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Bubble Bath Babes (NES) artwork

Bubble Bath Babes (NES) review

"That describes Bubble Bath Babes: yet another dull puzzle game fused together with yet another unsexy piece of gaming erotica. If I can say anything positive, it's that Babes is not complete dreck like the porn games on Atari 2600 or Commodore 64. Really, though, that's much of a compliment."

Bubble Bath Babes asset
Some days it's difficult to pretend you're not just trying to pay off your college loan.

Aside from dating sims, developers could never get the naked equation right. Most nudie developers focused so much on animated flesh that they forgot to include substance. It seemed the best that most of them could hope for was mediocrity, and in that sense games like Bubble Bath Babes sat at the head of the class. Never mind that the class average was something like 0.9 and Babes was scoring a 2.0, it was still a champion in its own mind!


We enter a familiar vertical arena seen in just about any NES puzzle game. At the bottom of our puzzle silo sits the maiden fair, 8-bit tits exposed for your viewing (dis)pleasure. Bubbles from her bath rise into the air in sets of four, and it's you who has to pry your eyes away from her chest long enough to be able to sort them out. Thankfully, both are easy tasks. Some pieces, like the Y-shaped piece, are easy to deal with. Others, like rhombi and J-shaped pieces, can be problematic and difficult to place if they aren't useful to you. Even if they are, getting them in the proper position--fitting in your current game without creating more colorless bubbles--is frustrating.

By connecting any four bubbles of the same color on the screen, you "pop" the bubbles and make room for more. Colorless bubbles fill the spaces between the ceiling and any bubbles sticking out. You can also flip your current set horizontally or vertically, and therein lies the first issue. Flipping can become confusing, especially if you want to get the set pointed a certain way with a certain color in just the right position. It's easy to waste time flipping incessantly to get just the right position, thereby accidentally placing a shape on the field awkwardly. If you think back to what made games like Tetris and Dr. Mario a blast, it's that they played with such ease and grace that they were fast and addictive titles. Controls in both games were intuitive, and there wasn't much time wasted flipping a pill or a block to get it just the right way.

Those of us who make a lot of mistakes can rely on the special flashing bubbles or "magic." The former will make any bubbles in its vicinity the same color, possibly popping several for you. This can sometimes be damning, though. In one case where I had a huge patch of blue bubbles, but the flashing bubble two of its neighbors yellow, destroying my match. Magic, on the other hand, is usually helpful. Now and then the game will toss special bubbles at you with different letters that make up the word "magic." By popping these bubbles as they appear, you gain letters. Complete the word and you get a special "bomb" that will clear out all of the empty bubbles when triggered. The rest will rise and fill in the spaces, potentially popping many more. As a final touch, all of the bubbles on the screen will change color and possibly eliminate more.

Bubble Bath Babes assetBubble Bath Babes asset

Getting through Babes, despite the initial awkwardness, is not tough. With mildly competent puzzle game skills, you can blast through the first three to four stages easily. Eventually, the game picks up its pace and tosses bubbles at you faster than you can arrange them. Or so it thinks! Two little factors demean the game's challenge: 1) you can pause and survey the screen before making a move, and 2) a group cannot move upward while moving horizontally. The best way to survive the more ridiculous stages is to move back and forth across the screen, giving you more time to think before positioning. It's also easy to accumulate magics and have several by level 1-5, so screwing severely in later stages doesn't pose much of a threat.

Pop 200+ bubbles and it's on to the next stage. For every two levels that you complete, you're treated with/tormented by the image of a loose woman in a provocative pose. While this sort of thing is meant to be boner-inducing, it's actually about as attractive as Wilford Brimley. Advance far enough and you can see one of these pixel queens in the buff.

...or you can Google the word "topless" and save yourself some time. Just remember to change your Google settings to allow adult images. #protip

Think about it: this is the main attraction of the game. It certainly isn't challenge factor or slick mechanics. Nudity in games may have meant something ages ago because nudity was not as ubiquitous as it is today. Now that we have the technology to see naked bodies whenever we want, special adult games aren't necessary. That means we have no other choice but to [gulp] grade this game based on the actual play mechanics and entertainment factor. Oops.

Bubble Bath Babes screenshot

If you've played this game casually, you might have noticed that stages are numbered 1-1, 1-2, etc. This seems like a promise that things might get better if you keep playing. So you endure 1-4 and 1-5, and begin to think that there is no 2-1. After overcoming the only true challenge that is 1-6, you catch a glimpse of a pair of breasts, then 2-1 finally begins! You rub your hands together in pervy jubilation and puzzle-addicted glee and think that things can only go up from here (heh heh). Yet something is amiss. You see the same naked girl at the bottom of the screen, play with the same speed and mechanics as 1-1, and realize that 2-1 an exact replica of 1-1. The only thing that changes are the poorly-rendered girls that appear between pairs of levels, and they never become any more attractive.

Cue disappointment on two fronts.

You could forsake the tedious Type A and play Type B, but that's not at all preferable. Type B gives you a random structure of bubbles with a lettered bubble imprisoned within them, with popping said lettered bubble as your objective. All you have to do is be lucky enough to have the right sequence of colors and shapes appear at the right times. Since the shapes are mostly awkward, bubbles tend to build up quickly. Even a slight disadvantage like the one presented in Mode B can be crippling. You don't get the magic ability here, so you're pretty much up the proverbial creek if you screw up too often.

Worst case scenario, the game will toss out an odd shape that doesn't fit comfortably anywhere, built of colors that are of no use to your cause. You'll have to pile it somewhere away from the letter and hope that no more useless shapes appear. Sad thing is these useless shapes build up quickly. If you get a lot of them in a row, you could easily fail--and by no fault of your own! Then again, you could get a spree of all form-fitting shapes with all of the colors you need and wipe out that letter in a matter of seconds, and thereby succeed by no fault of your own.

Most of us know what to expect from a nudie game. If it isn't a dating sim or Leisure Suit Larry, we don't expect much. Most of the time it's a painfully generic title developed around poorly-rendered boobs. That describes Bubble Bath Babes: yet another dull puzzle game fused together with yet another unsexy piece of gaming erotica. If I can say anything positive, it's that Babes is not complete dreck like the porn games on Atari 2600 or Commodore 64. Really, though, that's much of a compliment.

On a side note, there is a clean version of Bubble Bath Babes called Mermaids of Atlantis. Unlike its counterpart, Mermaids was aimed at younger audiences. Why you would willfully subject any child to such tedium is beyond me.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (June 08, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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