Sometimes you get a classic re-worked for XBLA and it you feel it necessary to invest some hard-earned points into a title. Occasionally though you get a game which feels like it ticks the boxes but isn’t worth the money. Guess which one Rainbow Islands: Towering Adventure falls into?
Following the release of Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands is crafted in a similar manner. The problem is most people will be completely unaware of the games original roots and for myself it was a chance to play a new but classic game to see what I’d missed in a past gaming life.
Whereas Bubble Bobble had the bubbles, Rainbow Island has, quite shockingly, rainbows as its primary weapon and as an aid to your character. The idea is to climb as high as possible through each of the levels before trying to beat off a tricky boss at the end of the 1000m climb. You can jump but most of the time to reach the platforms up above, you’ll need to create a rainbow to jump upon.
It all sounds a bit far-fetched and dull but underneath is quite an addictive arcade title. With each jump comes another tricky bad-guy to overcome. A variety of power-ups will make things easier such as a faster refresh rate for your weapon and a longer reach meaning you’ll be able to progress faster up the level.
The real challenge however is achieving success within the notoriously tricky game-time. Each enemy you get hit by reduces the time you have to complete the level by 30 seconds. You can earn seconds back by collecting jewels but most only give you an additional second, meaning it can be a frantic few hundred metres. Not only that but the longer you take the more likely the boss enemy at the bottom of the screen will catch up with you sucking those precious seconds.
You can see why things can be frustrating yet why it feels so fulfilling once you’ve reached the top. A meter on the right and a ticker showing your height add to the feeling that you want to get to the top of the level. Even if you make it up to the boss in good time, you’ll be timing those jumps perfectly to either get to the top or kill the boss (you don’t have to beat him in each round).
Technique is the key and the faster you can pull off firing the rainbows and progressing upwards, the easier you’ll find it. The faster you progress the more likely you’ll be fighting to survive but with an achievement for completing a level in under a minute (cruel!), it is hard to put the game down.
The problem is, at around £6.80 in real value there isn’t much on offer. Granted you have a Time Attack mode alongside the story and Challenge mode which is a tricky test of endurance but with very little in the way of updated graphics and sound, it really is hard to justify the cost. A nice addition is the use of your Xbox Avatar in the challenge and time attack modes but it really isn’t a standout feature.
It is almost pointless mentioning online because despite the game having being out for a month or so, there are no online games available. Once again an arcade game seems utterly pointless having an online mode because we’re all too busy playing the latest blockbuster. Either way if you want to set a game up, it’s a case of who can reach the top first. The potential for fun is there, but for obvious reasons it falters in this area.
All in all, Rainbow Islands is a fun and slightly addictive arcade title but with little in the way of an update from the original there are far better arcade games waiting for you at the 800 MS price point. If you want to sample a new classic though and have nerves of steel to climb the levels at a rapid pace, then Rainbow Islands could well be for you.
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