NET YAROZE - spiritual predecessor of XBLIG - Part 1: Super Bub Contest

Developing games for XBLIG is relatively easy, assuming you have some knowledge of C# and some basic artistic skills (on second thought, the latter is not really a requirement as you can use avatars or zombies), because you can utilize a regular retail Xbox 360 console instead of purchasing an expensive development kit. Back in the old days, in a time nowadays referred to as the 90ies, it was much harder to see your own game come to life on a video game console. But there was a way, and it was called Net Yaroze, a special slimmed-down PlayStation 1 dev kit for hobby programmers. Net Yaroze games could be found on cover discs of the Official PlayStation Magazine and featured some competent remakes of classics such as Pac-Man or Boulder Dash.



My absolute favorite Net Yaroze title was featured on a demo disc back in 1998 and is called Super Bub Contest, a mix between Puzzle Bobble and Dr. Mario, featuring Tetris-like gameplay on a screen divided into two playfields.
The game is always played against an opponent, either an AI controlled fellow or a second player, which is way more fun. After picking a character from a funny cast of creatures such as a pig, a toad or a ghost, your character is in charge of one of the playfields. You can move the character horizontally on the bottom of your playing area and throw pairs of colored bubbles to the top of your playfield, where they will stack and build up piles. (If you were a pig called Bobo, you wouldn't care about gravity, either!) In true Tetris-style, the bubble pairs can be rotated before you throw them, but arranging horizontal lines will not make them disappear from your playfield. Instead, you need to place whirls next to same-colored bubbles that are connected with each other horizontally or vertically, to make all connected bubbles vanish.


This is as simple as it sounds, but the key to winning a match is not to have as few bubbles as possible on your playfield, but to arrange many bubbles and whirls in a way that enables a chain reaction upon eradication of one color. Busting a bubble with a whirl always makes bubbles or whirls on top drop to a lower position. (It's actually the other way around as we're dealing with a topsy-turvy playfield.) If you bust a bubble with a whirl on top, and the whirl drops to a position where it destroys another bubble, you've managed a chain. Everytime you create a chain you will also fill up the spill meter, the longer the chain and the more bubbles you bust in the process, the higher the spill will be. And the fun part about spill is that it will pop up as new randomly colored bubbles on your opponent's playfield, possibly ruining the chain he is working on. If you generate a lot of spill, your opponent's pile of bubbles will eventually reach a height he can't reduce anymore, and should only one bubble cross a certain line above the character, he loses the round.

Make sure you switch audio on when watching the video as Super Bub features an awesome interactive techno track that will strain your nerves with a pressing acid tune whenever your bubbles threaten to overflow. Sound effects are pretty funny, too.


Super Bub is incredibly addictive and an absolute blast in two player mode. You are constantly trying to build up a huge chain to fill up your opponent's half of the screen with bubbles, at the same time running the risk of overflowing your own side of the screen. If you like this type of puzzle game and you have any chance of getting your hands on an OPM disc featuring this title and a PS1 - play it! Dear XNA devs, I would really, really appreciate an XBLIG version of this game... pretty please?

Similar games on XBLIG

At least, there are some titles on XBLIG that are similar in that they share the same basic concept but have a whole different gameplay nonetheless. One of these games worth checking out is kukaku, not as charming in presentation as Super Bub, but still a very solid puzzler. The goal is to shrink the opponent's playfield by combining three or more squares of the same color. The game costs only 80 MSP and is well worth the points.


Reminiscient of Tetris Attack, my favorite puzzle game on XBLIG by far is Kaotik Puzzle by Silvermax. It's a very polished title in which players have the choice of six different "characters", each with his own cursor that will change the way you play significantly. Colored blocks keep rising constantly and you may not let them reach the top of your playfield. You can destroy blocks by arranging same-colored blocks according to the pattern defined by the cursor you chose. For 240 MSP, this top notch game is a must have for fans of the genre.


When talking about my favorite XBLIG puzzlers, I must also mention Arkedo's SWAP!, although it doesn't feature a versus gameplay like the titles above. The degree of polish in any Arkedo title is amazing, and SWAP!, their second of three titles so far, doesn't fail to impress either. Gameplay is very similar to Kaotik Puzzle, but you have only one cursor that is controlled by a twin-stick control scheme, which is novel for the genre and works pretty well. At 240 MSP, you can't go wrong with this game if you're into puzzlers.


If you have any recommendations on XBLIG puzzle games in the vein of Super Bub Contest, please let me know and leave a comment. Also, look out for Part II of my special on NET YAROZE games covering another PS1 indie classic, coming soon!

3 comments:

  1. super bub was the sh!t. nice blog, skaipio.
    keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was searching for a will the name of this great game : Super Bub Contest. Thank you for all the details about it !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Great that my article was of help to you and that you enjoyed it!

      I hope that I will soon find the time to reboot and continue my blog and write further articles on NET YAROZE games.

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