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Bubble Bobble Neo Taito, Microsoft Xbox 360 Live Arcade, September 2009

Bubble Bobble Neo
$10 (800 MS points)
The 1980s provided gamers with tons of classics at the arcade, some of which became better known as NES hits. Bubble Bobble Neo is one better known to most American gamers as an NES title, now upgraded, and arguably worth it. It's classic Bubble Bobble (with more power-ups than you remember from the NES), plus a remixed game with new stages and the ability to walk up and down a 45-degree incline, which makes things surprisingly difficult in places.

What you need to know: it's freaking Bubble Bobble and it's just as good or better than you remember it. It has new modes, new graphics, really everything you might hope for short of actual meaningful online multiplayer.


It's Bubble Bobble, which you probably know damn well how it controls. if not: move a dinosaur around, jump, spit bubbles, jump on bubbles. You can collect all sorts of power-ups, from sneakers that make you run faster to a little dongle that lets you spit fire. There's just enough to keep the game very interesting while you catch villains in bubbles, pop the bubbles, and eat the fruit they leave behind. It's total 2D classic stuff that was rendered just fine on the NES, and the controls are basically the same as you might remember from the original game releases. Or any of the many rereleases.

Now Let Us Make Journey To The Cave Of Monsters

The game's story is razor-thin. Save your girlfriend! That's basically it. Just be glad that the gameplay is really something.

Graphics & Sound

The first stills that came out looked pretty awful, but it turns out the hi-res redrawn art looks pretty good while in motion. The characters have a good redrawn look and seem to move around in this world just fine. The backgrounds are colorful and clear, as are the enemies, but one of the trappings of these old games is that sometimes so much goes on to the screen that you lose track of which character is you, what can shoot at you, and so on. You're going to die a lot, this adorable game has fairly sharp fangs. The music is a remix of the original sounds, so it basically feels like you're right at home-- it's not jarring or anything. As retro upgrades go, it's pretty much exactly what a recreation should give you.

The Multiplayer and other modes

Play with up to 4 buddies, if you're so inclined. It does not seem to have online support, unfortunately, so it's "Live on your couch." Which really sucks, as online multiplayer is part of what games like this and various other very long arcade games great on Xbox Live. Taito's 2009 lineup of remakes has been mostly stellar-- this one is no different in the sense that you're going to have a great time.

Is it worth buying?

If it weren't for the fact that you likely own Bubble Bobble Neo's main selling point, the original game, this is a must-own game. This is the game you show your non-gamer girlfriends, your old gamer buddies, and people that just need to kill some time before the movie starts. It's a genuine classic, and the new modes keep that classic look and feel. Unfortunately, like its classic ancestors, there's no online multiplayer.

Ten bucks is a lot to ask for a game you've probably bought (and beat) many times over, but the upgrade is pretty nice and the multi-player functionality is certainly nice to have. I've been playing this one a lot, and I'll probably pick it up every few months and play it some more. It's hard to deny that's a good thing and worthy of the purchase, even if it isn't some brand-spanking-new game mode like Pac-Man: Championship Edition. There's nothing wrong with it, for all practical purposes it's the original, only better, with a little more going on in it.

--Adam Pawlus
November 9, 2009

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