Rainbow Islands

PC
  • Taito / Midway

  • FormatVideo Game
  • TypePlatform
  • SystemMicrocomputer

A cult platform classic, Rainbow Islands was as ridiculously hard to complete as it was sickeningly cute. 

A complete sugar rush of cartoon graphics and power ups!
Graham 'Bones' Jones

Taito went for the cutesy platform jugular offering a complete sugar rush of vibrant cartoony graphics, collectable items, power-ups and accompanied it all with a nauseating compu-jazz rendition of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' (which would have you going by the volume control by level 2!)

Like all good confectionery though this didn't stop the game from being annoyingly addictive with secret items and hidden levels giving the game unexpected layers of depth.

Taito also weren't afraid to self reference and managed to not only continue the Bubble Bobble story, but reference other notable games; with level 5's Doh's Island (Arkanoid), Level 8's Magical Island (Fairyland Story), 9's Darius Island (Darius)and the final island Bubble Island. It was these nuggets of detail that made the game an enjoyably veritable feast.

Review by Graham 'Bones' Jones

Amiga: Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble

Continue for Graham 'Bones' Jones Full Review

The memorable Rainbow Islands map depicts 7 themed islands through which you play. You control 'Bub' (with player 2 as 'Bob'), 2 heros who those familiar with Bubble Bubble will recognise (now in human form rather than 'bubble dragons')

Controls are reminiscent of Bubble Bobble, jumping up platforms through the stages, but this time with the ability to fire rainbows (rather than spit bubbles). As well as trapping or killing enemies, rainbows can be used as platforms to walk over to assist in elevating through the vertically scrolling stages. Jumping on the rainbows shatters them, and falling debris also kills enemies. Killing enemies transforms them into collectable items to score points and gain further special abilities, ranging from increased speed and multiple rainbows, through to gaining wings and circling fairy protector.

Each island consists of 4 stages each getting progressively harder with the final stage meaning confrontation with an end of level boss. Each stage also has a time limit which when reached causes the island to sink, the rising water also being lethal to your character.

The game cleverly includes a sequential scoring mechanic allowing a player to aim for progressively higher scores (a typical classic arcade trait), where the scoring value of items increases as a player progresses without dying.

The main key to completing the game though, was collection of the rainbow gems. These are acquired by killing enemies with falling shattered rainbows, or with power stars. To properly complete the game (and progress onto the 3 hidden bonus islands which were omitted from some conversions), a player had to collect the seven coloured gems for each island, in spectral order (ie. red, orange, yellow, green etc.). This meant some precision play and timing was required. One gem missed or collected out of order, would throw the likelyhood of full completion away!

RI arrived as a later '1st geneation' platformer and sits alongside other notable 'cute' titles such as the New Zealand Story (also Taito), Wonderboy, Alex Kidd In Miracle World as a classic.

I got hold of Rainbow Islands for the Amiga A500 as part of the 'Fight of Fantasy' bundle, and it was the first game I played on the machine (and in my opinion the best out of that selection). The music may have been slightly annoying and controls 'clunky', but that didn't detract from the surprising depth brought about by all the hidden bonuses which gave it the 'just one more go' factor.

As major games developers of the 80's tussled to gain popularity with their mascot characters, Rainbow Island's a good example of the style of game being published in that era, designed to catch peoples attention in the arcade with bright colourful graphics, catchy insistent theme tunes, and far-fetched game settings which would allow you to escape reality for as long as your credit would last- whisking you off to somewhere surreal. Being the brains behind the iconic Space Invaders, Taito could be considered the godfather of video games so its somewhat of a shame they didn't quite manage to take the Bubble Bobble franchise much further.

Review by Graham 'Bones' Jones

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Amiga: Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble Long Play

  • Taito / Midway

  • FormatVideo Game
  • TypePlatform
  • SystemMicrocomputer

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