Friday, September 19, 2014

Let's talk about three Taito-made PlayStation titles: Pop'n Pop, Puzzle Bubble 2 + Puzzle Bobble 3DX

As much as I've long loved Taito's earliest console efforts--such as the titles the company made and released for the Famicom, PC Engine and even Mega Drive--I haven't been able to say the same about the titles that flowed from their offices during the 32-bit era (and after) until recently.

That's mostly because I lacked a general awareness of this portion of Taito's output, I have to admit, but it's also because the few releases I was aware of from this period--like 1991's PuLiRuLa1995's Psychic Force and 1996's RayStorm--failed to impress me the way predecessors like Bubble Bobble, Don Doko Don, Elevator Action and Insector X did.

A couple of months ago, you could have thrown the company's many Puzzle Bobble sequels onto the same pile as the one that contained PuLiRuLa, Psychic Force et al. What's changed in the interim? Well, I bought and played a few of them, for starters.

Specifically, I bought and played Taito's (Japanese) PlayStation ports of Puzzle Bubble 2 and Puzzle Bobble 3DX, both of which can be seen in the photo above.

I'm still not the biggest fan of the way Taito's artists decided to alter Bub's and Bob's designs around this time, but at least the gameplay of this pair of Puzzle Bubble titles makes up for these artistic miscues.

The other Taito-published PlayStation title included in the aforementioned photo (as well as the one above), by the way, is 1998's Pop'n Pop.

Wikipedia describes this colorful arcade port as "a hybrid of Puzzle Bobble and Space Invaders," and that's a pretty spot-on assessment based on my enjoyable experience with it so far.

Of course, I probably would've picked up a copy of Pop'n Pop even if its disc contained nothing more than high-quality scans of its beautiful cover art and manual illustrations.

Speaking of which, I love the adorable pieces of art that accompany this game's character bios. (The characters highlighted on the page above are Hipopo and Tamasun from Mizubaku Daibouken, as well as Chack'n and the missus--she's literally "Miss Chack'n"--from Chack'n Pop.)

A few more of Pop'n Pop's cast of playable characters can be seen in the photo above, including Kiki Kaikai's Sayo-chan, Phee Phee from The New Zealand Story, one of Don Doko Don's dwarves and Bubby (or is it Bobby?) from Rainbow Islands.

Moving on from Pop'n Pop, here's a better look at Puzzle Bobble 2's cover art. I don't know if you can make it out in this photo, but the colorful bubbles look to be actual marbles--an effect that's surprisingly pleasing in person.

Puzzle Bobble 3DX's disc is surprisingly pleasing, too--or at least I think so. Sure, it's a bit barren, but I've rarely been one to complain about minimalist approaches to such things.

Have any of you played any of the games mentioned in this post? If so, please share your own thoughts on them in the comments section below. (Oh, and feel free to share your thoughts on some of the other Taito-published titles discussed here, such as PuLiRuLa, Psychic Force and RayStorm, too.)

See also: 'Recommend me some Taito-made Famicom, PC Engine and GameBoy titles'


TheGameroomBlitz said...

I dig Taito's 1990s output! You ever play Elevator Action Returns? It's a pretty good side-scrolling action game that's just dripping with atmosphere thanks to a brilliant Zuntata soundtrack.

The Bust-A-Move games are great too, but man, I coulda punched someone when I played Bust-A-Move Again on a Taito Legends collection and discovered that the Bubble Bobble characters had been replaced with a pair of disembodied hands. Whose friggin' idea was that? said...

I haven't played Elevator Action Returns, Jess. Just looked up a video of it, though, and it looks nice! I do prefer the kind of cartoonish look of the original, of course, but this one looks nice, too.

As for Bust-a-Move Again: I didn't even realize that game was on Taito Legends XD Anyway, I wonder if that odd change was made specifically for this release, or if that's how it was in the original release of this game, too?

Justin Difazzio said...

Hipopo? Are they hippos? I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my love of hippos over here before...I just never realized they were main characters in anything (unless you count Space Station Silicon Valley, where they're playable, but not really important). said...

Well, not really, Justin. I say that because although I believe they're called hippos in official literature (manuals, etc.) related to the game, in reality they're clearly platypuses (sp?).

Also, you've reminded me, yet again, that I really need to play Space Station Silicon Valley at some point...

Morgan Sleeper said...

Wow, Pop'n Pop sounds cool! I hadn't heard of that one! I have Puzzle Bobble 3 on the Saturn & really like it! PB/BAM is one of my favourite puzzle series, though for me the best version is still the SNES/SFC port - I just love the music! said...

Hey there, Morgan! Yeah, Pop'n Pop definitely is cool. I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick up a copy of it.

As for Puzzle Bobble: I, too, prefer the arcade original--and the great SFC port--to all other versions. Not only do they sound the best, but to me they look the best, too!