Poor Travis! He was just trying to be a good little engineer, taking his work home to hunt down the last bugs in the transdimensional collapsatron. So what happens when he gets the problem fixed? The ol' T.C. zaps him, sending him into a strange world of foam! Protected from this alien environment in nothing but a wandering air bubble, Travis must now find enough nuclear energy to power up the collapsatron for a trip back...
That's BUBBLE TROUBLE, a new Lynx title from Telegames that tries to top KUNG FOOD for storyline silliness. You play Travis, who steers an air bubble through the five levels of suds. To exit each level, Travis must use his radar to find energy globes for the Collapsatron. But the locals are after Travis, and if his bubble takes too much damage, it bursts. Fortunately, he can fight back with bombs and shots, and find icons that give benefits like extra power or extra strength. The game ends when Travis escapes or when his bubbles are all gone.
Premise aside, BUBBLE TROUBLE is best described as a combination shooter and exploration game. Travis' radar shows where the power globes are, but not the layout of each level. Finding energy therefore requires exploration of every nook and cranny. This is complicated by the size of each level, the enemies present, and the momentum and bounce in your bubble itself. Overeager players can quickly ricochet out of control, ripe for an attack.
Don't be mistaken; the controls are friendly and responsive. The bubble moves with reasonable precision, while the buttons make attacking and choosing other features easy. What the game demands most is patience -- moving too quickly is dangerous, but careful prodding is always rewarded. Enemies and obstacles are sufficiently varied, with passive mines, electric currents, aggressive hunters, spikes, and a host of others.
Though it doesn't sound like much, five levels is sufficient for most players. Since there are no difficulty settings or passwords to continue games, players must trek through all of the stages each time they play. But the layout of each stage and the location of objects never vary, so players can use memorization to advance over time. Finishing the game is therefore possible, albeit fairly difficult.
The graphics in BUBBLE TROUBLE are well-suited for a game with such a frivolous theme. Travis is a small-but-recognizable sprite, pulling at his bubble while clad in a bathrobe. Enemies and power-up icons are easy to distinguish, while each level has a "look" of its own. Scrolling is smooth, though colors tend towards the primaries.
Sounds are also well done, although there's nothing to get excited over. Appropriately , the background music stays in the background, being neither irritating nor distracting. Sound effects help provide game information for each threat, and enemies are often heard shortly before they appear on-screen.
Behind BUBBLE TROUBLE's screwball premise is a challenging game with a good dose of originality. Though some may find it a bit tough, there's enough appeal to pull most players in for "one more try." Complimentary graphics and sound help round out BUBBLE TROUBLE into a charming package.
GAMEPLAY: 7.5 GRAPHICS: 7.5 SOUND: 6.5 OVERALL: 7.5