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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to this, the Super Drunk in Part 2 NES round 79 seems to get his power off an antenna on his head because this one's a robot. The purple tinge doesn't count. He acts the same way and throws balls in the same formation as the bottles are thrown.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ofPart 2/Junior (Game Boy) starts you off inside a pit with tall walls. There are a few spike-filled levels inPart 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.
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?
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 ZanyVGQuotes.com 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kill It with Water: Water bubbles kill enemies and carry (and/or visibly stun)note Bubble Bobble Part 2 NES as well as the GBA and DS classic modes of Bubble Bobble— something that isn't in the arcade. 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.
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 Such as Japanese lanterns, spaceships with Invaders' lasers, robot fish missiles, and female Dranko's molotovs, they will be incinerated on the spot.
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 MemoriesAttract Mode. Stat differences, such as movement speed and blowing distance, only apply to Symphony.
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.
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 inPart 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.
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.
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 Bobblerecreates◊ 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.
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.
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 Here's a replacementdocs.com copy 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).
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).
In the intro for Kligannote Bubble Memories and PB 2 share similarities already, and both games feature a giant round rock face with something on top. 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.
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.
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.
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 Bubble Symphony and Bubble Memories
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.
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.