An Interview with Lonnie Johnson
Bubble Bobble video game champion,
by Paul Dean
Thank you Lonnie for allowing me to ask you some questions about an
interesting classic from way back in 1986, Bubble Bobble and your world
record score done on April 12, 2012.
The protagonists on this game in the two player game are two dinosaurs, Bub
and Bob. You try to complete all 100 levels and rescue your girlfriends
by trapping monsters in bubbles and bursting them. Heaps of power-ups
and hidden features.
Players maneuver their dinosaurs and attempt to encase all the enemies in
bubbles and then pop them, rewarding the players with fruit and other bonuses
for added points.
Bubble Bobble is an arcade game by Taito, first released in1986 and later
ported to numerous home computers and game consoles.
Basic Game Play:
In the game, each player controls one of the two Bubble Dragons, Bub and
Bob (a.k.a. Bubby andBobby). The player can move along platforms, as well
as jump to those above andto the side, similar to most platform games.
The player canalso blow bubbles. These can trap enemies, who are defeated
if the bubble isthen burst by the player's spiny back. Bubbles that contain
enemies can bepopped at the same time resulting in different foods being
projected throughoutthe level. Each enemy trapped in a bubble equates to
a different food. Food isconsumed and transferred to points (an increasing
scale of 1000 points isawarded for each enemy burst in tandem with another
meaning: one enemy burstequals one food item worth 1000 points, two enemies
burst equals two food itemsworth 1000 and 2000 points, three enemies burst
equals three food items worth1000, 2000, and 4000 points, and so on) which
results in more lives. These samebubbles also float for a time before bursting
and can be jumped on, allowingaccess to otherwise inaccessible areas. Players
progress to the next level onceall enemies on the current level are defeated.
Enemies turn"angry" - becoming pink-colored and moving faster - if they are the
last enemy remaining, escape from a bubble after being left too long, or acertain
amount of time has been spent on the current level. A monster will alsobecome
angry if either player collects a skull (the only negative item in thegame),
and the monster is hit by the resulting comet crossing the screen.However,
this is a rare occurrence.
Bubble Bobble Meet BUB and BOB our bantam-weight brontosaures who are bent on
battling big bullies by blowing and bursting bubbles. Before battling these
brazen bullies, beware that bubble blowing is better than blasting bullies
with bazookas, or better than bouncing bombs from biplanes, and even beats
boxing these brainless barbarians. So now that we briefly belayed the Bub
and Bob biographies, begin by browsing the play instructions below and becoming
the best BUBBLE BOBBLE bubble blower on the block. Premise: First blow
bubbles at the baddies, then Pop the baddie bubbles with your horns or tail
spikes(fins) then collect the bonus HOW TO DESTROY:
1) Blow bubbles 2) Box up Bullies, then 3) Burst Them!!! By bursting bubbles
containing fire, thunder, and water that appeared in the previous stage, you can
quickly destroy the bullies. Fire, Thunder and Water flow in the direction which
you stretch yourself. You can even bounce on the bubbles (by keeping the joystick
pushed up)!!! SCORINGA. Burst the Bubbles for the following points:
Plain bubble 10
Fire bubble 100
Thunder bubble 100
Water bubble 100
Bubble with baddie inside 500
B. Bonuses for destroying Bullies!!!
C. TIMING TARGETS: Clearing a stage quickly allows
for high-point targets in the next stage.
Treasure Chest 8000
Fancy Crown 10000
D. MAGIC TARGETS: Magic Targets mysteriously
appear! Destroy them and power up!
Sweet BUBBLE UP!
Shoe SPEED UP!
Ring 1 UP!?
It's best to destroy several enemies at the same time.
Can you reach the "True ending" by clearing all 100 stages?
A "Sudden Reversal" awaits you there. EXTENDGet all the
letters. They appear when destroying several enemies at the
ENEMIES Benzo Bonnie-bo Boa-boa Blubba Boris
Bonner Baron von Blubba - if you take too much time, you are no
match for him! Get all the letters EXTEND they appear when destroying
several enemies at the same time. Licensed from Taito Corp. 1987
The Hit Squad
By popping bubbles fire, lightning and water you may use these things to destroy
baddies. To gain height you may jump on bubbles evenour own, to get special powers
collect charms, hearts cross, etc
From Twin Galaxies Leaderboard: Bubble Bobble Coin-Op http://www.twingalaxies.com/
Points Player Date Verified
1 6,060,730 Olly J Cotton 2/23/2011
2 5,823,600 Tom Gault 3/4/1988
3 4,793,200 Keith Bradley 2/27/1987
4 3,827,820 Dino G Duet 5/14/2002
5 3,271,490 Clint Shuster 2/14/1987
Lonnie Johnson Jr. Bubble Bobble Information & Questions/Answers for Paul Dean
Greetings, my name is Lonnie Johnson from Portland, Oregon. I am happy to share
what I know from mastering the classic arcade game, "Bubble Bobble" from Taito.
Inc. This fun & Challenging game was created by Taito Inc. in 1986. It was added
to many arcades and 7-11 locations and I discovered it at a Portland area arcade
shortly after its initial release. I was 11 years old then and was instantly hooked
on learning & playing Bubble Bobble.
My parents were Baby Boomers and I was born in 1974, so I missed the initial
1980's birth of the arcade era. My Dad introduced me to video games and I was
excited to spend Quarters that I earned doing chores. I actually started my own
business washing cars and mowing yards so I could play more games.
Bubble Bobble wasn't the only game I played but most of my Quarters went to learn
Bubble Bobble. The game was pretty popular here in Portland, Oregon and many times
I had to wait in line to play. I quickly learned that I had to place a quarter on
the machine to say, "Hey, I'm next on this machine". When I first played Bubble
Bobble I could only reach level 10. After weekends of practice I could get a few
more level's higher than before. I was always improving and trying different
strategies, then some other kid offered to sell me the "Power-Up" code. I paid
him $20.00 dollars to show me how it worked. I was able to get much further with
this code since it gives you the Rapid-Fire Candy & Speed Shoe for the whole game.
Other games I enjoyed playing then were classics like Pac-Man, Mario Bros., Super
Mario Bros, Dig Dug, Galaga, Asteroids, Battle Zone, Space Harrier and Space Invaders
which is another Taito Inc. game. Bubble Bobble is a very unique game and it teaches
you to use hand-eye coordination and quick reflex skills. I found that playing these
games helped me with solving problems and sharpening my brain power.
The music of Bubble Bobble is hypnotic and it is like being at a Techno Rave. It
was easy to get into the "Zone", once I became better at playing Bubble Bobble. I
also found it to be a way to temporarily escape problems while growing-up. When a
bully would bug me at school I would ask, "Hey, what level of Bubble Bobble can you
get to?" I even avoided some after school fights by challenging other kids to play
against me; It sure beat the pain of a fist fight/wrestling match.
I was about 11 years old when I found Bubble Bobble at a local arcade in N.E. Portland,
Oregon. My Dad would take me to the arcade almost every weekend, either Friday or
Saturday evenings. Before I discovered Bubble Bobble I loved to play Pac-Man, Asteroids,
Battle Zone, Galaga, Dig Dug, Space Invaders and other classics of the 1980's.
What drew me to Bubble Bobble was how different the game play was compared to others.
I seemed to have a natural ability to play it and the music and story were awesome.
After getting hooked on B.B. I didn't play many other games. Most of my time & Quarters
were invested in mastering this game. Some people developed Pac-Man fever. I just found
Bubble Bobble more interesting.
I was in High School before I could complete Bubble Bobble on one Quarter. I played a
lot of 2-player games to learn how to play certain levels; By there was few stages that
took me a while to learn. For example, Level 42 has Fire-Breathing Nasties in it, and
without using the Power-Up Code, I found it almost impossible to get past. I eventually
came up with a strategy on how to kill most of the baddies off and sacrifice 1 or 2 extra
Before I joined the Navy at the age of 23, I was able to complete Bubble Bobble with or
without using the Power-Up Code. My high scores differed though; Without the Code I could
only score about 3.5 million points, but with it I could achieve over 7 million points.
One day at a 7-11 store, I met a guy that could play Bubble Bobble very well. I don't
remember his name but he introduced me to Super Bubble Bobble. That version of the game
is a lot more challenging, but still fun to play. You enter a Code using the controls
before inserting a coin. It would display, "Super Bubble Bobble" on the main intro screen.
Once you insert a coin you can choose to play the normal version or the Super Game.
Sadly, by the time I graduated from Parkrose High School in 1983, Bubble Bobble was
quickly disappeared from convenience stores and arcades. I had to travel far to play my
favorite game and often rode my bike for 10 miles every other weekend to a pizza place
that still had it. When I went to Navy Boot camp in March of 1998 it had been many
months since playing Bubble Bobble as it simply vanished from the Portland area.
I decided to enter the military after several dead-end jobs and wanting to do something
awesome with my life. Also, I had a Grandpa that was in the Navy & Pearly Harbor during
WW-2. After taking the Military entry exam I found out that my score was very high
and qualified me for a choice of advanced Electronics jobs in the Navy. I chose to be
a Sonar Technician and worked on an Anti-Submarine Combat Computer System.
I actually didn't get stationed in Japan until after the September 11 attacks happened
in 20001. I extended my enlistment for four more years to fight the war against terrorism.
There wasn't much time for fun and any liberty I had was spent unwinding from one mission
and preparing for the next. I served on a Destroyer Ship named the USS Fife for four
years and was decommissioned in 2003. Then I went on to a Battle Cruiser in Japan for
the rest of my service.
I did take some vacation time and explored Japan since I always wanted to go there. I
found several video game arcades there in the Tokyo Bay area. I found only two that had
a working Bubble Bobble machine. I was stationed in Japan for over a year and earned
some shore leave from time to time. M Rank of E-5 allowed me to rent an apartment off-base
which was really fun. When the ship was in-port I could spend my weekends exploring the
Japanese Culture. They are incredible and interesting people and I did my best to adapt
to the way that they live. It is very expensive to drive there so Bicycling or public
transit was the best way to get around. I learned their Train/Subway System and discovered
some amazing places not often seen by Non-Japanese visitors.
I went to the arcade in Yokohama which is a major city next to Tokyo and played Bubble
Bobble as much as possible, usually every month or so. I would stay in a hotel nearby
so I could spend a whole day playing Bubble Bobble since the trains promptly stopped
running at midnight. I had to either ride my bike for the 85 mile round trip or stay
over at a hotel. The arcade was open almost all night on weekend and I would eat at
a nearby Curry Rice or Noodle shop. They also had 7-11 stores open 24 hours just like
The arcade scene in Japan is awesome and is just like it was like here in the states
in the 1980's. They have games there that we ill probably never see in the United
States. Some of their games are quite shocking to see like a WW-2 type game that
involves piloting a "Mitsubishi Zero" Jet Fighter and fighting on the Japanese side
of the war. Arcades are quite large and can be up to three stories high. The first
floor is usually kiddy games and vending machines. There is a basement floor that has
all the classics from the 1980's. On the second floor you can play dancing & Rock
Band style games: The musical games have actual simulated instruments for you to use
like a Drum Kit & Guitars. There are over 20 different types of dancing games including
several versions of "Dance, Dance, Revolution". Three other types of games that are
very popular in Japan are the following: Sudoku, Mahjong and Pachinko.
I performed my first Maxed out score on Bubble Bobble in Japan, and the Arcade owner
was amazed. The maximum score on Bubble Bobble is the following: 9,999,990, and it
takes between 2 and 3 hours to do. The owner even offered to sell me a Bubble Bobble
arcade machine and compared me to a Samurai Warrior. I bought the Bubble Bobble game
and shipped it to my Dads home here in Portland. My game is a standup arcade machine
like in the United States, but has a Japanese Mother Board. When you start it up, the
Bubble Bobble logo is in English, but the play instructions are in Japanese. Also,
the Joysticks are shorter and some parts of the game needed to be repaired. When I
came back to the Untied States I worked on the machine and got it working pretty well.
Coming back home after serving over six years in the Navy was pretty tough. I had to
deal with a lot of issues from the war and adjusting back to civilian life was
challenging. After cruising around Portland to see what had changed, I found a classic
1980's style arcade location named Ground Kontrol. The location was and still is in
the Pearl District Old Town on Fifth & Couch Street. I was very happy to see they
had a Bubble Bobble there and started playing it right away. Only one thing was
different about the machine, the buttons for player one were on the left side of
the joystick instead of on the right side. I adjusted after a few games and came
back to play at least twice a week.
Within a few months of regular practice I was able to achieve the maximum score
of 9,999,990 on the Ground Kontrol Bubble Bobble machine. Since I mostly played
in the evening time, I got to know the guys who worked the closing shift. They
were amazed by the way I played and told me about Twin Galaxies International
Scoreboard. I was previously unaware that an Official World Record Book existed
for Coin-Op. Video Games. With that knowledge I looked the TGI Web site up and
then wrote to a referee about how to submit my Bubble Bobble high score. I was
informed that since no referee would be in the Portland area any time soon that
I should have someone record my achievement and then submit it to TGI.
I asked the guys at Ground Kontrol if they could help me do this and they said
they would look into finding a way to help me record my game. After many months
of following up and keeping sharp on my Bubble Bobble game nothing ever came
of it. Finally I met a man named Curtis who can play Discs of Tron very well.
Bubble Bobble was nicely placed between Tron and Disks of Tron near the Bar.
Curtis noticed that I could play for over two hours on one Quarter and then
told me about P.A.C. P.A.C. is a seriously hard core classic arcade gaming club.
Since I own a Bubble Bobble Coin-Op Machine, Curtis told me that I cold be a
member. I signed up for membership right away but was not very active in the club
until recently. One thing I love about P.A.C. is that we are dedicated to playing
and preserving classic arcade machines. P.A.C. stands for "Portland-area Arcade-Game
Collectors". I have been working on restoring my Bubble Bobble for a while now,
but it is playable.
Since I ran into a dead-end with Ground Kontrol, Curtis introduced me to Jordan,
a.k.a. Bricktop, who is a fellow P.A.C. group member. Abut two months ago I came
over for a game party at Bricktops and met many of the P.A.C. group members. I
discovered that Jordan had a "MAME" arcade game emulator so he searched for Bubble
Bobble. Indeed he had it and I showed off my skills. Bricktop called an arcade owner
named Marty, who runs Stryker's Arcade in Oregon City. After telling him how well
I could play Bubble Bobble Marty spoke with Bill Carlton, who is a well known player
in the classic gaming world, about me and Bubble Bobble. The next thing I know, I
was checking out Marty's Bubble Bobble game and preparing to record an official
score submission to Twin Galaxies. Finally, in the month of April I recorded two
perfect games to submit to Twin Galaxies. On April 12, 2012 I maxed-out Bubble Bobble
in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Then 17 days later I performed the same achievement on
Super Bubble Bobble. Bill and Marty plus a few witnesses wee truly astonished.
I feel a little ashamed that I did not know that "The" Bill Carlton was taking
the time to help me achieve an official world record on Bubble Bobble, and Super
Bubble Bobble. Bill is famous for marathoning Missile Command for 32 hours of
straight game play. A cool and clever documentary movie called "High Score" was
made about Bill Carlton. His story is about suffering through months of trial
and tribulation in order to be a champion on Missile Command. Just last night
I got to see him play on the same Missile Command machine used in his movie.
This concludes part I of my Bubble Bobble story. Part 2 will be an in depth
write-up of Bubble Bobble the Masters Strategy Guide which gives you insight
to my favorite coin operated game, Bubble Bobble.
Lonnie Johnson Jr. from Portland Oregon, Born November 7, 1974.