Oh, and by the way, this is ‘The Story of Bubble Bobble III’

You know, I’ve always wondered why the folks at Taito (and, later, Working Designs) didn’t do more to play up the fact that Parasol Stars, one of my all-time favorite PC Engine games, was supposed to be the third game in the famed Bubble Bobble series.

Sure, they mentioned that fact in a subtitle (as seen in the ad, which appeared in an old issue of the American TurboPlay magazine, below), but said subtitle is so small and subtle that it’s all but lost in the cacophony that surrounds it.

Maybe the brass at Taito decided against trumpeting Parasol Star‘s connection to that classic series because it wasn’t created by Fukio Mitsuji, the man behind both Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands (aka “The Story of Bubble Bobble 2”)? I guess we’ll never know.

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6 responses to “Oh, and by the way, this is ‘The Story of Bubble Bobble III’

  1. “it wasn’t created by Fukio Mitsuji, the man behind both Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands”

    That’s interesting; I guess it helps explain why I liked Bubble Bobble a lot when I was a kid and love Rainbow Islands to this day but was never all that fond of Parasol Stars.

    As to why a bigger deal wasn’t made about PS being part of the Bubble Bobble series, you ask a good question. I’m not sure what Taito did or didn’t do in Japan; but as far as Working Designs goes, as popular as Bubble Bobble is, it’s always been more of a “niche” title than a household name, so maybe WD figured that hyping up the BB connection wouldn’t have much of an effect. That’d be pretty stupid of them, but they did a lot of stupid things with their TG16 games: the CF2 cover art is atrocious, the CF2 manual documents status and elemental effects that aren’t even in the game, Exile II’s monster stats are skewed to an abominable extent, etc.

  2. What is it about Parasol Stars that you don’t like, if you don’t mind me asking?

    I’ll say this, as much as I like Parasol Stars, Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands are better games. They require more strategy, for starters.

    As for WD not trumpeting Parasol Stars’ connection to BB — I don’t think Taito did it in Japan, either, if the game’s cover is any indication. Maybe there was a legal issue or, maybe as you said, BB is a niche title everywhere and touting the connection wouldn’t do much either way.

    BTW, it’s funny that you mentioned the CF2 cover at the end of your comment — I’ll be posting an old ad for that game soon, as I find it pretty horrible, too. 🙂

  3. I enjoy Parasol Stars the most during levels where I need to think about how I’m going to reach/slay the enemies. What I don’t like is that, as the game goes along, the “challenge” it presents is derived more from the enemies getting bigger and more resistant to being stunned than it does evolving board design. I wasn’t happy about where the developers decided to place their focus; as you indicated, the game doesn’t involve as much strategy as it might have, and I had the most fun with it when it made me come up with plans.

    Also, while Bubble Bobble struck me as being very cute with its dino heroes and charming music, and Rainbow Islands was based on an exciting race-to-the-top concept and allowed the player to do so much cool stuff with the rainbow weapon, PS had no such “hook” for me. The fact that my favorite part of PS was the rematch with Bubble Bobble’s big boss probably says a lot.

    And that CF2 cover was definitely deplorable. The Cosmic Fantasy series features such nice character designs, yet WD went ahead and allowed CF2’s cover to be inhabited by monsters that barely resemble the characters in the game. The Japanese cover, while relatively simple, was so much nicer.

  4. You know what? I have a feeling that, in the end, the main reason Parasol Stars doesn’t stack up to BB and RI is that Fukio Mitsuji wasn’t involved — or, rather, that he was a better designer than the designers responsible for Parasol Stars. After reading a few interviews in which he talked about the creation of Bubble Bobble, I’m convinced he was a genius — in terms of game design, at least.

    Regardless, I agree with you about Parasol Stars’ high and low points — with the meandering, strategy-free levels being the low points. I really wish the levels were more contained, honestly, like those in BB and RI.

    You’ll probably find this funny, but as much as I’ve played Rainbow Islands over the years, I never thought about its hook being an “exciting race to the top” before you mentioned it. That’s exactly what it is — and it’s one of the reasons it’s such a great game, too! (With another being the awesome rainbow-as-platform-weapon-whatever.)

    Oh, and one more thing: Another related question that keeps popping into my head is “why didn’t Taito port Bubble Bobble to the PCE?” They ported that game’s two follow-ups, why not the original. Oh, well, at least I can play it on my PS2. 🙂

  5. Maybe Taito felt that, with the NES cart, they had already been able to produce a home version of Bubble Bobble that was faithful enough to the original arcade game. They had to cut a few more corners to deliver New Zealand Story to the NES, and perhaps that’s why NZS was later granted 16-bit releases while BB wasn’t. (Ironically, they ended up botching those 16-bit renditions in various ways.)

    Regardless, I’m with you: Bubble Bobble, particularly if “souped up” in some way, shape, or form, would’ve been a very welcome addition to the PCE library!

    Incidentally, while taking a look at the Wikipedia Bubble Bobble article, I noticed that the game’s music was the work of Zuntata, the same guys who produced Darius’ tunes. I’d never realized that. (If you haven’t played Super Darius for PCE CD, by all means do at some point; the soundtrack is incredible.)

  6. I sure hope the FC/NES version of BB isn’t what kept that game from being ported to the PCE — although it plays similarly to the arcade version, I’ve never been a fan of it. That said, unless the PCE version was nearly arcade perfect, I’d probably prefer the arcade original anyway.

    As for Super Darius — thanks for the suggestion. I’ve never played any of the Darius games, to tell you the truth, though I’m not sure why. So, I guess I’ll add Super Darius to my “buy eventually” list. 🙂

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