So many Bubbles

Bubbles was one of the earliest games in Aapeli gaming site. In Finland name was "Poks" which refers to sound effect "pop". Basic idea wasn't new, just try to clear game area by shooting bubbles from bottom of screen to top. If three or more same colored bubbles are connected, they'll pop away.


There was many similar games in internet back then (early 2004) and I played many of them. But there was some really annoying features in many of them. Like it often is, making good new game happens by taking old idea and just make it better than anyone else. Or at least try to :-)

Two problems with similar games of that time, that I instantly wanted to fix:

And few other things I used to make our game more enjoyable:

Pretty small things but these changed a lot. Maybe not the best bubble popping game in the world ;-) at that time but definitely fun to play.

Development versions are talking about "balls" instead of "bubbles".

I made mistake in first level scoring. Each bubble popped or dropped gave 1 point and each unused bubble at the end of level gave 1 point. As a result, players always got same score from first level. Surprisingly this was noticed so late that we didn't want to change scoring any more. But instead first level was named "warm up" :-)   It didn't make first level completely unnecessary though, it was still possible to fail whole level.

About 7% of males have trouble seeing difference between red and green colors so there was also possibility to add numbers to bubbles to separate them.

Super Bubbles

Game became so popular that we decided to make new version. Much better graphics (background graphics were referring to our other games), better sounds, more options.

There was also arcade game mode where player got special bubbles like multicolored bubbles, bombs, extra points etc. But also negative things like immovable objects and fillers. Second special mode was timelimited game where player didn't have any bubble limit, just time limit, and it was possible to shoot multiple bubbles at the same time. So shooting next bubble was possible before previous even hit bubbles on game board, but of course when shooting this new bubble you had to think how game board is going to look after previous bubble hit its target. Real ad-hoc mind bender.

New Bubbles

As it sometimes happens, lot of people seemed to like older, simpler game more than new one. Even Super Bubbles also had game modes that were identical to old Bubbles. But I ended up making third version. It was very similar to original one, just with updated graphics, sounds, smoother and faster gameplay. And no scoring bug. Player also had possibility to use some helpers, like aimer and bubble color changer, but just once per level.

I also used something I learned from my previous tetris experiences: shuffled sequences. These were used when choosing which color bubble player get next. Problem with random is that there might be long sequences when you get same color many times or don't get particular color at all. Shuffled sequences keeps things random but more evenly distributed.

Bubbles IQ

After this Bubbles went to Facebook with name Bubbles IQ. It was first of our IQ games series that contained multiple puzzle type games. First version was done with Java like all the previous ones. It looks a bit rude in this screenshot without any animations and especially without surrounding web page that continued graphics from game.

Until this, I've done both server and client coding of all Bubbles. At this point Java support in web browsers started fading fast and big warning popups saying "Are you sure you want to allow this content?" didn't make game very welcoming. So Bubbles was moved to Flash by others. Luckily lots of code was easy to port and many algorithms (like level generating and color choosing) could be used as they were in Java version.

Over the years game have still changed a lot. Especially graphics and level designs. Below is screenshot from 2014 with winter theme.

Bubbles IQ have got over million players per month. This game was also ported to iPhone, iPad and Android.

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