Sometimes a little plastic can be a dangerous thing. I don’t know how much I spent yesterday but it must have been around the £100 mark – three blu-rays (Back to the Future Trilogy, Robocop Trilogy & V for Vendetta), Selfridges Pick n Mix, David’s birthday gift, an online subscription and a book (the original Adrian Mole on iBooks). Whilst normally I have some sort of anxiety/panic attack over spending money in larger quantities involving much dithering, picking up and replacing of articles, yesterday it was all business.

I didn’t get home until near enough 9pm, not least as I was still at work until 6.50pm finishing off a few odds and sods and still underwent my walk. One of the best things about living in London is the constant late night shopping potential as Selfridges and the other major stores on Oxford Street remain open until 9pm. That way you are not forced to do battle with retailers and other shoppers at the weekends when the street gets ultra-rammed.

Ate an M&S avocado sandwich (it was yellow stickered) and only had half of my dinner – thanks to my earlier weakness before an evening of the interweb and then a sneaky Civ III Conquest game – the first one playing as Egypt winning a Wonder Victory. That one and the Mesoamerican one are the easiest conquests and the “Middle Ages” scenario is reasonably facile but the rest of them are more of a challenge. I never did finish off the Rise of Rome and almost beat the Fall of Rome scenario but kept losing a major Victory Point city to Constantinople who ultimately won the scenario…damn those Byzantines.

We were talking Bubble Bobble at work yesterday and how it’s still a very playable and very addictive game. To date, I’ve played it on the Commodore 64, Game Boy, Sega Master System, NES, Playstation, Amiga 600, PC, DS and at the arcade. Most of them have slight variances from each other but the premise remains the same. Bub n Bob have been turned into bubble blowing dragons and have to rescue their girlfriends from the bottom of the Cave of Monsters. They blow bubbles to capture monsters and then burst them to kill them and progress. Everything else is variable. It’s hard to calculate how many hours I’ve lost to this game over the years – probably in excess of a thousand and my best record in one life was to get to level 74. Never have completed the game in one continue but there we go (which unlocks the true ending).

It’s difficult to pin down what it is that makes this game so enduring. It’s cute, certainly and it’s very easy to pick up. There are a fair few features to the game giving a little variety and the randomiser which makes different items pop up every time you play it turns the game into a bespoke experience though there are often certain items offered on certain levels almost 100% of the time. The tune is catchy (and can be irritating) but when you’re urged to “Hurry Up”, the tempo picks up adding to the frantic pace.

I’ll leave the sequels until some other date as there’s a tonne I can write about them. Bubble Bobble was the quintessential 8-Bit game, just as Rainbow Islands was the quintessential 16-Bit game. Taito managed to conceive the ultimate in Japanese Kitsch but it doesn’t seem to be so obviously Japanese which perhaps sold it more to Western Audiences. Perhaps crucially to 8-Bit computer owners, it loaded up all in one go, there was no multiloading with this game which was a hallmark of the other major games of the 1980s. It helped shift millions upon millions of copies and still retains a strong fan base amongst the video game faithful.

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