Dave Clarke, never heard of him you say ? Fair call, as Impossabubble, for the ZX Spectrum, was Dave’s very first 8-bit game released in 2018. To my surprise, for a first time game creation, it’s a real cracking job. It was developed using 8-Bit coding tool – Arcade Game Designer (AGD).
PLOT & GAMEPLAY
Obviously you are playing the game as a bubble, as for the why, for a change it’s not some evil witch or warlord that puts a curse on you. It’s because you have averted a worldwide crisis of bubble-mix formula being used to create levitating assassins, trust me you don’t want to run into one of those gravity defying villains. In your attempts to save the day, you’ve been transmogrified into a giant bouncing bubble – ah life just never is easy for saving the world is it. Not only have you become a bubble, 21 of your best buddies are no longer human in form either, instead they have been reduced to bottles of frothing, foamy bubble mixture! Your job is to search the 28 rooms looking for the blue and green objects with what look like antenna coming out the top of them, which in reality are your friends who have been transformed into a bubbling existence.
Impossabubble keeps it simple where it matters – gameplay. Bouncing the bubble around the screen is done so by moving left and right on selected keys or by using the joystick, pressing the fire button will make the bubble bounce higher so you can reach higher platforms, or bounce onto lifts or so you can avoid any of the creepy crawly insects moving about the screens. While you can move higher you can also drop down from platform to platform on each screen to get to the other side of a room or drop down an opening to the next room.
Top left blue thingy with antenna is one of your foaming friends you need to collect them.
That’s pretty much the game in a nutshell – bounce around screens, navigate the rooms and collect the frothy bubbling mixture – who are your friends. No two rooms are the same though and the path to collect your friends is not all one way, that would be too easy. In some parts of the game to move forwards / be able to reach another room and locate your friends, you must backtrack. Littered throughout are giant fans that will make your bubble float much, much higher, while in other rooms travelling up a waterfall will allow you to complete your task of saving your friends, either in that room or another.
There are hazards in the form of green spiders, blue ants and blue spears travelling across sections of each room doing their thing in always the same manner, either up or down or left and right, they have limited AI. Rooms become harder when they are filled with multiple layers of spikes making crossing a room more difficult. It’s all about how well you time your bubble’s movement, with care the game is not overly difficult. Five lives for the better players will be enough to see you out to complete the game. Although the game is simple, there is enough there for you to be challenged and there is also a transporter tunnel you can enter to travel faster to other rooms which is a really wonderful feature of the game and its gameplay.
WHAT I LIKED
128K version displays some lovely looking presented graphics and sprites. Colour selection used gives this game coolness. The same dark blue for the platforms works wonderfully well while you are bubbling along on your ‘save your friends’ adventure. Each room has a consistent design theme, the orange room border and the colours of hazards and insects are perfectly matched. Your bubble colour and animation as it bounces along the room couldn’t be depicted better, animation of the bubble pressing against the blocks of each room gives your bubble realism. Fiery torches in some rooms give the game added atmosphere. Tunes by David Saphier are just fantastic, a real standout of the game, it really does make this simple game even more fun and enjoyable, sadly this can only be heard on the 128k version, on the 48k version you can only hear spot effects. Movement around the screen was fluid with no problems with controls. The warp tunnel at the end of the game was fun, a very cool way to end the game.
Your bubble bouncing along on a floating platform next to a running waterfall. Another of your foaming friends trapped beneath a blue platform bottom right. Look up there’s a transporter tube in the ceiling.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Transitioning between screens was not always accurate. There appeared a bug in one screen as when you entered it you would always die and it was rather frustrating to say the least. Other screens seems to be out of whack when you fell through them, the timing just seemed a little off. Perhaps the game was just a bit too easy, requiring more of a difficulty factor? Maybe the creatures needed better AI to give you that challenge? Remember how frustrating the laser jump sequences in such 1980’s classics like Bruce Lee and Mission Impossible gave the game much staying power, Impossabubble perhaps could of done with something along those lines in one or two of the rooms, to give it a bit of unpredictability, enhancing the gaming experience. The sprite of your foaming friends was probably too dark when it was shown in blue, the green worked fine and probably should have been used throughout the whole game.
This time one of your foaming friends is green in colour. Watch out for the traveling spears or you’ll lose a life.
Regardless of the negatives, what i found out about Impossabubble is that it ticks all those nostalgic 8-bit gaming boxes, you know the ones you grew up with when you brought home a new budget game to play with. Who could not forget the 1.99 budget price tag from games of the 1980’s by Mastertronic, Codemasters and others? They were the mainstay of school kids forking out their pocket money for a bit of cool new release gaming. When you play Impossabubble you will think at 1.49 per download, that it is real value for money. I recall many games of the 1.99 budget range being awful, Impossabubble is not, its not even close. It really is a cool platform game, that surprises you in many ways, with its charming graphics, wonderful music and ease of game play.
8-Bit gaming in 2018 saw some really big name releases, in particular on the C64, that’s great and all that, but one of the best things about the 1980’s was discovering hidden gems because of their ability to have addictive fun qualities. Impossabubble is just that, one game that has little fanfare or hype. It is one game you shouldn’t pass up playing. Impossabubble is not impossible by any means, it’s quite possible and very probable that you will greatly enjoy playing Impossabuble.
STAYING POWER 82%
Code and Graphics by: Dave Clarke.
Music by: David Saphier
48K and 128K versions available.
1.49 price tag.
Download here: https://retrobeachman.itch.io/impossabubble
from your own site.