Dateline : 4th November 2011


Time for a spot of island hopping, clad in a pair of rather snazzy blue dungarees. It’s the sequel to one the best platform games ever but how will it stand up under the critical eye of Retrobear ? Zippy and Bungle need not apply because this Rainbow Island is a puppet free zone…..


Up above the streets and houses, rainbow flying high....

The good thing about classic games you played years ago is that the good ones stand the test of time. The really naff ones will always be naff and only deserve to be rediscovered for their sheer awfulness (see some of the entries in the Commodorathon for spiffingly good examples), whilst as with anything in life the cream will always rise to the top. For Spectrum owners that would be any game by Ultimate. For C64 owners it would be Impossible Mission. And for Amstrad owners anything with the word Horace in the title (just joshing, CPC fans).

I reviewed Bubble Bobble on the C64 a while back and found that it’s charm was still there. I had also previously played the Amiga version which I enjoyed a great deal. So naturally when a sequel comes out to a game as good as that you need to give it a whirl. After all Bubble Bobble only ever really had one bad conversion (the Game Boy one and it wasn’t even an accurate conversion preferring to invent it’s own story instead), so Rainbow Islands has got to be good by that count.


Yep it's another cheese-induced nightmare sequence


Again I have played this on the C64 – a very good conversion indeed with amazing colours and a crackingly good soundtrack although it is quite a tough old game – and the Amiga which is pretty much arcade perfect although the remix tune of Somewhere Over The Rainbow gets on one’s tits after a while. This time I have wheeled out the Sega Master System to see what it’s like on that. I have a lot of time for the old MS and was forever jealous of my mate Jim when we were kids. He’d tell of such quality games like Psycho Fox and I’d just sit there dribbling because it sounded great and I wanted a go.

People tend to forget the MS as it was rather dwarfed by the NES when the two went head-to-head. At least with it being manufactured by Sega all the top arcade conversions made it across like Afterburner, Out Run, Altered Beast, Space Harrier etc. At least you knew you were in for some quality titles. Firing up this conversion of Rainbow Islands, I was rather looking forward to a tasty gaming treat as succulent as any meat pie I have ever eaten.

Is it any good ? Wellllllllllll, I can profess to probably playing it in the wrong spirit rather than do as I should do. The idea is to move up the screen, firing rainbows at your enemies which will either turn them into fruit or jewellery. Trap one under a rainbow and by jumping on it you’ll turn them into diamonds instead which is much more cool and the idea of the game. Keep doing this across various stages before you reach the boss battle, where with a rainbow being your only weapon, each boss must be defeated to move on to the next island of which there are 7 and 3 to 4 sub levels on each island. That’s basically it.


Keeping gaming simple - progress up the screen, squash the baddies, collect the icons....


Spent most of my time, not collecting fruit and rainbowifying all the enemies to collect diamonds, but simply runbowing my way up the screen ignoring pretty much everything else! Before I knew it and after about 30 minutes of playing I reached level 3-4. I don’t profess to being a great games player but I found that a tad easy. The game itself is great and makes really good use of the colours and the appeal of the arcade original. I just find myself preferring the other versions I have played. Perhaps I should go back and revisit them and try the same tactics ?

After Rainbow Islands a further sequel called Parasol Stars was released in arcades and some home formats. I recall seeing it advertised but sadly I haven’t played it. It is meant to be rather good though.

VERDICT : A bit easy even for me, but that’s not to say other versions of the game will be the same. Alongside Bubble Bobble, it is one game your collection does need !

NOTES : There is currently only one copy on Amazon – its boxed but doesn’t have the manual – and will set you back £9.99. Luckily eBay has few copies cheaper than that and complete with manual etc. Alternatively pop into the Links and see what you can find there.

UP NEXT : Time for some SNES love I think – but haven’t made my mind up which game yet……