Rainbow Islands

by Graftgold Ltd: David O'Connor, John Cumming
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 75, April 1990   (1990-03-22)   page(s) 44,45

The prequel to Rainbow Islands is an all time favourite: Bubble Bobble. Now, after a loooong wait, the sequel is here. After defeating the despicable Baron Von Blubba and returning themselves to human form, dynamic Bub and Bob decided to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and go to the Rainbow Islands. But life is not happy and carefree (is it ever), because he's back (cue spooky organ music!) Baron von Blubba is out for revenge.

He starts by kidnapping the inhabitants of the islands. Of course Bub and Bob aren't going to stand for hat: they once again go to war with the fat, slimy one. In Bubble Bobble you used bubbles to knock the baddies for six, now you travel across the seven islands spitting rainbows at attackers. You start on Insect Island and your task is simple, travel from the bottom of the screen to the top. But on the way up you're attacked by all manner of Bubba's minions, flies, ladybirds, crows and beetles. Apart from knocking them out with your rainbows, bonus points can be yours for picking up the variety of fruit, flowers, gems etc. along the way. Extra goodies such as double and triple rainbows, extra lives and extra speed can also be found, but ours is not to tell you how. And a word of warning, take too long in climbing from A to B, and a little incentive will be added to hurry you along. After four levels you face the island fattie: vanquish him and move on to the next island to carry on the good work.

Aaagh, I really can't drag myself away from the game to write the review: Rainbow Islands is one of (if not the most) playable platform games I've played recently, all credit to Graftgold. OK, the character sprite is monochromatic, but he doesn't half shift. The backgrounds are the best part of the game though: nicely detailed coloured backdrops abound (with surprisingly little colour clash). Sound is also very, very impressive with a bouncy tune playing throughout. A brilliant sequel to a classic game.

MARK ... 95%

'All fans of cute little characters, colourful (well almost) rainbows and catchy ditties sit up and pay attention because your ultimate game has arrived. Rainbow Islands is out of this world. Every single sprite in the game is excellently detailed, drawn in cartoon style, and still looks good when it's put on the equally detailed backgrounds. Colour oozes out of every corner of the game, and you never notice any clash at all. Each island is made up of four levels, each one boasting its own challenges and enemies. Some of the later islands will blow your mind - you begin to wonder whether this is actually the Spectrum version! All this plus the adorable tune 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' in the background makes the ultimate arcade conversion. There's only one thing that lets it down a bit: the tune slows down when the screen fills up with nasties, but you have to expect that. Rainbow Islands is terrific, you just have to see this for yourself!'
NICK ... 93%

Presentation: 89%
Graphics: 90%
Sound: 87%
Playability: 92%
Addictivity: 92%
Overall: 94%

Summary: A classic game has inspired a rainbow-brilliant sequel to savour and thrill to!

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 98, April 1992   (1992-03-19)   page(s) 79

It's back!! The game voted the absolute BEST ever in the CRASH Top 100 classics - and we all know how many there've been over the years.

Rainbow Islands pipped other rip-roaring games to the Number One spot on the grounds Lucy likes rainbows. But don't let this dampen your ardour (madam) - it's an absolute corker, and now it's a mega-bargain too!

You help Bub and Bob, the heroes of Bubble Bobble, who get more than they bargained for during their holiday to the Rainbow Islands. Some wicked old &%(@$ known as Baron Von Stubbs has nabbed all the natives from these beautiful isles. So Bob and Sub get stuck in, battling through seven isles, each with its own theme.

Starting on Insect Island, where you're attacked by all sorts of creepy-crawlies, there's Monster Island, Toy Island, Robot Island and many more. All contain oodles of platform action levels and with loadsa surprise bits and end of level biddies.

You leap around firing little rainbows everywhere, creating a very pretty scene (like cosmic maaaa-n!). Never have you seen such colour moving around so smoothly on your humble Speccy.

There's so much going on all the time, positively overwhelming you with psychedelia and cuteness. And it's super fast too, everything zipping around at high blood pressure-inducing speeds yet animated as smoothly s you're likely to see.

The sounds are similarly startling. Judy Garland would be proud of the Speccy's rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and they must have got the Wizard of Oz himself in to program some of those wicked sound FX on the 128K version.

If that isn't enough to make you drool, Rainbow Islands is one of the most original and addictive games ever to grace us with its presence. You've never played anything like it; it's such a cracker you could be hooked to it for indefinite lengths of time.

Those yet to get themselves completely square-eyed on it are heartily recommended to get stuck in ASAP. And now the Hit Squad are releasing it out for a bargain budget price, only a fool would ignore it (ignore what? - Nicko).

ALAN ... 94%

Presentation: 90%
Graphics: 94%
Sound: 93%
Playability: 94%
Addictivity: 93%
Overall: 94%

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 52, April 1990   page(s) 18,19

I'll come clean - cute platformy arcade games are the bee's knees as far as I'm concerned, so don't expect an unbiased review here. They're brilliant, aren't they? Lots of lovely huggable little characters, hundreds of snappy sub levels, billions of jumpy platform-and-laddery bits - you can't go wrong. And the best bit is, they've nearly all got playability coming out of their ears! Even the crap ones. (And Rainbow islands isn't a crap one, I can assure you of that!)

But hang on a minute! Before we go any further, let's step back a few months for a quick look at the Speccy version of another cutie game, Super Wonderboy- not an especially brilliant conversion, saddled as it was with monochrome graphics and a vague floaty feel to the characters (plus a dismal multiload), but still a winner in my book. It couldn't really fail, you see - the original Wonderboy coin-ops were so strong that you could totally muck up the conversion and it'd still come out brilliant.

Or what about The New Zealand Story, an excellent conversion of a cutie coin-op, just as playable as the original (no floaty characters or anything - at least, none that weren't meant to be!) and blessed with a reasonable multiload to boot. It just had to get a Megagame, didn't it? Let's flick back through the issues - ah, here we are. Yep, it got a well-deserved 93 degrees - but how much more would it have been worth if it'd been in colour (NZ Story was in fetching yellow monochrome, if you remember)? Well, it'd have to be at least a 94, wouldn't it? And (spook!) guess what I'm going to give Rainbow islands? Yes, that's right, 94! In other words, it's just as good as The New Zealand Story, but it's in colour! Hurrah!

So how does it all work then? (What d'you mean, at last?) Well, basically it's another variation on your Mario Brothers/Wonderboy-type game, with a very cute little character bouncing along, jumping over gaps, shooting and dodging equally cute-but-slightly-more-vicious baddie characters, and collecting oodles of fruit and stuff. But (but! but!) there is a bit of a difference here in that you're working your way up the screen, not along it, and against a very tight time limit too! Y'see, the islands (one island equals one level of the game) are sinking, and that means that if you don't hurry up (which the game constantly reminds you to do) the ever-rising water level will swish up and drown you. It's a nautical nightmare and no mistake! Each island has a theme, and a selection of about six basic creatures populating it - for instance, on insect island they're all insects, on Toy Wand they're all toys (not that hard, is it?). Though the baddies look different on every level, they all behave in more or less the same way. For instance, each level has its own type of flying creature (bees, helicopters, bats etc), walking-back-and-forth sort of creature (caterpillars, trucks etc) and so on. They all have giant end-of-level baddies too (normally a bigger version of one of the baddies from the level), and are divided into handy bite-sized sub-levels, which take a comfortable two minutes or so to play.

You yourself area bouncy, jumpy sort of Wonderboy character (unfortunately they've junked the dinosaurs from the original Bubble Bobble, which I find a bit of a shame - though to be honest this is a very different game and hardly a sequel as we normally mean it at all), and you're equipped with a single weapon - rainbows. These come in single, double or triple loop shots (upgraded by collecing potion bottles - one of many pick up-able doobries littered through the game) and perform a multitude of tasks. You can trap a Daddy by dropping a rainbow on top of him, zap one by hitting him with it, and form bridges to run up over to help you reach higher platforms.

Brilliant they are, and learning how best to use them is a lot of the fun of the game - a lot, but not all of it, because once you've sussed out how to complete each level there's still the challenge of gathering more points while you do it. There are far too many ways to score (oo-er) than it's possible to list here, but the order in which you collect things (like diamonds, which most monsters release if killed in a certain way), the use of magical items and the finding of the secret rooms all count for something (actually there isn't a secret room in the Speccy version - it wouldn't fit - but if you do all the things you'd normally do in the coin-op to find it you'll still get the extra points. Try it and see). Anyway, enough of this detail stuff the game is packed with it, and learning all the different things you can do is part of the fun anyway. Let's take a look at the levels.

Level One Insect Island
This is the first island you come to - it has a nice blue sky background and is populated by hundreds of cartoony bugs (it's the one they illustrate on the advert if you've seen that). Touching any of the bad guys is fatal, but avoiding them can be too because they tend to get more aggressive if ignored - for instance, the ladybirds will just walk around normally, but if you jump past without killing them they get angry and fly up after you.

Other baddies include caterpillars, crows, spiders and the occasional hive (which spawns more bees - shoot it quickly before any of them escape). At the end of each sub-level you jump onto the top platform and lots of fish-like objects bounce up around you, turning into yummy fruit ("Hurrah!" or "Goal in!" (?) as the game keeps telling you in best Japlish). The end-of-level monster is a giant spider - not the best giant baddy in the game, it's true, but still very hard to obliterate until you get the hang of things.

Level Two Combat Island
This one is packed with military-type stuff, from helicopters (which behave exactly the same as the bees)and trucks (read: caterpillars) to tanks, cannons and bomb-dropping planes. There's a giant, smiling, bomb-dropping helicopter at the end too.

Level Three Monster Island
All dark and spooky, this is where the bats, skeletons, ghosts and ugly Frankenstein monsters lurk. Again, they behave more or less the same as the previous baddies, but with nice touches of their own - for instance, the bats hang from the bottoms of the platforms, and some turn into lightning tossing vampires as they get closer to you. Yikes! The giant baddy at the end is a bigger vampire, who shoots out bats all over the place.

Level Four Toy Island
Like a sort of manic toy shop, it's got bouncy balls, teddy bear puppets, water pistols and sproingy boxing glove things which bounce around the screen. The end-of-level giant is a Mr Punch-type doll.

Level Five Arkanoid Island
Um, didn't actually get this far, but from what we can gather it's sort of based on the famous bat-and-bricks game, with all the baddies (looking more like a set of wobbly shapes than anything else) from Revenge of Doh (the second Arkanoid game) making some sort of appearance. Weird!

There are two more levels (Robot Island and Dragon's Island) but apart from the names I don't really know that much about them, I'm afraid - would it be too much to guess that one's full of robots and the other's packed with dragons? Probably not (but write and let me know if I'm wrong!)

And that's it really. Just before we go though, I'd better explain the rather spooky circumstances through which Ocean got to publish this game. Y'see, what happened (roughly) was that when Firebird and Rainbird got bought from British Telecom by MicroProse last year there was a bit of a misunderstanding over whether the rights to Rainbow islands (bought by BT from coin-op people Taito) went with the sale or not. So even though MicroProse now owned the code to all five versions of the game (put together for Firebird by programmers Graftgold) they didn't have the rights to actually publish and sell it! in the end a sensible arrangement was reached whereby Ocean (who somehow got approval from Taito to publish the game) bought all the actual code from MicroProse, and Bob's your uncle - everybody's happy. Or something. (Just don't ask me to explain again.)

Phew! Just to reiterate then. Rainbow Islands - it's bloomin' brill! Go and buy it, you won't regret it! (Unless, of course, you hate all cutesy Japanese arcade games on sight, in which case you'll loathe it with a vengeance). It's probably the surest thing to being a monster hit since Chase HQ (but then it's a major Ocean release, so you knew that already of course) and, what's more, it deserves to be too! You can't say fairer than that, can you?

Life Expectancy: 85%
Instant Appeal: 91%
Graphics: 93%
Addictiveness: 94%
Overall: 94%

Summary: If you hate cute platform games you'll loathe it, but if you like them you'll think it's the best game ever played (or as near as dammit).

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 75, March 1992   page(s) 58

Cuter than a bag of puppies, this big, tricky platform number scales new heights in hollow-eyed addictiveness. Five islands of jolly villains stand between you and your best beloved, and you've naught but a handful of magic rainbows to see you to the end. Dashing up through the clean and colourful vertical scrolling, ever a step ahead of the rising water, you'll find the major problem is actually bringing yourself to expunge the twee baddies. Sweetness aside, this is a game that will keep you playing until you beat it. Stop dithering over the damage it will do to your public image and buy it immediately, along with a flashy new phone that you can make a point of leaving off the hook.

Overall: 91%

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 98, April 1990   page(s) 70,71

Until you've actually bought Rainbow Islands and played it, the following review may well seem a bit overenthusiastic.

But it really really is the most addictive, playable and thoroughly excellent game I've seen in an absolute age. New Zealand Story was a brave, and largely successful attempt at the genre, but Rainbow Islands blows it away. For a start, the game is absolutely packed with fast moving colour graphics, bonus icons and strange bad guys.

The days of the Rainbow Islands are numbered. Their colourfulness simply makes them too heavy and they're sinking into the sea. You've got to work your way to the very top of each island before you, well, drown really. Each island is populated with hundreds of peculiar denizens, all deadly to the touch. Using your (initially limited) rainbow-casting ability combined with a spritely jump, you're upward bound...

You can make a fair amount of progress up the island simply by jumping from one platform to another. A far more efficient and exciting mode of transport, though is available through the rainbows. No normal illusion produced by sunlight filtering through raindrops these. Oh no. You can walk on these rainbows and even kill the pesky island inhabitants with them.

Should you pick up some of the special potions scattered around, your rainbow will double in length, offering a much broader kill area and a longer bridge, giving access to more remote areas.

Once you've bumped off an alien, it'll turn into a power-up/bonus. Among these are Speedy boots (make you go faster), Smart bombs (kills everything on screen) and Potions (explained earlier). Others are simply score-incrementing pick-ups.

The colour graphics are remarkably well handled, and even when the screen is scrolling upwards, the action remains as smooth as silk, attribute problems virtually eradicated.

If you're a fan of the runny/jumpy genre, then this is THE game for you. Even if you're not, and would rather have red hot needles thrust into your eyes than play this sort of game, now is your chance to wise up; Rainbow Islands is the most entertaining game released for months.

Label: Ocean
Author: Graftgold
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Graphics: 90%
Sound: 80%
Playability: 85%
Lastability: 85%
Overall: 94%

Summary: Truly excellent conversion of an "unconventional" coin-op

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 121, March 1992   page(s) 58

At the end of the rainbow there's no pot of gold, but there is a whole new world where a piece of animated bubblegum awaits your presence for never-ending fun.

Rainbow Islands takes place in a wacky, colourful world where our hero must conquer seven danger-fraught islands. Each islands has three levels , all of which are tricky to complete but can be overcome by rainbow zapping all the nasty island creatures in your way. Get to the top of each level before the world floods and you you drown.

At the end of each island you must defeat a guardian spider, which, believe me, is difficult. And defeating the spider is the only way to get to the next island!

Starting off with three credits in the bank, the game can last ages with high scores increasing the amount of credits available, thus improving playability and lastability; a very catchy theme tune will have you singing along like a choirboy while the cartoon-like graphics present a nice, detailed picture though the main sprite isn't too impressive.

Rainbow Islands is a very addictive game which will keep you coming back to more. I would highly recommend this game, it's one of my favourites.

Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Paul Berry

GARTH: Rainbow Island is one most excellent game and has some of the best music ever on the Speccy. Tie this up with the excellent full colour graphics and you'll see why it did so well on the Rainbow Collection. If you haven't got it - get it!

Graphics: 92%
Sound: 94%
Playability: 85%
Lastability: 92%
Overall: 93%

Summary: Rainbow islands. It sounds good, it looks good, and you can certainly play it. This is what a game should be like. You won't be disappointed.

Award: Sinclair User Best Budget

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 101, April 1990   page(s) 68

Spectrum, C64 £9.99, Amiga £24.99

After all the legal battles and general confusion as to exactly who was to convert this sequel to Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands has finally fallen into the hands of Ocean, who are now definitely releasing it.

Baron von Blubba has kidnapped all the inhabitants of the seven islands and has replaced them with his own henchmen. As Bub, hero of Bubble Bobble and now in human form, your task is to reach the top of each of the islands before they sink into the ocean, and finally reach the last island and rescue the hostages. As well as the usual directional and jump controls, Bub also has the use of a magic rainbow which he can use as either a bridge to climb across to firmer footing, or as a weapon with which to trap and crush the nasties.

Rainbow Islands is a fantastic a game (in fact, looking back we think we underrated it on the ST) and these new versions are simply staggering Rainbow Islands is going to be THE game of 1990 - and if it isn't, we'll gladly eat our words!!

Overall: 95%

Summary: Highly colourful, devoid of attribute problems and easily as playable as the others, Spectrum owners will have to go a long way to find a better coin-op conversion than Rainbow Islands.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB