Hello! My name is Adrian. I chose to write this guide because when I was trying to get the World Record for this game, I found it so extremely difficult to find any information that I needed about it. I spent hours poring over the game’s manual, diving deep into forum posts, and asking questions to random people – usually with little success. I figured a lot of stuff out through sheer brute force, so I hope that I’m able to prevent you from doing the same thing.
After 5 months of practice, I finally got the World Record in the main category (JPN / Normal) on September 26th, 2022. This wasn’t because I am the most talented person at the game – quite the contrary. I simply discovered a lot of different tricks and shortcuts that weren't known by the previous WR holder. I don’t anticipate ever again having that WR once a talented Puzzle Bobble player sees what I found in that run. But I am proud of it nonetheless 😅
About The Game
Puzzle Bobble (SNES) has two different regional variants which are not-insignificantly different from one another. While they are functionally the same game with a lot of similarities, there are many puzzles which require entirely different strategies to complete.
NA / PAL
- Uses English text, and refers to the game’s title as “Bust-A-Move (SNES)”
- Provides a limited number of lives (8)
- Tends to have more difficult / time consuming versions of puzzles
- Uses Japanese text, and refers to the game’s title as “Puzzle Bobble (SNES)”
- Provides unlimited lives
- Tends to have easier / faster versions of puzzles
There are three different difficulty options for the single-player version of the game. Each option determines the number of bubbles you can launch before the screen starts to lower and the bubbles get closer to the bottom of your screen. Because these have a non-trivial impact on the difficulty of some puzzles, they are given their own categories on the leaderboards.
- Easy – You can launch 9 times before the screen starts to lower
- Normal – You can launch 8 times before the screen starts to lower
- Difficult – You can launch 6 times before the screen starts to lower
Thunder Bubbles The way that thunder bubbles work are extremely under-documented, even in the game’s own manual. Understanding how they work will make many of your rounds go much faster.
When hit, Thunder Bubbles will horizontally eliminate all bubbles in a single direction (left or right). The direction it goes is determined by the opposite direction of where your Bubble Launcher is pointing when the Thunder Bubble is hit. For example, if the Thunder Bubble is hit while your Launcher is pointing in the right direction, then the thunder will go left – and vice versa.
Puzzle Bobble (SNES) will only allow you to launch bubble colours that are still on-screen / in the puzzle. (i.e., you aren’t going to be able to launch a green bubble if there are no green bubbles to launch them into!). For some puzzles, like Round 75 and Round 79 (JPN version), Colour Elimination is a key objective – the quicker you can eliminate specific colours, the quicker you will complete the round.
However, you always need to keep Colour Elimination in mind because of the game’s one-bubble Launcher preview. It is entirely possible to eliminate a colour from a puzzle with your at-bat bubble, and then immediately force that colour back into the puzzle with your on-deck bubble.
So if you have the ability to make a colour elimination, be sure to always check the next bubble you are going to shoot to make sure it's a different colour.
Slow Is Fast
In Puzzle Bobble (SNES) there are 100 pre-designed rounds with very little randomization. This means that a key component of the speedrun is knowing what your objectives are in each round in order to complete them as fast as possible. Once you have “figured out” what you need to do on each round, you are probably going to have the tendency to play recklessly fast.
It will always benefit you to ensure that your shot is lined up correctly, and that you are launching the bubble in the correct location. Even if that requires taking an extra 1-2 seconds to analyze your position or lean your head back, it is absolutely going to save you time in the long-run. Missing your shot and getting an ill-placed bubble will set you back multiple dozens of seconds.
Patience & No-Reset Runs This advice is given in every speedgame, and this one is no exception: you will not succeed in this game’s speedrun if you do not have patience. You will always make stupid mistakes, and no run will be perfect. What matters is that you do not get frustrated, because that will only result in more mistakes and more time loss.
What’s especially important is that you don’t not reset your run too early too often. It is easy to get into the habit of trying to make the first 20-50 rounds “perfect” before attempting the later rounds, but this will mean you will have less practice in those later rounds and your chances of improving your PB go drastically down.
More than likely you are going to have multiple minutes to save in the rounds between 50-100, and you don’t want to give up on that too early. You should challenge yourself to frequently do no-reset runs so that you are more familiar with the later rounds and can practice your patience.
That's all for now! Please let me know if you think there is anything else worth pointing out, and feel free to reach out with questions any time :)
[EN] Thanks to runner @AdrienSimple for noticing and bringing to our attention.
As document by AdrienSimple for the first ~50 levels, the English versions of the game ("Bust-a-Move") contain slight changes to the puzzle layouts. Some of these changes do help, but overall, most of these changes a