We once again take a look at My Arcade’s Micro Arcade units, because new versions were added to the catalogue this year. Our top pick for a great holiday gift is the Bubble Bobble edition, which we’re testing here.
Some of you might remember that we previously checked out My Arcade’s Micro Arcade version of Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Galaga (here). The retro-heavy catalogue for the company was expanded with three new titles for the Micro format this year, with Ms Pac-Man, Rolling Thunder and Bubble Bobble.
We playtested a Bubble Bobble unit this year, which is of course a true arcade classic from an era in which single screen platformers were the norm. I’d say Donkey Kong is probably the most well-known example in the genre, but Bubble Bobble is the one I most fondly remember. From its catchy music to the addictive gameplay, it spawned an entire genre on its own – with sequels as well as spin-offs and copycats, such as Bust-a-Move and Snow Brothers.
The unit itself looks great, with colorful artwork to bring out the cute aesthetic of the game itself. The cabinet’s main colors are yellow for the front and top, and blue for the sides, with a lot of art that was inspired by the game itself – featuring protagonists Bub and Bob and a selection of enemies caught inside bubbles. If you’re not familiar with Bubble Bobble, then the quick summary is that Bub and Bob are two small bubble-breathing dragons who can catch monsters inside these bubbles and then burst those bubbles by jumping into them – defeating the enemy in the process. Take care of all the enemies in a level, and you move on to the next one. It sounds weird on paper, but it’s very addictive and a lot of fun – this is a game that’s held up well over the years.
The miniature cabinet is similar in its build to previous Micro Arcade releases, with the coin slot door acting as a power button (that also lights up). Small start and reset buttons do exactly what you’d expect, and the in-game action is controlled using a removable joystick (which turns it into a d-pad) and two buttons for jumping and bubble blowing. These last two buttons are larger than the start/reset buttons, which helps a lot with how comfortable the game is to control. I personally prefer the d-pad over the joystick (it’s too small for my hands), but wish the cabinet had an easy place to store the joystick once removed – it’s small and prone to get lost if you’re not careful.
The game itself is mostly a faithful replica of the arcade original, although you don’t need to actually insert coins and I think all of the arcade machines were two player units – something that was stripped out of both the cabinet and the game itself. All the levels, music and monsters are still there though, and this is a great game that’s also very accessible for younger gamers. In fact, they’ll most likely be quite comfortable with the game’s smaller controls as well.
Bubble Bobble is a timeless classic, and this My Arcade unit is a great way to honor it – it looks the part even when it’s not being played with, and there are few arcade games that have held up as well as Bubble Bobble has. It’s a shame you can’t engage with the multiplayer aspect of the original and that it doesn’t include some of the excellent spin-offs and/or sequels, but this is still a wonderful gift for someone who was playing videogames back in the late 80s and early 90s, especially when they have kids of their own now.