C64 Review of Rainbow Islands from Issue 53

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


Thereís this baddy, you see, and his name is Von Blubba. Boo. Hiss. In the early days, before the creation of the Rainbow Islands, Von Blubba was but an amateur nasty-piece-of-work, who relied on a few mad cronies and a spell or two to carry him through life.

Anyway, these two blokes, Bub and Bob I believe their names were, took on Von Blubba and won, when he abducted their totty and transformed the lads into bubbleblowing dinosaurs (for more detailed background information, please refer to Bubble Bobble arcade machine and computer game).

Girlies back in their arms, Bub and Bob (now in human form again) went off and built the Rainbow Islands. And what a lovely place it was, too. Always sunny, always colourful, and always packed with tourists.

This particular summer, how ever, a less than friendly party of sightseers descended on the islands and their inhabitants. Fresh from his Nastiness Refresher Course, Von Blubba and his motley crew have hunted out the islands, captured their patrons and have begun work on demolishing the whole setup. Two people managed to escape from the clutches of their captors, though, and there are no prizes for guessing just who the pair are!

As Bub (and Bob ó in two player mode) itís your job to release Rainbow Islandsí POBs (Prisoners of Blubba) from a fate too terrifying to contemplate. Beginning at the bottom of the vertically-scrolling play area, you must battle and bounce your way, using platforms, to the top of the island to free the captives.

Sounds easy, doesnít it. It isnít. Cos there are a whole army of seemingly harmless, yet totally MMMEEEAAAANNNN, beasties littering the skies, positively itching to do away with you. This is no one-sided scrap, mind you, for luckily you have a trick up your psychedelic sleeve. A devastating Rainbow Blasta spell which, as well as being a useful bridging device when stuck for a place to stand, disposes of baddies when theyíre hit by it.

Every time an enemy is killed, an object is left in its place. These objects can be one of a number of items, the type of which is dependent on your style of attack. Hit the meanie with the top curve of the rainbow and heíll change into a bonusgiving piece of fruit. Catch him with the underside of the weapon and a star appears where the nasty once stood. Collecting each of the differently coloured stars results in a very big bonus score.

A special item appears upon the demise of every third every third baddy. What kind of item you receive is, again, decided by the computer, which keeps a running total of in-game statistics (number of kills, etc). The list of handy gadgets is considerable, and includes running spikes (for a nippier getaway) two-hoop Rainbows (for a double dose of destruction) and three-hoop Rainbows (for a triple taste of terror!). Atthe end of each stage, an enormous (but sickeningly lovely) monster awaits you, its thoughts tuned only on the abolition of its enemy (ie you). So, be prepared to do battle with a big, chunky snail with huge, litte boy-lost eyes, a big, chunky spider with huge, little-boy-lost eyes,a big . . . etc.

Once you have scoured all of the islands, freed the hostages and done away with the creepies, the game is over. But be careful! There are two ways to complete Rainbow Islands, and only one of them is correct! And guess what youíve gotta do if you donít finish it properly? Youíve got it, bud ó back to the beginning to try again!

This review was typed in/OCRed by Iain

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In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 85%

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MaffRignall - 7 Feb 2006
I'm torn here. I don't know whether to give this an amazing score for being a technically amazing version of an arcade game which would have been non-trivial to convert, or to bemoan it for being a substandard follow up to the amazing Bubble Bobble.

It's the fault of the arcade original, which was a weak sequel at best.... and all its failings have been faithfully recreated here. So as a conversion it's brilliant... but the game itself never held my interest for more than a couple of levels.

And as Craig said, the incredibly clever two player partner/antagonist interplay which made Bubble Bobble so amazing in the first place is sorely missed here.

But it's still a decent enough platformer... and much kudos to Braybrook for such a technically amazing conversion.

Rating : 72%
zzap oz - 3 Aug 2005
bubble bobble 2? nowhere close to bubble bobble!! i bought this game recently on ebay, it was the first time i had played it and the last time!. to be fair this is a rather good game in terms of graphics and gameplay but i was expecting a little more, i was expecting a better bubble bobble!

Rating : 71%
HHG - 8 Jul 2005
My absolute favorite C64 game. Played it loads, always got really difficult in machine island or something. Brilliant graphics, brilliant sound, brilliant game.

Rating : 99%
CraigGrannell - 27 Apr 2005
I never thought this game was in the same league as Bubble Bobble, and the C64 conversion did nothing to change that opinion. It all seemed rather simplistic, despite the huge levels, and far too easy. The lack of a simultaneous two-player mode was also a massive blow, removing the co-op gameplay that was at the heart of the series.

With all that in mind, I reckon the lastability and overall ratings were slightly overrated at the time (more so in the later changes that the team made) and should fall by about 15 per cent a piece.

Rating : 77%
SLF - 27 Apr 2005
This is one of my absolute fave c64 games. They dropped the simultaneous 2p mode, true, but it is nonetheless so much fun I never cared.

Graphics are cartoonish, colourful with lots of character, and I even prefer their style over the coin-op's (and Amiga's).

Sound is apt, with joyful if a bit tiresome soundtrack and some really good sound FX.

Gameplay works a treat: the action is relentless, offers a fair challenge and is very satisfying, with tons of different items to discover and to get and 28 levels to beat.

The thematic islands are great fun and very well done, with the only slight letdown being the too greenish last island (although I don't know if it's the coin-op to blame, never reached that).

All in all, it was underrated in the original review (as the Zzap! team acknowledged a few months later) and it's still enthusing fun.

Pr 70, Gr 93, So 82, Ho 97, La 98

Rating : 97%
Iain - 22 Apr 2005
Wot a great game! The graphics are really impressive and the gameplay matches them as well. Even with loads on screen at once, there's no slowdown.

The hardness of the game is just right but it's still stressful playing it on later levels with the water rising trying to drown you and the end of level baddies can be tricky as well.

Still a great game even now, it's just a pity it's not emulated 100% by CCS.

I'd up the graphics by 10% and overall by 5%, leaving the rest the same.

Rating : 97%
Paul Rand
Someone is going to get sick and tired of these cute coin-op conversions sooner or later. Until then, play Rainbow Islands to death, as itís easily the best of the bunch. And although the Amiga version is a fine programming achievement, bearing little difference to the arcade original, itís the C64 game which impresses me the most. Graftgold have had to write a full conversion of a 2Mb arcade machine for a 64K home computer. And it works. Well. Gameplay on both machines is furiously addictive, the multi-load not denting the playerís enjoyment of the product one iota. Graphically, the Amiga Rainbow Islands is , unsurprisingly, identical to the coin-op, with the C64ís display being an admirable representation of the originalís on-screen action. Everything moves so quickly, too, considering the number of objects on screen at one time. Music and FX on both versions are similarly excellent, adding atmosphere and Ďbounceí to the proceedings.

Rainbow Islands is a remarkably accurate conversion in both look and feel, with the 64 game deserving that bit more of a rave on technical merit.
Robin Hogg
I canít lie. I adore the Rainbow Islands coin-op. I donít know why, itís just that those cutesy Japanese games intrigue me. These conversions intrigue me, as well. Iím intrigued to know just how Graftgold managed to cram so much of the originalís features into a couple of home computers, and still retain the enormous feeling of pleasure which you get when tackling the coin-op. Some clever little routines have been utilised in the production of this game: the special items tally (the computer can automatically make your game simpler if you are continually being killed!), and the way the rainbow bullets arc their way onto the screen (the programmer told us that it took him ages to get that right!).

It looks as though Rainbow Islands has put Graftgold back on the right tracks. Pity itís driving me off the rails!!!
Phil King
Jolly little Japanese games are all the rage at the moment, and this latest one from Taito and Firebird/Graftgold really hits the mark. Both versions have been lovingly slaved over by the programmers, and it shows in the final product. Whereas Bubble Bobble was a close conversion of the original, it lacked any real complexity in the gameplay. Rainbow Islands, on the other hand, is a good-looking piece of software, and itís got a lot of behind the scenes work going on, such as the statistics tables which the computer keeps, to determine which special object youíre to receive. It looks good. It smells good. (Chomp Chew) By golly, it tastes good, too! Rainbow Islands is a must for fans of the coin-op, lovers of platform games, and everyone else.
Average attract screen, and two (yes two!) end of game stills.

As good as they could be. Slightly blocky but colourful, rather like the coin-op.

Some chirpy in-game effects add lots of atmosphere, and the title tune is a faithful representation of the original music.

The first couple of stages are pretty easy to complete, and give you a taster of the fun to follow.

lslands-a-plenty, and each one is a joy to complete.

Possibly the best game of its genre on the 64 at present.