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Proto:Bubble Bobble (Arcade)

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This page details one or more prototype versions of Bubble Bobble (Arcade).


This late prototype of Bubble Bobble was dumped by brizzo and added to MAME in July of 2017. The main gameplay is close to finished, but it's missing a lot of the polish and hidden secrets found in the final version.

A message in the sub-CPU gives a build date of May 14th, 1986, about three months earlier than the first retail build of the game.

Attract Mode

Prototype Final
I've a bad habit of spelling high score "hi score" The ol' national symphony orchestra
  • Hardware developer K.Nishiyori's high score name changed from K.N to NSO. Whatever the K stands for is presently unknown.
  • Music plays during the tutorial if demo sounds are on. The final version only has the sound effects audible.
Prototype Final
!!! ?
  • Today's record has an exclamation point at the end in the prototype.

General Changes

Secrets

BubbleBobbleArcSuperMode.png
All of the elements related to unlocking Super Bubble Bobble mode are absent from the prototype, including the following:
BubbleBobbleArcSecretRoom.png

  • The treasure doors on Round 20, 30, and 40 and the simple substitution cipher puzzle within. This also means that the Rascal enemy is missing from the prototype.

BubbleBobbleArcEncryptedCode.png

  • The coded message at the very end of the Happy End that gives the code to Super Bubble Bobble mode.
  • The actual Super Bubble Bobble mode and code, of course.

The "POWER UP!" and "ORIGINAL GAME..." codes are similarly absent.

Difficulty

The final game has a dynamic difficulty system. The game's current difficulty value is stored at RAM address (0xE5DC), and is initially set to one of four values depending on the difficulty dip switches (Switches B1+B2):

  • Easy: 04
  • Normal: 07
  • Hard: 0A
  • Very Hard: 0D

The difficulty variable is influenced by a number of actions: For instance, going a certain number of rounds without dying will increment the counter, and dying decrements the counter. Difficulty caps at 1E.

The prototype has a much simpler difficulty system: Every time the game wants to adjust something based on difficulty, it just checks the difficulty dip switches. This means that the game's difficulty is static unless the difficulty dip switches are set to some other value during play.

Special Items

Conditions

To determine what special item will appear in each stage, the game checks the condition for every special item in reverse ID order at the start of the stage. The player has to pass a certain threshold to get an item to drop; That threshold can be one of four numbers depending on the game's current difficulty value.

Difficulty Ranges

  • D1: Range 00-04. If difficulty dip switch is set to "Easy", player starts in this range.
  • D2: Range 05-07. If difficulty dip switch is set to "Normal", player starts in this range.
  • D3: Range 08-0B. If difficulty dip switch is set to "Hard", player starts in this range.
  • D4: Range 0C-1E. If difficulty dip switch is set to "Very Hard", player starts in this range.

Altered values are in bold.

Proto Final
Item Condition D1 D2 D3 D4 D1 D2 D3 D4
Pink candy. Well, pink-wrapped candy Blow <X> bubbles 20 35 40 50 35 35 35 35
Blue candy. Presumably Pop <X> bubbles 20 35 40 50 35 35 35 35
Yellow candy. Likely lemon-flavored. Taste at your own risk Jump <X> times 20 35 40 50 35 35 35 35
Clock. Video games keep telling me that clocks can stop time, but the one I got in real life only talks to me in Spanish Pop <X> lightning bubbles 10 13 20 25 12 12 12 12
Bomb. This screen-clearing explosive puts Bomberman's arsenal to shame Pop <X> fire bubbles 10 13 20 25 10 13 16 19
Red umbrella-ella-ella eh eh eh Pop <X> water bubbles 22 22 22 22 20 20 20 20
Pink umbrella. I've seen sites refer to these as both "pink" and "purple". Pop <X> water bubbles 35 35 35 35 25 25 25 25
Orange potion. All of these potions do the same thing Fall through screen <X> times 15 20 25 30 15 15 15 15
Red potion. They generate different items, though. This one spawns flowers Fall through screen <X> times 16 21 26 31 16 16 16 16
Green potion. Naturally, it spawns clovers Fall through screen <X> times 17 22 27 32 17 17 17 17
Yellow potion. Spawns rainbows, because the sun's yellow I guess Fall through screen <X> times 18 23 28 33 18 18 18 18
Pink potion. Spawns blue music notes...I guess they ran out of color-coded things. Nice that they bothered to make five of these when they could have just made one Fall through screen <X> times 19 24 29 34 19 19 19 19
Super Heart. This item originally appeared in Chack'n Pop, all the way back in 1983 Collect <X> enemy fruits 30 35 40 50 50 55 60 65
Cyan ring. This item came from "The Fairyland Story", though in that game it didn't have a secondary effect Collect <X> Blue Candies 2 3 4 5 3 3 3 3
Pink ring. Technically, I should've been calling all of these pink items "magenta". Oops. Collect <X> Yellow Candies 2 3 4 5 3 3 3 3
Red ring. Xbox 360 joke Collect <X> Pink Candies 2 3 4 5 3 3 3 3
Blue cross. Blue shield sold seperately Collect <X> special items 10 12 14 16 10 11 12 13
Cyan lamp. Pronounced "Sigh-un" or "Sigh-anne", by the way, not "See-un". Just wanted to make that clear. 1P joined game <X> times 4 5 6 7 5 5 5 5
Red lamp. Pronounced "Red". 2P joined game <X> times 4 5 6 7 5 5 5 5
Pink...I mean magenta lamp. Collect <X> umbrellas 1 2 3 4 1 1 2 2
Nondescript "Book". Another item returning from The Fairyland Story, this book acts the same in both games Defeat <X> enemies with fire bubbles 5 7 9 11 10 12 14 16
Tiara. The third item borrowed from The Fairyland Story. The golden book / tiara didn't make the cut Defeat <X> enemies with lightning bubbles 5 7 9 11 10 12 14 16

In both versions, special red pulsating bubbles will randomly replace one of the bubbles that flow into the stage. In the prototype, there's a 1 in 256 chance of this occurring. In the final, it's a much less likely 1 in 4096 chance.

Missing Items

The following items are missing from the prototype:

  • All Cane and Treasure Chest items: These spawn a giant point item at the end of the round (Worth between 10,000 and 80,000 points) and turn all bubbles at the end of the round into smaller versions of that item (Worth 700 points.)
  • Bell: Chimes whenever a special attack item is set to spawn in a round.
  • High Score entry items: The octopus, lager, pink flamingo, knife, and Coke items haven't been coded or drawn yet. The unique point items that the first three special items produce (Wooden crosses, pizzas, and pink poop respectively) are similarly absent.
  • Crystal Ball: Makes point and special items spawn faster and simultaneously.
  • Crayon: Acts like a yellow potion and turns the next three special items into potions. Appears every 777(!) rounds.
  • Skull: Spawns a grey comet. Once the comet exits the screen, the round goes into "HURRY UP!" mode.
  • All doors: Includes the three treasure room doors on Rounds 20, 30, and 40, and the warp to Round 70 in Round 50.

Miscellaneous Changes

  • The red pulsating bubbles, when popped, give the player 100,000 points in the prototype. In the final game, popping one of those red bubbles gives the player the Red Cross's fire-breathing effect for five rounds and 100,000 points.

BubbleBobbleArcCrownSpecial.png
Both versions have an item that only spawns after Round 100 has been cleared (Either ending counts):

  • In the prototype, the item that spawns is a gold crown. This is identical to the highest point item in the game - the only difference is where it spawns.
  • In the final game, the item that spawns is a magenta chest. Collecting the chest and completing the round will spawn a giant diamond worth 80,000 points!

EXTEND

BubbleBobbleArcExtendP.png
The prototype's EXTEND animation is very much unfinished. The bubbles bounce up and down for a few seconds before the game moves on to the next round.

BubbleBobbleArcExtendF1.png BubbleBobbleArcExtendF2.png
In the final game, Bub or Bob bounces on each bubble, bursting them and revealing the sparkling letters inside.

BubbleBobbleArcExtendF3.png BubbleBobbleArcExtendF4.png
After that, the player will jump repeatedly on the side of the screen, the letters will form into a single spark, and "NICE 1P!" or "NICE 2P!" will appear on the screen. The spark will then add an extra life to the player's life bar.

Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcExtendTextP.gif BubbleBobbleArcExtendTextF.gif

In the final version, the EXTEND bubbles are initially animated much faster than they are in the prototype. Once Bub or Bob bounces on the first letter, they revert back to their original speed.

Miscellaneous

  • There's no pre-game intro in the prototype.
  • In the prototype, the main theme starts over from the beginning every time a new round starts. This was thankfully fixed in the final version.
  • The difficulty dip switches have an odd extra feature in this version. The game attempts to read from a table of four values (2, 1, 4, and 3) and tries to assign Player 2 that number of starting lives. Two problems with this:
  1. The game calculates the table offset wrong, so it will always return 2 regardless of difficulty setting.
  2. Even it did assign the right value, that value is overwritten by the actual Lives dip switches (B5+B6) number afterwards.

Round Editor

BubbleBobbleArcRoundSelect.png
The biggest difference between the prototype and the final game is the inclusion of a fully functioning round editor! Simply start a new game with Edit Mode (Dip Switch B7) active.

Controls

  • 1P Left/Right: Cycles through stages.
  • 1P Button 1: Brings up the main edit mode menu.

Main Menu

BubbleBobbleArcEditMenu.png
Main selection menu.

Controls

  • 1P Up/Down: Cycles between options.
  • 1P Button 1: Selects option.
  • 1P Button 1 + 1P Button 2 + 1P Start + 2P Start: For some reason, the user has to input this sequence while on Round Select Mode to get it to activate again.

Maze Edit Mode

BubbleBobbleArcEditMaze.png
Brings up the stage editor. That x-shaped symbol is the cursor.

Controls

  • 1P Start: Exits back to main menu.
  • 1P Joystick: Moves cursor.
  • 1P Button 1: Places tile.
  • 1P Button 2: Clears tile.
  • 2P Button 1 + 2P Button 2: Clears entire screen.

Air Edit Mode

Allows the user to change the air currents in the stage.

Controls

  • 1P Start: Exits back to main menu.
  • 1P Joystick: Moves cursor.
  • 1P Button 1: Places current.
  • 1P Button 2: Clears current.
  • 2P Start: Cycles between Up, Down, Left, and Right air currents.
  • 2P Button 1 + 2P Button 2: Clears entire screen.

Food Edit Mode

BubbleBobbleArcEditFood.png
Allows the user to change the spawning positions of the point and special items.

Controls

  • 1P Start: Exits back to main menu.
  • 1P Joystick: Moves selected item.
  • 1P Button 1: Switches between point and special items.

Enemy Edit Mode

BubbleBobbleArcEditEnemy.png
An enemy placement mode. Up to seven enemies can be placed in a round.

Controls

  • 1P Start: Exits back to main menu.
  • 1P Joystick: Moves enemy / adjusts enemy timer.
  • 1P Button 1: Place enemies / sets enemy timer.
  • 1P Button 2: Deletes selected enemy.
  • 2P Start + 1P Left/Right: Changes the enemy type.
  • 2P Button 1 + 2P Button 2: Deletes all enemies.

Bubble Air Mode

BubbleBobbleArcEditBubbleAir.png
The name of this mode is a little confusing - This allows the user to create those holes in the floor and ceiling that bubbles flow out of (Like the EXTEND letters and Fire / Water / Lighting bubbles).

Controls

  • 1P Start: Exits back to main menu.
  • 1P Button 1: Places hole.
  • 1P Button 2: Clears hole.
  • 2P Start: Switches between upward and downward currents for the hole.

Timer Mode

Exits menu, counts down for 243 frames, then resets the game. That's it.

Round Select Mode

This is the same mode seen when the user starts a new game with Edit Mode active.

Color Edit Mode

BubbleBobbleArcEditColor.png Chooses one of eight palettes for the stage.

Controls

  • 1P Left/Right: Selects palette.
  • 1P Button 1: Exits back to main menu.

Test Playing

BubbleBobbleArcTestPlaying.png
Tests the current room setup. The player will stay in the same round even after all enemies have been defeated.

Press 1P Start to go back to the debug menu.

Round Differences

Prototype Final
BubbleBubbleArcRound34P.png
BubbleBubbleArcRound35P.png
BubbleBubbleArcRound34F.png
BubbleBubbleArcRound35F.png

Rounds 34 and 35 switched palettes in the final version.

Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcRound100P.png BubbleBobbleArcRound100F.png

Betty and Patty are missing from Round 100.

In the prototype, players have the ability to shoot lightning bubbles in this round for no explained reason. In the final game, players need to collect one of the lightning potions at the top of the stage to shoot lightning bubbles.

Graphic Differences

Point Items

Proto Final Value
Am I blue? Yes Are...are you going to eat that butterfly 5000
It looks like a button. Push it. Push the red button Conch it up 6000
Orange you glad this treasure changed The squigglies make it good 7000
You're not fooling anyone Tim 8000

In the prototype, four of the high-value point items are treasure chests. These were all turned into different items with unique graphics in the final version. The treasure chests were later redrawn and turned into special items (See above.)

Special Items

Proto Final
BubbleBobbleArcEggplant.png BubbleBobbleArcFork.png

Both versions will spawn a special item on Round 1 if the player enters the name "SEX" into the high score table. In the prototype, it's an eggplant. In the final game, it's a fork.

Think about it.

Unused Graphics

BubbleBobbleArcButterfly2.gif
While the first animated butterfly graphic was repurposed as an inanimate treasure, the second one wasn't so lucky. These graphics were overwritten by the clear bubble graphics seen in the intro screen.

So, the remaining mystery: What were these animated butterflies supposed to be used for, anyway?

Missing Graphics

Besides the content already covered in previous sections -- Super Bubble Bobble mode, missing special items, etc. -- graphics for the unused slot machine icons and basket items are also missing from the prototype.

Audio Differences

Changed Tracks

ID Prototype Final Notes
08
The high score theme. The prototype version is more repetitive but is technically longer.
0A
The special item theme (Used for the five potions, the super heart, and the "EXTEND" screen) is more sedate in the prototype...
0B
...while the game over track is a lot more sinister.
30
The main theme has barely been worked on; All that's here is a drum loop for the start of the song.

Unused Tracks

ID Track Notes
05
The first track by ID in the prototype, this might have been the original main theme. There's nothing in this ID slot in the final version. Sorry for getting this stuck in your head.
06
Suspenseful track! Might have played when the player lost a life. Nothing in this ID slot in the final version either.
07
A simple little jingle. Maybe it's an early Game Over piece? The intro theme uses this ID in the final version.

Unused Sound Effects

ID Sound Notes
10
Maybe an early item collection sound? The "EXTEND" music track is in this slot in the final version.
1B
Sounds like ticking. Could have been used when the Clock item was activated. The giant point item sound effect occupies this slot in the final game.
1F
Simple sound, not sure of the purpose though. There's nothing using this ID in the final version.
32
This is before the lightning bubble sound in the ROM. Based on its position and how it sounds, it might have been used by the water bubbles.

This slot was later used by the potion bonus sound effect.

Ending & Credits

All Endings

  • In the final game, players are locked into place after Super Drunk is defeated. The prototype basically treats this like any other round ending, with the same timer and the players keeping control of their character.
  • In the prototype, both players will receive 1,000,000 points when the ending starts. In the final game, only the player who popped Super Drunk's bubble will get the million points, and they also have to trigger the Happy End.
Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcBlockCrumbleP.gif BubbleBobbleArcBlockCrumbleF.gif
  • The round clear animation was redone in the final version. It looks less like the blocks are crumbling, and more like they're fading out of existence.
  • Both endings reuse the high score entry track in the prototype. The final game adds appropriate music for both endings.

Bad End

Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcBadEndingP.png BubbleBobbleArcBadEndingF.png
  • Bubby, Bobby, Betty, and Patty are missing from the bad end screen.
Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcZappedToP.png BubbleBobbleArcZappedToF.png
  • The "You Zapped To..." text is white in the prototype and red in the final version.
  • In the prototype, the text doesn't blink as the game warps to Round 50.

Happy End

Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcHappyEndP.png BubbleBobbleArcHappyEndF.png
  • The prototype is missing the 1,000,000 points graphic (Which will be either green or blue depending on which player popped Super Drunk), the Happy End text, Bobby, Betty, Bubby, and Patty. All of these are in the graphics ROM, just unused at this point.
Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcCreditsSpacingP.png BubbleBobbleArcCreditsSpacingF.png
  • There's less space in-between the happy end message and the staff list in the final version.
Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcCreditsYoshidaP.png BubbleBobbleArcCreditsYoshidaF.png
  • YSH/Yoshida went from Logo Design to Instruction in the credits.
  • KTU (Likely Katujiro Fujimoto, credited on Final Blow under Hardware) and SAK (Seigo Sakamoto, who worked on at least three other games, including Darius) were added to a new "Hardware" section. This was presumably added after the game was moved off of Tokio's hardware.
Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcCreditsSpecialThanksP.png BubbleBobbleArcCreditsSpecialThanksF.png
  • Nakamura (Real name unknown) is credited as "NAK" in the prototype and "SKE" in the final version.
  • Seigo Sakamoto was moved from Special Thanks to Hardware.
  • ONJ (Hiroshi Tsujino, graphic designer for many Taito games in the '80s), AKR (Akira Fujita, designer of Arkanoid and one of the designers of Darius), HDG (Real name unknown, might be the same "HIDEGONS" credited as a software analyzer in Arkanoid), and MIE (Possibly Mitsukoh Kimura) were removed from the Special Thanks.
  • PAN (Likely Kazuo Nakagawa, who did design work and other miscellaneous jobs for Taito) and OTO (Probably Yoshino Imamura, a composer who also worked on Chack'n Pop) were added to the Special Thanks.
Prototype Final
BubbleBobbleArcCreditsCastP.png BubbleBobbleArcCreditsCastF.png
  • まいた is romanized as "Maita" in the prototype and "Mighta" in the final version. Whoever updated it forgot about the credits in Super Game mode's best ending, which still says "Maita".
  • Super Drunk and Rascal are missing from the prototype's character list.