The only redeeming aspect of Bubble Bobble Revolution for the Nintendo DS is that it includes the classic Bubble Bobble arcade game from 1986. There are actually two games included on the cartridge, but the classic is the only one worth playing. The accompanying new age remake, despite all of its enhancements, isn't as fun as its predecessor. Worse, it's plagued by glitches, one of which makes it impossible to access more than two-thirds of the available levels.
Apart from not being that much fun, the remake is so plagued with glitches that it can't even be finished.
Both games share key aspects in common. Each has 100 levels populated by monsters. In both games, you control a cute little dinosaur that can jump and spit bubbles. Bubbles can be popped by running into them, or you can use them as makeshift trampolines by jumping on top of them. The goal is to clear the monsters out of all 100 levels by first trapping them inside of bubbles and then popping those bubbles. Monsters tend to walk or float in one direction until they run into a wall or fall through an opening in the floor, whereupon they will turn around and continue on their merry way. If a monster falls into a hole at the bottom of the screen, it will reappear from a corresponding opening in the ceiling. You can also take advantage of these miraculous floor-to-ceiling warps. In some levels, there are water, fire, and lightning bubbles that can be popped to send a long-range elemental attack toward your enemies. The challenge is to figure out the best way to ensnare the monsters without running into them or having them fall on top of you. Dispatched enemies leave behind food items and power-ups, which are, of course, very beneficial.
Fans of the classic arcade game will be pleased to see that it's here in all its 8-bit glory. Each level is a single room, roughly one screen in size, with a pitch-black background and colorful platforms and walls in the foreground. The platforms are often organized so that a level's layout will resemble a familiar object, such as a heart or a puppy dog. Bub, the dinosaur, and all of his monster enemies have tiny animated feet and mouths, and they're drawn using bright primary colors that make them seem cute rather than frightening. The accompanying theme music and bleep-bloop sound effects are charming too, inasmuch as 8-bit audio can be described as charming. Classic Bubble Bobble is generally enjoyable, in part because it's rewarding to figure out how to solve each room, but mostly because it's fun to see what high scores you can rack up. Just getting to the monsters in some levels can be a test, and, like in so many games of that era, you only get three lives to finish the whole game. There's also quite a bit of strategy buried in the scoring system. For example, you get better items and higher score bonuses when you group multiple monsters together and bump them off as a group. This version of the classic looks and sounds identical to the original arcade game. The developers even managed to implement the two-player cooperative mode using the system's wireless link capability.
Less glorious is the new age remake, which incorporates a number of changes and so-called enhancements that complicate the core game without really improving it, along with some bugs that cause very bizarre things to happen. The graphics and audio are better in the technical sense, but the Roman-styled backdrops and larger plasticine characters lack the personality of the classic backgrounds and sprites. They're also way behind the curve in terms of the DS's capabilities. The levels are larger too, with each level spilling sideways and filling both of the system's screens. You'd think that larger levels and bigger characters would be beneficial, but they actually make the screen feel cramped and give you less time to react to any unseen surprises that may be situated just a few steps ahead of you.