Bubble Bobble (BB) & Super Bubble Bobble (SBB)

Created by Tim Morrow, 15th February, 1999

bublbobl_html.zip (13 KB) | bublbobl_w97.zip (19 KB)

I thought I would put this up. It's hopelessly out of date but it still has some useful information that people don't know about the game. Now that the game has been emulated by the MAME arcade game emulator team there is not much that is left to the imagination. Once I found out how the game counters worked to determine what items you get there wasn't much else to know about this great game. I took me years to work out how to get a potion in level 1. I could rarely get the fire bubble to appear. It's all so simple now! All of these notes were derived in the late 1980's and early 1990's BEFORE the game was emulated. There are plenty of other Bubble Bobble sites around with other (and sometimes more complete) explanations of the game. I still have the arcade machine sitting in my front room and I still play it from time to time. I have maxed the score as P2 at 9,999,990 points several times and my best score playing as P1 is 6,200,000 (due to limited EXTEND's). It is still one of the greatest arcade games of all time. I have however moved on to other projects - TR3 etc and won't be updating this page much unless someone inspires me - Cheers, Tim.

Description

These notes are for the arcade game BB and SBB created by Taito in 1986. Some may work on the numerous ports to other platforms. Without doubt the arcade version is the best.

The Story

You play the part of a baby brontosaurus (who looks more like a stegosaurus) that must survive 100 'frames' of adventure in order to save your loved ones. P1 (Bubby who is green and shoots green bubbles) and P2 (Bobby who is blue and shoots blue bubbles) must save their respective girlfriends Betty and Patty and parents Ma and Pa from the evil clutches of Baron von Blubba. Bub and Bob are thwarted by hordes of beasts under the Baron's control.

The Basics

The idea is to move Bub and Bob around capturing enemies by blowing bubbles at them (by pressing the shoot button) which trap them and bursting the bubbles by popping them with the sharp fins that Bub and Bob have on their back. Collect the food items left behind by the burst enemies for extra points. Get rid of all beasties to advance to the next frame. Like many platform games Bub and Bob live in a linear gravitation field (acting down) and so to reach the high up, hard to reach areas of a frame Bub and Bob have to bounce on their bubbles (by holding the jump button). Collect various goodies that appear along the way to give Bub and Bob the edge on the opposition. Bubbled enemies eventually turn red and escape from their bubble if not popped in time. The time a enemy stays bubbled depends on which frame you are playing, whether you have lost a life recently, and to which difficulty setting the game has been set. In general, the time an enemy stays bubbled decreases as you progress further in the game. If Bub and Bob wait too long on a frame, Baron von Blubba (the white whale) will appear (one for each player) and chase them, killing them if they are touched (exception: If Bub and Bob are invincible from collecting the red heart, then Baron von Blubba cannot harm them). Of course, the time taken before Blubba appears, tends to get shorter as the game progresses.

Differences Between BB and SBB

Some of the differences between BB and SBB are:

  1. For each frame in BB, the corresponding frame in SBB has the same layout but different colour. e.g. Frame 2 is red in BB and SBB.
  2. The enemy patterns in SBB are different to the patterns in BB. See Frame Illustrations section.
  3. There are no blue shooters (the enemies that shoot vertically down at you) in SBB See Frame Illustrations section.
  4. BB has different ending to SBB. See the Endings section.

There are actually many different versions/clones of BB and SBB. In a version called Bubble Bobble and Super Bubble Bobble there are more shooting enemies. For instance the white ghosts toss rocks, the green enemies throw boomerang bottles, and the blue grey blobs shoot fireballs. Also, the clock item works differently. In the original versions, the clock freezes all enemies on the screen and Baron von Blubba never comes. In the later versions, the enemies don't freeze.

Items Appearing In The Game

There are three types of items:

  1. Items that are worth points but have no other function.
  2. Items that have a specific function (as well as being worth points).
  3. Items that occur under special circumstances or only appear rarely (randomly?) and have a special function.

In most frames you get two items appearing at specific places on the screen: a type (1) item and a type (2) or (3) item. On any frame, the items always appear in the same place but are not always the same each game. The enemies burst during the frame turn into type (1) items. Items collected at the end of the frame as a result of a type (2) or (3) item picked up earlier in the frame are type (1) items. Doubling Up items are type (1) too.

The yellow candy and the red shoes are the two most crucial type (2) items in the game, giving you the necessary bubble power and speed to beat the worst combination of enemies.

The following symbols and abbreviations are used in the list that follows.

For example: "ube => purple #" means unbubbled enemies turn into purple diamonds.

ITEM POINTS EFFECT OF ITEM
Bursting a letter bubble 0 See Letters and EXTEND section
Potion 0 See Potion section
Potion of thunder 0 Lets player shoot lightning bubbles (found only on frame 100)
Bursting an empty bubble 10 None - but useful for doubling (see Doubling Up section)
Bouncing on a bubble 10 -
Skull 10 Large grey arrow flashes diagonally across the screen. 'Hurry Up!' message appears.
Green capsicum 10 -
Blue-grey fork* 20 A shower of fruit appears giving 9000 pts per ube hit. ube => purple #, bbe => ?
Can of coke 20 A shower of red potion items appears giving (?)
Purple eggplant 20 -
Orange carrot 30 -
Brown onion 40 -
Red beet 50 -
White turnip 60 -
White parsnip 70 -
Green cucumber 80 -
Green pod of peas 90 -
Red shoes 100 Fast feet. Makes player move faster. Lasts until player dies.
Candy - yellow 100 Rapid bubble. Player can shoot bubbles at a faster rate. Lasts until player dies.
Candy - blue 100 Fast bubble. Bubbles move at a faster velocity. Lasts until player dies.
Candy - pink 100 Long bubble. Bubbles travel further before stopping. Lasts until player dies.
Bursting a water bubble 100 Water snakes down screen (under gravity). ube=>blue #, bbe unaffected.
Bursting a lightning bubble 100 Lightning streaks horizontally across screen opposite to the way player is facing. ube=>blue #, bbe unaffected.
Bursting a fire bubble 100 Fire drops down onto surface and spreads out opposite to the way player is facing. ube=>red #, bbe unaffected.
Orange brown mushroom 100 -
Corn on the cob 150 -
Umbrella - orange 200 Players skip 3 frames.
Umbrella - red 200 Players skip 5 frames.
Umbrella - purple 200 Players skip 7 frames.
Clock 200 Screen changes colour. The white whale takes > 20 minutes to appear.
Blue bomb 200 Bomb explodes destroying all enemies. ube=>dark blue #, bbe=>purple #
Egg cooked sunny side up 200 -
Chocolate drop 250 -
Tomato 300 -
Yellow lemon 350 -
Apple 400 -
Peach 450 -
Candy cane - blue 500 10,000 point blue popsicle appears at the end of stage, bubbles turning 700 point items.
Candy cane - orange 500 10,000 point brown ice cream appears at the end of stage, bubbles turning 700 pt items.
Candy cane - red 500 20,000 point apple appears at the end of stage, bubbles turning 700 point items.
Candy cane - fiery red 500 20,000 point watermelon appears at the end of stage, bubbles turning 700 point items.
Candy cane - yellow 500 30,000 point brown cake appears at the end of stage, bubbles turning 700 point items.
Candy cane - white 500 30,000 point slice of cake appears at the end of stage, bubbles turning 700 point items.
Potion item 500 See Potion section.
Yellow banana 500 -
Green avocado 550 -
Watermelon 600 -
Brown ice cream stick 650 -
All double up items 700 See Doubling Up section.
Blue popsicle 700 -
Vanilla and red sundae 750 -
Vanilla and green sundae 800 -
??? 850 -
Vanilla and chocolate sundae 900 -
Vanilla ice cream cone 950 -
Treasure chest - dark blue 1000 40,000 point big dark blue # appears at end of stage, bubbles turning to 700 point items.
Treasure chest - light blue 1000 50,000 point big light blue # appears at end of stage, bubbles turning to 700 point items.
Treasure chest - orange 1000 70,000 point big orange # appears at end of stage, bubbles turning to 700 point items.
Treasure chest - purple 1000 80,000 point big purple # appears at end of stage, bubbles turning to 700 point items.
Ring - blue 1000 Ring of movement. Player gets points for moving on the ground.
Ring - red 1000 Ring of shooting. Player gets 100 points per bubble shot.
Ring - purple 1000 Ring of bouncing. Player gets 500 points each time he jumps or bounces on a bubble.
Door to secret room* 1000 See Secret Rooms section.
Grey bell 1000 At the start of the next 3-5 frames a bell rings and items immediately appear.
Apple (???) 1000 -
Orange speckled donut 1000 -
Purple ice cream cone 1000 -
Genie lamp - blue 2000 Player gets power of blue, purple, and red rings which lasts for ???.
Genie lamp - yellow 2000 Player gets power of blue, yellow, and pink candy which lasts until player dies.
Genie lamp - fiery red 2000 Player gets power of both blue and yellow genie lamps.
Genie lamp - purple 2000 Bomb explodes and bbe become invisible. Players cannot shoot. ube=>red #.
Peach ??? 2000 -
Slice of cake 2000 -
Yellow brown cake 2000 -
Hamburger 2000 -
Cross - blue 3000 Frame fills up with water. Ube=>blue #, bbe=>purple #.
Cross - yellow 3000 Lightning flashes diagonally across screen. ube=>orange #, bbe=> bananas.
Cross - red 3000 Players next 16 shots are fireball bubbles. ube=>red #, bbe=>???.
Red heart 3000 Players flash & are invincible 15-20 sec, ube are frozen. ube=> ???, bbe=>bananas.
Silver ring 3000 Sends down a shower of stars. Each ube hit is worth ??? points. ube=>purple #, bbe=>???.
Book 3000 Frame shakes and explodes. ube=>orange #, bbe=>purple #.
Watermelon ??? 3000 -
Drumstick 3000 -
Martini 3000 -
Green, white & black humbug 3000 -
Cake with cherry on top 3000 -
Orange necklace 4000 Summons letter bubbles.
Eskimo pie with red wafer 4000 -
Eskimo pie with brown wafer 4000 -
Purple bunch of grapes 4000 -
Red and white tennis shoes 4000 -
Mug of beer 4000 -
White necklace 5000 White pulsing ball rebounds around the frame. ube=>purple #, bbe=>bananas.
Crystal ball 5000 Items appear instantly at the start of each frame - lasts until player dies.
Pineapple 5000 -
Purple or blue treasure horde 5000 -
Yellow butterfly 5000 -
Purple oval gem 5000 -
Purple diamond 6000 -
Blue oval gem 6000 -
Purple shell 6000 -
Blue diamond 7000 -
Red oval gem 7000 -
Bowl of soup 7000 -
Necklace with pendant 7000 -
Orange diamond 8000 -
Red & blue crown 8000 -
Brown necklace 8000 -
Plate of steak 8000 -
Red diamond 9000 -
Yellow & blue crown 9000 -
Dark blue diamond 10000 -
Yellow & orange crown 10000 -
Big blue popsicle 10000 -
Big brown ice cream stick 10000 -
Big apple 20000 -
Big watermelon 20000 -
Big brown cake 30000 -
Big slice of cake 30000 -
Big dark blue diamond 40000 -
Big light blue diamond 50000 -
Potion bonus (for loser) 50000 See Potion section.
??? 60000 -
Big orange diamond 70000 -
Big purple diamond 80000 -
Big diamond ??? 90000 -
Big diamond ??? 100000 -
Red pulsing bubble* 100000 P1 can shoot fireball bubbles for 5 frames (even if P2 collects it).
Potion bonus (for winner) 100000 See Potion section.
Bursting final boss 1000000 -

Doubling Up

On any frame, when the last enemy is killed, if any player has a score ending in 00, 11, 22, ..., 88, or 99 (ignoring the last digit which is always 0), then each remaining bubble turns into an item worth 700 points. Shooting against a wall gives 10 points per shot (bubble bursts as it appears), so it easy to double up. It is easy to get 20-25 bubbles on the screen (with rapid fire) which translates into 14,000-18,000 points. Do this for 100 frames gives 1.4-1.8 million points extra - a significant contribution to your score. P1's Double Up overrides P2's unless they have the same doubled numbers (see column 3 below).

Doubled up numbers Item if one player doubled Item if both players doubled
00 WacDonald's french fries Green capsicum
11 Purple ice cream cone Purple eggplant
22 Yellow brown cake Orange carrot
33 Hamburger Brown onion
44 Slice of cake Red beet
55 Cake with cherry on top White turnip
66 Mug of beer White parsnip
77 Candy on a stick Green cucumber
88 Vanilla ice cream cone Green pod of peas
99 Blue popsicle Brown mushroom

There are 16 frames that have automatic Doubling Up. You get items at the end of the frame even if you don't Double Up (unless you have collected a type 2 item that drops something else at the end of the stage). These frames are listed below.

Frame Item Frame Item
1 Red cherry 40 Vanilla & green sundae
5 Vanilla & red sundae 45 Mug of beer
10 Red strawberry 50 Red & white tennis shoes
15 Brown ice cream on a stick 85 Red musical note
20 Red berries 86 Olive green lamp
25 Orange speckled doughnut 92 Green brontosaurus
30 Red apple 93 Yellow bird
35 Corn on the cob 94 Computer screen

Bursting N Enemies Simultaneously

The key to getting high scores and getting letters for EXTEND is bursting bunches of enemies simultaneously. Bursting N enemies simultaneously gives 2^(N-1)*1,000 points plus N items to collect (one for each enemy burst). The following indicates the points values:

N=1   1 banana           500 points
N=2 + 1 apple           1000 points
N=3 + 1 peach           2000 points
N=4 + 1 watermelon      3000 points
N=5 + 1 bunch of grapes 4000 points
N=6 + 1 pineapple       5000 points
N=7 + 1 purple diamond  6000 points

E.g. Burst 7 beasts simultaneously gives $2^(7-1)*1000=64000 points initially, then the enemies leave behind 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 peach, 1 watermelon, 1 bunch of grapes, 1 pineapple, and 1 purple diamond, which if collected before the stage ends gives a score of (0.5+1+2+3+4+5+6)*1000=21500 points. The overall score for the operation is then 64000+21500=85500. Compare this with bursting 7 enemies individually which would net only 7 * [2^(1-1)*1000+500]=10500 points. Bursting large numbers of enemies at once is the key to getting a high score.

Bursting 3 or more enemies simultaneously is also the key to getting letters and hence EXTEND's in those frames where letters can appear.

Letters and 'EXTEND'

Occasionally, coloured bubbles with letters in them appear from the top or bottom of the screen. Letters only appear on frames that have holes in the floor or ceiling to allow bubbles to enter (except for frames ???). Letters are usually (not always) summoned whenever three or more beasts are burst simultaneously, and will appear on the current frame and/or the next frame that allows letters. The letters usually (but not always) appear in one of the two groups (red X, green E, blue D)} or (red E, yellow T, blue N)}. When a letter is burst a ringing sound is heard and that letter appears on the far left of the screen for P1 or the far right of the screen for P2. When all the appropriate letters are collected by a player to spell out the word EXTEND (written vertically downwards in the colours EXTEND), a special extend screen appears immediately, ending the current frame. The extend screen has the word EXTEND written across the screen with the player bouncing across the letters to his corner and waiting for his free life to appear (or not). The background consists of a smear of overlapping red asterisks green clover, and orange circle potion items. The next frame then begins and the player is free to collect new letters for a new EXTEND. When P2 gets EXTEND he gets a free life. When P1 gets EXTEND, he only gets a free life if he has not received his last free life from score (i.e. he has < 250000 points) AND has less than four remaining lives (not including the current one). This rule was probably introduced to encourage/force two player simultaneous play and if so rates as a cheap trick (one of the few bad aspects of the game). You get 0 points for bursting a letter bubble.

Potions

When a player collects a bottle of potion (worth 0 points), the screen fills up with a number of copies of a certain item. The item that appears depends on the colour of the potion and the number of the copies of that item depends on the frame number. Each potion item collected is worth 500 points. If all potion items are collected before the 30 second timer runs out then each player receives an extra bonus according to the rule: "If a player collects less items than the other, he gets 50,000 points, otherwise he gets 100000 points".

Potion Colour Item Picture
Purple Blue musical 8th notes -
Red Orange circle with yellow specks -
Orange Red asterisks, yellow centre -
green Green four leaf clover -
yellow Red & yellow rainbow -

Below is a list of how many items appear on each frame when a bottle of potion is collected.

Frame No Items Frame No Items Frame No Items Frame No Items Frame No Items
1 69 21 28 41 43 61 43 81 20
2 76 22 21 42 13 62 1 82 7
3 58 23 74 43 30 63 90 83 15
4 42 24 53 44 39 64 65 84 26
5 57 25 56 45 53 65 12 85 15
6 57 26 70 46 72 66 34 86 37
7 74 27 27 47 44 67 92 87 100
8 76 28 16 48 110 68 69 88 18
9 80 29 40 49 12 69 39 89 68
10 40 30 53 50 42 70 32 90 47
11 78 31 26 51 59 71 50 91 33
12 47 32 74 52 52 72 44 92 33
13 62 33 27 53 19 73 17 93 26
14 61 34 52 54 49 74 48 94 16
15 43 35 19 55 67 75 78 95 1
16 23 36 93 56 59 76 66 96 28
17 28 37 19 57 35 77 118 97 10
18 1 38 71 58 71 78 23 98 1
19 8 39 50 59 27 79 36 99 12
20 48 40 66 60 1 80 11 100 -

Secret Rooms

On frames 20, 30, and 40, and maybe others, a door may appear which if collected (worth 1000 points) will put the players into a secret room. Each secret room has 36 diamonds worth 10000 each and a secret message that is encrypted. The key to the code is found in the top row of 26 symbols, which corresponds to the english alphabet. Eg. The 9th symbol is a '/' which corresponds to the letter 'I'. The encryption key for each secret room is the same.

To get the secret door to appear you must have put in ORIGINAL GAME... at the start or one player must not have lost a life up to that frame. See page (???) for a layout of the secret rooms. In the secret room the players must collect all the diamonds before the exit to the room opens. Round faces appear (one for each player) and chase after them if they don't leave the room in time. If a player enters a secret room on frame n, then when he leaves the secret room (or dies in the room), he will be put into frame n+2 (i.e. the secret room replaces frame n+1). The secret room is referred to as frame 102 because if the players last life is lost in the room, then the game over sequence shows that the player reached 'round 102'. If the player gets an umbrella which skips him past a frame that usually has a secret room (i.e. 20, 30, or 40) then the door will appear on the frame that he skipped to. The decoded secret messages follow: The poor grammar and spelling of the messages is preserved.

Frame 20 Secret Message If you want to become the old figure, use the power of your friendship and fight with me!
Meaning If you want to survive (beat the game) you must play doubles and work together
Background Stars cascade down the screen (the silver ring stars)
Frame 30 Secret Message I enclose these magical medicine here, because those are my worst fears
Meaning The final boss has hidden the magical medicine (lightning bubbles) which is his weakness
Background Lightning flashes diagonally across the screen (the yellow cross lightning)
Frame 40 Secret Message If you want to get back your love of truth, you must help each other untill the last
Meaning Both players must survive the final boss to get the true ending
Background Pulsing balls bounce around the screen (the white necklace balls)

Frame 50 has a door (not a secret room door) that skips 20 frames to frame 70 if collected in time (it appears and disappears quickly. Collecting the secret door is worth 1000 points.

Title Screen Codes

At the title screen (yellow blob with BB or SBB written in it), if a player executes a certain sequence of joystick moves and button pushes before he puts any money into the machine, something special will happen on the next game. The sequence has to be executed while the title is showing and before it disappears. There may be other codes besides the ones here. A player can have any or all of them working at once, but can only enter one code each time the title screen appears. Let

U  = Push Up on joystick
S  = press Shoot/Fire button
D  = Push Down on joystick
J  = press Jump button
L  = Push Left on joystick
P1 = press Player 1 button
R  = Push Right on joystick
L J L P1 L S L P1
Gives red shoes (fast feet), yellow candy (rapid fire), and blue candy (fast bubble) for the entire game.
If done correctly 'POWER UP!' appears in red letters at the bottom left corner of the screen.
P1 J S L R J P1 R
Changes the game on a BB machine to SBB.
If done correctly, the word SUPER appears on the title screen at the 11 o'clock position.
S J S J S J R P1
Allows players to get into the secret rooms on frames 20, 30, & 40 even if they have lost lives.
If done correctly, ORIGINAL GAME appears in blue letters at the bottom left corner of the screen.

High Score Codes

When the BB/SBB machine is turned on, the high score screen shows the following:

Initials Score Stage
I.F 50000 32
MTJ 50000 28
NSO 50000 24
KIM 50000 20
YSH 50000 16

When the game is completed, the ending credits include the following codes: ICH, KTU, SAK, TOP, HED, RYO, SKE, SAN, PAN, OTO, ZEN.

Some, if not all of the codes (and others too) make something special happen on the next game when they are entered onto the high score list. To enter a code onto the high score list, a player must first get a high score and select the appropriate letters from a character set consisting of the letters A-Z, a period, and a blank (pushing joystick right or left moves through the letters and pushing the fire button selects the letter).

Sometimes you will see CNT on the high score list which was not there before the game began. This code is automatically placed there when a player continues a game which scored high enough to get on the list (continuing re-zeros the players score). CNT is probably short for 'continue'.

High Score Effect
SEX A sound is heard and a H.! appears on the high score list. A fork appears on frame 1 or 2 of next game.
... A Knife appears in 1st level sending a shower of items killing all enemies -> diamonds.
I.F A sound is heard. A can of coke appears in 1st level sending a flower shower killing enemies -> diamonds.
MTJ A sound is heard. A can of coke appears in 1st level sending a flower shower killing enemies -> diamonds.
NSO A sound is heard. A can of coke appears in 1st level sending a flower shower killing enemies -> diamonds.
KIM A sound is heard. A can of coke appears in 1st level sending a flower shower killing enemies -> diamonds.
YSH A sound is heard. A can of coke appears in 1st level sending a flower shower killing enemies -> diamonds.
KTT Frothing brew of beer appears in 1st level sending a shower of items killing all enemies -> diamonds.
STR Purple Flamingo turns bubbles into funny items at end of 1st level.
TAK Octopus turns bubbles into X's at the end of 1st level.
ICH ?
KTU ?
SAK ?
top ?
HED ?
RYO ?
SKE ?
SAN ?
PAN ?
OTO ?
ZEN ?

Endings

You only get the true ending if both players complete Frame 100 by killing the boss - Grumble Grommit. If only one players finishes the game you get a 'Bad End'.

The Final boss takes 80 lightning hits. To kill him you need to collect one of the lightning potion bottles on the upper ledges and shoot a chain of bubbles against a sidewall letting them rise and then popping them to send lightning bolts at Grommit. You need to avoid him and his lightning bolts - he has a definite pattern. Eventually he will be bottled and you have to pop him before he reappears. If you let him out he will turn red and race around the room very quickly giving you little hope of bottling him again.

BB/SBB: If Only 1 player finishes

Congratulations!
But this is not a true ending!
Come here with your friend!
You will be impressed by
The truth of this story!!
Never forget your friend!
Try Again!!
You zapped to ...

In this ending you get zapped to a random frame - the earliest and latest frames I've been zapped to are Frame 50 and frame 85. The Frame number is usually a multiple of 5.

This ending is the key to getting a score of 9,999,990 points. By never finishing, you keep getting zapped back to an earlier frame and can play on until you run out of lives or until the second player joins and finishes Frame 100.

BB: If Both players finish

HAPPY END
CONGRATULATIONS!
Now you found the most important magic in the world.
It's love and friendship.
But it was not a true ending!
Write 8 big words on a paper.
This is a key of secret game.
----Hints of this words
<picture of 8 encrypted code>
You will be impressed by the truth of this story.

What this ending is cryptically describing is how to enter the title screen code to convert the game to SBB - See Title Screen Codes section.

SBB: If both players finish

You get the true ending - see it for yourself!