Is there anything left to say about Puzzle Bobble that hasn’t already been said over the past thirty or so years? It’s a series of puzzle games that spun off a 1980s arcade game called Bubble Bobble, which starred two lovable little dinosaurs. Instead of being more of a platformer like the game it borrowed its protagonists from, Puzzle Bobble is instead a color-matching puzzler, and easily one of the most addictive within that crowded sub-genre.
There have been countless ports and sequels in the years since the original Puzzle Bobble, and we’re now getting the latest one of those with Puzzle Bobble Everybubble on Switch. It’s exactly what you expect: Puzzle Bobble under a fresh coat of HD paint. While it might sound like I’m oversimplifying, that’s pretty much the gist of this game. Does that inherently make it a bad pickup? Most definitely not, but it is what it is.
Puzzle Bobble Everybubble has two main game modes to pick from. Story mode is exactly as the name implies. It has you navigating an overworld map, with different hubs each with 15 or so levels to complete in order. You can score up to three stars per stage, and in order to max those out, there are different objectives you have to complete that vary from level to level. Once you attain a perfect score on every one of those, EX versions of them are unlocked. Oh, and you can choose the character you play with, but there doesn’t seem to impact your game in any way, only making things cuter, I suppose!
This mode works as both a tutorial to the game’s mechanics and a way to enjoy it solo or with a friend/PC counterpart. I found it to be enjoyably challenging playing it on my own, and while it made the game a tad too easy at times, enabling a co-op computer-controlled partner at any time felt good, too, because of the way it can be turned on and off at any time. Every time I got myself in a pinch during any level, instead of tuning into the assisted option which takes away two stars from the start, I opted to bring in a robot buddy, and that was enough to get me sorted and ready for the next challenge.
The little that there is of a tale during story mode is cute enough, but don’t come into this expecting an epic tale. It’s just enough of a thrust to have you engage in all manner of puzzle boards and a delivery method for Puzzle Bobble Everybubble to introduce you not only to the base ball-bouncing color-matching gameplay, but also the new power-ups and stage types, such as the one that has you destroying boxes with your combos, and of course, bombs. Those are awesome and feel so good to use correctly, and at the same time, can be extremely annoying.
That’s because it’s very easy to have a chain of bombs go off and leave you without any left to use later on in the stage. Then again, calling anything in this game “annoying” is overstating it because levels are so quick to get through or start over that it’s hard to find any faults with its overall gameplay. Again, it is what it is. You’ll either spend hours straight playing level after level, or play it in spurts. It’s the kind of game you keep installed and play out of a whim.
If you have a friend either locally or via the Internet, you’ll be able to go head-to-head against them in versus mode, or play co-op against up to 4 other humans or the CPU in the standard Puzzle Bobble fare. It’s as good as you expect it to be if you ever played any of those in the past. There’s not much to go on over, really. And as with any game with an online component, your mileage may vary with this one in terms of actually finding opponents to play with over the web. I haven’t found any myself, but it’s still the review period, so all bets are off on how it will go once it’s officially live.
The game keeps track of all of your scores and wins/losses, and comes up with a rank based on the latter, so eventually you’ll be able to matchmake with fellow bobbers and climb the ranks until the very top. How much of a stud you’ll be when you get to the number one spot is up to you. I’d say that’s a really good pickup line, if not wholly original one at that.
Oh, and there’s a third game mode to play. It’s based on Space Invaders and was added in part to commemorate that game’s 40th anniversary, which is both potentially exciting and definitely terrifying. We are getting old. Anyway, this crossover works as well as it could be expected. You get to move from left to right and can only shoot bubbles straight up onto the slowly moving rows of colored bubble invaders, as with the original game.
I found Puzzle Bobble X Space Invaders to be alright. There’s honestly not much to it at all, and if it were to be a game on its own, it would be a very bad one, but as a bonus in another with a bit more content to it such as Puzzle Bobble Everybubble, it’s okay at best. You’ll probably play it once before moving on to the main attractions. I’ve always been a much bigger fan of Space Invaders Extreme and its brethren anyway.
To sum it up, Puzzle Bobble Everybubble is a competent Puzzle Bobble product, with the expected features that offer up exactly what you’d want out of the franchise. It’s quick and easy to get into, with no fluff whatsoever. The added gameplay features are definitely neat and help add a wrinkle to the already excellent color-matching puzzling that’s worked for decades. If you have yet to play one of these on the Switch and are looking to get your fill, Puzzle Bobble Everybubble will surely get you sorted.