Classics never die!

Title: Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron Is Back!
Platform: PS4
Developer: Taito
Publisher: ININ Games
Release date: Out Now
tl;dr: Updated classic
Price: £35 / $40
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

The events of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron Is Back! occurs one night as a child’s room becomes engulfed by a miraculous light and every object under its rays suddenly came to life including a little dragon called Bub. Full of jealousy, the wicked magician Bonner challenges the friendly dragon to battle.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron Is Back! is a 2D puzzle platformer where players have to kill every enemy in each level in order to proceed to the next. The way to eliminate threats in every level is to shoot a bubble that will capture the enemy and then you have to pop it. Don’t wait too long as after a certain amount of time the enemy will escape.

One of the improvements from the classic formula is that now, as you progress through the levels, you’ll unlock equippable power-ups that will help you on your hunt for baddies. For example, you can find a power-up that allows you to shoot bubbles further. You have limited usage of the unique skills but they are reset in between levels. It’s pretty interesting as it adds a new spin on a classic formula.

Each world is topped by a boss who are pretty simple and straightforward: avoid their attack patterns and shoot bobbles until they die. I believe this is a missed opportunity where the developers could’ve added a bit more of complexity and strategy to the battles because as it stands, it just feels like another level.

Through the levels, you’ll often come across one of the letters of the word Extend trapped into a bubble. Collecting every letter will allow players to activate and upgrade skills, such as lightning and bomb bubbles.

The game allows up to 4 players through couch co-op. Also Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron Is Back! acts as a beefed-up version of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends by adding an additional 100 levels bringing the total to a whopping 200 levels ensuring lengthy play sessions. If that’s not enough, you can also play the original Bubble Bobble arcade game, which unfortunately doesn’t hold up due to floaty and sometimes unresponsive controls.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron Is Back! looks great; it’s colourful and has a cute adorable overall presentation. Taito was able to upgrade the famous and familiar characters without any compromise. Each world is designed uniquely despite some colour patterns repeating through the game. Definitely one of the greatest strength is the game’s vast 200 level design. The soundtrack feels both new and familiar. Older players will recognize a remix version of the classic Bubble Bobble theme during the first world, but the new soundtrack complements it very well.

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron Is Back! is definitely a must play; whether it be solo or with roommates or family members (seeing as Covid doesn’t allow for visits). This is the kind of game that can easily be played for short bursts or lengthy play sessions as the game’s 200 levels are sure to keep you entertained for quite sometime.

The Good

  • Addictive and simplistic gameplay
  • 200(!) levels

The Bad

  • Lack of online play
  • Classic Bubble Bobble game’s iffy emulation

Family Focus

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron Is Back! is rated E for Everyone as the game features mild comedic violence.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher