Man, I love Rainbow Islands – The Story of Bubble Bobble 2. Ever since it was released in the arcades in the late 80’s, it has always been one of the very few platforming games that I hold dear to my heart. The concept was beautifully simple. Guide one of two boys (who were once dragons in Bubble Bobble) to the top of each vertically scrolling area by firing rainbows to climb on to get higher. Those very same rainbows could kill enemies below by jumping upon them, and those enemies would drop a jewel in one of the seven colours of the rainbow. Pick up the jewels in order (red, yellow, pink, green, purple, orange, and blue) to access the bonus rooms.
I used to play the hell out of that game, and even more so when I got the Amiga home conversion. I played it for hours at a time… so naturally when I walk into my local game store and see a version for my wonderful Nintendo DS system called Rainbow Islands Revolution with touch screen enhancements, I picked it up without hesitation, put my money on the counter, and ran home full of excitement like a giddy teenage boy all over again. I put my DS on charge (ready for a several hour long session), plug in the game, and get ready to smile…
My first impressions after the title screen were “Oh wow! They kept the same islands as the original game! Hurray! Oh, and the brilliant original music is still intact! This is gonna’ ROCK”… and then the main game came on screen. Again, I thought “oh cool! They’ve kept the same cutesy style graphics that made the original game so good, but they’ve improved the animations and added more colours to the palettes… top stuff.”
After my pleasing first impression, I put my thumb on the pad to move my character, and that’s when I said…
“WHAT THE F***?” My initial happy impressions turned to horse crap. Your character is encased in a bubble, and no longer can you use the d-pad to run and jump… oh no, now you have to use the stylus to float your character around the map, totally ruining the fact that it’s a PLATFORM game. Also, you quickly realize that having stylus control for both movement as well as firing off rainbows is rather cumbersome.
Half of the time you want to move but fire a rainbow off by accident, causing you to die. The other half of the time you want to fire a rainbow off, but move your character instead. This gets even more annoying when you get a star power up and every time your stylus hits the screen it fires itself off, wasting a valuable item when you just intended to move your guy around. The control not only is a pain in the backside, it makes completing levels laughably easy, not to mention the boss battles. In the original game, boss battles required precision timing as well as tactical rainbow placing, now all you have to do is wiggle the stylus over the boss until it keels over and dies. Whose stupid idea was this? Did the guy who thought Wii was the best name to call Nintendo’s new machine design the control mechanic for this game as well?
I thought I could live with it, even though I was unhappy at the change, and carried on playing. I thought jokingly “Well, at least they kept it a vertical scrolling game and not tried to make it a standard left to right affair. Heh Heh” Oh how wrong I was. The first areas are vertically scrolling, then the game just goes into left to right scrolling from the Combat Island onwards a la every damn platformer known to man.
So that’s two out of three things that made Rainbow Islands a totally unique and fun experience absolutely butchered, and as an added bonus it verges on uncontrollable in some points, frickin’ great.
Surely though the actual concept behind the name of the game, the whole mechanic that the game is designed around, is still there, right? Surely the enemies drop the jewels in the colours of the rainbow that have to be collected in order, right?
HELL NO! They’ve buggered that up as well! The jewels no longer appear like they used to (i.e. with player skill being necessary when killing enemies to get them to land in the required quadrants of the screen), they now just appear at random, and don’t have to be collected in order to get to the bonus rooms.
Comparing this game to Rainbow Islands is like comparing a date with a transvestite and a date with a true woman. Sure, at first glance it seems the same, but when you get to fiddle about later on, you realize that there’s a very nasty surprise in store for you — one that you’ll regret ever laying your hands on.
I don’t think there’s enough four letter rude words that passed through my mind while playing this, and I haven’t felt as deep as resentment for paying for a game that I didn’t enjoy as much as I did this time in many a year.
Rainbow Islands Revolution doesn’t even have much going for it for people who have never experienced the original game. If you can live with the atrocious control system, I’d say you might get an hour of “enjoyment” out of this before you wish you hadn’t laid 30 bucks down on it.
People who have played the original and are looking for more of the same shouldn’t touch this unadulterated-festering-heap-of-garbage-that’s-supposed-to-be-a-classic-platformer with a ten-foot pole. It’s been totally and utterly ruined.
I want my money back so I can get the REAL Rainbow Islands which is in the Taito Classics 2 pack for Xbox and PS2.
Rainbow Islands Revolution is rated 3+ by the PEGI.