Review by Dave Giarrusso
it or not, when I was a kid, I was introduced to exactly three different
“Bubbles” at a local Chuck E. Cheese.
The first was a chimp, aptly named Bubbles because she (so I’m
told) once grabbed a bottle of children’s bubbles (with free wand!) and
drank the entire thing. Then she hiccuped bubbles for thirty minutes.
Later, she vomited almost silently under the cover of night.
Still later, her owner found a nice present on the living room
carpet, which, upon closer inspection, contained the wand.
I’m not sure if she’s the same Bubbles who later hung out with
Michael Jackson and subsequently turned up in Sega’s pair of Moonwalker
video games. The second
“Bubbles” I met was an appropriately named female “entertainer”
with some seriously big, beautiful bubbles of her own.
The final, and my personal favorite of the three (I was a kid,
remember?) was a little blue coin-op by Williams.
gamers might have you believe that Bubbles
is a less than stellar William’s coin-op.
As evidence to support their claim, they’d offer up Bubbles’
absence from the SNES and Genesis versions of the original WAGH
compilation. They’d try to
convince you that it’s just a game where you clean out a sink.
on the other hand, would say that Bubbles is awesome.
‘Cause it’s awesome.
much more to Bubbles than first meets the eye, and it easily holds its own
right along side juggernauts like Robotron,
Sinistar and Joust.
Have you ever seen a soap bubble floating through the air?
You must have, whether it was as a kid, blowing bubbles through a
wand with one of those fifty-cent plastic bottles o’ suds, or last week
as you squirted dish soap into the sink.
What didja think as you watched the bubbles soar majestically
through the air? I’d guess
it was something like, “well, there goes a bubble.
Neat. Now, what’s
for dinner...” It’s a
bubble, big deal, right? The
thing is, on closer inspection, a soap bubble is a beautiful thing,
really. It’s spherical, it’s
almost invisible, and yet, it contains every color of the rainbow,
swirling and twirling across its surface.
its namesake, the Bubbles coin-op is equally beautiful.
If you’ve never given it a chance, it might be time to take a
closer look. True, the object
of Bubbles is to clean out sinks while avoiding a slew of items guaranteed
to burst your bubble, but the beauty of the game lies in its insidious
attention to detail. Not one
pixel, not one sound effect is wasted.
Everything in Bubbles is there for a reason, and the whole package
is a superb example of brilliant game design.
up the crumbs, ants and grease stains, dodge the brushes, sponges, razor
blades and cockroaches, and move on the next round.
As the bubble cleans up dirt, it grows.
The larger it gets, the more cumbersome it is to effectively
wrangle around the sink, but a larger bubble also scores MUCH higher than
a small bubble upon completion of a round.
The bubble develops a face as it grows, first a pair of eyes, then
a mouth, and finally, a million-dollar smile.
Better still, the facial features are a key facet of the gameplay,
and are the key to your success in racking up big points.
bubble equipped with eyes can pick up a broom from the oft-visiting
cleaning lady, and use it to wipe out the otherwise deadly cockroaches.
The drain is deadly to a bubble without a mouth, but safe for a
bubble with a mouth. Once the
bubble has a mouth, it can also slam the brushes and sponges around the
sink, and if you’re on the money, right down the drain for more bonus
points. Playing bumper cars
with the enemies has its price though: each hit knocks the bubble’s size
down a notch. Hit too many
enemies and you’ll wind up not only faceless, but also defenseless.
the drain without clearing the remaining dirt from the sink sends you two
boards ahead in the game, and is the quickest way to rack up lots of bonus
points. The cleaning lady is
another source of extra points – as she sweeps her way around the sink,
she’ll clean up any bits of dirt she runs across.
As she cleans up, the points earned for running her over also
increase. Remember: you have
to touch the broom in order to grab it.
If you run over the cleaning lady without touching the broom first,
you won’t pick it up.
audio and visuals are as fantastic as the gameplay.
Its cool blue color scheme makes you feel right at home, despite
the fact that you’re in a filthy sink.
The water effects, faucet handle animation and characters are all
outstanding. The faucet even
drips a bit as you play, and can nudge the bubble down toward the drain
should you dally underneath it. The
drain also flashes red if a cockroach is about to crawl up out of it, and
green when it’s safe for you to steer the bubble on down.
so many of the “classics,” Bubbles excels on every level.
Controlled by a single joystick, the bubble has exactly the right
feel, as though you’re maneuvering a real-life slippery soap bubble.
Losing the game prompts a “nyeah nyeah nyeah nyeah nyeah” theme
song, followed by the final “down the drain…pop!” sound effect.
The next time you see Bubbles, don’t just let it float past you.
Stop and check it out, just like you might stop and check out that
other “Bubbles” I once encountered at the arcade so many years ago.
And no, I’m not talking about the chimp.
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