Playstation

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Bubble Bobble is a renowned arcade platformer that is praised for its gameplay, catchy soundtrack and colorful character designs. As the series has enjoyed numerous spinoffs, the latest entry was Bubble Bobble 4 Friends that was exclusively released on the Nintendo Switch in March 2020. Following this acclaimed release, Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron is Back is finally available on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch in November 2020. 

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron is Back starts off with none other than the green hero Bub and series villain Bonner sleeping peacefully in bed without a care in the world. As Bonner is jostled awake by a strange magical force, he unexpectedly bonks Bub on the head before taking off to an unknown destination. Caught off guard with his slumber interrupted, Bub makes haste and pursues Bonner that marks the start of the grand adventure. The events are not solely limited to Bub as Bob and two other friends are available to join him on this whimsical ride at almost any point in the game.

 

Gameplay is simple and very straight forward that is comprised of five worlds and a boss fight in the last stage of each respective world. Clearing every stage requires you to defeat enemies by blowing bubbles, trapping them inside and bursting them to change your foes into different foods. Chaining together the number of enemies inside the many trapped bubbles greatly increases your score and raises the quality of dropped food items. Should any of them escape their temporary bubble prison, they instantly turn agitated and are tougher to subdue the second time around. The trick lies in balancing the quick maneuvers needed to destroy your enemies versus trapping them together to unleash a large bubble chain for greater spoils. 

The highlight of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron is Back lies in the use of the special skills. As you complete the different worlds and collect the scattered “EXTEND” bubbles found throughout the game, the number of lives increases and special skills are unlocked. These skills range from speed dash and thunder bubbles to blowing bubbles at a further distance and timed bomb bubbles to subdue enemies. Players should note the use of these skills are limited per stage and are best deployed strategically for the best outcome. This game boasts high replay value as dedicated players will figure out through trial and error the optimal way to use special skills to achieve the coveted three star rating in each world.  As the five worlds can be completed in a few hours by most players, the Hard mode escalates the difficulty by placing the encountered enemies from the latter portions of the game from the very beginning.

 

Without a doubt, the most noteworthy levels are the ones in the Baron is Back mode. Located in the Arcade of Memories within the Hard difficulty setting are 100 new stages inside a tall tower. This mode will put your skills to the ultimate test as there are no continues granted after a game over screen. In addition, the multiplayer portion requires up to four players to share the total number of ten lives amongst everyone. The aesthetic appeal of the levels combined with gameplay inspired from the original arcade game is a welcome one with the return of the fearsome and invincible Baron von Blubba. To be clear, the Baron is Back is a real challenge and not for the faint of heart.   

Online Rankings allow you to compare the total score with other players to see how you stack up on the leaderboard. As expected, only the highest score is saved with new records and higher scores from additional playthroughs uploaded after a short period of time. If it’s not your cup of tea, the option to turn off the scores for online leaderboards is available within the settings.  

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron is Back is the definitive version of the game to own. With more levels, multiplayer coop, special skills and the inclusion of the arcade original, there is plenty for series fans and newcomers to enjoy. Despite the lack of online multiplayer coop, this game can easily be enjoyed solo or together with a group of friends. Though the difficulty is rather steep in The Baron is Back mode, it’s a charming and fun platformer that is an entertaining ride.

 

PROS (+): Colorful Visuals, Intuitive Gameplay, Memorable Soundtrack

CONS (-): Steep Difficulty Curve

 

SCORE – 8.0/10

This review is based on a digital copy of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron is Back on the PlayStation 4 provided by the publisher.

 

 

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