I decided to do this article a few weeks ago and the reason for this is due to the amount of attention these games as a series have got on Facebook lately.
It is strange how people get when they get older, all of a sudden people start to talk of how Bubble Bobble was not revolutionary for its time, same with Rainbow Islands.
I won’t quote anyone here as this is more of an explanation of the time when the games were released and how the crowd out there reacted and not about people on Facebook who see to have forgotten why these games pioneered the gaming industry in many fields.
Bubble Bobble came very late on the Amiga, the C64 and Arcade version came several years earlier and both of great quality, luckily the Amiga port was another top-notch conversion. The Amiga version was not delayed in any form for the Amiga, the real reason was that it was a very popular game even 2 years after the Arcade release and another reason was of course that Rainbow Islands was on its way to the Amiga etc.
Bubble Bobble was the first of its kind when it came to the 2 player mechanism and the level build-up system, the warp function may not have been new in design but it had that random approach thing and it all depended on where and how. The Bubble system was also something that we had not seen before, it may have had its problems but in my opinion, there was nothing wrong with it at all.
Bubble Bobble had multiple endings, not many know this. Cracked versions of the game stopped working on level 99.
Bubble Bobble won awards after awards on most formats, at one point it was ranked so well that it topped most formats at the same time and it sold very good (for its time) and the coin-op raked in money like crazy.
To this day, the Bubble Bobble theme and high score songs must be some of the most remixed songs of all time (in the game industry).
So naturally, a sequel had to happen…
Rainbow Islands was the sequel to Bubble Bobble and it went away from the 2 cute dragons and the bubbles, this time around it went for a boy and his rainbows.
The odd thing here is that Taito went on to make Bubble Bobble 2 a few years later, yes, one with dragons and bubbles again.. (what the hell indeed!). (NES/GB Only?)
Yet again the Arcade, C64 and Amiga versions were top notch conversions, they oozed quality and amazingly they were pretty much identical although the Amiga version had actually a few changes, 3 levels were missing, new stuff added and so on.
Rainbow Islands went away from the static screen approach from the first game and instead they went for a proper vertical platformer, very colorful for its time and a huge step up from the first game.
Rainbow Islands feature a very special power-up system where you had to grab various items in a certain row in order to get the bonus, this was quite a popular feature and one that many have copied.
Multiple endings in this game were removed, if it is present in the Arcade version is something i don’t know for sure.
The game mechanics in the game works with rainbows instead of bubbles and at first, this can be a very annoying mechanic but once you get the hang of it (and upgrade) that is when the fun starts!. The 2 player mode is the only downside of the game, the first game had a brilliant CO-OP function but in this one, it mostly feels more annoying than fun.
Parasol Stars (Rainbow Islands 2), the third game in the series and this time around they scrapped the Rainbows in favor for Parasols, i see a pattern here, do you?. (see the bottom of the post).
This time around it was not an Arcade port, this game was exclusive to home computers and consoles. Why this game was made and how they came up with the concept is beyond my knowledge, but it worked, gameplay was great and so was the Parasol concept.
The much loved 2 player co-op feature from the first game was back, the gameplay mechanics were refined and bumped up a few notches.
The sad thing about all these changes was that the game ended up being nothing but utter chaos at times, but when it worked, it worked fantastically good.
Ocean did a mighty fine job of creating this game and it is clear that they knew the roots and what worked in the past and what did not.
The boy from the Rainbow islands returned in this game and while the main focus was static screens it still had scrolling albeit limited, i guess it used 4 screens and scrolling between them or something, worked great and with no slowdowns what so ever.
Multiple endings returned in this game!.
The thing with this game is that the mechanics feel so familiar and that is because there might be a connection, which game was first i don’t know but Parasol Stars was the first i tried (see below for more info).
Parasol Stars feels a lot like a hybrid mix of all games in the series along with Snow Bros and Liquid kids, both games were meant to come to the Amiga, but they never did although completed versions were released several years ago thanks to the EAB/HOL community.
http://hol.abime.net/4860 for Liquid Kids information, downloadable version available too via the forum. (EAB) , water/ball concept/mechanics.
http://hol.abime.net/4675 for Snow Bros information, downloadable version available too via the forum. (EAB). (Power build up and general gameplay style).
So by the looks of things all these games have some sort of a connection.
Bubble Bobble. Rainbow Islands: Bubble Bobble II. Bubble Bobble 2. Parasol Stars: Rainbow Islands 2. Snow Bros. Snow Bros 2. Bubble Bobble 3. Bubble Bobble Revolution. Rainbow Islands Revolution. And so on (?).