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The Slacker's Guide - Retro in the Making: Bubblee

by Chris Barylick
April 18th, 2006

Sometimes it doesn't take bells and whistles to catch your attention. The games of yesteryear, despite lacking full three dimensional graphics, intricate physics engines, celebrity-populated voice acting and a full marketing campaign behind them proved as fun as anything you ever played. And sometimes, amidst everything else clamoring for your attention, a good game gets lost in the shuffle.

Bubblee isn't the most complex game in the world, nor does it smack of graphics and sound that drove a team of programmers insane as they worked towards builds and milestones. Droves of marketing weasels probably didn't emerge to try to recraft the game into something new after a marketing study revealed a stunning new youth trend.

As simple and genuine as they come, Bubblee is just a small shareware title in which the player, taking on the role of a bubble gum-blowing heroine, must jump from platform to platform in a classsic side scrolling environment. The thing that makes this interesting is the choice of weaponry. Armed with an unlimited supply of bubbles and small projectiles to pop the bubbles, the player must trap oncoming enemies, altering the size of the bubble in accordance with the size of whatever may be attacking her.


Setting up enemies for the kill in Alex Ni's Bubblee

The bubbles, which can be quickly launched and have no limit as to how many can be on screen at any given time, perform a variety of functions. Offensively, the bubbles can act as the perfect weapon, multiple bubbles exploding off each other when punctured.

From a defensive perspective, the player can create a shield of bubbles to keep enemies away. When time is limited, a quickly fired round can help repel a charging enemy and buy a few extra seconds to reposition yourself to a safer location.

Perhaps the cleverest thing about Bubblee is the fact that the user can use the bubbles as needed for almost any function. Long jumps can be aided by the player blowing a series of bubbles that act as temporary, fading platforms under their feet.

It's true that the game may not be an instant classic or perfect in its current development stage, but there are some interesting/classic concepts at work here and I'd like to see what this could become.

Bubblee is a free software title and a 1.2 megabyte download that expands to occupy 3.4 megabytes of disk space once installed. The game, developed by Alex Ni, requires Mac OS X to run and is part of the iDevGames OMG (Original Mac Games) Cup programming contest, a grass-roots video game programming effort headed up by Mac gaming guru Carlos Camacho.

That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,

.

Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.

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