Bubble Bobble was for sure a highly popular coin-op (and it had the conversion it deserved), and when Taito made the sequel for it, Firebird was going to bring it too to our beloved 8-bit. Graftgold made the programming, the game was reviewed in some magazines (it got a 92% Sizzler in Zzap!64 in the middle of 1989), but legal problems came in with Microprose acquiring Firebird; luckily for us all Ocean bought the codes from Microprose along with the right to sell the official conversion from Taito and in early 1990 Rainbow Islands was on the shelves (Zzap! then reckoned that it deserved a Gold Medal and not a “mere” Sizzler status). So what’s it all about?
After rescuing their girlfriends in Bubble Bobble, Bub and Bob apparently were transformed into kids (and not dinosaurs anymore) and began a well deserved rest in wonderful places called the Rainbow Islands. But when you’ re a superhero, even if a tad cute, you can never rest. Evil but totally funny creatures haunt now the islands, and since Bob got too lazy after his first quest, only Bub decides to make a stop to this evil threat (i.e. the c64 programmers weren’t able to retain the coin-op’s two players mode). He has to make his way through the seven colourful islands, collecting gems and avoiding or destroying the cute nasties.
Each island (Insect, Combat, Monster…) is made of 4 rounds, has its own different style and inhabitants, and Bub must climb it and reach the top of it before time expires. If he wonders too much around, the nasties become red with anger, Bubble Bobble-style, water comes filling the screen from below and eventually kills our brave fellow. At the top of every 4th round awaits the island’s big guardian, who has to be defeated prior to proceed to the next island. How does Bub climb the vertically scrolling levels? He can either jump on platforms or walk on the rainbow bullets he can fire. With these he can also kill the nasties, by directly hitting them or by trapping them and then jumping on the rainbow (this reminds of the bubble bursting process in chapter 1). If he chooses the first way, he gets some fruits or similar for bonus points; but with the latter killing procedure he’s given special items: gems (the colour of which is determined by where they appear on the screen), a shoe for speed up, red pots to have first double then triple rainbow bullets, yellow pots to make the rainbows faster, wings to fly, invulnerability and many more. The game has built-in stats that determine which object you’re going to receive, and this also depends on how good you’re doing: the more you die, the easier it becomes. As for the gems, if you collect 7 different ones in a single island, a bonus life is awarded; you have to repeat this on all of them to reach the proper ending (otherwise, you get a different end of game still, and you’ve got to begin your quest from scratch again).
There are tons of platform games available for the c64: many are very good, ranging from Jumpman to Loderunner, from Montezuma’s Revenge to Bubble Bobble, Great Giana Sisters, Nebulus and Mayhem in Monsterland. This is without a doubt one of the very best.
The cartoonish graphics are great and colourful (if slightly blocky in places) and all the creatures have a lot of character. A very nice touch is that the dying enemies’ sprites are those from the Bubble Bobble nasties. The adaptation of “Somewhere over the rainbow” is a good soundtrack, even if it tends to bore you a bit after a while. Gameplay is just perfect, with tons of features and a relentless, challenging and amusing action. If you never played it, try and forgive yourself for such a big sin, and download it immediately.
Downloads: Music, Advert 2, Advert 3
|GRAPHICS - 9/10|
|Very nice’n’cute sprites with lots of character, colourful
and varied backgrounds, super-smooth scrolling and very good animation. The
rainbow bullets in particular very effectively arc their way in the sky.
Each of the seven islands has its own individual style. A great cartoonish
|SOUND - 7/10|
|The nice rendition of “Over the rainbow” can get yourself a tad
on the hysteric side after a heavy dose. Above average spot FX.|
|PLAYABILITY - 10/10|
|A wonderful arcade feeling. The action is fun, challenging
and relentless and there are tons of features to discover and creatures to
defeat. Great value on the lastability front with 28 levels to beat, and two
ways to complete the game.|
|OVERALL - 10/10|
|One of the best platform games ever.|