Game Review

Rainbow Islands: Towering Adventure! Review

USA USA Version

Posted by James Newton

Is there a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow?

So there you are, transformed from a bubble-blowing dinosaur into human form again, ready to start your life afresh – maybe get a flat, a new car and settle into a good routine. But then, before you can say "9 to 5", you gain the ability to fire rainbows and have to use this skill to climb a huge multi-coloured tower.

That’s basically the level of storytelling that this game gives you to bridge the gap between the ace WiiWare remake Bubble Bobble Plus and this title. Opening with the brothers Bubby and Bobby recovering from their last adventure, an evil scientist soon appears and proceeds to lay out a vendetta against the siblings, even going so far as to start up his powerful drilling machine to chase them up the stages. I know, I know –drilling upwards doesn’t make much sense, but not all scientists have common sense, right? Either way, this addition plays out like Mr Driller going upwards, and when combined with the time limit certainly adds a sense of urgency to the game.

The first thing you’ll notice is the game’s completely redrawn graphics, particularly the newly lanky Bubby and Bobby. Personally, I prefer the original arcade graphics (or the slightly smoother Rainbow Islands Deluxe on Sega Saturn) but the update certainly isn’t an ugly game, with the series’ flair for palette and lovely rounded enemies still intact. It’s just a shame they couldn’t have left the main characters as the fat-cheeked kids, but presumably their rainbow-running antics have slimmed them down over the years.

Once you’ve got past the title’s newly redrawn graphics, you’ll find yourself in familiar Rainbow Islands territory, with all the power-ups present and correct. Dropping a rainbow on top of an enemy results in one of seven coloured gems, although the collection of all seven seems easier than in the original – I never managed to get all seven in my hours of play of Rainbow Islands, but I grabbed them within an hour on Towering Adventure!

Each time you take a hit from an enemy, you lose thirty seconds from your timer, although you can earn extra time by defeating enemies and collecting the crystals they leave behind. By destroying enemies in quick succession, you can increase your multiplier and gain more time per crystal, and getting a chain of seven will level up your “Rainbow Jump” meter, one of two new moves in Towering Adventure. Basically a super-powered jump that sees you fly up the stage destroying all in your path, the Rainbow Jump seems at odds with the game’s heritage as a precision platformer – although it takes a high level of skill to attain, particularly at the higher levels, it’s still essentially a smart bomb that travels. The other new move included is a Rainbow Shield, activated by hitting Up and 1, which covers you in a circular spectrum for protection, useful in those tight spots.

One of the other significant changes is to the game’s structure. Instead of several levels of vertical ascent punctuated by single-screen boss encounters, the game is now a continuous climb, with fights against the evil upwards-drilling scientist every hundred metres. You still need to keep scaling the tower even in these boss fights, making an uncomfortable mix of platforming and boss fight that sees you climbing high to avoid his attacks, but then finding yourself too high to attack him. Once you’ve defeated or outrun the boss, you start the next level and the whole process begins again without even so much as a pause for breath or replenishment of your timer. Although this keeps the gameplay undoubtedly frantic, it doesn’t compare to the sense of achievement you used to feel when you cleared a world in the original.

There's a two-player mode included this time around too, with both players working together to ascend the tower and compete for power-ups. It's an interesting diversion that certainly makes the game a little easier with the right partner but nothing outstanding, and with a complete lack of leaderboards or online rankings the only battle is really for pride against your partner.


The original Rainbow Islands was a great arcade game of its time, with a bold art style, addictive gameplay and a sometimes unforgiving difficulty level. Sadly, Rainbow Islands loses the distinctive graphics, and although the gameplay resembles its predecessors on the surface it loses a lot of the elements that made it a superior platformer: there’s little difference between the stages of the tower, particularly compared to the original’s variety of themed worlds, and the removal of the static screen boss fights in favour of a constant climb just makes the game exhausting. Without wishing to sound like the kind of grumpy gamer you’d expect to object to this harmless update, Rainbow Islands: Towering Adventure! is a classic case of “if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.”

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User Comments (46)



FroguinZX said:

This seems like a letdown for me. I never played the original Rainbow Islands, but according to this review I won't be getting the update either.



Knux said:

What a dissapointment! I think I'll just buy the original instead.



Sean_Aaron said:

Yep, pretty much what I thought...hopefully a VCA or PC Engine release of the original will be in the offing shortly!



Wiiloveit said:

What a dissapointment! I think I'll just buy the original instead.
Oh no you won't - well, not until it appears on the VC at least.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Ouch!! I was looking forward to this as I hadn't played the original.

Oh well. I still may give it a chance at some point, but right now I'll be holding out for Bubble Bobble or Cave Story instead.



Wesker said:

I still don't know whether to get this or not. I wish Drake had of done the review, I find his reviews more informative. I guess I'm gonna wait for some gamer's comments.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

That's too bad.

I'm in the same boat as Chicken Brutus. I've never played the original so this caught my eye. We'll see if I end up giving it a try anyway.



James said:

Luigi - sorry you didn't find the review that informative. If you've got any questions I'll try to answer them, although I might not be what you'd call a 'gamer'. Still, I'll try!



Omega said:

I like the review and Prosody as a reviewer. I have a few questions, though. (Sorry if they are always the same.) Is there a password or save feature in this game? Is it conceivable that an average player can play through the whole game. Can you tell something about the number of levels and difficulty?



James said:

It automatically saves after each boss, so you can start from any level you've reached. It's not hugely difficult because you have infinite lives, just the time limit.



Bass_X0 said:

I hope they give us the European NES version sometime (the American version looks pretty crappy). I'd download it for sure.



calculon said:

I actually quite like this game - it's tough but not unfair. You forgot to mention that you can recoup some of your time by defeating the boss as it releases loads of time gems. If you're not quick enough to collect them then that's just tough.

It's a shame that you made it sound like there's no way to restore the time meter as it gives your review of this game an unfair bent. Plus, as Prosody mentioned, the game saves your progress at each level so if you die you can go back with a reset timer so there's no real loss at the end of the day. The boss battles are hard but again not unfair - yes the required platforming is a little uncomfortable but as with all games it just takes practice.

Certainly there's less visual variety in the levels but to be honest I found the game that frenetic I didn't have time to worry too much about the aesthetics. I think some of you guys are too set in wanting everything to look retro. If you want retro why not just wait for the original to come out? Not everyone remembers Rainbow Islands as 'that all-time-classic' and not everyone wants to play or even develop games with horribly blocky 2D graphics.

I'm sorry, but there's just no way this game deserves a 5/10 score. It's well above Equilibrio (which was a pointless waste of space that made no real use of its mechanics yet managed to score 7/10) in terms of game play and entertainment. If anything, my only major gripe about this game is the developer's insistence on using the Wiimote as the sole method of control: sometimes things just don't feel responsive enough. If the classic controller was in there I reckon this game could stand with its held high.

Overall I'd rate this game 7/10.



Omega said:

Thank you Prosody and Calculon for saying something about the difficulty and abilty to save. I think it makes sense when you do not need to start from scratch everytime. That is something that I miss in Bubble Bobble Plus. - Hmm, I don't know. Sounds really not so bad. The only thing that turned me off at first is how tall the players are. How could they replace our beloved square-sized characters with such beanpoles? This looks ridiculous. But that's probably just a matter of getting used to it.



Wesker said:

Having never played the original this sounds like pretty good fun to me. 800 points isn't going to break the bank so I think I'll give it a try.



James said:

Calculon - I totally take that feedback on board, although the review does state "you can earn extra time by defeating enemies and collecting the crystals they leave behind. By destroying enemies in quick succession, you can increase your multiplier and gain more time per crystal." I appreciate your other points though.

My main grumble with the game is that it just never felt as fun as the original, and I couldn't recommend it above any of the other tremendous platformers available on WiiWare.



Draygone said:

Don't care if this was said already, I'm tired of that echoing add permeating my speakers. I can't even see it on the page!

What happened to the islands sinking story?



accc said:

Huge Rainbow Islands fan here, and I think this game looks great! I'm buying it as soon as it comes out in the US, whenever that is. It seems like the reviewer would prefer a safe, by-the-numbers update (like Bubble Bobble Plus) rather than something that changes up the formula a little bit.



Digiki said:

Seems Wiiware updates of classic games like to be uglier than they were before, not that they were ugly before, but they are now...



Draygone said:

@24. Chicken Brutus
It's these new flash video advertisments. They're totally glitched up, and I can't seem to stop them from playing.

Anyway, I was never a fan of Rainbow Islands. But I'm still disappointed they changed things up like this. Might not have been that big a deal had Bubble Bobble kept to the classic formula. At the very least, they could've changed things up as part of an extra bonus like they had the change-ups in BB+.

And there goes the ad again. With all this lag and all the echoing, it makes me wonder if this site somehow accidentally stacked that ad on top of itself over and over.



Gentleben said:

Downloaded the night it came out, and went to bed. The following day after work I rushed home to play and I've got the "System Memory Corrupt" Messages. I'n going to have to send my Wii somewhere over the rainbow (Nintendo) to get it repaired.



Megaace said:

I bought it on Friday and played 2 o 3 hours. I have the arcade machine at home so I can compare. I prefer the original, but I think it is a funny remake. Good pace, fast and old school playability. The only think I don't like is some of the graphics, and the time limit. If you are hit 2 or 3 times, lost a lot of time, and it is difficult to finish the level. Overall, I like the game, I would give it 7/10. I think it is not a 5/10 game, it is much funny that a lot of 7/10 games that Nintendo Life has reviewed.
To compare, Bubble Booble Plus is a 9/10 game for me, because it includes the original game plus new levels and new playability. And it is one of the most addictive arcade games ever...



James said:

Luigi - Lost Winds springs to mind (well, from what I've heard at least...) Megaman X9 is good too, and Bubble Bobble Plus (if that counts as a platformer.)

It's not a case of preferring a straight remake per se, I was just disappointed that some of the new introductions, in my opinion, didn't improve the original formula. I'm sure when the first game's released on Virtual Console I'll be much happier.

Gentleben - that sounds horrible. I hope it all gets sorted out soon!



SwerdMurd said:


...Megaman X 9? Yes, both LostWinds and MM9 are sublime. I just wish we'd gotten more Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, or Adventure Island yet.../salivate for Contra

BUT! We got Cocoto's Platforming Mediocrity! YAI!!!



calculon said:

@Prosody: Lostwinds is a terrible example of a platformer once you look past the visuals and control scheme. It's incredibly short and shallow, presents little challenge and is seriously expensive for what you get. Sure it's one way of getting into platformers if you're new to gaming with its quirky controls but that doesn't make it good by any means.

As for Mega Man 9 - yes it's a good platformer if you're a masochist. Most people play games to have fun not be feel constantly frustrated though. Whilst it could be argued that a sense of real achievement and a virtual badge of honor would be awarded to the player who completes it, 90% of most players who dare to download it won't even get as far as completing two or three bosses before frustration overcomes the expense and it's cast aside as a bad purchase.

Some might even argue that Niki: Rock and Ball is decent. I say that's a load of balls (no pun intended). It's probably the worst example of platforming on the service from the seriously awful user interface to the touchy controls and ugly visuals - the only good thing about the game is that most people have forgotten about it already.

Bubble Bobble Plus is fine as a platformer but in terms of innovation does it really do that much more than its predecessor that it sets a precedent for imposing such a negative rating factor on Rainbow Islands because it doesn't improve on the original in great ways either?

Quite frankly, the only 'decent' available platformer outside of Rainbow Islands and Bubble Bobble is Cotoco Platform Jumper or whatever its called. In other words, those three are about as good as most can expect in terms of lengthy, fun platforming entertainment.



Viral said:

And my wife wanted to get this in hopes of it being like the original...maybe I'll just get her the original.



SwerdMurd said:

@ calculon - I hate to play this card, but the inability to get past more than 2 or 3 bosses in any Megaman game can be attributed to nothing but bad platforming chops. The newest few have even employed a shop system to allow for purchase of Energy Tanks, Weapon Tanks, Extra Lives (list goes on)...not taking advantage of these included features could obviously make an unseasoned platformer think the game is harder than it is, but making a claim that 90% of the people that download it can't beat 2 or 3 bosses is either a critique on the stupidity of the average player, or simply another checkmark in the "Wii users = nongamers" collumn. While your statement of people casting it aside, due to frustration, and calling it a bad game is accurate, that says nothing of the actual decency of the game. The game is phenomenal--the fact that the people playing it have nubs for hands says nothing of the greatness of the game.



wuggle said:

I just had to register so I could second the review given by Calculon at comment 17. This game is actually a lot of fun!

I too fondly remember the original and still occasionally play it on my arcade cabinet and initially I was disappointed that the original arcade version was not included however the more I played this new version the more I realised I had to let go of the past and enjoy this game for the remake/re-image that it was.

Its fast, frantic and very addictive with that 'must have just one more go' feel about it.

The only thing I do agree with from the original review is it does feel like a cross between Rainbow Islands and Mr Driller... and personally I love Mr Driller too so that isn't a bad combination!

I'd rate it at least a 7 or 8 out of 10.



Sean_Aaron said:

I'm sorry this game is not a 7/10; if you've got points to blow and are a bit platforming fan then terrific, knock yourself out, but play the first boss and you've pretty much seen all this game has to offer.

It's not a bad game, but it's not good enough to recommend a general buy.




The feedback from Calc was useful as much as this review and Sean's hands on playtest preview...Conclusion - not for me...

I for one thought BBP and LW were superb. Mega Man 9 on the other hand is so hardcore its just silly imho. I didn't like the physics of Niki or even the game itself. Luckily I got to try MM9 and Niki on another person's wii before buying.



Gentleben said:

Got my Wii repeaired and I'm really enjyoying this game. The countdown clock can easily be countered with killing enemies in a fast and furious rain style. Furthermore once you get the hang of destroying rainbows you stand on with a simple downward movement you can dispatch and easily collect any items underneath you.

The whole storyline is a total twist on other Rainbow Islands games-it's well worth reading the instruction book online to get a further insight into the Magic VS Science Storyline. My only real gripe is the sudden ending after Area 7 if you failed to deafeat all of Dr Crescents machines on the way up to that area.

I've yet to defeat his final machine.



SteveW said:

I almost didn't buy it when I saw this review but I'm glad I did! It's excellent! I'd definitely give it at least an 8 out of 10. If you like Mr. Driller you will love this game! yeah, you're going up instead of down but it's just as fun.



Kadaj said:


Dude, you played the original Megaman games, right? They were considered as some of the hardest games ever made, and I'm thrilled that MM9 carries on that tradition of old school challenge.

As for Rainbow Islands, I loved the original. I'm a little hesitant about this remake, but I'll probably DL at some point xD

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