Tsk, tsk, tsk. I often wonder why some good games are doomed to live in obscurity. The victim today is Bubble and Squeak, a strategic platformer game that requires you to think a little. People that don't know anything about Sunsoft's history might look at a game that they developed or published and think that it's some second-rate game you could live without. If you are a retro gaming maniac like myself, "Blaster Master" for the NES immediately comes into mind...so when I saw that Sunsoft published Bubble & Squeak, there was no way that I wasn't going to AT LEAST try the game out. Much to my surprise, as common as this game is, I don't remember ever reading a review for it. It's as though this game is one of those games that is sitting right under your nose...and yet you can't even see it.
Bubble (the boy) is just minding his own business when he met Squeak (the blue guy) one day...who just happened to drop in through a nearby Black Hole to ask Bubble to become the hero of the planet Grool, which is Squeak's home planet. The once happy land of Grool has become a very cruel place. The evil Kat of Nine Tails, commanding his hordes of aliens, has enslaved all the Grooleans and stolen their tails (living up to his name). The Grooleans are forced to work in places called Bozo Domes, where they do his dirty work of mining Grool's rich porridge deposits. Only Squeak escaped the horrifying, tail-whacking rampage since he was able to elude the Kat's goons. Hearing Squeak's story, Bubble decided (eventually) to help Squeak out. Your mission? To stop the evil Kat O' Ninetails. How are you going to do it? With a weird blue buddy who acts as your all-in-one gadget for almost any situation...as well as use some teamwork and cunning.
The graphics of this game slapped me in the face when I first played this game. It's so rich in color and wonderfully animated, I couldn't believe that I had never heard of this game before. The environments are full of rich details and silly looking enemies not to mention some excellent background effects are used. There are also some cool effects in the game, like water splashing, lightning flashing, and fire blazing. The Genesis did well with this game even with its limitations, and the game also has nice level designs...one would think it has to, given the kind of game this is, but some of the puzzles are pretty clever and you feel smarter every time you solve one. The sound is also very cool and nicely composed, although there aren't a whole lot of tunes, though this is also to be expected given the kind of game this is. The music is simple and upbeat, and I like tunes like the ones found in the desert sandcastle and neon city levels. I dig it. Muy bien!
As you travel the levels with your blue wonder, Squeak, you'll need him to be stationary, follow you around, toss you in the air, curl into a ball to get into tight spaces, eat ability enhancing
bubble gum (Squeak can also jump on enemies to defeat them with gum), and do all sorts of things to make it to the end of the level. Some levels will even require you to dash about, drop the water level and fly, so you don't want to waste a moment standing around. If you don't know what to do, just do something, so you'll gain a better understanding of the levels. You will travel to five different areas (or worlds) of Grool and there are over 30 levels. Each world provides you with new enemies and challenges. Bubble gets coins from defeated enemies that allows him to buy gum whenever he is near a gumball dispenser and even without Squeak, Bubble can attack by shooting stars at foes and he also runs and jumps higher than Squeak. Don't ask me how he manages to shoot stars out of thin air...it's a complete mystery to me.
You can also rescue captured Grooleans and when you free 4, you get to play one of three bonus games; Spring Chamber, Maze Race and Lift Off, generically speaking. There are numerous layouts to the bonus games to offer more than just the same three games and you must race against the clock and earn what you can. While Bubble & Squeak can do all of this stuff, they also fight underwater in a submarine once you find the submarine piece on a level. Once you go underwater, you have a chance to fight the evil kat himself. The downside to the underwater levels is that they seem pointless, since they don't seemingly benefit you in anyway and don't add much to the game. It's all relatively good fun though.
There's a catch to all that though: You have to stay alive...both of you. While Squeak is immune to enemy attacks, he isn't immune to falling in a deadly pit or drowning in a pool of water, or whatever else might prove too tough for him. Speaking of water, every level has water that will rise from the bottom of the screen after a certain point in time...which means you'll have to be quick on your toes. The levels are designed where both characters must touch the exit pole. While this
can prove annoying sometimes, the game overall is good and the gameplay mechanics work in its favor. Bubble and Squeak is one of those odd games that isn't rare, but nobody really talks about it. If you're looking for one
more quirky platformer, add Bubble and Squeak to your list. It's so cheap, you won't break the bank coming up with the cash for it.- Written by Vyse the determined -