Replay Burners, a Japanese-language YouTube channel that hosts runs of various well-played games, especially arcade games, is a true gem. Unlike other channels like MamePlayer, World of Longplays, or (especially) Old Classic Retro Gaming, the plays on Retro Burners are done without invincibility cheats, save states, or tool assistance, all these things I find greatly annoying. A Replay Burners playthrough is played as it would have in a real arcade, which is what makes it interesting to me: you aren’t watching a hypothetical run by someone with theoretical infinite reflexes, or someone who can just throw themselves at enemies without fear. You’re watching someone who has developed real strategies approach the game in realistic ways, and frequently the difference is huge.
That is what makes this one (well, two) credit playthrough of Bubble Bobble good watching. It’s not that they play “perfectly,” they lose their first life on Level 58 and go on to lose a number more. But they’re not just playing for survival but for score, a mode of play often neglected in this era of cheap points and speedrun celebrity. They play through every level: they don’t skip levels with umbrellas or the warp door on Level 50, even though they’re eligible for it.
They do use a couple of codes, but the great difficulty of Bubble Bobble is such that one can hardly begrudge them that. One of them, to play “Super” mode, actually makes the game much harder in the early going, and is necessary anyway to get the best ending. The total length is 62 minutes, but of course you can skip ahead if you just want to see the end. Most of the game is solo, but they bring in a second player at the very end since it’s required for the best ending.