Rainbow Islands (レインボーアイランド Reinbō Airando ) is a 1987 arcade game developed and published by Taito. The game is subtitled "The Story of Bubble Bobble 2" and is the sequel to Taito's hit game Bubble Bobble from the previous year. It is the second of four arcade games in the Bubble Bobble series (followed by Bubble Symphony and Bubble Memories, but itself has two direct sequels: Parasol Stars and Bubble Bobble Part 2). The game was ported for numerous home computers and game consoles.
The basic premise of the game is that each level is an island which is slowly sinking into the sea. The player must therefore get to the top of each level, by jumping on platforms and making use of the game's most distinctive feature: the ability to produce solid rainbows, which are used both as platforms to stand on, and as a weapon.
One of the features which sets this game apart from many others (and has no doubt been responsible for the game's popularity) is its 'hidden depths'. While initially appearing to be quite a simple game, Rainbow Islands in fact has a vast number of secrets for the player to discover, including secret levels, secret power-ups and riddles. Because of these elements, completing the game properly requires a large amount of dedication from the player. The scoring system also has secrets, which allow vastly higher scores to be achieved than normal.
The game is set on a chain of ten islands, each one with a different theme. Each island provides four rounds of gameplay, and once these are complete the player moves to the next island in the chain. The islands get progressively more difficult, with enemies moving much faster on the later ones. These are depicted on a map screen before the start of each island. The three secret islands are not visible until all 7 big diamonds are collected. Most consumer versions of the game completely lack the secret islands.
Players can release rainbows that act as both weapons against the enemies and as a makeshift platform. By jumping on them, they fall down beating any enemies below it. Collecting power-ups increases the player's speed, the speed of the rainbows and how many are spawned. If players take too long in a level, water will start to rise up from the bottom of the stage.
The main characters are Bubblun and Bobblun, the protagonists of Bubble Bobble (known as "Bub and Bob" in the western releases). However, in this game they appear in their human forms as "Bubby" and "Bobby", as opposed to the "bubble dragons" of the first game (following on from the first game's true ending). Also unlike the first game, players must now "alternate" (i.e., take turns), with player one as Bubby (green shirt), and player 2 as Bobby (blue shirt) (as with the first game).
Rainbow Islands Extra Version is a modified version of Rainbow Islands; the game is exactly the same except the stages' enemies and bosses appear in a different order (much like Bubble Bobble's Super Mode). Rainbow Islands Extra was released in limited quantities in the arcade. The game was also included as a mode in the Sega Mega Drive version of Rainbow Islands. It was licensed to Romstar for North American manufacturing and distribution.
Rainbow Islands has been ported to the following home computer and video game console platforms:
- Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC (1989, Graftgold/Ocean)
- Amiga and Atari ST (1990, Graftgold/Ocean)
- Sega Mega Drive (1990, Aisystem Tokyo/Taito) (released as Rainbow Islands Extra)
- NES (1991)
- Sega Master System (1993) (European version contains bad glitch resetting the game after Level 7, preventing player from reaching Level 8 and seeing the ending. This is fixed in the Brazil version)
- PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 (1993, NEC Interchannel)
- PC, Sega Saturn and PlayStation (1996, Graftgold/Acclaim) (released as Bubble Bobble also featuring Rainbow Islands, optionally plays with improved graphics)
- WonderSwan (2000, Bandai) (released as Rainbow Islands: Putty's Party)
- Game Boy Color (2001)
- PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox (2005, Empire Interactive/Sega) (released as part of Taito Legends)
- Mobile (2005, Taito) (released as mobile version for various handsets)
- Xbox Live Arcade (2009, Taito) (released with updated "2.5D" graphics)
The Amiga version of Rainbow Islands was the first game to make #1 on Amiga Power's annual All Time Top 100 list, and held the spot for years until losing to Sensible Soccer, which retained the title for the rest of the magazine's run.
The ZX Spectrum port of the game was awarded 94% in the April 1990 issue of Your Sinclair and was placed at number 8 in the Your Sinclair official top 100. It was also awarded 94% score in Crash.
UK magazine C&VG gave the Atari ST version a score of 93%, praising the graphics and calling the game addictive and "tremendous fun".
The original arcade version, as well as the Japanese versions of some of the ports, features in-game music reminiscent of the song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. In other versions of the game, such as North American and European releases, the in-game music is different so as not to infringe copyright.
The European version of the Sega Master System port contains a bad glitch that crashes the game after Level 7, sending the player back to the title screen. If the level select code is used to access Level 8, the same glitch occurs at the end of that level completely preventing the player from seeing the ending. The Brazil version has fixed this glitch as you can play right through.