Codex Gamicus

Puzzle Bobble (パズルボブル Pazuru Boburu?), also known as Bust-a-Move, is a 1994 arcade puzzle game (for 1 or 2 players) created by Taito Corporation. It is a simple game based on Taito's popular 1986 arcade game Bubble Bobble, featuring characters and themes from the original. The game's characteristically "cute" Japanese animation and music, along with its play mechanics and level designs, made it successful as an arcade title and spawned several sequels and ports to home gaming systems.


Two different versions of the original game were released. Puzzle Bobble was originally released in Japan only in June 1994 by Taito Corporation, running on Taito's B System hardware (with the preliminary title "Bubble Buster"). Then, 6 months later in December, the international Neo Geo version of Puzzle Bobble was released. It was almost identical aside from being in stereo and having some different sound effects and translated text.

The Neo Geo version could be set to display the alternative title "Bust a Move", which was used in United States, Canada, and sometimes in Europe. This mode also featured anti-drugs and anti-littering messages in the title sequence.


At the start of each round, the rectangular playing arena contains a prearranged pattern of coloured "bubbles". (These are actually referred to in the translation as "balls"; however, they were clearly intended to be bubbles, since they pop, and are taken from Bubble Bobble.) At the bottom of the screen, the player controls a device called a "pointer", which aims and fires bubbles up the screen. The colour of bubbles fired is randomly generated and chosen from the colours of bubbles still left on the screen.

The fired bubbles travel in straight lines (possibly bouncing off the side walls of the arena), stopping when they touch other bubbles or reach the top of the arena. If a bubble touches identically-coloured bubbles, forming a group of three or more, those bubbles—as well as any bubbles hanging from them—are removed from the field of play, and points are awarded.

After every few shots, the "ceiling" of the playing arena drops downwards slightly, along with all the bubbles stuck to it. The number of shots between each drop of the ceiling is influenced by the number of bubble colours remaining. The closer the bubbles get to the bottom of the screen, the faster the music plays and if they cross the line at the bottom then the player dies and the game is over.

The objective of the game is to clear all the bubbles from the arena without dying. Bubbles will fire automatically if the player remains idle. After clearing the arena, the next round begins with a new pattern of bubbles to clear.

Scoring system[]

As with many popular arcade games, experienced players (who can complete the game relatively easily) become much more interested in the secondary challenge of obtaining a high score (which involves a lot more skill and strategy). Puzzle Bobble caters to this interest very well, featuring an exponential scoring system which allows extremely high scores to be achieved.

"Popped" bubbles (that is, bubbles of the same colour which disappear) are worth 10 points each. However, dropped bubbles (that is, bubbles that were hanging from popped bubbles), are worth far more: one dropped bubble scores 20 points; two score 40; three score 80. This figure continues doubling for each bubble dropped, up to 17 or more bubbles which scores 1,310,720 points. It is possible to achieve this maximum on most rounds (sometimes twice or more), resulting in a potential total score of 30 million and beyond.

Bonus points are also awarded for completing a round quickly. The maximum 50,000-point bonus is awarded for clearing a round in 5 seconds or less; this bonus then drops down to zero over the next minute, after which no bonus is awarded.

Two player mode[]

There are no rounds in the two player game. Both players have an arena each (both visible on screen) and an identical arrangement of coloured bubbles in each arena. When a player removes a large group (four bubbles or more) some of those removed are transferred to the opponent's arena, usually delaying their efforts to remove all the bubbles from their individual arena. In some versions, the two player game can also be played by one player against a computer opponent.

Connections with Bubble Bobble[]

The characters and theme of the game are based on the 1986 platform arcade game Bubble Bobble. A remix of the original Bubble Bobble music is played in the game's end credits.

The two dinosaurs operating the pointer are called Bub and Bob (or Bubblun and Bobblun in Japan). Their graphics and animation are based directly on the original Bubble Bobble, only larger (very similar to Bubble Symphony which was released less than a month later). Less obvious is the fact that Puzzle Bobble also features all the enemies from Bubble Bobble, which are trapped inside the bubbles and fly out when the bubbles pop. Inspecting the bubbles closely, one can see the enemies twitching inside the bubbles.

Enemy characters in Puzzle Bobble bubbles
Bubble colour Enemy Japanese name
Red Super Socket Invader
Yellow Hullaballoon (a.k.a. Boaboa) Pulpul
Green Willy Whistle (a.k.a. Bonner) Drunk
Blue Bubble Buster (a.k.a. Benzo) Zen-Chan
Purple Beluga (a.k.a. Blubba) Monsta
Orange Coiley (a.k.a. Bonnie-bo) Banebou
Black Incendo Hidegonsu
White Stoner (a.k.a. Boris) Mighta

Game series[]

  1. Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a. Bust-a-Move) – 1994
  2. Puzzle Bobble 2 (a.k.a. Bust-a-Move 2 in Europe, Bust-a-Move Again in North America) – 1995
  3. Puzzle Bobble 2X (with holiday-themed attract mode animations and a special mode with new levels) – 1995
  4. Puzzle Bobble 3 (a.k.a. Bust-a-Move 3 in Europe, Bust-a-Move '99 in North America) – 1996
  5. Puzzle Bobble 4 (a.k.a. Bust-a-Move 4) – 1997
  6. Puzzle Bobble Mini (on Neo Geo Pocket Color) – 1999
  7. Super Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a. Super Bust-a-Move) – 1999
  8. Azumanga Puzzle Daioh (Spin-off based on the characters of Azumanga Daioh, Arcade) - 2001
  9. Super Puzzle Bobble 2 (a.k.a. Super Bust-a-Move 2) – 2002
  10. Super Puzzle Bobble All-Stars (a.k.a. Super Bust-a-Move All Stars in Europe, Bust-a-Move 3000 in North America) – 2003
  11. Puzzle Bobble Mobile (on various mobile devices) – 2003
  12. Puzzle Bobble VS (on Nokia N-Gage) – 2003
  13. Puzzle Bobble Pocket (on PlayStation Portable) – 2004
  14. Ultra Bust-a-Move (on Xbox) – 2004 in US, 2005 in Japan
  15. Puzzle Bobble DS – 2005
  16. Hippatte!! Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a. Bust-a-Move DS) – 2006
  17. Ultra Puzzle Bobble Pocket (a.k.a. Bust-a-Move Deluxe in US, Bust-a-Move Ghost in Europe) – (on PlayStation Portable) – 2006
  18. Bust-A-Move Bash! (on Wii) – 2007
  19. Bust-a-Move Online – 2007
  20. Bust-a-Move Mobile! (on Mobile Phones) – 2008[1]
  21. Space Puzzle Bobble[2] (aka Space Bust-a-Move in North America, Puzzle Bobble Galaxy in Europe) (Nintendo DS) - 2008[3]
  22. Puzzle Bobble Plus! (a.k.a. Bust-A-Move Plus!) (on WiiWare) - 2009
  23. Puzzle Bobble Live (Xbox Live Arcade) – 2009
  24. Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a. Bust-A-Move) (iOS) - 2009


Many popular clones of Puzzle Bobble have been produced, including:


  1. Bust-A-Move coming to mobile, Blast Magazine (English). Archived from the original on October 16, 2007 Retrieved on 2007-10-10
  2. Space Puzzle Bobble (NDS) - A Review (December 29, 2008). Retrieved on January 23, 2009
  3. Japan - Space Puzzle Bobble officially dated, flash demo online (November 24, 2008). Retrieved on January 23, 2009

External links[]