There is no question that Bubble Bobble is a beloved game by many of the old NES era kids. Still, I feel like this game should get more mention than it does. Games like Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, and Tetris will always be the poster children of the Nintendo, but I always felt that Bubble Bobble was one of the best games for the 8-bit system.
For those who don’t know, Bubble Bobble was a platform-style game where two players were put into a single screen where they would have to clear out the enemies before moving up to the next stage. The characters were two adorable little dinosaurs that you may recognize from the Puzzle Bobble (aka. Bust-a-Move) game that exploded into arcades over a decade ago. These cute dinos could fire bubbles from their mouths to entrap hapless enemies. Popping these enemy bubbles cleared them from the screen, but taking too long would lead to them bursting free and getting enraged.
Overall, this is a simple premise that worked well with the NES system, but the genius of the game is how it was implemented. First and foremost, the game felt right. The characters moved pretty slowly but the controls were tight and consistent. Having tuned controls was essential as the game relied heavily on mastery of the mechanics, especially in the later levels.
The mechanics themselves were very straight forward, but the design of the levels took advantage of them to the fullest. In total, there are 100 levels, and it is very clear that a lot of thought went into them. Something as simple as the speed and path that a bubble would float made for a wide variety of interesting scenarios and stages. Bubble Bobble perfectly illustrates how a game can be incredibly deep yet very simple and serves as a master class in level design.
The last thing I should mention is something that NES players will remember forever about this game. Though the aesthetics of the game were always cute and fun, the rush of nostalgia always comes when I hear the Bubble Bobble song. The song in Bubble Bobble was a pure-tone catchy melody that would play on a short loop for the entire game. This is the sort of thing that could easily drive a person crazy, but my young brain never seemed to mind.