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What are Bubble Shooter Games?

The 1990s was a golden age for arcade games. Cabinet machines could do things that home consoles couldn’t, incorporating all kinds of weird control systems and bringing lots of graphical horsepower to bear on a range of experiences. There were fast-paced fighting games and true-3D racers, all running at silky-smooth frame rates that couldn’t be beaten elsewhere. Among the biggest successes of this era was Puzzle Bobble by Taito. The company already had considerable arcade pedigree, having been responsible for 1986’s Bubble Bobble, and it from that game that many of the new title’s major elements were drawn. What had changed was the format: rather than being a side-scrolling platformer, this was a puzzler. The game was ported to SNK’s Neo Geo six months after its release, with the US version being called Bust-a-Move, and it was under this name that it reached a host of other games consoles. Like all of the best puzzlers, Puzzle Bobble featured incredibly simple mechanics that have remained in place to this day. Players must fire coloured bubbles from the pointer at the bottom of the screen toward the mass of bubbles descending from the top. Matching three or more bubbles of the same color causes those bubbles to burst, and any other bubbles attached to them to fall. Doing this prevents the mass of bubbles from falling below the line at the bottom of the screen, at which point it’s game over. The rate of descent, for the most part, determines the difficulty of the game – with the super-hard versions coming at the player incredibly quickly! Some variants of this game come with interesting power-ups which clear the board faster, while others comes with a more relaxed time limit that turns the experience from a fast-paced arcade game to a gentler one.
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