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Extensive Definition

is an arcade game by Taito, first released in 1986. It was ported soon for numerous home computers and game consoles. The game features two twin Bubble Dragons, Bub (Japanese "Bubblun"), who is green with yellow spikes/horns and Bob (Japanese "Bobblun"), who is blue with cyan spikes/horns. Together, they journey through the Cave of Monsters to rescue their girlfriends. They move over a system of platforms, busting and pushing bubbles, avoiding enemies and collecting a variety of power-ups.

Game mechanics

The main reasons that many computer or game console ports of this game - even when released several years after the original - can seem lacking and incomplete in some aspects is because the original arcade game, despite its apparent simplicity, features some rather complicated and convoluted game mechanics.


Each level (or round) consists of one screen, with no scrolling or flipping. The dinosaurs can move around the levels by walking on platforms, falling through empty space, jumping through platforms from below and (in some levels) falling through holes at the bottom of the level in order to reappear at the top, or even vice versa (see gameplay techniques below).
Apart from jumping, the characters can blow bubbles. Bubbles also float in from the top or bottom of the screen in many levels. They pop after a certain amount of time, when they hit the dinosaur's spiked back, if they're squashed against a wall or another dinosaur or if they're fallen upon. By holding down the jump button, it's possible to bounce on top of bubbles, which is sometimes necessary to reach platforms. The main objective of the game is to trap enemies in bubbles, and burst them, destroying the enemies. Defeating several monsters at once awards exponentially increasing point awards. Failing to burst a bubble with a trapped enemy before it bursts on its own results in a pink-colored, faster enemy being released.
Each round also features invisible air currents and custom bubble physics, causing bubbles to move in predetermined trajectories, such as converging to a certain point, moving very quickly or very slowly, being pulled down as if by gravity, etc., usually with notable effects on a level's difficulty.
Some levels have very short bubble-popping times, meaning that bubbles pop almost as soon as they emerge. This becomes extreme in later levels to the point of only being able to kill monsters by "kissing" them (blowing a bubble in such a way that it's immediately squashed against the dinosaur, causing instant death to an enemy). Time limits are also used to increase the game's difficulty; two rounds having no time limit, some levels are almost impossible to finish under certain conditions (single player, lack of certain bonuses etc.). When the time limit expires, the player does not die instantly, but rather an invincible "Skel" (see below) enemy appears for each player, and all enemies become 'angry', with a change in colour and increase in speed.


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 dinosaur. The dinosaurs' 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 dinosaurs. They may (but do not always) calm down when one of the dinosaurs dies. When in Super Mode, most enemies get swapped with a counterpart, e.g. PulPuls replace Monstas and vice versa.
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:


The dinosaurs' main weapon is their ability to blow bubbles. After being blown, they shoot forward for a short distance, then start to float upwards or along a wind current. 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. Popping an empty bubble scores 10 points.

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.
Virtually the entire game is controlled in this way, appearing to be random but actually able to be manipulated by the player should he or she know how. The only item that is known to be completely random is the "fireball bubble" that appears very occasionally, a red bubble with a flashing yellow spark inside it that gives the players fireballs for the next five levels. This is generated with a chance of 1 in 4096 each time a bubble drifts into the level from the top or bottom of the screen.
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 Z+1 monsters will make Z 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. Spell EXTEND to clear the stage you are on and gain an extra life.
In Taito's PC port, however, killing Z monsters will cause the Z-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
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.

True ending

The arcade original has several different ways in which the game can be finished. Completing the final round when playing in single-player mode, the game displays a message stating that the player hasn't reached the "true ending." The player is then warped back to a random level between 50 and 95 and carries on playing. In this way, a skilled player can make a single game last for a very long time.
Finishing round 100 with both players active displays the "happy ending," in which both of the players' girlfriends are rescued. But a cryptic message then appears stating that this is also not the "true ending", and displays a code that must be entered into the game at the title screen.
Entering the code changes the game logo to read Super Bubble Bobble, and the next game that is played has all the enemies switched around, making for a much more difficult game. Finishing the game with both players active in Super mode finally reveals the true ending of the game.

Cheat modes

Unusually, the arcade version also has two cheat modes built in. By entering certain combinations of movements and button presses on the title screen, these can be activated for the next game to be played.
The first cheat, Original Game, causes the secret treasure rooms on levels 20, 30 and 40 and the warp door on level 50 to appear every time, regardless of whether one of the players is still on their first life. To enter this code, while at the main Bubble Bobble logo screen enter 'Bubble, Jump, Bubble, Jump, Bubble, Jump, Right, 1P Start'. Some text reading 'Original game...' should appear in blue writing at the bottom of the screen.
The second cheat, Power Up!, grants the players the training shoes (for extra speed) and the yellow and blue candy (for rapid-fire and fast moving bubbles, respectively) at all times, making the game significantly easier to play. To enter this code, while at the main Bubble Bobble logo screen enter 'Left, Jump, Left, 1P Start, Left, Bubble, Left, 1P Start'. Some text reading 'Power Up!' should appear in red writing at the bottom of the screen.
The Super Bubble Bobble mode detailed above is also entered in the same way as the cheat codes. To enter this code, while at the main Bubble Bobble logo screen enter '1P Start, Jump, Bubble, Left, Right, Jump, 1P Start, Right'. The game logo should change to include the word 'Super'.
By completing the different endings, the player is given clues in the graphic presented on how to work out the cheats.
The following Initials can be entered when you achieve the highest score, on the next game different bonuses are given. These can be quite significant in value, and usually compose of also waiting on the first screen and not killing all the monsters until the prize on the top right appears.

Moon Water storyline

In the original Game Boy version of Bubble Bobble, and Classic Bubble Bobble for the Game Boy Color, there is a storyline in which only Bub is involved in the gameplay.

Game Boy version

Bob (as a human) has an unknown sickness, so Bub (as a dinosaur for no given reason) has to pass through the hundred levels to defeat Super Drunk and get the Moon Water. Only defeating Super Drunk, however, results in a bad ending.
The (unnamed) "Cave of Monsters" in this version seems to really be an emptied well. To obtain the good ending (to make it fill up with Moon Water) Bub must obtain three "jewels" from fairies he can meet after defeating three bosses (giant versions of Coiley, Stoner and Incendo, none present in the arcade game). Doing this will set free a fourth fairy who will then, thanks to the "jewels", fill the well and revive nature (even though the story of the game didn't mention nature suffering until then). Bub (who returns human), Bob and their parents (who were never transformed) are seen in the ending but their girlfriends never appear in the game.
The revival of nature seems to be suggested also in the Master System port's ending (which otherwise only revolves around the girlfriends' kidnapping, dismissing the parents completely).

Classic Bubble Bobble

In Classic Bubble Bobble for the Game Boy Color, Bob (as a bubble dinosaur for no given reason) has the unknown sickness. Bub has to go through a number of levels to gain the Moon Water; lesser than the arcade or Game Boy, etc versions, though the game contains many alternative paths and bosses that are giant versions of all common enemies, including those of the previous GB game who keep the same names (all bosses are named after fruits). The final boss is Darkness Drunk (the original Super Drunk appears in an earlier stage with the name Melon). The game is not set in a "Cave of Monsters" but in various different places (even on an airship).
The ending is Bub obtaining a bottle of Moon Water, and the screen fades to white and cuts to only a cute still picture of the Bubble Bobble characters (minus Bob).


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, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 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), and UltraCade's Taito Arcade Classics. A version also exists for the BBC Micro on public domain though never officially released. At the end of 2006 a new port for mobile phones in Europe and Japan was released.
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.
Recently, a version for the TI-83 graphing calculator 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 to $5 USD.

Game mechanics in conversions and ports

Bubble Bobble has been widely regarded as one of the most playable games of all time, owing much of its success to its previously described game mechanics, which are only apparently simple, and its many hidden features and secrets. Also, most Bubble Bobble players usually manage to master techniques such as riding bubbles, 'bubbling' oneself through the screen or 'kissing' monsters, and expect them to work all the time.
Some Bubble Bobble ports however, from the date of release of the arcade version up today, have been heavily criticized for their mechanics deviating significantly from the arcade version, adversely affecting the gameplay.
For example, in many versions of the game the two-digit trick to make extra bonuses appear at the end of the stage just doesn't work, or the score and bonus awarding system is entirely different, in part due to the complexity of the original one, and most of the aforementioned techniques can be much harder or impossible to reproduce, thus completely changing (arguably ruining) the gaming experience.
Examples include even comparatively recent versions such as the (1996) PC/PlayStation/Sega Saturn versions by Acclaim: they either have different game mechanics (too fast dropping speed, barely working shoes, bubbles going through walls, different jumping physics and many non-implemented techniques) or different behaviour for some monsters (especially the time-up monster) In some ports, including the TI-83 version, the time-up monster doesn't appear at all.
Another example is the early 1989 PC version by Novalogic, which had the possibility of diagonal jumps with a single keystroke (thus enabling players to go through walls), lacked completely the ability of kissing monsters, and had different rules governing the appearance of some bonuses (most notably the orange-yellow sweet).
The various NES and Game Boy ports and sequels are very different, often featuring scrolling screens, different enemies, and the ability for the dinosaurs to fly.
In general, there are as many variations to the game mechanics as there are versions, with some being more faithful to the arcade version than others and some resulting in noticeably different gameplay experience. Although that is a general rule regarding ports of any game, in Bubble Bobble it can become very noticeable and annoying because of the game relying primarily on its fast paced and trick-filled gameplay.
One of the few versions having game mechanics and gameplay very close to the arcade version is Final Bubble Bobble for the Sega Master System, even though it introduced extra gameplay elements (in particular two new bosses like in the GB version and the need to obtain the content of certain secret rooms to reach the second set of 100 levels and then again to obtain the true ending). Moreover, the version included in Taito Legends for the Xbox, PS2, and PC should be a near-perfect copy of the original arcade version, as it features the original ROM running under emulation. However, even this version lacks accurate emulation of an MCU in the original hardware that handled monster behavior and other things. As of 2007, fully accurate emulation is implemented only in MAME (versions 0.107u3 and up).


Bubble Bobble inspired many sequels, including:
There are a couple of previous Taito games which sort of anticipated the Bubble Bobble legacy because of their inclusion of characteristic common elements or even monsters (e.g. the Mighta and Monsta both appeared first in the game Chack'n Pop, and in fact level 29 of Bubble Bobble is a direct copy of level 1 of Chack'n Pop) :
Bub and Bob also appeared in Puzzle Bobble, otherwise known as Bust a Move in the United States. Bust a Move was followed by many sequels, for many consoles, including PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox and the N-Gage, along with computer and arcade versions. This spin-off franchise became more popular than Bubble Bobble itself, and has (so far) outlived it.

Similar games, spinoffs, and clones

Bubble Bobbles successful gameplay has inspired not only many official sequels and spinoffs by Taito, but also a number of games with very similar gameplay elements. The most important of them include:
  • The non-scrolling platformer action.
  • Dividing the game into many levels (typically above 30).
  • Defeating enemies by trapping them somehow instead of killing them right away.
  • Collecting bonuses and finding secret ways of increasing their value.
  • Collecting letters to gain an extra life.
Some examples of successful non-Taito video games resembling Bubble Bobble in some or even all of the above aspects are:


Ultra Balloon (1996), by SunA Corporation (also manufacturer of Hard Head series), is an evident Bubble Symphony copy and the only Bubble Bobble-inspired arcade game to actually copy the bubble-blowing and popping system.
Bubble Bobble also inspired a few software publishers to publish derivatives of the game for the PC and Mac. Such titles include Bubble Bobble World, Bubble Bobble Quest, Bubble Bobble Nostalgie, Bub & Bob, and The Bub's Brothers. Such games are marketed online.

Development notes

  • This was one of the first games to feature multiple endings.
  • In 1996, Taito announced that they lost the original source code program to Bubble Bobble following a reorganization - when it came to the recent ports and sequels, they had to work from program disassembly, playing the game and (mainly) the various home computer ports.
  • The game forbids the initials 'SEX' on the high score table. If you try, it gets changed it to 'H.!'. In Japan, the letter H is occasionally used as a slang term for perverts. (See ecchi.)
  • Tom Gault holds the official record for this game with a score of 5,823,600 points on March 4, 1988.
  • The highest possible score is 9,999,990, at which point the score stops increasing.
  • The NES Cover band "The Advantage" covers two songs from "Bubble Bobble" on their self-titled album.
  • Games with an "improved", though actually slightly modified, arcade mode were released for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, respectively called Bubble Bobble Old and New, in July 2002, and Bubble Bobble Revolution in September 2006.
    • Bubble Bobble Revolution was developed by Dreams Interactive. Wireless multiplayer functionality was included for the DS version.
    • However, in the beginning of October 2006, the game cartridge was officially deemed "faulty" by Nintendo of America due to the fact that the New Age mode did not have a boss in Round 30, so players could not advance to the next level.
  • Video game themed professional wrestler Player Uno uses an inverted brainbuster move called the "Bubble Bobblebuster".

Cameo appearances in other games

  • A cameo of Bub is in the MMORPG MapleStory, in the games square in Henesys, there is a man who lets you play various games, and on the board he is holding, is an 8-bit Bub.
  • In Arkanoid DS, Bub appears as the breakable block design of level C-4, while Monsta/Beluga is the Beta-1 design and Bob is a VS. Mode design.


External links

bub in German: Bubble Bobble
bub in Spanish: Bubble Bobble
bub in French: Bubble Bobble
bub in Korean: 버블 보블
bub in Italian: Bubble Bobble
bub in Hebrew: באבל בובל
bub in Japanese: バブルボブル
bub in Finnish: Bubble Bobble
bub in Swedish: Bubble Bobble
bub in Chinese: 泡泡龍

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aunt, auntie, blood brother, boy, brethren, brother, bubba, buck, bud, buddy, colt, country cousin, cousin, cousin once removed, cousin twice removed, cub, daughter, father, fellow, first cousin, fledgling, foster brother, frater, grandnephew, grandniece, granduncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, half brother, hobbledehoy, kid brother, lad, laddie, manchild, master, mother, muchacho, nephew, niece, nuncle, nunks, nunky, pup, puppy, schoolboy, second cousin, sis, sissy, sister, sister-german, sistern, son, sonny, sonny boy, stepbrother, stepsister, unc, uncle, uncs, uterine brother, whelp, young man, youth
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