Saturday, July 27, 2019

Bubble Ghost (Steam) - Review

Well, this is easily the most old school thing I've covered so far. Bubble Ghost, released originally in 1987, then 1990 on Game Boy, and finally found its way on Steam in 2018. It is a  simple game that will yield a simple review so click "read more" and let's take a look.



Game Play

This game is almost as basic as it gets in terms of mechanics. You take control of a Ghost and the goal of every stage is simply to move the bubble by blowing on it through the tunnel that leads to the next stage. The fast you reach the exit, the more points are awarded.

As the ghost, you are unaffected by any terrain and can move through walls. The bubble is the exact opposite, if it touches anything it will pop and cost a life. There are 35 levels in total and each one increases difficulty with various obstacles and puzzle elements. While there is an end to the game, the ultimate goal is a high score.

This is an extremely easy game to understand and play; the arrow keys move the ghost, Q and W rotate the Ghost's angle, and the space bar blows. That is the whole game in a nutshell. Basic, yet still impressive for its time. The simple mechanic of having the distance between the Ghost and bubble affect how far/fast the bubble travels and the angle of ghost controlling the direction of the bubble may be basic, but it is all this game needs to feel fluent. 


There are no proper sound effects or music in this game. Instead, there is a constant crackling noise that hurts the ears. This crackling does sort of interact with the obstacles and Ghosts blowing to slightly resemble sound effects. However, I would  recommend playing this game muted because this low form of audio is not at all pleasant to listen too.


Visually, this game looks like an 80s PC game as it is. Very simple, but everything looks like it is supposed too and there is some creative imagery shown. 

However, one interesting feature this Steam release has is the ability to play the game in 4 different video modes. All screenshots up till now came from the 3rd choice called EGA which looks the cleanest and the most colorful. 

The first option is CGA. As I talked about in my Detonation article, CGA was IMBs first color graphics card which mainly consisted of purple and greenish blue for colors.

Second video option is called Tangy or PC jr. This is about as low detail as I've seen next to text only games. It is kind of a scary thought to think someone used to have to make due with this for gaming. Even Atari looked better.

Lastly, there is Scheiss Schmeider. This is basically, no color and very little details. I suppose, this mode gives the game more of a ghostly feels.

All of these video modes are neat for the sake of comparing history. However I would only recommend seriously playing on EGA or CGA options as the other 2 are difficult to follow.

Final Verdict

Through and through, Bubble Ghost is a product of its time. Very dated and the game can be completed in less than half an hour depending on the number of deaths. However, this does not mean there is no fun to be had with this title. Plenty of people are nostalgic for these old school PC games and this game was a fun pick for its era. Even without nostalgia, the controls are solid and the core gameplay is challenging enough to make you want to keep trying but not overly frustrating either. Overall, a very simple yet fun little title.

Writing - n/a
Game Play - 8/10
Audio - 1/5
Presentation - 3/5

Overall - 6/10

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