Bubble Bobble (バブルボブル, Baburu Boburu?) is an arcade game by Taito, first released in 1986. It was ported soon for numerous home computers and game consoles. The game features twin Bubble Dragons, Bub/Bubblun (バブルン, Baburun?), who is green with yellow spikes/horns and Bob/Bobblun (ボブルン, Boburun?), 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.


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 dragon. The dragons' 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 dragons. They may, but do not always, calm down when one of the dragons dies. When in Super Mode, most enemies get swapped with a counterpart, e.g. PulPuls replace Monstas and viceversa.

There are 8 kinds of enemies, also, the final boss and two kinds of invincible monsters that appear after the "Hurry up!" sign, each with their own names. Roughly, in order of appearance in the Normal version of the game, they are:

  • Bubble Buster (Japanese "Zen-Chan"): A box-shaped, clockwork walking monster with a medium moving speed and good jumping abilities. He's the first monster that appears in the game at stage 1. Interestingly, this monster also appears in the graphic tiles of the ROM of the arcade game Chack'n Pop, along with the Stoner and Beluga, but doesn't actually appear inside the game. Super Mode counterpart: Incendo.
  • Stoner (Japanese "Mighta"): A walking monster with red eyes who wears a white robe, much like a ghost. Has a medium moving speed, good jumping abilities and is able to shoot. First appearing in this game at stage 6, this monster actually first appeared in Taito's 1983 game Chack'n Pop. Super Mode counterpart: Willy Whistle.
  • Beluga (Japanese "Monsta"): A flying blue/dark purple monster shaped roughly like a small whale. It flies fast but can only bounce off walls to change direction. First appearing in this game at stage 10, this monster actually first appeared in Chack'n Pop. Super Mode counterpart: Hullaballoon.
  • Hullaballoon (Japanese "Pulpul"): A pink flying monster looking like a toy bear with a small rotor on his head. Flies around slowly but with greater control than the Beluga, and creeps in very small openings that other monsters and players cannot pass through, thus making it very dangerous in some rounds. It makes its debut at stage 20. (Super Mode counterpart of Beluga)
  • Coiley (Japanese "Banebou"): A mushroom shaped-monster which can only move by making short jumps, having a single powerful spring instead of legs. It makes its first appearance at stage 30, and is the only monster who stays the same in Super Mode (he is not swapped with any other monster).
  • Incendo (Japanese "Hidegons", singular): A fast walking monster with shooting abilities, but poor jumping. Unlike the Stoner, he doesn't have to stop walking in order to shoot fireballs. He makes his first appearance at stage 40. (Super Mode counterpart of Bubble Buster)
  • Willy Whistle (Japanese "Drunk"): A fast moving monster with good jumping capabilities, and able to throw a bottle which rebounds off walls and is re-caught by the thrower. He first appears at stage 50. The final boss is modelled after them, but is instead called Grumple Gromit or Super Drunk. (Super Mode counterpart of Stoner)
  • Super Socket (Japanese "Invader"): A robotic-looking monster, which behaves similarly to the enemies from the computer game, Space Invaders. Can only move left or right, and falls if it reaches the end of a platform. Shoots lasers downwards. It first appears at stage 60, but does not appear at all in the Super version of the game. (Incendo takes its place in Super Mode.)
  • Baron (Bubble Bobble) (modified)
    Baron von Blubba (Japanese "Skel-Monsta"): It is the invincible monster that appears after the time limit for a round has expired (this limit can be as low as 1 or 2 seconds on some rounds, but there are two rounds with no time limit: round 94 and round 100). It looks similar to a white Monsta, but can only move vertically or horizontally at timed intervals. It can pass through walls, ceilings and floors, and speeds up until either the level is completed or a player is killed. In two-player mode, two Skels appear, each homing in on a particular player, although either player can be killed by touching either of the Skels. A Skel can also be dismissed by touching a player who has just been killed and is still flickering, and thus invincible. Another way to get rid of Skel is to pick up the flashing heart powerup (the only one which remains on the screen after the "Hurry up!" warning.
  • Rubblen (Japanese "Rascal") appears in the secret diamond-filled rounds, which can be accessed by special bonuses that appear on rounds 20, 30 and 40 under certain conditions (explained in later section). Losing one's last life inside such a secret room will cause the maximum round reached to be "Round 102", "Round 103" or "Round 104" depending upon in which secret room death occurred, and the first new game started after that will teleport players to the first secret round straight from round 1, but will also cause secret rounds to appear earlier, at stages 10, 20 and 30, and the special 20-stage skip bonus on stage 40 instead of stage 50.
  • Grumple Gromit (Japanese "Super Drunk") is the end-game boss that appears in level 100. It is large, bounces off walls, and fires arcs of bottles. The level contains a magic potion that allows the players to breathe lightning bubbles. It becomes trapped in a bubble only after being struck by many lightning bolts.


List of Bubble Bobble levels

Secret LevelsEdit

Weapons and bonusesEdit

The dragons' main weapon is their ability to blow bubbles. After being blown, they shoot forward for a short distance, then float upwards slowly. 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.

In some levels, there are special bubbles that appear by themselves:

  • Bubbles with letters that yield an extra life and the ability to skip the current level when one collects a complete set - all six letters spell 'EXTEND'. Extend bubbles appear when one has popped several enemies at the same time. They will only appear on levels which have holes in the top or bottom of the screen.
  • Water-filled bubbles that can be popped to release a stream of water that flows down and drowns enemies, turning them into 7000-point blue diamonds.
  • Bubbles containing lightning bolts that, when the bubble is popped, shoot sideways (even through walls) and kill any enemies they hit, turning them into 8000-point yellow diamonds. The lightning goes in the opposite of the direction that the dragon that popped it was facing.
  • Bubbles containing flames that, when the bubble is popped, drop downwards setting any surface they touch on fire for a short time, killing any monsters that touch the flame and turning them into 9000-point red diamonds.
  • A very rare red bubble with a pulsating yellow spark, which when popped awards 100,000 points and gives the player which popped it the ability to breathe fireballs for the six consecutive rounds. This bubble appears randomly with a 1/4096 chance [1].

Power-ups include:

  • Red Shoes that enable faster walking and jumping.
    Bubble Bobble Enemies and Items
  • A blue bubblegum which increases the travelling and forming speed of bubbles.
  • A purple bubblegum which increases the shooting range of bubbles.
  • A yellow bubblegum that increases the rate at which bubbles can be blown.
  • A yellow lamp which gives all three bubble-related bonuses.
  • A red cross which gives the player who takes it the ability to breathe flames until the end of the current round.
  • A yellow cross which causes several lighting bolts to cross the screen, killing any monster they hit, including bubbled ones.
  • A blue cross which kills all monsters by flooding the round with water. This takes some 3 or 4 seconds to complete though, and players are still vulnerable.
  • A red lamp which instantly kills all monsters, turning them into 9000-point red diamonds.
  • A purple bomb, which instantly kills all monsters, turning them into 10,000-point dark blue diamonds. You can't blow any bubbles after the explosion.
  • A red trophy, gives you all the basic power-ups.
  • A purple trophy, a smart bomb that kills all enemies and turns them into diamonds.
  • A blue trophy, gives you extra points when you run along the ground.
  • A blue umbrella, advance three rooms.
  • A yellow umbrella, advance five rooms.
  • A purple umbrella, advance seven rooms.
  • A diamond necklace, releases a ball that flies around the screen and turns enemies into diamonds.
  • A red ring, gives you 100 points for every bubble blown.
  • A silver ring, creates a stream of stars that kill all enemies.
  • A blue ring, gets you points while running around.
  • A purple ring, gives you 500 points every time you jump.
  • A book, smart bomb that kills all enemies and turns them into diamonds - "Throw the book at them!"
  • A glowing heart, enemies freeze and you can run into them.
  • A candy cane that gives large bonus fruits at the end of the round that are 10000 to 30000 points depending on the color of the candy cane.
  • A treasure chest, similar to candy canes except diamonds fall.
  • A clock/watch, stops level timer and changes screen color.
  • A bell, activates alarm that will warn the player that a secret weapon is about to appear.
  • A skull, turns the enemies fast and nasty.
  • A potion, fills the screen with various items, collect all of these for a 100,000 point bonus

Bonuses and events Edit

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.

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 N+1 monsters will make N 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.

In Taito's PC port, however, killing N monsters will cause the N-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 [2].

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.

Arcade SystemEdit


 Reception (home versions)
Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame NES: Star fullStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg[3]
Computer and Video Games C64/CPC/ZX/ST: 27/30[4]
CRASH ZX: 90%[5]
Sinclair User ZX: 8/10[6]
Your Sinclair ZX: 90%[7]
The Games Machine C64/CPC/ST/ZX: 93%[8]
Mean Machines GB: 91%[9]
Mean Machines Sega SMS: 85%[10]
Sega Pro SMS: 81%[11]
The Video Game Critic NES: B+[12]
Zzap!64 C64: 97%[13]
Entity Award
Gamest Awards Silver Award
Zzap!64 Gold Medal
Your Sinclair Mega Game,[7]
Top 100 Games of All Time (#58)[14]
GamesRadar Best NES Games of All Time[15]

Bubble Bobble was well received in arcades. In Japan, the Gamest Awards gave it the Silver Award for being one of the four best games of 1986, along with Taito's own Arkanoid, Sega's Fantasy Zone and Tecmo's Rygar.[16] In Europe, Bubble Bobble was the most popular arcade game on Euromax's nationwide UK charts during the period of May-July 1987, above Capcom's 1942 at second place.[17]

The arcade game also received positive reviews from European critics. In the November 1986 issue of Computer and Video Games, Clare Edgeley described it as an "addictive" game that "sounds quite easy", letting "you in gently", before "the nasties get faster, more of them appear and they're harder to catch." She stated the "continue play facility" is "a great help and allows you to see much more of the game" if "you've got the cash", and the "two player option is more fun as" both "can act as a team" to "clear the screens quickly" and "get to the harder levels." She also noted "the sense of competition is heightened as the player who grabs the fruit gets the points, regardless of who burst the bubbles", which "fast develops into a race against each other."[18] In the April 1987 issue of Crash, Gary Penn described it as a "deceptively simple" arcade game "that proves very addictive and lots of fun to play." He concluded that it was "very compelling" and recommended readers to "Invest a few coins as soon as you can."[19]

The console and computer ports were also well received. Mean Machines gave the Game Boy port of the game a score of 91%, noting that while some changes had been made, the game played identical to the original arcade port and "provides much addiction and challenge".[9] The Spectrum version was voted number 58 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time.[14] GamesRadar ranked it the 24th best NES game ever made. The staff praised its advancements over other platform games of its time and its use of multiple endings.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1
  3. Couper, Chris. Bubble Bobble-Review. Allgame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-15. Retrieved on April 12, 2013.
  4. Bubble Bobble Review 14–15 (October 1987). Retrieved on 2012-08-10.
  5. "Bubble Bobble Review", Crash (45): 132–133, October 1987, archived from the original on 2006,, retrieved 2012-08-10 
  6. Bubble Bobble Review 50 (October 1987). Retrieved on 2012-08-10.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Bubble Bobble Review", Your Sinclair (69): 56, September 1991, archived from the original on 2006,, retrieved 2012-08-10 
  8. Bubble Bobble Review 66 (November 1987). Retrieved on 2012-08-10.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Bubble Bobble Review", Mean Machines (23), August 1992, archived from the original on 2006,, retrieved 2009-06-04 
  12. Bubble Bobble Review. Retrieved on April 12, 2013.
  13. "Bubble Bobble Review", Zzap!64 (Newsfield Publications) (30): 12, October 1987,, retrieved 2014-06-23 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Let the People Decide", Your Sinclair (93): 11, September 1993, archived from the original on 16 August 2006,, retrieved 2014-06-24 
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Best NES Games of all time", GamesRadar, 2012-04-16,, retrieved 2013-12-05 
  16. Gamest, The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, pp. 6-26
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