Although the TwinBee series is mostly remembered as a shoot 'em up franchise, it might come as a surprise that there were actually a few games which took on different genres. Rainbow Bell Adventures — which is coincidentally also the last game released outside Japan — tries its hand at platforming, bringing its own unique little quirks to the table.
As in the other TwinBee games, the plot's pretty minimal. Dr. Warumon is plotting to take over the world again, so it's up to Twinbee and friends to stop him. Unlike the previous games, it's now possible to select what character you use, with a selection of Twinbee, Winbee and Gwinbee. Each comes with slightly different stats, so you can pick whichever best suits your play-style.
The game starts out deceptively simple, with a few outdoor stages with hardly any enemies or obstacles. While your character of choice can simply run and jump around like any other platformer, with a punch as the main form of attack, both the jump and run buttons can actually be held down to charge, which is this main gimmick. A fully charged punch will let you throw a massive attack in any direction, while a fully charged jump will let you propel forward in any direction, which as you can imagine quickly becomes a key mechanic.
This mechanic can be used to easily beat the first few stages in less than half a minute each, but the game quickly becomes less open, with most of the later levels being set inside maze-like indoors stages where the jet mechanic is not used for bypassing everything, but for simply flying over pits or ricocheting off walls to get to hard to reach spots.
Like in the other TwinBee games, powerups play a large part, and they can still be found in the form of coloured bells. While they still give you things like a shield or miniature ships that trail behind you, you can also get some extra weapons, like a hammer or gun, or spike shoes that double your jump damage. The only difference is that the coloured bells are now dropped by enemies, rather than being hidden in clouds.
While the Japanese version of the game allows you to progress through the levels in multiple orders, for some reason this was changed for the European release, forcing you to follow one straight path through the game instead. All of the levels are grouped into different areas, so first you'll go through an outdoors world, then a cave world, and so on. Naturally, each of these has a boss at the end, although these tend to be fairly easy to defeat, especially because fully charged attacks tend to destroy them in three or four hits.
Although the main game is primarily intended as a single player experience, as in the other TwinBee games, it is still possible to have a friend join in. This is a little clumsy, however, because the screen will only keep up with one player — if you don't stay together, one player is going to be stuck fumbling around off-screen. There is also a battle mode where you can fight against each other in small arenas, which is much better if you plan on playing with a friend.
As with the rest of the series, the game's graphics and music are quite upbeat, with detailed, colourful environments and fun, catchy music, naturally including a bunch of remixes for fans of the series.
For the most part, Rainbow Bell Adventures is a pretty straight-forward platformer, though it spices things up a little with some fun TwinBee-based mechanics that make it quite enjoyable. It's not going to go down in the history books as one of the greatest platformers ever, but it's a fairly obscure platformer which has now finally been re-released, and one you're bound to enjoy it while it lasts.