We are big Taito fans Bubble Bobble spin-off series Bobble Puzzle around these parts. We knew him as Bust-A-Move in the West, and news that a new entry in the series was coming to Switch next year courtesy of publisher ININ got us pretty excited.
Puzzle Bobble All the bubbles! is a four-player co-op take on the classic pool bubble shooter, with new dragons Peb and Pab joining Bub and Bob in a story mode that’s a first for the series.
Recently, we had the chance to ask game director Tsuyoshi Tozaki a few questions ahead of the game’s launch next spring…
The Puzzle Bobble series has been around for almost 30 years. Do you remember what first inspired you to do a spin-off for the Bubble Bobble series?
Tsuyoshi Tozaki, Game Director: The original Puzzle Bobble was a puzzle game called “Billiardesu”. As the name suggests, the game was inspired by billiards, where you’re supposed to either shoot your ball straight or let it bounce off the walls to hit the other balls.
In the early 1990s, when Puzzle Bobble was created, many companies started focusing on puzzle games. Among the prototype games, Billiardesu turned out to be so attractive that Taito decided to work on marketing the game. And to make this puzzle game more appealing to women, who were the main target group at the time, they decided to use the pop and cute Bubble Bobble character.
Why is now a good time to bring back Puzzle Bobble?
we want to continue to develop and nurture the Bubble Bobble intellectual property
The Puzzle Bobble series continued to release as gaming platforms evolved, with games such as Puzzle Bobble Journey (Travel Bust-A-Move), which is still available as an app for smartphones. There have also been arcade machines such as Bust-A-Move Frenzy. Additionally, we have published 3D Bobble Puzzle: Vacation Odyssey for PS4, PS5 and PSVR last year, in cooperation with Survios, although the 3D experience differs greatly from previous games.
We decided to work on Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! as a game developed by Taito following the positive reception following the release of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, where we received many requests to bring back the Puzzle Bobble series. Additionally, we also want to continue developing and nurturing the Bubble Bobble intellectual property. We hope the new game will appeal to as wide a range of players and fans as Bubble Bobble.
What was it like returning to the spin-off series with Bub and Bob at the helm again?
As this is the first console title in a while, we revisited the Puzzle Bobble series and took a fresh look at what makes the game what it is.
The first thing that comes to mind is the gameplay that defined the bubble shooter genre, but we also think the characters of Bub and Bob are essential to the game. Additionally, we felt that, Since there is a four player mode this time, we should also have the story mode available for four players too, so we introduced Peb and Pab.
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends marked a surprise return for Bub and Bob. What made you want to come back to the global series?
Back in 2019, when we thought about reviving some of our well-known IPs for the console and PC market, Bubble Bobble popped up because, unlike shooter games like space invaders and Darius, Bubble Bobble has a wider appeal thanks to its cute characters. Our expectations were right, and Bubble Bobble 4 Friends has been purchased and enjoyed by over 200,000 customers and continues to be popular long after its release, especially in Europe and Asia.
The last time Puzzle Bobble was on Switch was with the 2020s Touhou spell bubble. What did you learn from this cross-play, and did something about it influence Puzzle Bobble Everybubble!?
The two development teams are fundamentally separate, but there is some crossover between us and the Touhou Spell Bubble team, so we came up with some ideas. Among other things, the “blank bubble” system, which takes on the same color as the ball you shoot it with and disappears if three or more bubbles of the same color come into contact with it, was very well done, so we incorporated it as a blank bubble in Puzzle Bobble Everybubble!
However, Touhou Spell Bubble has implemented some rhythm game elements, which makes it quite unique and greatly influences the player’s experience. The Puzzle Bobble Everybubble game system! focuses more on solving puzzles to get through the different stages, giving it that familiar Puzzle Bobble feel.
This new entry will be playable up to four players. What made you want to add two more players to the game?
There have been games in the Puzzle Bobble series that supported a four-player mode, but the story mode (puzzle mode) was always single-player. The arcade game only in Japan, Azumanga Daioh Puzzle Bobble had a two player cooperative mode where both players worked to clear bubbles together, but this time up to four players can cooperate to solve puzzles, as well as play in a competitive 2v2 mode, but more on that more late .
We made it four-player co-op because co-op play in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends was so popular with players. Also, as it will be released exclusively on Nintendo Switch, we wanted to make it a game that can be enjoyed with friends and family.
Can you tell us something about the potential single player modes?
Although you can play with up to four players, each stage is designed to be playable by a single player as well. It took a lot of work to balance the game, but now we’ve implemented the stages so they adjust in bubble size and layout to match the number of players, so it’s fun no matter how many people who play.
In addition to this, we are preparing many varied stages: challenging stages, exhilarating stages and other puzzle-based stages, as well as unlockables for completing stages with three stars like we did in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, but you We’ll have to wait a little longer for all the details!
Are characters expected to return from previous Puzzle Bobble games?
As shown in key art, Woolen and Packy from Bobble Puzzle 2 will reappear with Bubble Bobble series favorites like Bonner and Chack’n. We also have plenty of other characters from previous titles lined up, so look forward to what’s to come.
You might also notice new characters in key art, like Liber, a girl with pigtails who wears glasses and mint-colored clothes, and Hootwit, an old owl, [who] will make their debut.
We hope you’ll look forward to seeing each character in action, as they all have a unique story and personality.
What do you think makes Bub and Bob such popular characters after so long?
Probably because they’re so cute – their design has changed little by little over time, but they’ve always remained adorable. Plus, I think their simple design is easy to remember.
We publish photos and videos on Bub’s Twitter and YouTube channel “Bub’s Broadcast”, and we’re always happy to see so many people respond with “cute” and friendly reactions. We also love seeing all the fan art fans post, and the best ones are always shared with the team and we have a lot of fun discussing them.
Besides the four-player mode, is there any other new feature in Everybubble?
The best feature is undoubtedly the two-on-two game mode, where two teams compete on the same screen. I think teaming up and playing co-op is a whole new level of fun and excitement.
With two players working together, you can clear bubbles even faster and send even more bubbles to your opponent’s side to hinder them. It also brings a new element of strategy and teamwork to the game with each player’s position meaning they can hit different bubbles, but they can also shoot the same bubble.
Even if you don’t have all four, you can have the computer dial in the numbers for a 2v2 game, so give that a try as well. For example, if there are two players, they can play on the same team, against the computers, but it’s also possible to have a human and a computer on each team and play like that too.
Other new modes will also be added in Everybubble, so please wait for more information.
Where do you want to take the Bubble Bobble franchise in the future?
First, we will continue to create Puzzle Bobble Everybubble! as enjoyable as possible for the series’ countless fans, but beyond that, we want to continue creating new titles in the Bubble Bobble/Puzzle Bobble franchise. This includes titles like Rainbow Islands which we would also like to develop.
Bub also works hard as a Youtuber on “Bub’s Broadcast”, where not only does he introduce new games to the franchise, but he also takes on challenges such as radio shows, crane games, playing drums and more. Again. I think he has a secret ambition to make himself known and loved all over the world! As part of this, we also want to see merchandise on store shelves around the world!
Our thanks to director Tozaki for yourtake the time to answer our questions. Puzzle Bobble Everybubble is slated for a Q2 2023 launch on Switch. In the meantime, we will check the import prices on this incredible Bub backpack.