three bubble-related bonuses.
  • A red cross which gives the player who takes it the ability to breathe flames until the end of the current round.
  • A yellow cross which causes several lighting bolts to cross the screen, killing any monster they hit, including bubbled ones.
  • A blue cross which kills all monsters by flooding the round with water. This takes some 3 or 4 seconds to complete though, and players are still vulnerable.
  • A red lamp which instantly kills all monsters, turning them into 9000-point red diamonds.
  • A purple bomb, which instantly kills all monsters, turning them into 10,000-point dark blue diamonds. You can't blow any bubbles after the explosion.
  • A red trophy, gives you all the basic power-ups.
  • A purple trophy, a smart bomb that kills all enemies and turns them into diamonds.
  • A blue trophy, gives you extra points when you run along the ground.
  • A blue umbrella, advance three rooms.
  • A yellow umbrella, advance five rooms.
  • A purple umbrella, advance seven rooms.
  • A diamond necklace, releases a ball that flies around the screen and turns enemies into diamonds.
  • A red ring, gives you 100 points for every bubble blown.
  • A silver ring, creates a stream of stars that kill all enemies.
  • A blue ring, gets you points while running around.
  • A purple ring, gives you 500 points every time you jump.
  • A book, smart bomb that kills all enemies and turns them into diamonds - "Throw the book at them!"
  • A glowing heart, enemies freeze and you can run into them.
  • A candy cane that gives large bonus fruits at the end of the round that are 10000 to 30000 points depending on the color of the candy cane.
  • A treasure chest, similar to candy canes except diamonds fall.
  • A clock/watch, stops level timer and changes screen color.
  • A bell, activates alarm that will warn the player that a secret weapon is about to appear.
  • A skull, turns the enemies fast and nasty.
  • A potion, fills the screen with various items, collect all of these for a 100,000 point bonus

Bonuses and Events[]

A relatively unknown and obscure part of Bubble Bobble gameplay has always been the way the various bonuses appear. While most of them may appear completely random, the game actually keeps a series of internal (and unseen) counters about events such as number of jumps, jumps over bubbles, bubble bursts, bubbles blown etc. during a round or in the whole game, maximum number of monsters blown in a certain round etc. and these events are actually used to determine which bonuses will appear, and to a certain extent when they will appear.

Some known events and the effect they have on bonuses are:

The number of distinct EXTEND bubbles that will appear on a round depend on the maximum number of monsters killed during the round, or on a previous round if said previous round didn't have "openings" for EXTEND bubbles to fly in, or was completed before they could appear. In general, killing N+1 monsters will make N distinct EXTEND bubbles appear. Since the game actually can have only 7 monsters per round, killing 7 monsters in a single bubble cluster will make all 6 EXTEND letters appear.

In Taito's PC port, however, killing N monsters will cause the N-th letter of the word to appear - making the N extremely hard to get because there's only few levels where you can easily pop five enemies simultaneously. This is probably a bug.

Another known event-triggered event is the appearance of candy cane bonuses: if a player rides a bubble more than 20 times, then a candy cane will surely appear in that round.

Other bonuses can be made to appear in similar manners, and there is at least one internet page listing some of the events and their effects [2].

For a special bonus on the NES version, a player must enter the password HIJID, select 2 player continue, and finish round FO (last level) with both players alive. After the entire ending has run and the player is prompted to press start, the player will receive a reward. The reward is a sound test for the whole game.


The popularity of Bubble Bobble led Taito (or its licensees) to port to many home computers and video game consoles. Ports of the game were released for the Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Atari ST, MSX, Amstrad CPC, Sharp X68000, PC (MS-DOS, 1989 and 1996), Apple II, FM Towns Marty, Sega Master System, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom Disk System, Sega Game Gear, mobile phone (Sprint PCS), Texas Instruments TI-8x series of calculators[4] and UltraCade's Taito Arcade Classics. A version also exists for the BBC Micro on public domain though never officially released. The original Sega Master System version had two hundred levels.[5] Of the original 8 and 16 bit ports, the NES and Game Boy ones were made by Taito themselves. Sega converted Bubble Bobble for the Master System (although this version was not released in North America). The Commodore 64 and Spectrum versions were made by UK-based Firebird Software, and most of the other computer ports by US-based Novalogic.

In 1996 Taito announced that they lost the original source code.[6] As Probe Entertainment was in charge of the home conversions, Taito sent them a Bubble Bobble arcade PCB so they could play the original game and reproduce its mechanics. This led to the release of Bubble Bobble also featuring Rainbow Islands for Saturn, PlayStation and PC (MS-DOS) in 1996.

The original Game Boy and Game Boy Color versions have a Moon Water storyline, and are known as Bubble Bobble, and Classic Bubble Bobble respectively.[7]

In 2002, a homebrew version for the TI-83 graphing calculator was released.[8] Template:Computing platform requirements

In October 2005, a version was released for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC as part of the Taito Legends compilation of classic arcade games.

At the end of 2006 a new port for mobile phones in Europe and Japan was released.

On December 31, 2007, the NES version of Bubble Bobble was released on Nintendo's Virtual Console service for the Wii. It costs 500 Wii Points, the equivalent of US$5.

During Christmas of 2011, a new version for the Amstrad CPC, entitled Bubble Bobble 4 CPC or BB4CPC was released for free by programmer CNGSoft, as an update to the original/official CPC version, which has been criticised for its lacklustre implementation and underuse of the system's hardware potential.[9]


 Reception (home versions)
Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame NES: 4.5/5 stars[10]
Computer and Video Games C64/CPC/ZX/ST: 27/30[11]
CRASH ZX: 90%[12]
Sinclair User ZX: 8/10[13]
Your Sinclair ZX: 90%[14]
The Games Machine C64/CPC/ST/ZX: 93%[15]
Mean Machines GB: 91%[16]
Mean Machines Sega SMS: 85%[17]
Sega Pro SMS: 81%[18]
The Video Game Critic NES: B+[19]
Zzap!64 C64: 97%[20]
Entity Award
Gamest Awards Silver Award
Zzap!64 Gold Medal
Your Sinclair Mega Game,[14]
Top 100 Games of All Time (#58)[21]
GamesRadar Best NES Games of All Time[22]

Bubble Bobble was well received in arcades. In Japan, the Gamest Awards gave it the Silver Award for being one of the four best games of 1986, along with Taito's own Arkanoid, Sega's Fantasy Zone and Tecmo's Rygar.[23] In Europe, Bubble Bobble was the most popular arcade game on Euromax's nationwide UK charts during the period of May–July 1987, above Capcom's 1942 at second place.[24]

The arcade game also received positive reviews from European critics. In the November 1986 issue of Computer and Video Games, Clare Edgeley described it as an "addictive" game that "sounds quite easy", letting "you in gently", before "the nasties get faster, more of them appear and they're harder to catch." She stated the "continue play facility" is "a great help and allows you to see much more of the game" if "you've got the cash", and the "two player option is more fun as" both "can act as a team" to "clear the screens quickly" and "get to the harder levels." She also noted "the sense of competition is heightened as the player who grabs the fruit gets the points, regardless of who burst the bubbles", which "fast develops into a race against each other."[25] In the April 1987 issue of Crash, Gary Penn described it as a "deceptively simple" arcade game "that proves very addictive and lots of fun to play." He concluded that it was "very compelling" and recommended readers to "Invest a few coins as soon as you can."[26]

The console and computer ports were also well received. Mean Machines gave the Game Boy port of the game a score of 91%, noting that while some changes had been made, the game played identical to the original arcade port and "provides much addiction and challenge".[16] The Spectrum version was voted number 58 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time.[21] GamesRadar ranked it the 24th best NES game ever made. The staff praised its advancements over other platform games of its time and its use of multiple endings.[22]


Bubble Bobble inspired many sequels, including:


  1. Bubble Bobble Video Game by Taito (1986). Retrieved on 2009-10-04
  2. Bubble Bobble Games. Retrieved on 2009-10-04
  3. Dawkes, Adam (2004). Bubble Trouble. Retro Gamer magazine. Retrieved on 2013-01-11
  4. Bubble Bobble 8x. Retrieved on 2009-07-18
  5. Bubble Bobble Cheats, Codes, and Secrets. GameFaqs. Retrieved on 2 July 2012
  6. Bubble Bobble video game, Taito Corp. (1986). Retrieved on 2009-10-04
  7. Bubble Bobble StrategyWiki. Retrieved on 2009-10-04
  8. Bubble Bobble 8x. Retrieved on 2012-08-10
  10. Couper, Chris. Bubble Bobble-Review. Allgame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-15 Retrieved on April 12, 2013
  11. Bubble Bobble Review 14–15 (October 1987). Retrieved on 2012-08-10
  12. "Bubble Bobble Review", Crash (45): 132–133, October 1987, archived from the original on 2006,, retrieved 2012-08-10 
  13. Bubble Bobble Review 50 (October 1987). Retrieved on 2012-08-10
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Bubble Bobble Review", Your Sinclair (69): 56, September 1991, archived from the original on 2006,, retrieved 2012-08-10 
  15. Bubble Bobble Review 66 (November 1987). Retrieved on 2012-08-10
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Bubble Bobble Review", Mean Machines (23), August 1992, archived from the original on 2006,, retrieved 2009-06-04 
  19. Bubble Bobble Review. Retrieved on April 12, 2013
  20. "Bubble Bobble Review", Zzap!64 (Newsfield Publications) (30): 12, October 1987,, retrieved 2014-06-23 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Let the People Decide", Your Sinclair (93): 11, September 1993, archived from the original on 16 August 2006,, retrieved 2014-06-24 
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Best NES Games of all time", GamesRadar, 2012-04-16,, retrieved 2013-12-05 
  23. Gamest, The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, pp. 6-26

External links[]