When first released for the Sega Mark III (the original, Japanese version of the Sega Master System) in 1988, it was published under the title ファイナルバブルボブル, or "Final Bubble Bobble" with the intention of being the definitive release of the game. Final Bubble Bobble was released in Europe in 1992 as simply "Bubble Bobble". It was also released in South America under the title "Dragon Maze" in 1994. However, this particular conversion of the game was never released in North America.
It was graphically superior to the NES conversion of the game, retaining most if not all of the colors present in the arcade. The level design remained largely faithful to the original arcade version. Like the NES conversion, it features passwords, although they were slightly more complex and incompatible with the NES game. A cursory evaluation of the game might lead one to conclude that it is a straight port. However, Final Bubble Bobble contained a number of enhancements to the gameplay which made it more than just a straight port. These changes include:
- More secret rooms: New secret rooms were included where players could amass large amounts of bonus points, and items which you must collect which are required to achieve the best ending.
- New items: As mentioned above, some items must be found to advance further in the game and get a better ending. These items were typically hidden behind secret doors which would only appear under particular conditions. In additions to those items, new special items could also be collected.
- Peacock feather: Collecting a green peacock feather summons a fairy that circles around you. Any enemy struck by the fairy is instantly killed and turned into a diamond. The fairy will appear for three stages, but she is removed from a stage once you collect a special item.
- Blue book: Touching the blue book causes enemies on the screen to literally freeze inside ice cubes. The cubes can then be collected for 10,000 points each. You must still carefully dodge the enemies while the snowflakes spiral around the screen.
- Blue crystal chalice: When you grab this item, a black hole appears and absorbs all of the enemies on the screen. While this is a very fast an effective method to clear a stage, you receive no bonus points for it.
- Mid-boss fights: In addition to the battle with the large version of Super Drunk at level 100 (and again at 200), there are two additional fights with larger-than-normal versions of cartain enemies which take the place of the stage that was present in the arcade version.
- No Super mode: In this version, the levels are considered one continuous collection of 200 levels. The last 100 levels are only accessible if certain items are collected before the first fight with the final boss. Unlike the original, these last 100 levels are not considered "Super Bubble Bobble," although some levels swap enemies around with counterparts. While some of the levels resemble their previous versions, many new level designs are introduced, some of which appeared in the NES version as well.
- Hints: This feature was removed from any version released outside of Japan. Due to the obscure method to reveal some of the doors, hints were provided on the Game Over screen in order to give players some clue about doors they may have been unaware of. There were never translated from the original Japanese text, and secret codes which show all of the hints were not removed, but serve no purpose in non-Japanese releases.
- New endings: The endings in this version of the game are slightly more cinematic, and involve more speaking between characters. Additionally, you do not need to complete the game in a two player mode to receive the best ending. All that is necessary is that you collect the correct key items from the hidden doors found throughout the game.
In the fight against giant-sized Mighta, you must hop to the very top of the pillar of blocks and collect the red cross. This will give you fire breath. Then you must dodge Mighta and the twin boulders that he tosses up in either direction while spitting fireballs at him. Do not attempt to spit the fireballs at him from the ground; stand on one of the blocks instead. Don't worry about running out of fireballs, a new red cross will appear at the top whenever you run out. After hitting him enough times, he will flash, and eventually bubble up. Pop the bubble to defeat him. Expect the same treatment in Round 148, only with more frequent boulder tossing.
This fight is considerably more difficult than the mini-boss fight against the Mighta. A large Hidegons will bounce back and forth along the floor of the room. On every other bounce, he releases 5 fireballs in different directions. Two of them will always sweep the floor, making the floor a very dangerous place to occupy. There are two statue heads near the top of the stage. When you collect one, you will receive an assortment of power-ups, including the ability to shoot lightning bubbles, which you must use to attack the Hidegons. The most effective means of attacking him is to leap from the top platform where you collected the statue, fall down against the wall, and blow several bubbles. They will pop immediately and send lightning his way. However, once you reach the bottom, you must very carefully get out of his way, and the way of the fireballs that he releases. You should always attempt to leap over a low fireball, and cross beneath him so you can set up for the next series of attacks against him.
Hidden door guide
In addition to receiving a 10,000 point crown just for starting the game off, if you leave the three Zen-Chans alone for the entire stage without trapping them in any bubbles, and allow the Skel-Monster to appear, a warp door will appear on the top platform. It will take you to a food bonus room containing six chests. Jump in front of each chest to open them and reveal the contents inside.
To make a door appear in the tenth stage, simply defeat all of the enemies and clear the level. A door will appear in the upper right corner. When you pass through it, you will arrive in the room containing the red crystal ball, one of the three items required to advance to the later 100 stages in the game.
A warp door will appear in round 20 if you pop a water bubble and ride the resulting water down through the bottom of the stage and reappear at the top. This door may appear in the midst of some enemies so approach it carefully. Inside is a gem room loaded with 10,000 point gems. The sign in the background points to a secret code which can be entered at the main menu.
The food bonus item appears near the top of this stage. If you can climb up to the top and collect it, a warp door will appear. Touch it to enter another food bonus room.
In order to make a warp door appear in Round 30, you must successfully defeat all five of the Banebous using nothing but Lightning Bubbles. (The two Pulpuls can be defeated by any method.) If you do, a warp door will appear near the top, leading you to another gem room which contains a secret code.
The trick to making the warp door appear in round 40, is to remain motionless until it appears. You will be safe in the small nook that you start from. Don't move around until the door can be seen. The door will take you to a gem room which contains another secret code.
If you manage to survive stage 46 without losing a life (not an easy task), you will be treated to a warp door in stage 47 which will transport you to a food bonus room.
The "secret" door in room 50 will simply appear right from the very beginning of the stage. Hop inside to find the second required item to reach the later 100 stages: the blue crystal ball.
In order to make a warp door appear in round 60, you must jump up along the left side of the stage. When you reach the approximate position indicated in the screenshot to the left, the door will appear. Jump up above the Invader enemies and follow behind them to reach the door. It will take you to a gem room with a secret code.
The condition to make a warp door appear in round 70 is to reach the area with all the Mightas, and bubble all seven of them up at one time. You won't have to worry about them popping and escaping very quickly, so once you reach their level, it should be easy. Feel free to pop them all for easy points once the door appears, which will take you to a gem room with a secret code.
By now, you know that you should expect something special to happen on every tenth stage. Stage 90 is no different. In order to make a warp door appear, you'll need to climb to the top right where the food item appears. You don't need to get the food but standing in that spot will summon the warp door which leads to the green crystal ball: the final item needed to reach the later 100 stages.
Unlike in round 90, you may not expect to find a warp door in this stage. However, if you manage to jump inside the upper left corner of the J, a warp door will appear below. To get out of the J, you must jump up and into the wall, which will cause you to fall down through it. Then approach the door, and you will be granted access to a gem room with a secret code.
In the round before the fight with Super Drunk, the final boss, you can find a secret door by defeating all of the enemies. This can be tricky given the strange arrangement of the stage. You will be forced to take advantage of the ability to fall through the stage by jumping through various walls. Once every enemy is defeated, the door will appear, and you will have a limited amount of time to reach it. It will take you to a gem room with a special and unusually long secret code.
If you survived the fight against Super Drunk after having managed to collect all three colored crystal balls, you will be permitted to take on the later 100 stages. You may be surprised to find a door suddenly appear when you reach stage 105. This is your clue to the fact that important doors no longer appear in stages ending in 0, but stages which end in 5. Use the door to enjoy a food bonus room, and keep your eyes open when you reach stage 115.
An incredibly important secret door to find, it is equally incredibly hard to reveal. In this challenging stage with seven Hidegons racing about, you must avoid killing any of them until the "Hurry Up!" sign appears. The best way to accomplish this is to bubble jump to the platform immediately above your starting position. This will give you a safe haven to wait out the doors appearance. It will appear on the opposite side of the screen, so you'll have to carefully make your way to it. Inside is the Magic Key, an item vital to making subsequent hidden doors appear!
If you managed to collect the Magic Key from the previous hidden door, than the hardest part is complete. As soon as you arrive in this stage with the Magic Key, a door will appear in the middle of the "pan". Jump inside to find yet another gem room with a secret code.
Once again, if you've already picked up the Magic Key, the door will immediately appear in this round. Reaching it, however, will be a bit tricky. A series of Hidegons guard the upper section, and they won't stay in bubbles for long. Try to clear them out of the way with the descending water bubbles before approaching the door. Inside, you will find the Red Mirror, one of the three items crucial for receiving the best ending.
This is the very last door where simple possession of the Magic Key is enough to make the door appear. It will show up right away on the right side of the screen. Enter it and you will be taken to a gem room containing a rather useful secret code.
To open up future hidden doors, you're going to need something more illuminating. That's where the hidden door of stage 145 comes in. In order to reveal it, you must manage to kill all seven Drunks with nothing more than the flame bubbles. It's actually easier than it sounds, as they tend to congregate on the floor to begin with. Once the last enemy is burned, the door will appear. Jump inside to locate the Magic Candle.
It is theorized that if you manage to collect the Magic Candle, as well as survive stage 146 without losing a life, a warp door will appear in stage 147 which will transport you to a food bonus room. However, the actual mechanism to make the door appear is unknown.
The method for entering the secret room found in stage 155 may surprise you. This stage will present a blue crystal chalice as the special item of this stage regardless of what item you've earned. Be sure to collect it. As the black hole which appears begins to suck the enemies in, jump into it yourself. The black hole is the door in this stage. It will take you to the location of the Blue Mirror.
Of all the methods to make hidden doors appear, this one can be the most obscure. The trick to making the door appear is to "wander" around the stage. Whether that means you need to walk to particular locations, or simply walk a long enough distance is debatable, but it will take a considerably long amount of time before the door will appear. You can remove enemies in your way if you need to, but don't defeat the last enemy before you manage to make the door appear. Inside is a gem room with a secret code.
Just as you had to do for stage 70, the trick to making the door appear in this stage is to bubble up all of the enemies. The enemies can't instantly pop the bubbles, but they can escape somewhat quickly, so you'll have to move fast. Watch out for the projectiles they throw back at you. Once you succeed in bubbling up all of the enemies, the door will appear. You'll need to bubble jump to reach it so you can access a gem room with a secret code.
Similar to the door in stage 147, the precise means of making this warp door reveal itself are not entirely known. It may be sufficient to have the Magic Candle in your possession. If you access the door, you will find, as usual, a gem room containing a secret code.
You're getting closer to the end of your journey. The method to make hidden doors appear will become slightly tougher. This one is no easy task. You must bubble up at least 5 enemies and pop them simultaneously. You can do this fairly quickly if you bubble all the Hidegons and ignore the Monstas. Once you pop the entire group, the door will appear at the very top. Carefully make your way up the left side of the Dino image, and hop inside for another gem room and a secret code.
While not the final secret door of the entire game, it is a rather important and significant one to obtain. In order to make a door appear in this stage, you, or you and a partner, must have accumulated a (combined) score of over one million points. If you can make this claim, the door will instantly reveal itself to you. Popping inside will reveal to you the third and final object needed for the very best ending of the game, the Green Mirror.
In an identical fashion to stage 99, you can make a door appear in this stage if you accomplish the difficult task of clearing the entire stage of enemies. If you succeed, a door will appear on the right side of the screen. Make sure you're in position to reach it before you are swept away to the next stage. If you make it inside, you will find the very last gem room, along with another unusually long secret code. Unfortunately, this code does nothing in non-Japanese versions of the game.