My siblings and I used to play this cute little game on the NES. My parents highly disapproved of the violent Double Dragon that we received for Christmas, and so my brother and I ended up trading that game with our neighborhood friend for the more innocuous Bubble Bobble. What parent could get mad at watching squat dinosaurs (er..wikipedia says dragons) blow and pop bubbles to dispatch evil robot enemies?
The game was memorable for a few reasons. The famous Bubble Bobble music that plays as you jump around popping bobbles. The number of levels (99 was an insane number to playthrough as a kid). Oh, and that big scary boss that, even when you beat it, gave you a SAD ENDING? First time we beat the game, and saw that we needed to try for a happy ending, we were so mad. Eventually, my sister and I figured out that we needed to save one life and then hit start -> select -> start to add the second player into game as soon as the big boss was surrounded. That netted us the Happy Ending! There was even a “true ending” that was referenced in the credits, but we never played through the game a second time to get it.
After finishing my City Corner Lullaby arrangement, I went looking for another video game piece to arrange. I didn’t think I wanted to tackle any of the music in Bubble Bobble until I hearkened back to that very first “sad ending” experience (geez, I must have been pretty traumatized). The music that played over the credit was catchy, but I distinctly remember thinking that the prettiness of the melody was masked by the limitations of the NES’ sound capabilities and that annoying drone like bass. After previewing the original source material on Youtube, I decided to see if I couldn’t come up with a remix to do the music justice. I truly believe that video games should have a good payoff with memorable end game music.
This piece has ambient, new age, and dance influences. One of the major changes I’ve introduced is an extended “chorus section.” The original piece of music had a chorus section that seemed to end a bit abruptly. To remedy that, I use a deceptive cadence (i.e. V -> VI) in order to extend the passage for a few more measures. I think this makes the melody flow better. I also organized the music in a pop-friendly format: intro, verse, verse, chorus, interlude, verse, chorus, outro.
I really enjoyed playing with different patches within my soft synths (Omnisphere and Stylus) to recreate that Bubble Bobble experience. There’s crystal like sounds as well a waterdrop arpeggio during the interlude. The end product is a little bit of cheer-you-up new age/dance, my very own take on what a happy ending should be. I hope you enjoy.