Monday, May 21, 2012

Bubble Bobble + Chack'n Pop + Parasol Stars = single-screen platformer perfection

Consider my mind blown.

What blew it, you ask? The video below, which showcases the "secret" levels in Parasol Stars that only can be accessed after meeting certain conditions (i.e., grabbing three star icons in world eight) before defeating the almost-final boss, who I believe answers to "Dark Shadow."



I didn't know about these extra stages until recently because, well, I've yet to beat this ├╝ber-saccharine PC Engine game. I've made great strides toward doing just that in the last week, though, due in large part to discovering--finally!--how beneficial it can be to match the "miracle icons" that pop up in pretty much every level. (Before, I grabbed them willy-nilly.)

Anyway, back to why Parasol Star's bonus worlds blew me away (well, besides the fact that they exist): For starters, world nine pays homage to this game's forebear, Bubble Bobble--with stage 9-1's layout aping that of Bubble Bobble's first level. Along the same lines, world 10 harkens back to another of Taito's classic quarter-munchers, Chack'n Pop. (Unsurprisingly, stage 10-1 is a dead ringer for Chack'n Pop's opening salvo.)

Also partially responsible for blowing me away: The new background tunes--one bright and boppy, the other rather haunting--that accompany players through the aforementioned stages and the surprise appearance, at the business end of world nine, of Hyper Drunk.



Sadly, despite my improved Parasol Stars performance--I now routinely get to the sixth world before using up all of my continues, whereas I used to flame out in the third--I doubt I'll be racing through these extra levels anytime soon. Hell, at this point I'd be ecstatic if I could experience this game's "bad ending"--shown in the video above--which actually looks pretty darn good to these eyes. (Granted, I'm a sucker for end credits that spotlight a game's cast.)

Related aside: Those of you who are now as enamored with Parasol Stars as I am may enjoy watching this complete playthrough of the game many consider to be Taito's greatest PC Engine release.

14 comments:

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Now I just have to play this...

Adam said...

I can't believe I never played this. I love Bubble Bobble

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, play it, Justin. Sadly, you'll either have to buy a TG-16 and a copy of this game or play it via emulation, as it has yet to be released via the Wii VC. (Actually, it was released via the Wii VC in Japan ages ago, but for some reason it has yet to appear on the NA version.)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Adam: If you love Bubble Bobble, you'll love Parasol Stars, too. There are many differences between the two games, of course, and I still think BB is the better game, but that doesn't mean that PS isn't awesome, too. Play it as soon as you can :)

warp said...

I've had this rom for awhile; so I finally decided to fire up the old Magic Engine. Damn, it's good! I'm kinda surprised cuz I was never a big fan of the arcade Bubble Bobble. I was always more of a Puzzle Bobble guy myself.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, glad I helped push you to finally give it a try, warp! Also glad to hear you think it's good :)

As for Puzzle Bobble: I like it, but I've always preferred Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and this game. All of them are great, though!

warp said...

Bubble Bobble question: what is the best version that's been made so far?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Arcade version, no question. Playing it via MAME is probably the easiest way, although it's also available on the Taito Legends compilation for PS2 and Xbox (and maybe PSP?). Also, the arcade versions of both Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands were packaged together on one PS1 disc back in the day. I haven't played that one, but I'm thinking of buying it soon.

All that said, the Famicom/NES version of Bubble Bobble is pretty nice, too, as is Final Bubble Bobble for the Sega Master System. Still, I'd start with the arcade version if I were you.

warp said...

OK, thanks. I've actually had the MAME version sitting around on my PC for years. Guess I'll give it another go.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, do that, warp. You may want to try the NES and Master System versions eventually, too, although they don't really bring anything new to the game, to tell you the truth (they're mainly ports).

warp said...

I've been mame-ing Bubble Bobble and the arcade sequels a bit since I posted. Is it heresy that I like the sequels a lot more than the original? They're just so shiny and sparkly.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Which sequels are you talking about? Bubble Symphony and Bubble Memories? If so, well, it's a bit blasphemous, in my opinion, but not completely :P Actually, I've become quite fond of both games since I started replaying them recently. I used to consider both of them unworthy of the Bubble Bobble name, but I've since softened my stance a bit :)

warp said...

So far just Bubble Bobble 2 and Bubble Memories. Bubble Bobble 2 has hand-drawn backgrounds so I think it's the prettier of the two. Is there some particular reason that you don't like the sequels as much as the original?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Actually, Bubble Bobble 2 = Bubble Symphony. It has different names in different regions, for some weird reason.

As for why I don't like them as much as I like the original: For starters, I really dislike the dorky, cross-eyed Bub and Bob designs used in all but the series' first games. (I'm actually writing a post about this topic as we speak, er, type.)

Also, although I find them charming and kind of fun, both of them seem to be missing a bit of the strategy that was required to master Bubble Bobble.

All that said, I feel the same way about Parasol Stars -- a game I completely adore. I don't think it's as good as Bubble Bobble, either, but that doesn't keep me from loving it all the same, if that makes sense.