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Konami Bubble System

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Konami Bubble System
KonamiBubbleSystem.jpg
Now this is one bubble that had certainly "popped"!
Developer: Konami
Release Date: 1985
Discontinued: 1987

The Bubble System is an arcade system board that was developed by Konami and ran a few arcade games across 1985.

It was noted for using bubble memory, a non-mechanical, non-volatile computer memory format said to be more reliable than floppy disks or tape drives, on special interchangeable cartridges for its software titles.

The system uses a modified version of Konami's then-new G400 BIOS, with a 10 MHz Motorola 68000 main CPU. Acting as a sound control system is a separate Zilog Z80 driving two AY-3-8910 PSGs, the custom Konami K005289 SCC, and a Sanyo VLM5030 speech synthesizer. It also uses the same kind of wiring harness as the motherboard for Scramble.

The Bubble System's games are identified by its distinct booting sequence, which displays "WARMING UP NOW - PRESENTED BY KONAMI", accompanied by a countdown timer and a small musical tune known colloquially as the "Morning Music".

Games

  • Attack Rush
  • Galactic Warriors
  • Gradius
  • Konami RF2: Red Fighter
  • TwinBee

Why It Popped

  1. The Bubble System, while innovative in the use of bubble memory, was much more expensive than conventional ROM-based arcade system boards.
  2. Bubble memory in general, especially that used in the Bubble System's game cartridges, is extremely sensitive to electromagnetic fields that could easily render it unusable. This is not ideal for a video arcade environment.
    • That being said, the DECO Cassette System with its cassettes had also suffered from susceptibility to electromagnetic fields.
  3. The reason for the Bubble System's booting sequence is because bubble memory generally needed to warm up to an operational temperature of 30 to 40 °C (or 86 to 104 °F) for it to work properly.
    • Added to that, the loading times upon startup could go up to 1 minute 39 seconds.
  4. Poor build quality. The main PCB of the Bubble System was notorious for poor soldering and faulty TTLs and DRAMs.[1]

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Most of the Bubble System titles were ported onto standard ROM-based boards, the most notable being Gradius and TwinBee, both of which having gone on to become successful franchises.
  2. The Morning Music is very nice to listen to.

Trivia

  • Konami made homages to the Bubble System in several games, especially with the Morning Music being one of the playable tracks in Keyboardmania and NOSTALGIA, along with the tune having been used for the introduction sequence of Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits for the Nintendo DS.