OK, let's get one thing straight... I assume the word "classic," when used to describe Bubble Bobble, means that it's old, not that it's historically memorable. This is not to say that I don't remember the arcade version of Bubble Bobble; on the contrary, I remember it quite well because, unlike Tron, Dig Dug, and Donkey Kong, you never had to stand in a long line to play it. Between rounds of waiting to pop more of my allowance into Dragon's Lair or Burger Time, I would occasionally wander over to the sad little Bubble Bobble machine in the corner and warm its lonely controls with my sweaty fingers. And I have to admit, I became pretty fond of those two dinosaurs. Unfortunately, Acclaim's new re-release for the PC does not live up to even the "Okay, it's not that bad" feel of the original.
For those of you who don't know, Bubble Bobble is a puzzle-type game where you assume the role of either Bub or Bob, two bubble-blowing dinosaurs trying to save their girlfriends from an evil wizard. You must fight your way through 100 geometric levels of nasty robots that the wizard has created to hinder your progress. How do you conquer this demonic force of evil, you ask? It's simple: entrap them in bubbles, burst the soapy spheres, and watch the baddies soar to their doom. Are you confused yet?
Acclaim hasn't changed the graphics of the original too much and the music is the same '80s synthesized b-side pop music that I remember, but that's not Bubble Bobble's major flaw. For some reason, the PC version of the game lacks the simple playability of the original. The game does not seem to move as smoothly, and the gameplay does not adapt to an analog joystick very well. Also, instead of allowing user-definable keys for keyboard control, player one must use an awkward combination of WAD keys and the spacebar, while player two's fingers are crunched around the arrow keys. After trying to play the PC version for a while, I should recommend to those foolish enough to buy this game that they will want to keep Bubble Bobble PC hidden away in a corner somewhere - there's a good chance that its vampiric badness may suck the fun out of their other games during the night.
The only saving grace of this package is that Acclaim had the foresight to include not only one, but two versions of Rainbow Islands: Bubble Bobble 2 on the CD - the original arcade version plus a graphically enhanced translation. As Rainbow Islands has none of the same characters as Bubble Bobble, I don't really know why it was considered a sequel. About the only thing that these two games have in common is the cuteness factor. In Rainbow Islands, you smite your diabolic, deadly foes with that ultimate weapon of destruction, the rainbow. It's unfortunate that Acclaim went with the name recognition of Bubble Bobble for this release, as Rainbow Islands is the real story here. The graphics (especially in the enhanced version) are much brighter and more colorful than Bubble Bobble's plain look and, even though you have to deal with the same gameplay problems that plague Bubble Bobble, it's hard to get pissed off when bubbly lounge music is filling your ears.
Overall, the PC version of Bubble Bobble does not live up to the arcade original, and you won't get much entertainment for your buck out of this translation. That said, the version of Rainbow Islands on the CD is fun treat for all ages. Now if Acclaim would only release a stand-alone version of Rainbow Islands for $15...