Sunday, 18 February 2018

Super Bubble 2003 (Arcade)

There's an unusual story behind this post: a total stranger on Youtube sent me a message saying that the only information they could find on it anywhere were short video clips, and asked if I could write a post about it. I'd never heard of it before, and looked up those short video clips, and it looked okay, so here this post is.

For a long long time, I've lamented that I would often see screenshots of freemium MMORPGs and mobile phone games from Korea with really, incredibly good pixelart and sprites, always sad that there was this pool of talent there was was a perfect fit for cool, fun, arcade-style games, seemingly doomed to an eternity of their art being wasted in a world of nickel-and-diming micro-transactions and grind-based games. Meanwhile, Korean arcade games had a reputation for not only being incredibly low in quality, but also for stealing art assets from western and Japanese games. Super Bubble 2003 bucks both trends by not only being okay to play, but by having all-original (as far as I can tell) artwork!

And that artwork is truly excellent. All the characters are super-cute and well-animated, the points items are all lovingly rendered sprites depicted various foods, everything's bright and colorful without being garish; it's all just really high quality. I think the only negative thing I can say about this game, visually speaking, is that there's no visible life counter! The music and sound effects are pretty unremarkable, if you're wondering.

As for how it plays: it's a Bubble Bobble clone. Like most BB clones, it doesn't, as far as I can tell, copy the original's Druaga-esque system of byzantine secrets-within-secrets, only the core mechanics of trpping enemies in bubbles and popping them for points items. It does a pretty good job of it, though, and it does add a couple of other things to the formula, too: there's a tug-o-war minigame that appears when you collect a magic wand, and a giant/invincible mode that happens when you collect a bootleg Superman icon. The minigame is pretty much impossible to win, as far as I can tell though, so I have no idea what the prize is. The giant/invinciblity power up is nice, having its own super-cute sprites rather than just blowing up the regular-sized ones.

It's got a very steep difficulty curve that almost instantly shoots right up after you finish the first set of fifteen stages. I shamefully have to admit that I credit-fed up to the mid-30s to take screenshots, but I find credit-feeding incredibly boring so stopped there. It's proper difficulty, though: it doesn't change the rules on you or any other underhand tactic like that. With a lot of practice and skill, you could totally 1cc this game eventually. Whether or not it's a recommended play hinges, I guess, on your tolerance for that sort of thing, possibly tempered by your desire to see super-cute sprites. Give it a try, I guess?

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