The early 1990s was a very strange time for games. During the transitional years from the 8-bit era to the 16-bit generation it seemed as if no idea was off the table, especially on the less than successful systems of the time like the Sega CD, TG-16, and Atari Lynx. Seems like these systems became a sort of "testing ground" for any kind of wacky experimental game idea you could come up with. Want to make a game about turning on light switches, floating zombie heads, or food that does karate? Go right ahead. The result is that the more obscure systems tend to have a library peppered with weird, out-of-left-field games that occasionally return a winner.
Hence Bubble Trouble, a game about a guy who's experimental size reduction ray backfires and traps him in his own bubble bath "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" style. The concept of the game is reminiscent of an old, old, old IBM game called "Bubble Ghost," Where you're inside of a soap bubble that you must keep intact while simultaneously exploring around the various levels in order to find radioactive particles in order to reactivate your "Transdimensonal Collaspatron" in order to get home. While this is going on other strange little floaty things are trying to kill you, for some reason.
Goofy premise aside the game is actually pretty fun. You spend most of the time flying/floating through vast bubbly levels, shooting other flying things of which I'm not sure what they're supposed to be exactly - Germs? Bacteria? Atoms? Strange microscopic transdimentional demonic entities? Pissed off dust particles? It doesn't say. Plus it's not really explained why they want to kill you so bad. Although the game only has five levels each of said five levels is extremely long. The downside here being of course that the locations of various items never changes, which totally destroys replay value.
The main problem with the game seems to be an issue with most Lynx games - slippery control. Here it seems like they tried to give you a sense of "inertia," as in after you cease thrusting you continue to travel in a certain direction (akin to Asteroids.) Problem is it's really hard to turn around, stop, or reverse directions in time to avoid hitting walls/enemies and thus sapping health. However without this control scheme the game would actually be way too easy, so it's a balancing act. As it is the controls are "learnable," if not a bit annoying.
A very well balanced game, if not a little silly. Some people might be turned off by the wonky controls or the ridiculous storyline. It's not so strange though when compared to other games from this time. Is flying around in a bubble any more weird than a racing blue hedgehog who lives inside of a giant pinball machine or an Italian plumber who eats magic mushrooms and flies with a racoon tail?
Graphics: Well done, if a bit washed out. Sprites stand out nicely against dark backgrounds, although they suffer a bit from the general Lynx trademark blockiness. Backgrounds are pretty horrible, usually monochromatic and generally lifeless all around.
Sound: Much better sound than the usual Lynx game, not really much in the way of digitized effects or anything special like that, but sometimes the simple approach is the best approach.
Gameplay: The shooter/exploration hybrid gameplay takes a bit of work to get into, but once you learn the controls and figure out exactly what it is you need to do it becomes surprisingly addictive. This is one of those games where each time you strive to get just a little bit farther, although lack of any replay value limits the appeal.
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