Taito blows bubbles
Official PlayStation Magazine - UK Edition|December 2020
We chat with game director Tsuyoshi Tozaki about bringing back Taito’s iconic bubble dragon brothers
Tsuyoshi Tozaki
You couldn’t walk into a chip shop in the ’80s without seeing a Taito coin-op sitting blipping away in the corner of the room. The Japanese developer’s name was once uttered with the same reverence as those of other great arcade game manufactures like Konami, Capcom, and Namco. From Space Invaders to Rainbow Islands, Taito owned the arcades. On PS4 the company has been silent. Until now.

The shy developer rarely does an interview outside of Japan, but this issue we sit down with Tsuyoshi Tozaki, the director of Bubble Bobble 4 Friends (a remake of the classic ’80s coin-op), to discover why now is the time bubbles are blowing up.

On PS4 Taito is looking at releasing a collector’s edition featuring rare art and insights from the series’ history, among other goodies. And what of PS5? “We’ll consider it,” is the answer.

OPM: Is there a pressure of expectation when updating one of the company’s classic games?

Tsuyoshi Tozaki: Of course, I felt a lot of pressure, because Bubble Bobble is one of the big iconic titles. Because it was my first title as a director and I felt so much pressure, I thought I might transform into a bubble dragon!

It also made me very happy to make an updated version, because I played the Famicom Disc System version of Bubble Bobble with my elder brother when I was a child. My parents and brother are also so glad that I made the new game in the series. When making the game, we took care to create something that would satisfy fans of the original version, while also making sure that the bubble action is easy to do and feels good. We tried to make the controls not too ‘old style’, and to make it interesting for the people today.

OPM: When updating a classic series such as Bubble Bobble, where do you begin?

TT: We started the process by playing the original Bubble Bobble. We found some materials from that time in the storehouse archive, and the development team read them extensively. We also played Bubble Symphony and Bubble Memories many, many times.

We played the games and read the materials to know the essential ethos, the core aspects and fun elements of Bubble Bobble. After deliberation, we realised that the most enjoyable aspect of the game is the unique bubble action, and focussed on that.

We made it easier to ride on the bubble, which was quite hard to do in the original version. In the original we had to hold a button down, but in this new version we can just ride on it. If you press the jump button, you can jump normally, and if you pull the thumbstick down you can break the bubble under the character. In addition, the speed of the floating bubbles and the flying distance of the bubbles were set to always be consistent, and we further adjusted Bub and Bob’s walking speed. So players can ride easily on bubbles they made themselves.

OPM: What is it about Bubble Bobble that has remained so endearing to fans?

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