Bubble Memories: The Story of Bubble Bobble III was released into arcades by Taito in 1996, and – as the subtitle makes clear – this is a canonical Bubble Bobble sequel. It has been described as “Bubble Bobble on steroids”…
Graphically, in my mind at least, it doesn’t have quite the same appeal as Bubble Bobble or Rainbow Islands, but it does have a ’90s charm to the visuals that are weird mix of manga/anime, cartoon visuals, and digitised photographs (in the background, which are none too subtle it has to be said).
Regardless of the slightly strange visual style, what’s important is the gameplay, and Bubble Memories delivers on that front.
The aim of the game – just like in Bubble Bobble – is for Bub and Bob to clear every screen of enemies by blowing bubbles at them, then popping the bubbles, then collecting the bonus items.
Every level completed is a level of Rainbow Tower climbed, and at the top is a final battle with the Super Great Dark Dragon (TM).
While the gameplay in Bubble Memories is fundamentally similar to Bubble Bobble, it does have a few unique features, such as: larger enemies on certain screens, new bosses, some new bubble types, underwater levels, and the ability to blow giant bubbles that can trap numerous enemies at once. These new additions do go some way to differentiating it from Bubble Bobble and make it a worthwhile game in its own right.
Again, just like in Bubble Bobble: some levels have wrap-around ‘warps’ at the top and bottom of the screen and Bub and Bob can also jump up through platforms. They can also jump on bubbles to get to out-of-reach areas.
Depending on the level, a number of special bubbles make themselves available. Water bubbles that – when popped – send a stream of water down the screen, carrying Bub and Bob with it if they are caught in it. This can prove useful on certain levels. There are also electricity bubbles (that shoot electric shocks horizontally if burst), musical note bubbles (which send out mini tornadoes when burst), rainbow bubbles (which drop rainbows downwards, killing enemies), and more.
There are 80 levels in total in Bubble Memories although the final ten can only be accessed by collecting seven special potions that will turn Bub and Bob back into human form. It’s all very complicated, but watch the intro if you want to know more about this particular slice of Bubble Bobble lore…
Bubble Memories is still a superb game, even if the graphics do let it down a little in places. It’s an excellent two-player party game, though, suitable for people of all ages.