Rainbow Islands – Various Systems

Suz E.Q is back with a colourful classic!

Following their hugely successful Arcade game that any 80’s kid would be hard-pressed to not know from just the music alone,
Taito released the first sequel to ‘Bubble Bobble’ in 1987 – ‘Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2.

This new platform adventure saw the adorable twins Bub & Bob no longer in bubble-blowing dinosaur/dragon form, but in cute and chubby little human bodies. And where are the bubbles? No bubbles! As the title suggests, we are dealing with rainbows. Rainbows everywhere! Fun and addictive (addictive being an understatement) this game is all about the rainbows.

While child you, or even your parents, were pumping coins into the local ‘Rainbow Islands’ upright machine, Taito were very conveniently porting their bright and cheerful time-eater into take-home form. From the early 90’s Bub and Bob could be seen in lounge rooms everywhere. If you had a Commodore 64, Atari, NES, or Sega Megadrive (just to cover the main contenders) then you could play Rainbow Islands at home, with only tiny differences between the versions.

No matter which console you have played this almost perfect example of a platformer on (if you haven’t then I am shocked and almost offended – go play, NOW!), the goal remains the same. Get Bub and Bob safely from one island to the next. As simple as it sounds, the clever team at Taito have made ‘Rainbow Islands’ in the same vein as its predecessor – there are collectible items, and collectible items cannot be left behind by gamers, or maybe it’s just me… I need to collect those diamonds; there are seven different coloured ones per level and guess what? They make the colours of the rainbow. And don’t forget the little upgrades along your way to the big baddie defending each island; you’ll need shoes to make you faster, and bottles to make your rainbow longer and quicker. In case you didn’t know already – it’s all about the rainbows.

They are your weapon and your make-shift platform between unreachable blocks as you make your way to the top platform before the “hurry” warning sounds and the water swallows little Bub or Bob. Nobody wants that. Still catchy after all of these years, I find myself wanting to make the ‘Rainbow Islands’ theme music my current ringtone and the sounds of shooting rainbows don’t even seem to get annoying. However, after a marathon of this game you’ll be sure to hear the sigh of a dying Bub or Bob in your sleep. The graphics are smooth across all consoles, with the exception of the Commodore 64 just looking a little less bright by comparison, and I always found the controls not quite as responsive as on the NES or Sega Megadrive, but that probably comes down to what you’re used to.

With level design that ties in with the game’s theme so well, ‘Rainbow Islands’ is just one of those now retro games that you can return to and continue to notice new things roaming around on each island. If you’re up to Toy Island, then expect to see flying teddy bears and jack-in-the-boxes. And don’t let the sweet face of the giant spider at the end of Insect Island fool you; it will kill Bub or Bob, so have a game plan prepared, as well as a triple rainbow and speed shoes.

4.5/5 for addictive rainbow goodness