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DS  header logo

Bubble Bobble Double Shot

For: DS

Bring on the ice age

Product: Bubble Bobble Double Shot | Developer: Marvelous Entertainment | Publisher: UTV Ignition Games | Format: DS | Genre: Arcade, Multiplayer, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Bubble Bobble Double Shot DS, thumbnail 1
Bubble Bobble Double Shot is the most annoying game I've ever played. It's like a primitive coin-op, shaking you down for 10 pence pieces and booting you back to the start if you die. It contains about 20 minutes of gameplay, drawn out for hours by astonishing pedantry. It's a fossil.

To beat it, you have to start at level one. You can't save, so in the improbable case that you do force yourself all the way through to the end you're likely to have played the early stages tens or hundreds of times, the middle stages fewer, and the later stages fewer still. You run the gamut of boredom, anxious boredom, and sudden failure every time you boot it up. You have to endlessly retread familiar territory, shuffling a squat penny-floater of a reptile around 100 endlessly cack-handed levels, designed so as to crowbar in the gimmick of making shapes with the platforms rather than using them to let you have fun.

The distinguishing feature of this sequel is that you can swap between three different dragons – Bub, Bob, and Bubu – with the Left and Right triggers, and each of these dragons fires a different colour of bubble. Correspondingly, some enemies can only be killed by certain colours, so to dispatch them you have to cycle through until you're firing the right hue, a process that brings exactly nothing to the long-dead Bubble Bobble party.

In some cases, you see a blue monster from a safe distance and switch to your blue dragon, much as you'd change weapon in a shoot-'em-up, without emotion. In other cases, a monster descends on you and kills you as you desperately cycle through the colours, which conversely engenders great waves of emotional response, including rage and despair.

As well as colours, each of the three bubbles is capable of unleashing a different special 'elemental' power. So if you use the blue bubble to trap an enemy at certain times, it enables to you pop it and send a stream of water snaking down the platforms, knocking out monsters and carrying you along.

The red bubble, meanwhile, makes a line of fire rake a small way down the screen, and its green counterpart makes a streak of lightning pass across, taking out any monsters that happen to be in the way.

Every ten levels, you have to face a boss, and these range in difficulty from quite annoying to fist-bitingly tedious. Like the monsters that populate the levels in between, several of the bosses need to be dispatched in a colour-coded sequence, while others require a more straightforward bubble assault.

Outside the boss levels, though, the aforementioned power-ups are next door to useless. Although they rely on the monsters blundering into them – and the monsters are capable of little else – the chances of you manoeuvring yourself into a position whereby pursuing a power-up is likely to result in a kill are so slim as to make power-ups purely incidental. Alright if you happen to bump into one, but ignorable otherwise.

Whenever you lose all of your lives, you get to pull out your DS stylus and play a mini-game to buy another chance. One of these involves finding a particular bubble in a cluster on the touchscreen as specified in the top screen. Another involves circling with the stylus as fast as you can. A third involves tapping alternately on two foot icons in order to run away from an ogre.

Every time you end up in this limbo the mini-games get harder, so you've got good reason not to waste your lives. You may have infinite retries in principle, but after four or five visits to the mini-game section you'll struggle to be reincarnated.

Although the actual mini-games are token, this is an innovative continue system, and the game's best feature, typified by the fact that it's the only point at which you get to retrieve your DS stylus from its slot.

The rest of Double Shot could be played on a Game Boy, were it not for the fact that it uses both screens, the sole appreciable consequence of which is a horizontal band half way up the playing area that makes it difficult to see what you're doing.

For all that the tone of this review is negative, fans of vintage gaming and the Bubble Bobble series won't necessarily be disappointed by Double Shot. It contains what its predecessors contain, plus a multi-card three-player co-op mode and a couple of other minor innovations, and although the level design is a step backwards from that of the arcade original – itself no longer fit to clean the shoes of the average browser-based casual game – it's not so different.

To most modern gamers, however, accustomed as we are to the fruits of two decades' worth of game refinement, Double Shot is a real dinosaur, a dusty old mess that you'll play in a state of vague boredom, punctuated by moments of incandescent fury and far rarer moments of fulfilment.
 
Bubble Bobble Double Shot
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 10 April 2008
Although Double Shot won't necessarily disappoint fans of the series, and vintage games generally, it's an extraordinarily lazy sequel that trades on the moderate success of a 20-year-old arcade game
 
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