Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Classic Game - Bubble Ghost (Gameboy)

Nintendo's original monochrome Gameboy was a huge success for many reasons; A long battery life, diminutive (for the time) size, and a huge collection of great games to play on it. It managed to see off the competition, even though many of these competitors boasted colour screens and even double the 'bits' (Atari's Lynx was a 16-bit powerhouse). Of course, Tetris helped. The puzzle phenomenon was a true pioneer of the casual games market that appealed to gamers of all sexes, ages and nationalities. Nowadays, handheld consoles have titles that are cut down versions of triple-A titles; the PS Vita has Uncharted, Assassins Creed and Call of Duty on it for God's sake. These new machines have forgotten what most gamers want from a handheld console – simple games that can be picked up and played by anyone and don't take 30+ hours to complete. This is why the mobile devices are such a hugely popular choice for gamers today - but the Gameboy got it right first time (way back in 1989) and, to this day, remains my favourite handheld console (well, the Gameboy colour would win, but only due to being backwards compatible with original GB titles).

Bubble Ghost blows out a candle that would otherwise 
burst his bubble. Literally.

Bubble Ghost is another one of my favourite titles for the green screened wonder machine. A game with an incredibly simple premise, well executed and perfect for playing in short bursts. It ranks up there alongside other classic GB games such as Amazing Penguin, Mole Mania, Tetris, Catrap and Revenge of the Gator as titles that everyone should experience at some point.

This game tasks you with guiding a bubble through multiple single-screen rooms. This is done, not by controlling the bubble itself, but by using the game's protagonist, a cutesy spectre, to blow the bubble using the power of his deceased lungs. The bubble is not allowed to touch anything, whether it be the sides of the room, or any of the hazards that feature on the screen. These hazards include obvious items such as sharp objects (many of which pop in and out of walls) and flames, to more bizarre things such as elephants and rocking horses. The Bubble will keep its momentum when blown, so you will need to be very careful when unleashing your ghostly gasps of air onto it – constantly holding down the 'blow' button is a big no no, so cautious taps are required in order to keep control of the bubble. Should the it touch anything it bursts, costing you a life. Luckily you have a reasonable amount of lives, as well as 3 continues, with which to complete your task. There are some clever touches in the game, such as being able to blow out candles, blow into megaphones, and coolest of all, blow into a trumpet in order to make a snake fall asleep. These small interactions with the environment make the game feel more 'alive', which is ironic seeing as you are controlling a spirit.

Go on, blow into Dumbo's ear. You know you want to.

As you would expect, rooms get progressively harder, and it won't be long before you start feeling incredibly tense as you carefully edge your way around your bubble, blowing it in a quick succession of different directions in order to avoid the many hazards and try to make your way through narrow passageways. Indeed, it can get very frustrating at times, with perfect timing and cat like reflexes required in the later levels. Thankfully, you have a decent level of control over your ghost. Being dead, he can move anywhere on screen, even into walls, and he will automatically point in the direction of the bubble when he is close, meaning you can zip around the bubble blowing it from any angle you see fit. It is still bastard hard though, so be prepared to pull out some of your hair in the process of completing the game. Strangely, for a Gameboy title of this nature it doesn't have a save or password system, meaning you have to finish the game in one sitting. But once you have gotten good enough to can breeze through the first half of the game without losing a life, you can concentrate on mastering the latter half.

Being dead has its advantages. You can through walls and.. 
er.. Well, that's about it really.

Bubble Ghost actually debuted first on the home micros - the PC, Amiga, ST, CPC, and C64 to be precise – in 1987, but are far less appealing than the Gameboy version – mostly due to the fact the protagonist looks like a condom. The cutesy revamp on Gameboy is far nicer and contains much more charm than any of the colour computer versions. It is also feels more at home on a small portable system than on a monitor or TV screen. 

Plus, just look at that box art. It's adorable! Who wouldn't want that in their collection?

Title : Bubble Ghost

Company : Infogrames

Year : 1990

Platform : Gameboy

Also on : PC, Amiga, CPC, C64, ST