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Game Review: Rainbow Islands

By Donnambr @_mrs_b

Review: Rainbow Islands (1990)

One of my earliest memories of playing games back on the Amiga in the early nineties was Rainbow Islands. This sequel to Bubble Bobble was released as an arcade game in 1987 and founds its way onto the Amiga in 1990. Looking back it had the same simplicity as it predecessor and was regarded as one of the best games on the Amiga throughout the computer’s lifetime.

There are 28 levels in all, spread across seven islands, such as Combat Island and Dragon Island. Your main character Bubby (there’s also Bobby in two player mode) starts at the bottom of the level and must ascend to the top via platforms and also the rainbows he can fire. These provide makeshift platforms but are easily broken and soon fade so when climbing them you have to be quick. Enemies that are native to the island stand in your way so you have say caterpillars and flies to contend with on Insect Island, while robots and other mechanical terrors await you on Robot Island. You cannot afford to go slow on the game. If you dawdle an alarm will sound, the message “Hurry Up!” appears, and the pleasant music speeds up! What’s going on? The island is sinking, that’s what. The longer you delay, the sooner the ocean rises and if you don’t keep ahead of it you’re done for!

The seven islands are Insect, Combat, Monster, Toy, Doh’s, Robot and Dragon. After negotiating the four levels you face a boss battle, some easy, others really difficult. The giant spider and bomb dropping helicopter on the first two islands are straightforward but I used to pull my hair out on Monster Island when taking on Dracula. If you didn’t kill him at the first attempt it became much more difficult. Back on the Amiga I think the most progress I ever made was at least as far as Robot Island and maybe Dragon Island, but I never managed to finish Rainbow Islands. This will always upset me because my late grandfather, who also had an Amiga back then, promised me £1.00 if I finished Rainbow Islands but sadly I was never able to collect!

 

As you traverse the islands your enemies leave useful little items that enhance your character. A red shoe helps you to run faster, a red pot allows you to cast double rainbows (you can build up to triple), a yellow pot makes the rainbows go faster so you can fire them more frequently, and there are an array of foods such as vegetables and cakes to collect though they only add to your score and have no additional benefits.

 

Another feature of Rainbow Islands is the different endings. You can work your way through the seven islands as quickly as you can to complete the game, but you’ll only win loads of treasure and receive a note informing you that there are prisoners on each island that need to be freed. To do this is not straightforward. Sometimes your enemies leave behind diamonds whose colours are those found on a rainbow. If you collect the coloured diamonds in the right order, you not only liberate a prisoner, but a doorway appears when you go to take on a boss. Instead of fighting the boss you can pop into the doorway and collect a bonus item such as the shoes, wings or the red or yellow pots. The difference with the bonus items is that when you collect them their effects are permanent, whereas their smaller counterparts are lost if your character dies!

Rainbow Islands is a timeless game. Graphically it does show its age but in terms of gameplay it is still great fun. I think I prefer Bubble Bobble as the two player feature is much better than it is here. If you haven’t played the game before it is worth considering. It won’t last long but what’s there is great. I always found this to be a difficult game, especially Dracula, but one day I may go back and complete it in its entirety. I won’t win the money I was once offered but at least I’ll have defeated the game.

Verdict: 5/5 

 


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