Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Video Game: Bubble Bobble
Now, it is the beginning of a fantastic story! Let us make a journey to the cave of monsters! Good luck!

Bubble Bobble is a classic arcade game made by Taito and released in 1986. It features two cute bubble dragon critters named Bubblun and Bobblun who spit/blow bubbles to trap and pop a wide variety of weird but also cute enemy creatures (including wind-up toys) that kill them in one hit.

But here's something people should already know: They're really two human boys named Bubby and Bobby who are cursed with a transformation into bubble dragons and they have to rescue their human girlfriends (Betty and Patty, respectively) from a green-hooded giant named Super Drunk.

It spawned a lot of Non-Linear Sequels which may leave a person confused as to what the second installment is supposed to be or when each installment takes place.

    open/close all folders 

    Bubble Bobble series 
  • Rainbow Islands The Story of Bubble Bobble II (1987)
  • Parasol Stars The Story of Bubble Bobble III (TurboGrafx 16) (1991)
  • Bubble Bobble Part 2 (NES, Game Boy) (1993) also known as Junior on Game Boy, apparently takes place after Symphony
  • Bubble Symphony (aka Bubble Bobble II) (1994)
  • Bubble Memories The Story of Bubble Bobble III (1995) which apparently takes place before Symphony but after Parasol Stars because Bub and Bob use their parasols in the good and happy endings.
  • Bubble Bobble Old and New (GBA) Video Game Remake. (2003-04)
  • Bubble Bobble Revolution (DS) (2005-06) - includes the same classic game's port as in the GBA.
  • Bubble Bobble Evolution (PSP) (2006)
  • Rainbow Islands Revolution (DS, PSP) (2005-08)
  • Rainbow Islands Evolution (PSP) (2007-08)
  • Bubble Bobble Double Shot (DS) (2007-08)
  • Bubble Bobble Plus (Wii) / Bubble Bobble Neo (Xbox 360) Remake. (2009)
  • Rainbow Islands: Towering Adventure (Wii) (2009)
  • Bubble Bobble Double (iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone) (2010) which apparently includes the GBA/DS port as well as a new Retraux sprite filled game mode where the touch screen is used.

And it spawned a spinoff which has its own sequels:

    Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move series 
  • Puzzle Bobble / Bust-A-Move (1994)
  • Puzzle Bobble 2 / Bust-A-Move 2 aka Again (1995)
  • Puzzle Bobble 3 / Bust-A-Move 3 (1996)
    • Puzzle Bobble 64 / Bust-A-Move '99 / Bust-A-Move 3 DX (1999)
  • Puzzle Bobble 4 / Bust-A-Move 4 (1997)
  • Bust-A-Move Millennium (GBC) (2000)
  • Super Puzzle Bobble / Super Bust-A-Move (PS2, GBA) (2000)
    • Super Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move All Stars, aka Bust-A-Move 3000 (Gamecube)
  • Azumanga Daioh Puzzle Bobble (Japanese, arcade - based off of Azumanga Daioh) (2001)
  • Super Puzzle Bobble 2 / Super Bust-A-Move 2 (PS2) (2002)
  • Puzzle Bobble DS (Japanese, DS) (2005)
  • Bust-A-Move DS / Hippatte Puzzle Bobble (DS) (2005-06)
  • Bust-A-Move Bash (Wii) (2007)
  • SPACE Puzzle Bobble / SPACE Bust-A-Move / Puzzle Bobble Galaxy (DS) (2008-09)
  • Bust-A-Move Plus (Wii) (2009)
  • Puzzle Bobble Universe (3DS) (2011)

Tropes used in the video games:

  • All There in the Flyers (and Manual): The storylines are not explicitly stated in the first game itself.
    • Exceptions: The Story heading in the Bubble Symphony flyer is misleading and self-contradictory; a plot point on the inside left of the flyer has also been contradicted by the Precap. Also, don't just rely on the NES version's manual.
  • All There in the Script / Who Is This Guy Again? - Character names are barely stated in the game itself. One must look at flyers or credits. In the case of Pab and Peb, the Bubble Bobble Plus Title Operations Guide on the Wii Shop Channel was consulted.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: In Bubble Symphony, when the human characters die and spin out, three of their sprite frames are flipped, making it seem like, while they are dizzily spinning out dead, they hop to their other foot and then back, twice, before they fall backwards and poof away into yellow sparkles. The bubble dragons' deaths aren't like this.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: For no apparent reason, the boxart of the Sega Saturn and Playstation versions of Bust-A-Move 2 both have a bald guy shoving matchsticks into his eyelids. Why?
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: According to story details, Bub and Bob from Bubble Bobble are not the playable characters in Symphony or Part 2 NES. Same goes for Pab and Peb seemingly replacing original girlfriends Betty and Patty in Bubble Bobble Plus aka Bubble Bobble Neo.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The good and happy endings in Bubble Symphony.
  • Animorphism: A curse turns protagonists Bub and Bob into ... bubble dragons? Yup. (Throw in some Super-Deformed Incredible Shrinking Man for Bubble Memories, because Bub and Bob as humans are proportionally tall in that game.)
    • Implied Voluntary Shapeshifting: Part 2 (NES)'s intro shows the protagonist seemingly turning himself into a bubble dragon after his girlfriend is captured, although it could have been an effect of being painfullynote  thrown into a midair hover.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Bosses. But hey, in Memories players can find an item that makes themselves big too.
    • Giant Mook: Some enemies in Bubble Memories. Also, in Bubble Bobble, the captured-in-bubbles girlfriends get escorted by Giant Mooks throughout the levels.
  • Baleful Polymorph
  • Balloon Belly: The player character in Bubble Bobble Part 2 NES while charging up to hover in the air.
  • Beta Couple: Cororon and Kululun, magenta and orange female companions (respectively), in Bubble Symphony. And Pab and Peb, the new magenta and orange females in Plus (WiiWare).
  • Big Eater: Player characters, judging solely by the amount of enemies they turn into food by bubbling them.
  • Bland-Name Product: One of the random items that enemies turn into upon defeat are WcDonald's French fries (1000-point item).
  • Blue with Shock: Popping an enemy that has been bubbled will cause this for enemies, as well as getting the Invincibility Power-Up.
  • Bonus Stage: Getting a certain item in Bubble Bobble to make all enemies disappear and put the player(s) in a race against the clock to get all or most of another type of item.
    • There are also three conventional bonus stages; reaching levels 20, 30 or 40 (or the next level afterwards if a level skip took you past the actual level) without dying caused the appearance of a door into a secret round. As well as loads of 10,000-point gems, these three rounds also contained encoded text giving hints on reaching the best ending.
    • Brutal Bonus Level: Those in the NES version of Part 2 (after a world boss is defeated) are outright stated as bonus games along with the word "bonus" in the font of Bubble Bobble's secret rooms. However, they're excruciatingly hard Mini Games.
      • The game just hurts you because it loves you.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Occurs with the battleship Yamato in Bubble Symphony much like in Darius, and with each boss in Bubble Memories.
  • Bowdlerise: In the NES version, the Drunks and Super Drunk were respectively called Willy Whistle and Grumple Gromit because Nintendo didn't want the references to drunkenness in the game. Yet the best ending shows the protagonists and all enemies credited with their original names anyway.
    • In Bust-A-Move 4 the storyline and unlockable Drunk is named Dreg. He also appears in the Game Boy Color game Bust-A-Move Millennium.
  • Bubble Gun: Exhale/blow outward if you're a bubble dragon. Or, if you're human and you have it, blowing through a bubble straw.
  • The Cameo:
  • Charged Attack: Only in Part 2 (NES and Game Boy versions), Bubble Symphony, and Bubble Memories. See also Forgotten Phlebotinum below.
  • Check Point Starvation: In Space Puzzle Bobble/Space Bust-a-Move, unlike other/previous Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move games, when you continue, you start from the first of the group of five levels all over again. And out of all available reviews, only Nintendo Power's Sept 2009 issue is most outright in pointing out that flawed change.
  • Chest Monster: in Bubble Symphony's Treasure Desert world. In what may be a homage, the enemy is named Mimic.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: In Bubble Symphony, Bub, Bob, Coro and Kulu become royalty only after they defeat Hyper Drunk, regardless of if they are bubble dragons or not.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Not really arranged, but since Bub and Bob are green and blue, a new character is introduced in Double Shot: a red/orange bubble dragon named Bubu.
  • Circling Birdies:
    • In the arcade version of Bubble Bobble, when Bub/Bob dies after touching anything from being Cursed, they spin out and fall backwards, having stars above their heads as their eyes follow dizzily. This is redone for one of the Bubs/Bobs in Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move (first installment only).
    • In Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move 4, Bub/Bob gets dizzy and falls forwards, having birds above his head. This also happens only to Bub in the Game Boy Color game Bust-A-Move Millennium.
    • In Space Puzzle Bobble, if Bob loses, he gets dizzy, spins around once before falling to the ground with stars circling above his head.
  • Color-Coded Characters: In the Bubble Bobble series, root for green and blue! And magenta. And orange. Also, each bubble in the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move games contains an enemy character from the main series, and is sorted by color like in Tetris.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Especially in the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move games, player 1 has to play as Bub (green) and player 2 has to play as Bob (blue). In Bubble Symphony, though players can choose which of the four they want, each have different stats.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Continuing in Puzzle Bobble [1,] 2, and 3 will reset the score to 0. See also Check Point Starvation above.
  • Continuity Nod: In the good and happy ending credit sequences for Bubble Memories, Bub and Bob use parasols. See also Mythology Gag.
  • NES Covers Always Lie / Dinosaurs Are Cute Bubble Dragons: These two are definitely not brontosauruses.
  • Cryonics Failure - Having a hexagonal ice block forming around the character, via contact with a snowball, in Bubble Symphony kills him/her right after the ice shatters shortly afterward only because touching anything is fatal.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Blow bubbles to turn enemies into food! How cool is that?
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Compare the VS CPU mode cutscenes of Puzzle Bobble 2 (arcade) with gameplay in the regular series. For example, Mighta shoves a boulder against Bub who doesn't bother to get himself away from it.
  • Damsels in Distress: Bub and Bob's girlfriends. And their parents. Wait, what?!
  • Death Throws: Parasol Stars (every version), Bubble Bobble Part 2 (NES version), Rainbow Islands (US/Japanese NES and Sega Master System version).
  • Defeat Means Friendship / Go-Karting with Bowser: If one thinks about this Puzzle Bobble 2 ending and/or one of the good endings of Bubble Symphony with the premise of having to bubble and pop these enemies to turn them into food and items and then move on... Okay, it's a Mind Screw.
  • Degraded Boss / Disc One Final Boss: Super Drunk in the first Bubble Bobble returns in Bubble Symphony, a lot easier and the first boss. He appears in Part 2 (NES) as well, but only Save Scummers will ever know for sure.
  • Descending Ceiling: In Puzzle Bobble and Puzzle Bobble 2, which tries to push the stacked bubbles toward the character and past the "lose" line. Replaced with floating nodes since 3, which act the same way.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina in a bad ending for the NES/VC version of Bubble Bobble: After getting the suddenly-required crystal ball in one-player mode and defeating the final boss, both girlfriends are rescued... only to poof away when they reach the ground. Compare this to the arcade, where the player character's girlfriend is rescued, and the other remains in captivity.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: Particularly in the first game and the main series it spawned, where every tile is like that.
  • Distaff Counterpart:
    • Bubble Symphony has Coro and Kulu to Bub and Bob. This general idea was kept for Bubble Bobble Plus/Neo with Pab and Peb to Bub and Bob.
    • Symphony also has a female version of the Drunk enemy, named Dranko, whose beer bottles explode in a fiery manner instead of boomeranging, and it looks like an underage girl in a green cloak. Yes, an underage girl with booze...
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Mighta/Stoner and Monsta/Beluga (the white-hooded boulder roller and floating purple head respectively) were the main enemies in Chack'n Pop, an earlier Taito game.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move is the only game in the spinoff series for arcades to have twin Bubs/Bobs. The pointer machinery has been kept throughout, though.
  • Easter Egg: Entering SEX as one's high-score initials resulted in them being censored to H !, but also in the first bonus item in the next game being a fork which releases showers of point-scoring items.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Sort of. There is a three-level-only mode in Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move 2 and PB/BAM3 (arcade, Game Boy). This is the only mode that the pointer line stays throughout. It ends with "Good. Try the next level!"
  • Edible Collectible: There's about three dozen types of food. All bonus items worth 4000 points or less are food, while higher-value items are generally jewelry and other inedible objects. There are also giant bonus items worth tens of thousands of points; once again, the lower-value ones are food and the higher-value ones are jewels.
  • Everything Fades: Items and dizzy-dead protagonists disappear, leaving the eight outward facing lines when it's been left alone. The protagonists are later shown to poof away into yellow sparkles, and items into a cloud of dust that quickly dissipates, as shown in Symphony. Maybe it's because the 8 outward facing lines in Bubble Bobble and its remakes as well as the Game Boy games are so ambiguous.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Main weapon in Rainbow Islands as well as rainbow bubbles in other games.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: When anyone, be it protagonist or cute baddie, dies. Most previous Taito games did not feature anyone spinning upon death.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Or: Everything is out there trying to walk into you. And kill you by doing so.
  • Evil Albino: Baron von Blubba, aka the skull(s).
  • Excuse Plot
    • An implied Sick Episode in Bubble Bobble's Game Boy and Game Boy Color ports, due to them being single-player. Bub looks for the Moon Water "so [he] can help [his] brother" instead of rescuing his girlfriend. Because trying to leave in a plot that requires 2 players to finish on a 1-player portable was too hard back then.
    • The arcade version of the first Puzzle Bobble game pretty much ends with Bub and Bob (or Bub's clone?) packing up and sleeping in a bush while the various enemies lay in a pile defeated.
  • Fireball Eyeballs: Super Drunk (first boss) after being damaged quite a bit in Bubble Symphony.
  • Floating in a Bubble: Main mode of transportation between levels. It can somehow go through walls.
  • Flunky Boss: The giant Space Invader in Bubble Symphony, which has updated sprite versions of the invaders and the Flying Saucer alongside it.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • Puzzle de Pon, developed by the Visco Corporation. The game's mechanics are almost exactly the same as Puzzle Bobble. The goal for each level was not to clear the board of bubbles, but to release a large "drop token" in the same way you drop hanging bubbles. Still, the gameplay was close enough to Puzzle Bobble's that Visco needed to license the game from Taito.
    • Puzzle Bobble / Bust-A-Move itself has many clones out there.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Holding down the bubble button to: Inflate oneself to floatnote , shoot bubbles in a patternnote , or shoot giant bubbles.note  Each of these only applies to one game with any given title in the 1990s, no more.
  • Friendly Fireproof:
    • Partially averted with fire and lightning bubbles. You can get hit by the lightning or flames inside, however this only stuns and will not kill you.
    • Played straight with the red magic cross: Getting it and blowing fireballs will not affect the other player character.
  • Generation Xerox: As implied in Bubble Symphony, no one in the protagonists' families is safe from becoming cursed into dying when they touch anything. Also, at least two of them will be a green bubble dragon and a blue bubble dragon Because Destiny Says So.
  • Gimmick Level
    • There is one very open level in Symphony after getting the required Plot Coupons where players must carefully bounce on bubbles across certain wind currents from one tiny platform on one side to another on the other side. They also have to avoid falling or touching any enemy.
    • Round 6 of Part 2/Junior (Game Boy) starts you off inside a pit with tall walls. There are a few spike-filled levels in Part 2 (NES). Players either have to jump on bubbles or hold down the bubble button in order to float past these obstacles. Problem is, players may not know they can hold down the bubble button...
  • GIS Syndrome: There are digitized photos in Bubble Memories that serve as level backgrounds.
  • Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed
  • Gratuitous English / "Blind Idiot" Translation: The secret rooms in Bubble Bobble, intros/endings in Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, and Bubble Symphony (Symphony's endings have the characters saying "year" for "yeah".), and some text in Bubble Memories.
    • Bubble Bobble also has the introductory quote that's featured at the top of this page. It has been fixed in the DS and WiiWare re-releases by including the first "the".
    • Symphony: "Let's try and challenge". Also makes a Downer Ending a bit odd: The protagonists are back as humans but they come across a bunch of boarded up doors. Bob (according to the Japanese version's speech order) says "Year, but will [sic] can't go back to our own world!"
    • Memories: "The only way to get to a boss"... You're already at the boss when you're reading that, aren't you?
      • And "DANGER! The room guarder Koornt or Kligan or Waffulfl etc. is approaching fast". Or maybe it's the Final Boss, the "Super Dark Great Dragon".
      • The wall-of-text intros upon starting the game (in either Normal or Super Mode). What does "supplicating" mean anyway?
    • Most Gratuitous English examples in the games can be found at under "Bubble _________" and "Puzzle Bobble 3" and "Bust-A-Move 4" (the latter two are in the same series).
    • Puzzle Bobble 4 / Bust-a-Move 4 gets overloaded with bad translations especially when comparing the Attract Mode how-to-play screens of PB4/BAM4 with earlier installments, which were perfectly grammatically fine before. Bubblun and Bobblun are named Bubblen and Bobblen, effectively (re)naming one of them after the Giant Mecha Boss of PB2/BAM2.
    • The end-of-level boss for one of the Rainbow Islands was a spaceship called... Electric Fan!
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Super Drunk throws a Spread Shot of beer bottles forwards. The smaller Drunk enemies have a beer bottle that acts like a boomerang. The female Dranko in Bubble Symphony uses a Molotov Cocktail instead.
  • Guide Dang It: In every single game. Please memorize a strategy guide before starting.
  • Hair Decorations: Coro and Kulu (in their human forms) respectively wear purple twin orbs and a green bow. On the other hand, bows on bubble dragons are necessary for distinguishing character genders.
  • Harmless Freezing is subverted: in Bubble Symphony, the same events happen with the freezing and ice shattering, but since the player characters are Cursed, they die.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: In the VS CPU modes of Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move 2, 3, and 4, a enemy named Drunk (the green hooded beer-drinking enemy, named Dreg in some releases) has been inside, respectively, a giant robot Mecha named Bubblen (one letter shy of Bub's long bubble dragon name), a giant fake bubble dragon named Debblun, and a spaceship face named Madam Luna.

  • Idle Animation:
    • The player characters wag their tails up and down at a constant split-second rate, except in both Bubble Bobble Part 2 games (NES and Game Boy). In Bubble Memories, Bub and Bob don't have the constant wagging-tail rate but still do it.
    • Bubble Symphony gives the four player-characters some idle animations based on their gender. If you leave your character alone some more, he/she will do something else. Bub or Bob will sleep, and Coro or Kulu will sit down, shake her head as she takes out a mini-mirror out of Hammerspace and look at herself through it. When they're human, their actions are different. They all blink at the constant split-second rate. Bub or Bob will stop blinking, then blink quickly a few times, sit down and take out his straw he blows bubbles with. He blows through it a few times, but it doesn't work, so he blows so hard he shakes around, and then sits down facing the player, closing his eyes. Coro or Kulu will happily put her hands to her mouth and do a little cheer to the left and right before facing toward the player, sitting down and closing her eyes.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Bubble _________ and/or "The Story of Bubble Bobble (confusing installment number)".
  • Improbable Weapon User: Bubbles, rainbows, and parasols.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: A huge chest, usually containing food items, drops down at the end of each level in Rainbow Islands and after defeating a world boss in Bubble Symphony and Memories. Another chest is the basis of one of Symphony's bad endings.
  • Instant Ice, Just Add Cold: In Bubble Symphony upon contact with a snowball, a hexagonal shape, rather than an ice block, forms around a Cursed protagonist.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The floating skull named Skel-Monsta/Baron von Blubba that comes with Stalked by the Bell. He has been promoted to Sequential One-Winged Angel True Final Boss status in two games. There can be up to two Skel-Monstas at a time depending on the number of players.
    • The Secret Rooms have their own minion(s): A gray jelly bean face guy named Rascal (named Rubblen in Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move SNES, VS CPU mode), who appears without the "Hurry up!" warning.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The flashing multicolor heart in later levels. In Memories, there is an item that makes the players big yet unable to fire bubbles (yet they still exhale as if they are blowing bubbles).
  • Jaw Drop: Occurs in the Bubble Memories normal mode good ending and in Space Puzzle Bobble when Bob(blun) is used and the board is almost full. Both are used in conjunction with Blank White Eyes, mainly used in death sprites in Memories.
  • Kawaisa
  • Kid Hero: Any older than teenage years, and children/descendants come around - as implied by Bubble Symphony's intro and a back cover for Bubble Bobble Part 2 (NES). (See here)
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire bubbles kill enemies and stun protagonists, enemy fireballs/lasers incinerate protagonists. Obviously, don't touch the latter!
    • Playing with Fire: The red cross allows a protagonist to blow fireballs for the current level. Which thankfully don't incinerate the partner.
    • Some bosses are killed with Fire Bubbles. To list:
      • Memories Has Maita P.
      • Plus/Neo has [[spoilers:Expert-2's boss]].
  • Kill It with Ice: The player characters via contact with a snowball. See Instant Ice, Just Add Cold.
  • Kill It with Water: Water bubbles kill enemies and carry (and/or visibly stun)note  protagonists. The blue cross item in Bubble Bobble floods the room and drowns all enemies. However, in Rainbow Islands, water kills protagonists. However again, in Bubble Memories, just being in water isn't sufficient enough to kill or stun anyone.
  • King Mook: The Bubble Bobble series has many bosses based upon the Mighta and Monsta enemies, not to mention the Super Drunk at the end of the very first game (a giant version of a regular Drunk), and the Hyper Drunk from Bubble Symphony, and also the True Final Boss of Rainbow Islands: a gigantic Skel-Monsta.
  • Lamarck Was Right: The characters in Symphony, being introduced as the children of the protagonists in Bubble Bobble, are just as capable of action as they are.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Arcade sequels to Bubble Bobble show that the characters are humans in their Attract Mode or first round. They were already humans in the first place, but the game writers use...
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: If a person's just going through an arcade somewhere and sees the first Bubble Bobble and chooses to play it, they wouldn't know Bub and Bob are really human and have human girlfriends to rescue. Especially if "it is [the] beginning of a fantastic story! Let's make a journey to the cave of monsters!" Well, about 20-30 or so levels later in the arcade (never the NES/Virtual Console), the two captured girls are screaming for help while being escorted by Giant Mooks. That's one plot revealed.
    • Game Boy version(s): What is Bub supposed to help his brother Bob from? Is Bob sick? Because a river outside is dried up? What? Really?note  If Bob's sick and can't participate, why would he be transformed?note  ...Or not.note  And anyway, what is the Moon Water? What is it supposed to do? Does it turn out to be an Unreveal, or an Ass Pull?
  • Lesser Star: Unfortunately, Bob(blun), the blue bubble dragon, has not been in as many games and ports as Bub(blun), the green bubble dragon, is.
  • Locked Door: Coming across one with no way to open it basically forces the player to start from the beginning. Some appear in Parasol Stars and Bubble Symphony with a cutscene related to them in the latter.
  • The Man Behind the Man: See Hijacked by Ganon above.
  • The Many Exaggerated Deaths of You: A bubble dragon or their human form can die by:
    • Touching anything, which (arguably completely) numbs them out causing them to gain a literal black line across their eyes and die
    • Total incineration to dust from a small laser bolt when it should cause a small burn
    • Getting INSTANTLY frozen from a snowball when it should just feel cold at the impact point (Bubble Symphony only), or
    • Getting electrocuted from small un-bubbled electricity when it should be a tingle (Bubble Symphony only).
  • Bubble Dragon on Fire: If a player character is hit by enemy weapons such as the Invaders' lasers, Hidegons's fire breath, or a fire-based weapon from the multitude of Bubble Symphony's enemiesnote , they will be incinerated on the spot.
  • Match Three Game: Puzzle Bobble aka Bust-A-Move and its own sequels.
  • Mercy Invincibility
    • In the main games, although the character is sent back to the corner.
    • In Bubble Bobble Part 2 (Game Boy), this applies, but only for about a second. This doesn't help much.
  • Mirror Match: They're not fighting against themselves, but in the first Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move, twin Bubs or Bobs blow-shoot and carry bubbles, and turn the crank respectively. And if you lose... one spins out and dizzy-dies as in Bubble Bobble, the other gets stunned.
    • Played straight in Puzzle Bobble 3's VS CPU mode: If Bub is selected, he faces himself in the first round. Yes, the green bubble dragon himself. Averted if only player 2 (Bob) is playing; he faces Bub.
  • Moveset Clone: Bub and Bob, once just mere Palette Swaps. They soon underwent Divergent Character Evolution, being fleshed out with different personalities and stat differences later on. The personalities are only stated in the Symphony arcade flyer and the Memories Attract Mode. Stat differences, such as movement speed and blowing distance, only apply to Symphony.
  • Multiple Endings: Trope Maker. Mostly Downer Endings... for a game (series) that's supposed to be happy!
    • Bubble Bobble: Want to see the real ending? Then you'll have to beat it with a friend! Sorry, soloists playing the NES/Virtual Console or arcade versions!
    • Bubble Symphony: Taken literally. A lone player doesn't have to beat it with a friend, but players can go through multiple paths/worlds and see a world-exclusive ending if they don't get the stuff needed.
    • Bubble Memories leans onto Extended Gameplay: the Final Boss escapes to another tower, in which he will reveal his true form if the players reach him there.
    • Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move 2: Joke endings are assigned to each letter at the end of the triangle path map of rounds.
  • Musical Assassin: Bubbles that unleash music notes can help fight enemies.
  • Mythology Gag: In the Game Boy Color version of Rainbow Islands, Bub and Bob are depicted as using parasols outside of gameplay even though RI is set before Parasol Stars.
  • New Game+: Super Mode.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Nintendo versions are hard indeed:
    • Bubble Bobble: The NES/Virtual Console version has an objective required for a good ending that is not in the arcade version. And there is a very thick wall in the way.
    • Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move: The SNES version has 100 levels and the Final Boss Super Drunk to face as opposed to 30 levels in the arcade and subsequent arcade installments.
  • No Final Boss for You: Bubble Symphony and Bubble Memories.
  • Nostalgia Level: See Shout Out below.
  • Ominous Chanting: Symphony's True Final Boss theme.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder
    • Subverted in Part 2 (NES) because the player only has one heart per life, but can find more hearts.
    • Averted in Part 2/Junior (Game Boy) and Revolution (DS) because the player has three hearts per life.
    • Even after they turn back into humans, they still die by touching anything. Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars take place after Bubble Bobble, and there's turning into humans in the middle of the game in Bubble Symphony. Such may be the way of The Curse.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • In Part 2 (NES)'s final level, according to this, of the three skull brothers, the one channeling Hellfire is invincible at first. Once the other two are defeated, he then unexpectedly grows giant and gains a skeleton body.
    • There is also a case in Rainbow Islands and Bubble Memories in which the final boss will reveal his true form after being defeated once.
  • Orchestral Bombing: Bubble Symphony has generally orchestral background music and starts with a fanfare on the title sequence. With a secret code, an orchestral version of the Bubble Bobble music can be heard as background music.
  • Palette Swap: Besides Bub and Bob, many palette swap bubble dragons skip around during Puzzle Bobble 3's credits.
  • Parasol of Pain: in Parasol Stars, Bub or Bob can use his parasol to pick up and throw enemies at other enemies, and bubbles that flow like water droplets.
  • Parasol Parachute: in Parasol Stars and the good endings of Bubble Memories.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy
    • Coro and Bob (respectively) who are always beside each other in Symphony's cutscenes. Extended with green boy Bub and orange girl Kulu.
    • Likely subverted in the DS game Bubble Bobble Revolution. An unlockable character, Lovelun, is pink, and his gender is unknown but he doesn't wear a bow.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: The quest to turn back into humans is made more apparent in Bubble Symphony in which one of the hidden objectives for a good ending is to turn back human while you travel, and Memories in its Attract Mode storyline and when the game begins.
  • Plot Coupon / Gotta Catch Them All : Big diamonds, then mirrors in Rainbow Islands. Star cards for a key in a particular world in Parasol Stars. Music note cards for giant keys, and a rod in Bubble Symphony. Potions in Bubble Memories. A bunch of stuff in Bubble Bobble Plus/Neo's "Arrange mode". Another bunch of stuff in Rainbow Islands: Towering Adventure. You need them, and they do exist.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Double Shot has certain enemies that can only be bubbled by a certain color (of three) or a combination. Luckily, the three bubble dragons in that game can tag in and out.
  • Plot Tumor: The DS games Bubble Bobble Revolution and Double Shot keep the "living as bubble dragons in the first place" background introduced by the discontinuous NES manual's comic, or at least give absolutely no indication of them ever being human once. The Puzzle Bobble / Bust-A-Move series scrap the human-character-background completely, because everyone loves the bubble dragons more.
  • Point of No Return: Aside from kicking players to the next level automatically after a few seconds, players will miss any available items or Plot Coupons after defeating all enemies because they can't go back.
  • Poison Mushroom: The highly obstructive death bubbles (red bubbles with skulls) in Part 2 (NES).
  • Portal Book: Bubble Symphony: Implied by the arcade flyer, the intro where the protagonists are seen reading books off a shelf, and the rather fantasy nature of the worlds they travel to.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: The protagonists can easily blow bubbles; even as humans they found a way to do it. Not so much for other people who get cursed and turn into bubble dragons, like in Bubble Memories.
  • Power Floats: The player can hold the bubble button to float, but only in Part 2 (NES) and Part 2/Junior (Game Boy). The protagonist(s) in the NES version inflate his body, potentially hurting himself (because his eyes get crossed out by a literal black line while inflating), while the protagonist in the Game Boy version forms a smaller-than-usual bubble around himself. There is a Charge Meter only in the Game Boy game.
  • The Power of Friendship: A major theme, quoted several times throughout the first game (if you know where to look) and the key behind this game's Multiple Endings.
  • Precap: The Attract Modes of Bubble Symphony,note  Bubble Memories, and Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move 2.

  • Random Drop: The rare items such as the invincibility heart, magic crosses, umbrellas, etc. that appear out of nowhere.
    • There's a chance that HUGE food items may fall when one completes a level in Part 2/Junior (Game Boy). See also Big Eater above.
    • Averted in the first game. The only powerup that appears randomly in Bubble Bobble is the hyper-rare Fireball Bubble (1 in 4096); everything else is manipulatable by a whole series of in-game counters. Umbrellas? Burst 15 water bubbles and you'll get a brolly on the next level.
  • Recycled In Space: Space Puzzle Bobble/Space Bust-A-Move.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Bub and Bob. And Coro and Kulu. And basically all those random baddies. Not so much in Revolution (DS) as the characters' in-game appearances have gotten a bit hardcore.
  • Robot Me: An unlockable character in Revolution (DS), named Robolun.
  • Rule of Cute: Essence, origin and justification of the entire series. Players (and the Puzzle Bobble games' developers) seem to prefer bubble dragons over their human form counterparts.
  • Secret Level: The secret rooms in most (if not all) Bubble Bobble games. Not like anyone's gonna last long enough to get there; the first secret is 20 rounds away.
  • Selective Gravity: Characters fall slowly. Also, in Bubble Symphony, players can very slightly alter their falling speed by holding up or down.
  • Shock and Awe: Lightning bubbles regardless of size (compare giant lightning bubbles in Bubble Memories) used by protagonists will kill enemies but can also stun themselves. Lightning of any size summoned by enemies can simply-kill (BB Part 2 NES) or electrocute protagonists (Symphony).
  • Shout-Out: These result in Nostalgia Levels. It's one of the first video game series with massive shout outs scattered throughout the levels.
    • Bubble Bobble recreates a stage from an earlier game, Chack'n Pop. It also features the title character on the Invincibility Power-Up item and in various games including in the Puzzle Bobble games.
    • Rainbow Islands features worlds based on Arkanoid, Fairyland Story, Darius, and Bubble Bobble itself.
    • Bubble Symphony bases some of its Adventure Towns off some of Taito's other properties. The aforementioned Chack'n Pop level appears again. It also features cameo appearances; see The Cameo above.
    • Bubble Memories' practice mode features "Ready, go!" and level completion music from Puzzle Bobble 2, released the same year. Bub and Bob also look the same in both games.
    • In all Bubble Bobble games in general, whatever the enemy roster is, it will almost always include an Invader (aka "Super Socket") from Space Invaders. This is more pronounced in Bubble Symphony, as one of the boss battles pits you against a giant version of the standard Invader enemy used in the Bubble Bobble games, while you are additionally being swamped with normal enemy Invaders of all three designs and even the UFO, all graphically redesigned to fit with the new sprite style of Symphony. If you do hit the UFO, it falls to the ground and its top comes off to reveal a yummy dish. Just... don't let the Invaders incinerate you.
    • Puzzle Bobble 3's extended levels feature a set of bubble designs based on the helmets of the heroes from Himitsu Sentai Goranger. They are also marked by classic enemy sprites as seen in the given screenshot,
    • The intro to Puzzle Bobble 3's VS CPU mode's 1st round shows the opponent Bub arriving at the first Bubble Bobble level with Zen-chans that get knocked out immediately, despite its title screen showing up as Puzzle Bobble 3.
    • Retraux: Classic sprites appear at each last stage of the single-player mode of Puzzle Bobble 2, the stage map of Puzzle Bobble 3, and in the background of DreamCat1's world in Space Puzzle Bobble/Space Bust-A-Move where retro Zen-chans are being remade into a newer style in a factory.
  • Sinister Silhouettes:
    • Hyper Drunk in Bubble Symphony's intro.
    • The mecha in Puzzle Bobble 2 after completing the three-level-only mode.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Bubble Symphony states that the four protagonists are the children of the two original heroes of the first Bubble Bobble. In two separate Attract Mode sequences, the True Final Boss Hyper Drunk, and then Super Drunk (boss of the first game), targets them for what their parents did to him. This is weird because Super and Hyper Drunk are supposed to be two separate entities. But then again there's Bub and Bob's Strong Family Resemblance, which can make new or uninformed players think they've been the same Bub and Bob.
    • Thinking about children, though, one can assume Bub and Kulu are first-Bub's children, and Bob and Coro are first-Bob's children, as the two of each group are always beside each other in cutscenes.
    • The flyer's Story section is (self-)contradictory on this one. The aforementioned inside left side says that "a long time ago, four old men confined the evil Superdrunk in the book. As [the four of them] started to read the book, they freed Superdrunk who changed the children into bubble dragons and trapped them in this magical book world." And then Hyper Drunk's profile on the opposite page says that he was the one who banished the four. Then the Precap showed Hyper Drunk's silhouette. Then another sequence, a Red Herring, has Super Drunk swearing revenge and implying he would change the four into bubble dragons this time.
    • Bubble Bobble Part 2: Even more descendants of the first two heroes according to the NES box back (see here) named Cubby and Rubby (or Robby according to the Game Boy version's intro). The manualnote  inverts itself off this one however, and says it's the Bub and Bob of the first game. This might be a case of Covers Always Lie...
  • Snot Bubble: For a series revolving around bubbles, the closest the spinoff series ever shows one is Puzzle Bobble's arcade ending.
  • Socialization Bonus / Golden Snitch: The original game. In order to get a good ending, you have to beat the Final Boss with two players. Of course, you can subvert this if you give player 2 a continue before you land the final blow... This is also possible in the NES/Virtual Console version by having player 1 pause the game and press Select to give an extra life to whoever's missing (since Select and Start only worked on P1's controller at the time).
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Hurry (Up!) Music in (at least mostly) every single Bubble Bobble game.
  • Spelling Bonus: E-X-T-E-N-D for an extra life.
  • Spikes Of Doom: Part 2, NES: Several levels have them. Also, when a protagonist walks above a certain enemy, it shoots its needle hat onto him, causing him to over-inflate, then deflate to normal and then die (or at least lose a heart).
  • Spin-Off: Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move series.
  • Spread Shot: In Bubble Symphony, each character has their own spread pattern when blowing bubbles, but only after it has been charged up.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Bubble Bobble Plus uses 2D graphics for the foregrounds and 3D graphics for the player characters and enemies.
  • Squashed Flat
    • In the intro for Kligannote  in Puzzle Bobble 2, Kligan himself squishes Bub flat. But he did unflatten.
    • It's possible for bubbles to squish the player characters against walls when he/she is facing them. There are also unused sprites for being squished downwards in Bubble Bobble and Bubble Memories; instead, bubbles get popped against the character's top horn.
  • Stalked by the Bell: "Hurry up!"
  • Stock Subtitle: Bubble Bobble Revolution (DS) (and Rainbow Islands Revolution) and a related title: Bubble Bobble Evolution (PSP).
  • Story Breadcrumbs: In the first Bubble Bobble with Super Drunk's Gratuitous Wingdinglish messages.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Bub and Bob as seen in Bubble Symphony's intro and human gameplay look just like Bub and Bob of Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars, with a hair color change.
  • Super-Deformed
  • Super Drowning Skills: The protagonists in Rainbow Islands.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Bubble Memories. See Kill It With Water above.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: Bubble Bobble Double Shot.
  • Sweat Drop:
    • Flying sweat drops when anyone is stunned or killed. They are often in pairs, but go by really quickly. They are more apparent (both flying and dripping sweat) in Symphony's cutscenes, which are anime-styled.
    • The twin Bubs/Bobs sweat quite a lot while they blow air through the pipe and spin the mechanism's wheel in the first Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move game.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Basically any female character wears a large or small bow across the top of their head (Coro and Kulu of Bubble Symphony), on one side of their head spike (Peb and Pab in Bubble Bobble Plus (WiiWare)) or straight on, on the corner of their heads (three of the eleven Alcatraz victims in Rainbow Islands). Whether the characters in question have a tooth or not doesn't really apply anymore, as Coro and Kulu have no tooth compared to Bub and Bob, and later Pab and Peb, who have a tooth.
    • The Bubble Bobble Plus website shows Bub and Bob each with a two-bump tooth (based directly on the original arcade flyer, as seen at the top of the page), and 3P and 4P each with a one-bump tooth. If not for Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move SNES's depiction of Bub and Bob each with a flat tooth, the first description would be fully canonical.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The Bubble Bobble theme appears in most sequels for both the main and spinoff (Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move) series and newer games. Sometimes, it's hidden.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Bub(blun/by) and Bob(blun/by). And Coro(ron/n) and Kulu(lun/n). And Pab and Peb.
  • Title Confusion: Three second-installments and two third-installments, and the release orders and chronological story orders don't even match. Here are the sequels' titles:
    • Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble II, Parasol Stars: The Story of Bubble Bobble III
    • Bubble Bobble Part 2 (NES and Game Boy; the latter is also named Bubble Bobble Junior)
    • Bubble Bobble II aka Bubble Symphony, Bubble Memories: The Story of Bubble Bobble III
  • Title Scream: Bubble Symphony aka Bubble Bobble 2 (arcade).
  • Trapped in Another World: The characters in Bubble Symphony.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Rainbow Islands, Bubble Symphony, and Bubble Memories.
    • Food Is Bigger In Fiction: Food that bubbled-and-popped enemies turn into are as big as the player characters' size (except in Part 2 (NES)), but it gets more ridiculous in Part 2/Junior (Game Boy). See also Big Eater.
  • Trick Boss:
    • 'Parasol Stars'' has a dark hooded staff-wielder in the final secret world.
    • Symphony has a puppet version of Super Drunk (the first boss of Symphony), with obvious puppet strings, before Hyper Drunk shows himself.
  • Turns Red: Enemies who don't get bubbled before "Hurry up!" appears or who have escaped from being bubbled. Or the last one standing when the other enemies have been bubbled and popped.
    • Inverted in Part 2 (NES version)'s really hard bonus games, where whoever loses the point to his opponent turns red.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Bubble Memories and Puzzle Bobble / Bust-a-Move (SNES) because you die/lose too frequently.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Bubble Bobble Revolution on the DS had a game-ending glitch that caused the Level 30 boss to never show up. You were stuck in the empty room and had no way of progressing. Reviewers were not amused. This had been reportedly fixed in later printings of Revolution, however.
  • Video Game Remake: The classic has been remade for the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS. Bubble Bobble is also featured in Taito Legends, and Symphony in Taito Legends 2.
  • Visible Sigh: In the arcade version of Bubble Bobble when Bub or Bob gets burned and thus incinerated before he collapses into (orange) ash. It goes by very quickly though, and sometimes it doesn't show up correctly.
  • Wingding Eyes: In an exaggerated variant, characters die (or get stunned) with their eyes getting crossed off by a literal black line. Yes, even after they become a pile of ash from incineration. note 
    • However, in Bubble Memories, a dying protagonist has Blank White Eyes instead. Aside from that, Bob is shown with + eyes on Memories's game over screen when the player quits midway or gets a bad ending.
    • Symphony's multiple endings imply characters can also get their eyes crossed out by being sleepy or upset.
    • In Puzzle Bobble 2, Bub, seen from the side, gets X eyes when getting freaked out by a red jack-in-the-box character with a giant round metal scissor blade on his head.
  • Wingdinglish: The secret rooms in Bubble Bobble and Bubble Symphony.
  • X-Ray Sparks:
    • Bubble Symphony: Only... little voltage is required to kill a protagonist.
    • A cutscene in Puzzle Bobble 2 (arcade)'s VS CPU mode before facing off against a giant lightbulb thing has the player character getting fried/zapped.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The humans' Hair Colors are played straight and played with.
    • Bubble Bobble/Rainbow Islands/Parasol Stars: Both Bub and Bob have red hair. The weird hair (and skin) colors in the NES/Virtual Console versions do not count, because due to NES limitations, Bub and Bob already had those colors in their bubble dragon forms in that particular version.
    • Bubble Symphony: Bub has light brown hair. Bob has very dark brown hair. Coro has pink hair. Kulu has blonde hair.
    • Bubble Memories: Both Bub and Bob have dark brown hair.

But this is not a true ending! Come here with your friends!
    Neo Geo PocketCool Boarders
Mr. Do!Neo Geo    
CadashCreator/Working DesignsCosmic Fantasy
Boulder DashVideo Games of the 1980sRainbow Islands
Blaster MasterUsefulNotes/The 8 -bit Era of Console Video GamesContra
BosconianSharp X 68000 Columns
BreakoutUsefulNotes/Apple ][Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom
    Elimination PlatformerThe Caverns Of Hammerfest
Puyo PuyoGame GearShining Series
Bomb JackUsefulNotes/Commodore 64 Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom
Bomb JackUsefulNotes/AmigaRainbow Islands
BattletoadsSega Master SystemRainbow Islands
A Boy and His BlobUsefulNotes/Game BoyBubsy
Brutal: Paws of FuryVideo Games of the 1990sBubsy
All Part of the ShowImageSource/Video GamesBubble Gun
Brain Dead 13Sega SaturnBug!
A Boy and His BlobUsefulNotes/Nintendo Entertainment SystemRainbow Islands
Puzzle And DragonsPuzzle GameMushihime-sama
BombermanVideo Game Long RunnersCastlevania
BravomanArcade GameRainbow Islands
Broken Swordi OS GamesNazi Zombies
Battle GearCreator/TaitoRainbow Islands

alternative title(s): Bubble Bobble
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy