Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Rainbow Islands is the second instalment of the Bubble Bobble saga, once again starring Bubby and Bobby. Hurrah!
Bubby makes his way through the seven Rainbow Islands collecting food for points and destroying enemies for more points.
As Rad might tell you, having green hair makes life very miserable indeed. Some people just don't understand creative expression when they see it. Unfortunately for Bubby, the hero of Taito's new Rainbow Island's game, he was born with it — green hair that is. So this makes trips to places where his face is unfamiliar a tad difficult. None more so than in the Rainbow Islands, except for completely opposite reasons! Green hair is far too conservative for the Islands' crazy populous and so Bubby's current holiday to the place looks like turning into disaster, unless you help him out!
Blessed with the power of casting magical rainbows, an attribute that comes from being born with green hair, Bubby is fighting for his life in these Islands. Help Bubby struggle his way past the hoards of disapproving locals on seven mysterious islands, that make the Mardi Gras look like the House of Commons, take their booty and run! Taito's own conversion of their successful coin-op is slightly different from the original but the classic features are all still here: The platforms, the caterpillars; the vampires — the rainbows. So, get your Island hopping gear on and get to it!
Bubby is such an inoffensive little character. When sorting through the choice of weapons for use against the enemies in this game, Bubby cast aside the Uzi and the Ghurka knives in favour of rainbows. This isn't such a bod choice though, for what they lack in intimidating properties they make up for with versatility, posing as temporary bridges as well as possessing the obvious destructive capabilities. Enemies are disposed of by either trapping them beneath falling arches, knocking them out from below or lobbing a rainbow directly at their heads.
On the odd occasion a defeated enemy leaves behind a brightly coloured gem for Bubby's pleasure. They reflect, as you might expect, the colours of the rainbow and, when lined up in the correct order, their initials spoil ROYGBIV which, incidentally, means nothing at all. For this reason Taito have made each gem represent a different letter of the word RAINBOW which, by definition, means 'arch of prismatic colours in the sky'. Upon collecting all the letters the word NICE appears above Bubby's head and, after defeating the end of level boss, Bubby meets up with a friend in a special bonus room. These bonus rooms have two chests from which Bubby may chose a prize or he has the option of a chat with his mate instead. The prizes are along the lines of permanent special items that improve Bubby's chances of survival. We suggest that you go for these because the conversations are pretty boring! However, in both situations Bubby is rewarded with one of seven huge gems. He needs to collect seven to successfully complete the game.
Wiping out a screen full of cutesy types reaps a variety of different awards. Most often it's food, food and more food. However the various baddies are also known for dropping more practical stuff on occasion. The three stock items available to Bubby that aid him in the game are as follows:
While the Master System rendition of the game isn't an accurate conversion of the Rainbow Islands coin-op it still manages to retain all the features that make this game so great. The simplistic style of the graphics is quite deliberate and the main sprites contain much fluid animation and enough colour to make up for the lacking scenery. There are only three tunes that run throughout, which gets pretty annoying: The remixed version of the 'Over the Rainbow' theme tune really tests the nerves after about the tenth screen. Nevertheless, gameplay's where it's at and in this case there is nothing much wrong at all. My only problems with the game are that most of the bosses topple to only a few hits, posing no challenge at all and sometimes the collision detection is slightly dubious. However the rest is pure, classic platform fun and the strategy required in positioning the enemies for the correct coloured gems introduces a small puzzle element too. This is platform gaming laid bare, allowing the addition of many novel features that always keep things interesting. Five minutes and you're hooked, I guarantee.
Rainbow Islands was generally hailed as one of the best games on most home computers. Unfortunately, although this Master System conversion is excellent fun and extremely addictive, it doesn't quite reach the mark. The graphics are fairly clear and there's lots of variety both in backgrounds and gameplay but the sprites are quite small and there's a bit too much flicker involved for my liking. At first, I thought the difficulty setting was a little too easy but as you progress through the game it does get harder and harder and should present a challenge to the toughest gamers. To round up then, it's a jolly little game, accompanied by some pretty good sounds (for the Master System) and which will provide hours of entertainment for any platform freak.
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