Console retrogaming, especially with bubbles

If you're upset but concerned about your line, what's the video game equivalent of ice cream? Bubbles. Either “bubbles” in English, which is funnier. Pronouncing “beubeulse” soothes: do you already hear the little “pop” of the disappearing bubble? It remains to shoot them, catch them, climb on them, blow them, push them or crash into them, because there are all kinds and bubbling takes time. In fact, playing with pixel bubbles has already swallowed up hours of the life of each of you and many of your ancestors. This story of bubbles began with arcade terminals and continues with mobile phones, after of course the console box; retrogaming is not likely to fix the case.

Content table

  1. Bubbles of all kinds
  2. But above all bubbles that we shoot
  3. What else ?
    • Tiny Bubbles (1998) !
  4. Little return to music on Bubble Bobble

It started like this: a soap bubble in a sink. Indeed, the first video game with a bubble dates from 1982 and is very illogically called Bubbles, because there is only one bubble in the game and it is you who embody it. Isn't it nice to be a bubble in a sink? Video games bring to life extraordinary emotions.

1. Bubbles of all kinds

The soap bubble – Bubbles (1982)

A horrible sight, isn't it?

Bubbles is a game of arcade machine published by Williams Electronics. The action therefore takes place in a sink. The bubble (you) must eliminate impurities, ants and crumbs while avoiding brushes, sponges, cockroaches and razor blades. Sometimes a curious miniature housewife sweeps the floor in the sink. Catching it in passing earns points and relative protection against brushes (you steal its broom).

A whole wonderful world

The more good impurities she swallows, the bigger the bubble gets, until it's big enough to swallow brushes and sponges. And hopefully, the faucet runs and the water takes you to the next painting.

Bubbles has never been adapted on any console, and it's an injustice because this great and original game really has nothing to envy to Pac man, if not its labyrinth. If you have an arcade machine, play Bubbles, you will not regret it !

Granted, it's probably not the most de-stressing bubble game out there, but cleaning a sink isn't a de-stressing activity. 

The flammable bubble


It is very rare that video game bubbles are really our enemy. At worst, we burst them or they bury us, but that happens without hatred. except in Netherworld, a space game released on Commodore, Amiga and other Amstrad CPCs in 1988. Your ship must collect diamonds in space while avoiding lots of things, including dragons that spit bubbles. Deadly bubbles, probably filled with Greek fire or some acid. In any case, when you shoot them, it goes boom. 

Perhaps it should be seen as a diversion from the bubbles blown by other dragons that appeared on the world video game scene two years ago and never left it.

You must know them

The bubble we blow – Bubble Bobble (1986)

The bubble took off in 1986 with the classic of classics: Bubble Bobble (to be pronounced ten times in a row), developed by the Taito studio, as Space Invaders. And as in space invaders, it starts with a nightmare since Bub and Bob (to be pronounced 10 times in a row) have been transformed into dragons by Baron von Blubba (to be pronounced 30 times in a row), who has also kidnapped their girlfriends.

It will therefore be up to you to find them by jumping from platform to platform. You only have one weapon to imprison enemies: bubbles.

Once the bad guys are trapped, they can be swallowed and turn into food. There is food and drink in Bubble Bobble, including sponsored fries and cocktails.

The whole thing takes place on a very famous music and for the less heady… Obsessive? We would have to invent a word, no doubt. See the resources at the end of the article if you have the misfortune/fortune not to know it. The author is Tadashi Kimijima, bless or curse him depending on your mood at the time.

It is an understatement to say that the game has known glory. The choice of console is yours, friends of retrogaming, Bubble Bobble was adapted across all media and spawned 11 sequels between 1987 and 2019 (say this list out loud five times in a row): Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars, Bubble Bobble Part 2, Bubble Symphony, Bubble Memories, Bubble Bobble Old and New, Bubble Bobble Revolution, Bubble Bobble Evolution, Rainbow Islands Revolution, Bubble Bobble Double Shot, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends. I bet you one FLEX-arcade terminal it's not going to stop there.

Ah yes, it must have been the parents. And here are the real faces of Bob and Bub, or vice versa.

The first avatar was born in 1990: in Snow Bros., the bubbles are transformed into snowballs, for an almost identical use. Above all, Bubble Bobble has its Spin-off (derived series), in which the dragons Bob and Bub leave the world of platforms for that of bubble shooters: Jigsaw Puzzle (1994). Perhaps to compete with the mythical pang (1989)? We will come back to this breakthrough in the second part.

In short, in the world of pixelated bubbles, almost everything derives from Bubble Bobble. 

The saving bubble

In Bubble Dizzy (1990), certainly not the best known of the episodes of the above-named Dizzy (it has not been adapted on consoles), the gamers' favorite egg relies on bubbles to wander around the bottom of the sea. And it's pretty.


In Mickey World of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (1992), Mickey and/or Donald enter a bubble to cross the ocean. And it's very pretty. In 1994, Bubble Trouble (released on Lynx) transposes the same situation in space.

His name escapes me

Finally, in Ecstasy, an amazing French puzzle game from 1990, the player uses bubbles to repair the circuits of an android. A hovering bubble that accompanies an equally hovering sound and visual universe. 

The growing bubble


In the hovering genre, we can cite Osmos (2009), in which the player tries to make a celestial body – or a cell, concretely they are hypnotizing bubbles – grow bigger by swallowing other celestial bodies. Which takes up the principle of the ancient Bubbles, taken over in 2014 by Big Bubbles, but rather at the bottom of the water (the sounds are relaxing to a point…).

The bubble we push – bubbleghost (1987)

A Bubble, a blowing Ghost is bubbleghost

Back to the (portable) console and retrogaming with a very ingenious use of the bubble at the heart of the gameplay: in bubbleghost, published in 1987 on PC and on Game Boy in 1990, a ghost blows a soap bubble that he must push in all directions to cross all the levels. The ghost is happy when we get there and curses when the bubble bursts. It's fun and not easy.

The principle is taken up later in the excellent Soul Bubbles (2008). The bubbles here are bigger, more numerous, more solid and the universes more varied. It's very, very, very pretty.

Despite everything, if we do a lot of superb things with bubbles in the video game, the ultimate and universal kiff of the player in search of “pop” and “wizzz”, it is nevertheless to pulverize them.

2. But above all bubbles that we shoot

Bubbles are balls, and pang (1989)

pang is the first Bubble shooting game, even if objectively the bubbles here are a mixture of bouncing balls and balloons. In my opinion, these are still bubbles to knock out for fun. The principle, taken up in super pang in 1990 for Super Nintendo, is immutable: fixed tables, a kid explorer who pulls grappling hooks to destroy the bubbles that bubble up from the sky. And that's cool. Series Bubble Trouble (From now on Bubble Struggle) also operates the system of pang.  

The billiard bubble variant

In Emotion (1990), a kind of spherical Shadok (it's a special vessel) must eliminate bubbles by pushing them in all directions in order to associate them, as later in all bubble shooting games. But it's not shooting, more billiards on acid, at least in the PC versions (the Game Boy version, released under the The Game of Harmony, is less demanding). It's beautifully colored, as you can see in this video.

The dynasty Jigsaw Puzzle

And here comes the moment you've all been waiting for, the advent of bubble shooting in its canonical form. In 1994, the Taito game derived from Bubble Bobble, of course highlighting the dragons Bob and Bub. His name is Jigsaw Puzzle (Bust-a-Move in the United States) because it falls into the "Puzzle game" genre. It marks the advent of Bubble Shooting, a mixture ofArkanoid, of Tetris and of pang : the player shoots a colored bubble with a cannon which must combine with at least two other colored bubbles to explode, producing a pleasant noise to the ear; and free up space, because lots of other bubbles bubble up from the top of the screen. That's it, it's simple and it relieves.

Jigsaw Puzzle was a hit in Japanese arcades and has been adapted over 21 different versions (soon 22) on Neo-Geo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Playstation, Playstation 2, Xbox, Wii, Xbox 360, Game Cube, Game Boy, iPhone, Android…

It's only simple in principle, because the decorum of these games is of course sumptuous and their music is haunting as you wish: it's a Taito game. It's pretty, the bubbles burst in "ding" and "dong", the locations change, the dragons dance or quiver depending on how the game goes, and the canon is sophisticated. This is not the case of the game which embodies Bubble Shooting to the point of appearing as its creator, namely Bubble Shooter.

THE bubble shooter Empire

avatars of Jigsaw Puzzle appeared between 1994 and 2002. The series of Magical Drop (5 versions for consoles between 1995 and 2004, 2 others for PC and smartphones) enriches the principle with lots of characters and a lot of imagination. There is also Frozen Bubble, released in 2002 for Windows, with penguins instead of dragons and cool music.

Paf, shpop, puuuuuisssshhhh

bubble shooter also released in 2002, but it's rather a sad clone at the start: no more music and complicated decorations, the game is reduced to the essentials, namely the bubbles to knock out, the player's bubble, some animations and the essentials sound effects. It works very well too.

The playing field is different: bubble shooter is targeting the free game market on PC and soon Smartphone. Today there are (roughly) 47800000 different versions of bubble shooter, some of which are much more sophisticated. Obviously, for the console and retrogaming side, it's less good, but it's still relaxing, easy to understand and downright addictive, to despair some employers, no doubt.

The pinball bubble variant

Among the many clones of Jigsaw Puzzle released in the 1990s, there is one that I find very good. Puzzle Uo Poko was released in 1998 on an arcade terminal and then on a smartphone. Of course, I recommend the arcade version, for its “infuriating” music, its originality, its friendly noises and its little mascot cat. It's bubble shooting, but it happens underwater, hence the relaxing sound effects, which contrast that said with more exalted intonations (“Ready? Goooooo”). The game uses the pinball principle with a bubble launcher. And the bubbles removed are actually air bubbles that release oxygen allowing the little cat to breathe underwater. When they burst, there are lots of other little bubbles. And it's nice. But when the cat dies, it's sad. Sensitive souls refrain.

The same developer, Cave, continued work with Jigsaw! Mushihimetama (2005), even a little more exuberant. The sounds of the sea are missing.

3. What else ?

Tiny "Zen" Bubbles

In the series of bubble platform games, Beach Bubbles 3 was released on Xbox in 2013. More interestingly, Intergalactic Bubbles (2015) is a pretty fun 3D shooter.

But when it comes to popping bubbles, the best is Tiny Bubbles (1998), a zen underwater puzzle game with bubbles so beautiful and so melodious when they burst that it's worth all the relaxation videos in the world.

I'm not joking, you will find there the consolation you deserve.

4. Little return to music on Bubble Bobble

This youtube video presents the different versions of the game.  

But of course, the best is all the same his music: here the original on NES thanks to Niko's 8bitStereo channel; as well as a fantastic version with lyrics on Brentalfloss; and an piano version which is fun on the Lara6683 channel.

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Flex Arcade


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