The 1987 MSX conversion of Bubbler is arguably better than the Spectrum original because the speed is more consistent during play, which makes it more playable. In fact, it’s a game that borders on being superb, which is unusual for the later US Gold/Ultimate games which are generally considered to be inferior to Ultimate‘s earlier titles.
The premise of Bubbler is that you are a fragile jumping blob that must explore a number of isometric levels, acquiring corks and plugging-up bubble machines. Each level has a number of these bubble machines and each one must be corked for the level exit to open.
To acquire a cork you have to drop down a trapdoor – a number of which are located on each level. From the second level onward, though, some of these trapdoors are literally traps – dropping you to your doom. So you have to remember which are the safe ones to use. When you’ve exited a trapdoor you’ll then have a cork (indicated by the filled-in cork on the information panel), and can locate a nearby bubble machine, jump on top of it, and cork it up.
A timer continually ticks down as you explore and this is re-filled when you cork a bubble machine. This means that – as the levels wear on – it becomes crucial to plan which bubble-maker to go for next, to make sure you have enough time to make it to the next one.
When all the bubble machines in a level have been corked you then have to race to the exit. And you have to be quick to make it before the timer runs out.
Bubbler is a very good game, but it is super tough from the second level onward. There are five large levels in total and completing them all would take a superhuman effort, but trying is at least challenging and fun. It’s just a pity that there aren’t any level passwords because the prospect of having to re-complete the first two levels to play the third level again is not one that many would relish.
More: Bubbler on Wikipedia