Once more I dug up an obscure CD-i game to save it from total oblivion. To be honest with you, it only had that honour because the title mentions something about bubbles. Since I proclaimed myself the bubble-expert of Defunct Games I felt obliged to take a look at this game. (To avoid misunderstandings: this game has nothing to do with the Bubble Bobble franchise).
Whack-a-Bubble is a colorful but poor looking Arkanoid clone; for those really ignorant: Arkanoid is Break Out with the ability to shoot the bricks. The bricks have been replaced by bubbles. Though colorful the graphics are plain and a little pixelated. The sound is alright with a suiting relaxing melody than didn't get on my nerves too rapidly.
The control works fine, but the gameplay doesn't offer anything more than you can find in common freeware, shareware or even online Flash-games. Besides the regular 'arcade challenge', there are some additional options like three difficulty settings, beat the clock and your high scores are saved in a nice overview. It is also possible to play the game with two players in 'head 2 head', which would be nice if I had two joypads (I always wonder why the hell the second controller port is on the BACK of Philips' console; so far none CD-i addict could explain me that).
Maybe the CD-i was ahead of its time: long before the Wii it wanted to be the first true 'family console'. Philips tried so by releasing a lot of miserable 'family games', Whack-a-Bubble being one of them. Actually, 80 percent of the games in the family game-genre is miserable, also see the Wii library. The difference is that Nintendo actually did release some classics on their innovative console and, even more important, has a lot better marketing departement. But, despite what CD-i fanboys tell you, the CD-i mainly failed because most software was, at best, mediocre.
Overall, my biggest problem with Whack-a-Bubble is not that it is necessary a bad game. But if you bought Philips' 'multimedia' console in 1991 for around $400 (luckily I didn't), you'd expect something more than a game you could have played on your NES or, nowadays, on every Flash-game site around. No matter how well intended, Whack-a-Bubble was just one more statement of the mediocre of the CD-i's software library.