SOURCE: Game Boy Color RND 5-JNG The craziest thing about Game Boy Color Bubble Bobble, is that there are really tons and tons of levels – 128, actually – but the vast majority of players will never see them, because the requisite to switch from the main branch to the secondary one is to complete the level as fast as possible. Then, when you reach the secondary branch, you need to speedrun through its harder levels too, or you’ll be sent back to the easier one even if you’re slow on a single level. Such a confusing design choice is reflected by the fact that no FAQ on the Net understood the mechanism! Oh well, I’ll write mine after this guide. Or maybe not. Who cares about that poor game.
WE care! Because with some love, tweaking and coin-op magic, GBC levels CAN shine! Take this one, for instance – flame bubbles debut here, and that little gap in the fir is perfect to grill the Mightas – if they don’t set free early!

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  SOURCE: Game Boy Color RND 4-JNG Alright! You missed the secret level. It’s okay. Here’s your regular round 21. Play well with water bubbles, and you’ll have your diamond prize. Study the Pulpul patterns. Don’t kill yourself trying to reach the special item from below, unless you’re really cool. Those Game Boy Color developers sure had some sense of humor – putting such a nasty level as round 4, albeit on a secondary branch! The name for this level is a nod to the Central Cavern of Manic Miner, even if I don’t recall why.

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 I have fond memories of the days spent over this first secret level. For me it was the most important level of the whole game, because it was going to be a direct hommage to Fukio Mitsuji, the designer of the original Bubble Bobble coin-op. Yep, that guy with the watering can is my bubblebobbled version of the late MTJ, created especially for Lost Cave. And the message below is a wonderful quoting from the man himself (albeit a little bit shrinked for space constraints) which makes perfectly sense, especially when you think that he stopped directly designing games to found a game design school. You can’t decypher the message? Aw, come on! If you’re reading here you CAN find the key to read it! Feel free to post the solution in the comments!

To create the MTJ statue, first of all I found some pics and a video of him. When he was young he looked like Bubby in Rainbow Islands, complete with red-ish reflexes in the hair. That’s why I gave access to his secret round from the one titled “At the end of the rainbow” one! In his forties, MTJ looked thinner, he wore glasses. In the end, I think his pixeled statue works, even if it’s more a symbolic portrait than a realistic one. The little sprout has been stolen from Rainbow Islands, while the watering can was designed from scratch and it’s my little masterpiece. Maybe it’s a bit too Western in taste, more, say, Bitmap Brothers than Taito. But it fits in quite well, I think. The gardener nurtures the young sprouts. Aww. It’s true that your art will live forever, MTJ, but still it’s such a pain to know you left us so early.

  SOURCE: Sega Master System RND 87 So, did you survive Round 19 of Lost Cave? Did you manage to reach Round 20 without dying? Great, here’s your prize – a brand new secret room! Well, you have to reach it first, as the room is quite crammed with Pulpuls. As in the original game, round 20 marks the debut for this enemy type but, in this level (a Sega Master System exclusive) there are seven of them, no less!

Should you have died in the former levels or should you miss the door, don’t worry. This level offers several nice points of interest. Score-wise, you can get lots of diamonds using water and lightning. And then there’s the anachronism of having Rainbow Islands quoted into Bubble Bobble, which is normal since the Master System version of Bubble Bobble came after the coin-op version of Rainbow Islands!

rainbowTo improve anachronism, if you complete the level every bubble left turn into a chibi version of Rainbow Islands main weapon. The effect is neat: a rainbow rain all around the screen. But you really prefer to lose it and get the super-rewarding secret screen, don’t you?

 

SOURCE: Game Boy Color RND13-FRS I always enjoyed ARC round 18, depicted below, because it’s a trap. After several levels with flying monsters, you get a room full of Zen-chans. Seemingly not a big deal… but the big number of little platforms really makes those guys crazy, as they run around and jump constantly trying to get you.
It’s great. You’re so close to round 20, where the secret door is, and you think you made it… and then you die because you are lead into underestimating your enemy, and the door disappears. This is exquisitely Fukio Mitsuji. I wanted too keep this feeling, and this GBC level really works the same way. To make things even spicier, I doubled the number of holes on the floor/ceiling. Will you survive?

  SOURCE: Game Boy Color RND29-CLK  This Game Boy Color Level was quite good in its own simplicity – an open space and two tricky sub-rooms to clear, no special bubble help. Placing items was almost an obligatory choice. Like Rnd. 17, it greatly benefits from a black background – that Clock setting was truly a readability nightmare!

  SOURCE: Game Boy Color RND26-GRV The Graveyard branch in the Game Boy Color Bubble Bobble has one of the most confusing palettes in the game, especially if played on the real dot matrix screen. With the coin-op black background, and with no scrolling everything plays better. Monstas can be quite annoying here, since the oblique block lines make hard to predict their bounces around. To force Player 1 to move around a bit I put the spawn point for the special item in the upper right part of the room (remember that GBC version only has one item spawn point per level, so I had to invent the second one, and often move them both around to get some kind of balance).

BS_P6This level has a strong resemblance with a Bubble Symphony one too! Check Round P-6 “Third Room” from the Last Road branch. Which is not a third room no matter how you look at it, but, well, ok. I matched the palette of this one in my Lost Cave version without knowing it. Luck of the draw.