I coulda been a game designer …

… Not much chance really, but working in isolation meant that if my favourite game was not available on my chosen platform, which as you may recall back to the genesis of this blog was the Acorn BBC Micro, then I had little choice but to write it myself. Back in the DIY days of personal computing that wasn’t as crazy as it sounds, and thankfully that ethos still survives if stuff like this is anything to go by.

So in collating material from the archive of my life, I came across a bunch of designs for my take on something that could only be described as an obsession (at the time; I’ve discovered other things since as I’ve grown older for better or worse): Bubble Bobble.

I won’t describe the game as you know it of course.

But did you know that Taito announced in 1996 that they had lost the source code to the original arcade game?  Pretty weak huh?  Thankfully we have the Cloud these days (although if Sony uploaded their source code to Beanstalk for example, what are the chances that they would then turn around and sue them for copyright infringement in 6 months time?).

Anyway, I dearly wanted to be able to play this at home (because no matter how much it cost to buy it would have been cheaper than playing it for hours on end at the arcade), and as no version existed for the Beeb, it seemed like a suitable use of my time to try and create one.

And this is what I came up with …

Bubble Bobble 1

A few power ups it would seem, including the classic ‘music note’ motif.

Bubble Bobble 2

A couple more sprite designs for Bubble Bobble, along with one third of an XOR map.  I must have been pretty pov at the time to be that tight on my graph paper. I guess my pocket money wasn’t very high.

Bubble Bobble 3

More characters, including the letter bubbles to get an extra life.  Not sure why I used those colours – it looks very MODE 5.

Bubble Bobble 4

Getting serious now – hopefully some of these are recognisable.

Bubble Bobble 5

My final lot of characters.  There were plenty of more to do to cover all that were in the actual game – and that was before any were actually animated. Phew.
Maybe by this time I started wondering how the hell I would animate and control a whole heap of bubbles on the screen, let alone the main protagonists and the monsters, and realised it was somewhat beyond my skills.

So there you have it – my attempt at bringing that masterpiece of arcadium to the home television screen.  I never got any further than the character designs but it was awesome fun.

I tried to keep the designs within the limitations of my chosen platform but I’m pretty sure a few extra colours crept in there.

But wait, there’s more …

Misc 1

Looking at these I’m very tempted to say these are meant to represent the rather awesome shoot ’em up Gemini Wing.
Besides the sweet music, this game stood out from the rest by the fact that the bad guys were things like insects, maggoty things with huge jaws and eye-balls on stalks coming out of the ground.
Oh yes, and the first level boss was a Giant Walrus that lived in a waterfall. Obviously a rare freshwater walrus …

Misc 2

Ok, that is definitely Gemini Wing, except for the skull. Not sure about that … could be useful one day though.

Misc 3

Ok, something else now.  Looks like a more traditional sideways scrolling shooter.  With a bi-plane.  Maybe that is a left over from Time Pilot (or Space Pilot as the rather excellent BBC clone by Superior Software was known).

Misc 4

Ok, so I was a bit of a Super Mario fan too – the fact that it had so many hidden areas was mega cool and kept you coming back.  Not to mention that playing something like this at the arcade and knowing where those areas were and having an audience of people who didn’t was very satisfying.
As ever I had an idea of doing my own version, but made numerous changes.  The thing that shot out the bomb remained, and maybe the original had a fish somewhere.
However I’m pretty certain the Mexican jumping bean is new but I’m not sure if it was meant to be a power-up or an enemy. Or maybe it is a black pudding with extra fresh blood?  It isn’t often I get to say OMGWTF (and actually mean it, as opposed to people who say it in every second sentence), but speaking of black pudding it seems there is documented evidence that someone actually died laughing at that particular episode of the Goodies.  I’d better be careful – it is one of my favourites and I’m not getting any younger.

In the interests of keeping page load times to something reasonable I’ll take a short break, but there is plenty more!  Stay tuned!


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