Rainbow Islands (Second Review)

Title		Rainbow Islands (Second Review)
Game Type	Platform
Publisher       Taito/Ocean
HD Installable  Patch available
Players		1
Compatibility   All (With patch)
Submission	Martin Smith Profiled Reviewer

Chris Vella's bemusement (see separate review) at the popularity of this
platform arcade conversion is nothing unusual, as it was quite a divisive
title. To some it was simplified, childish and twee, with a gimmicky
premise and an ST-ish feel. However, I feel there's a certain magic to it
that few others (and perhaps no other Amiga platformer) can come close to.

As platformers go its quite unusual - like its predecessor Bubble Bobble
(and sequel Parasol Stars) the gameplay is largely structured around the
use of a particular item - rainbows in this case. You fire them off, with
the result of any contact killing the bad guys. You can hit them with the
rainbows directly, or break a rainbow and causing its path to hit them
(this breaks the rainbow, and also collects any revealed bonuses below it
- the levels also contain hidden fruit for bonus points). You start with
only one, slow-paced rainbow, but up to 3 can be collected, as can a
speed-up, as well as magic shoes to allow faster jumping.

The game is split into 28 levels across 7 different worlds, from Insect
Island to Monster Island and Doh's Island, each featuring a variety of
themed enemies. Each island ends with an end-of-level boss. When bad guys
die after being killed by non-direct shots, they release one of 7 coloured
gems. Collecting all 7 in an island gives an extra life, but to complete
the game properly you have to collect all 7 in the correct order, from red
to violet in the order of the rainbow, every time.

None of this explains the game's appeal, but the gameplay is brilliantly
designed to be a pure test of skill and planning. Everything happens
logically, and there are no blind jumps or unexpected deaths. Controls are
slick and responsive, and ultimately, you know that every time you die,
it's your own fault - something few platformers can claim. Its quite a
tricky game though - getting past the 3rd of the 7 levels is a rare
achievement when I load it up now.

The rainbows are a great idea, their natural arc influencing the gameplay
considerably, adding all manner of seat-of-the-pants strategy. You can use
them to 'shoot' bad guys, or trap them inside one's arc, or clip them with
one. All the while you can let them go into just the right position so as
to gain the gems you require, as which colour you get depends on where the
bad guy lands.

The seven levels are suitably varied in terms of the baddies on offer,
with some having attack patterns and strategies that beggar belief in
their intricacy. Graphics are well-drawn and move quickly enough to induce
real panic at times, and the cutesy colours and music (recreating
Somewhere Over the Rainbow) add to the innocence and charm. It doesn’t get
100% out of the Amiga, but plenty of games have done that and completely
failed to offer any entertainment, class, soul or originality. This has
all four in spades, and I know which approach I prefer.

Overall 93%

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