back to article Rainbow Islands

I know you played this. Admit it, darn you! Or at least you coveted it from afar as I did, watching my little sister Chloe play it and waiting till she fell asleep to sneak into her room to worship it’s vivid iridescent rays - or as close as you can get with just 4096 colors! Rainbow Islands is one of the most successful …


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  1. lurker

    Bub and Bob

    Bah, Rainbow Islands was just the Mario-looking successor to the true classic, Bubble Bobble.

    1. Stuart Elliott

      Bubble Bobble > Rainbow Islands

      Just came here to say pretty much the same thing, the music from Bubble Bobble was so iconic, it sticks in your head for weeks :)

      1. Rob Beard
        Thumb Up

        I've got the Bubble Bobble music stuck in my head now, not that's a bad thing of course :-)


    2. Sir Runcible Spoon


      Be fair, Bubble Bobble was great, but so was Rainbow Islands.

      I admit to loving this game.

      1. ThomH

        Puzzle Bobble is surely the best of them?

        Or maybe not. It's all subjective.

        They have a Puzzle Bobble machine at the Musee Mecanique in San Francisco — as it turns out I can still complete the thing on a single credit. I'd be surprised if I could do anything like that on Bubble Bobble, especially with that Space Invaders level. As for Rainbow Islands, I've just never been a fan, even though we had the Spectrum version back in the day.

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge

        I played it fairly briefly. I was more into the New Zealand Story, another Taito classic.

    3. Annihilator


      But you're still a swine, the theme tune for the C64 version is now stuck in my head:

      1. Stuart Elliott

        Theme tunes from golden oldies

        Another one to clog up your brain for a while.. The background music to Bomb Jack.

    4. I Like Heckling Silver badge

      Bubble Bobble is King

      Whilst I enjoyed Rainbow Islands, it wasn't even close to competing with the king of all arcade games... Bubble Bobble.

      I remember playing that game addictively in the 80's, found another guy who was about as good as me and we played together to get all the bonus's and records.

      I still occasionally play it on my MAME install along with other classics like the Mr Do series.

  2. Paul Naylor
    Thumb Up

    Great little game

    I never really played this in the arcades (much preferred to throw my hard-earned 10ps into Bubble Bobble) but discovered it many years later on MacMAME and had a strange several month addiction to it. Not played it for years though but I think I might dig it out again. Classic game!

  3. Sir Smokesalot

    Rainbow was good.....

    Was no Dizzy though......

  4. Miraclefish

    Oh it's a treasured memory...

    But it's no Bubble Bobble!

  5. Alex Walsh

    I never got on with the Atari ST version but when I picked up the Sega Saturn double pack of Bubble Bobble & Rainbow Islands, it came into its own. The tune still isn't as catchy as Bubble Bobble though ;)

  6. Sandy Ritchie
    Thumb Up


    Bubble Bobble is probably the first time I worked togeather with my sister towards a common goal, up until we purchased Bubble Bobble (all 99 levels and then loop to level 1 if I remember correctly) for our 464 it was all fighting over who played Harrier Attack, Rolland goes digging, Rolland in the caves, 180, Manic Minor... or out home brewed favourites Zombie Maze (Keyed in by my dad from a 464 programming book).

  7. Dan Price

    Absolute classic.

    I remember pouring hours into this and its sequel Parasol Stars on my mate's Atari ST. Absolute classic, thanks for the nostalgia.

  8. HP Cynic
    Thumb Up

    Double Rainbow

    "Go on admit it"? This has always been a game I've credited as an all-time favourite.

    Obviously I've not played it for aeons but I remember that a lot of the fun I had came from what felt like emergent gameplay: capturing a row of monsters in a triple rainbow which you've baited to your position whilst simultaneously using those rainbows to climb to the next platform was a joy.

    Review Chucky Egg next please :)

    1. James Hughes 1


      I was going to make the same comment about Chuckie Egg!

      Small world.

      1. Leona A
        Thumb Up

        Chucky Egg!

        One of my all time favs, Chucky Egg on the BBC B! I LOVE this game! (if I still had a Beeb I'd still be playing it!).

        Dum-d-dum-d-dum-d-dum-d-dum-drrrruuum (or something like that!).

  9. Richard Wharram


    Yes - I remember there were lots of secret ways to get bonus items and power-ups. It was actually a pretty hardcore game despite the looks.

    I pumped even more time into Bubble Bobble in the arcade. Me and my friend could easily get to level 95+ each on 1 credit playing doubles. However I think Rainbow Islands was a better game.

    But for true cutesy-platformer-with-hardcore-gameplay you should be looking at The New Zealand Story or Wardner.

    Wonder Boy in Monster Land was pretty good too :)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...but no Donky Kong or Qbert!

  11. Tom 38

    I was always more of a New Zealand Story kinda guy myself.

  12. Darren Coleman


    Rainbow Islands for show.

    Bubble Bobble for a pro.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    God this game was tosh - I remember Amiga Format back in the day spooging non-stop about it.

    Bubble Bobble was miles better.

  14. Gary Riches

    Secret levels

    No mention of the secret level/s if you get all the giant gems from the secret rooms?

    Loved this game so much, spent at least 2 years playing it as a kid.

  15. Sargs

    Fond memories

    But not of playing the game, as I do. What I do remember is reading an article in a games magazine written by Andrew Braybrook of Paradroid and Uridium fame. He did the Amiga port of Rainbow Islands and in his article described how he handled compressing and decompressing the level data. This was my first introduction to the mysteries of compression routines and actually helped kick off my love of programming and resulted in a bit of a career shift.

    So it's Rainbow Islands' fault I do this stuff for a living.

  16. Tsung
    Thumb Up

    Full of hidden secrets

    Rainbow Island, the game FULL of hidden secrets. Like to get to the hidden rooms at the end of the level, you had to collect the 7 coloured Gems in Rainbow order (Red,Orange,Yellow,Green,Blue,Indigo,Violet). Collect them in any other order = only 1 extra life.

    Might of been tricky, if you didn't realise that a gem would always drop if you break a rainbow over a creeps head and the colour of the gem was determined by the position on the screen (Red far left, Violet far right). Then once in the secret room, there was a code at the top of the screen which was another secret you could enter in the title screen (using joystick/fire button) to unlock bonuses like starting with double rainbows. Finally the number of items you could pick up, including a lot of rare items made each game unique / special.

    Rainbow island, what an awesome platform game. :)

    1. Tommy Pock

      That sounds like the most ghastly chore

      I much preferred lobbing bombs about in New Zealand Story: a game whose almost unbearable cuteness was counterpointed by its infinite lives cheat - "sdratsabiwikgnikcufrehtom"

  17. MrPSB

    If you want to bring in Mario comparisons here's one for you: Bubble Bobble is the original Mario Bros game. Rainbow Islands is Super Mario 3.

  18. Shaun 1

    I was never a fan of Rainbow Islands,

    But I loved its sequel, Parasol Stars

  19. A. Lewis

    Joining the herd...

    I clicked comment to say this, but I see others beat me to it: Rainbow Islands was good, but Bubble Bobble was better. Even if only for that insanely catchy music!

  20. Thomas 4

    Just out of curiousity

    Did *anyone* managed to find all the different coloured gems? There was always *one* I was missing and it was bloody aggrivating.

    One thing I regret about this game and Bubble Bobble was that I never had the chance to try multiplayer.

  21. JeevesMkII

    I had this on the spectrum. It was a great game, but I remember it being more or less impossible to complete. I think even if you defeated the final boss you still didn't really win unless you had collected all the randomly dropped diamonds in every world. You were always just praying that the next monster you killed dropped that damn red one you needed, or cursing because you missed getting the white one by seconds or because it fell off the bottom of the screen...

    1. cyborg

      As has been mentioned...

      It's not random - the diamond colour depends on where it lands - I had perfected getting the first 5 crystals in colour order on the first level making it pretty easy to get the last two and get the shoes during the end boss fight. (No secret rooms on the Speccy version but much the same effect).

      Like yourself I also bought it on budget for the Spectrum. I remember playing it all day once when I was off school for some reason. Certainly made good use of the Spectrum's limited colour ability.

  22. Kev Beeley
    Thumb Up

    Superb game!

    This game helped me destroy three joysticks, almost destroyed a monitor, and helped teach my neighbour's kids the finer points of swearing through the open window of my bedroom. Graftgold did SUCH a good conversion job on the Amiga, and when I finally have the funds, a copy of the original arcade PCB will be mine!

    As much as I enjoyed Bubble Bobble and Parasol Stars, this one will always be the one which holds a special place in my heart.

  23. grellanl
    Thumb Up

    Best game in the world, ever

    This and New Zealand Story will always hold a special place in the world of gaming. Cute as you like, and often swearingly, controller-throwingly difficult, but mega-satisfying and always worth a revisit. Now, where's that emulator, it's time to see how this plays with the 360 controller...

  24. Pete Spicer

    The biggest disappointment for me in this game was the fact that when I finally got round to picking up the Taito Legends PC CD which had this, Bubble Bobble and 20-odd other games from the golden era of Taito... they changed the music, presumably because Somewhere Over the Rainbow is copyrighted and they didn't want to pay to renew the licence.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    high score

    I was the Zzap magazine C64 rainbow islands high score champion for months. Probably the greatest acheivement of my life!

  26. PoorLumpyPony
    Thumb Up

    there were 10 levels...not 7

    This was my favourite arcade game of my youth, mainly because it was fantastic value for money once you got any good at it (over an hour for 10p!)

    If you got all diamonds on each of the first 7 levels it opened up another 3 (sets) of levels.

    Also if you collected all the diamonds in colour order (not easy) on a set of levels you got a secret door in the big baddy room which had a permanent power up in it (fast run, double rainbow, quick rainbow etc)

    Favourite level...difficult to say, definitely not the arkanoid level though, that was a pain in the neck.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My favourite game of all time, the hours spent playing this and New Zealand Story on my Amiga 500.

    Good times!

  28. Dabooka

    Utter tosh

    Both the game and the "review". FTW? Really? More like FFS......

    As has been said, Bubble Bobble blew this away, despite it's "cutesy graphics".

  29. Annihilator


    "or as close as you can get with just 4096 colors"

    4096 colours?? You don't know you're born... (where's the "when I were a lad icon..", close enough)

  30. CountZer0

    Optional, rather like a social life of a teenager with an Amiga A500

    I blame the breakup with my 1st girlfriend on Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands, Thanks Andrew Braybrook, great arcade conversion.

    Is it me, or is it ironic that Amiga is Spanish for girlfriend?

    Coat please, the one with the 512K wedge of cheese memory expansion in the pocket (with RTC)

    1. CherylWillBounceBack

      translation issue

      Just FYI, the spanish for girlfriend is 'Novia'. Amiga is used when she's just a female friend, like you would use Amigo for a male friend.

  31. CD001


    ... but does anyone remember Psycho Fox on the Master System? For a cute, yet surprising good platformer....

  32. tsdadam
    Thumb Up

    I'm with the others...

    ...and have more fond memories of Bubble Bobble than this one, but it was still a great game.

    Bubble Bobble holds a special place for me for being the first coin-op I came across that let you enter secret codes on the machine before you even started playing :)

    They don't make platformers like they used to: Wardner (as mentioned above), Karnov, Psychic 5, Tumblepop, Snow Bros, Wonder Boy In Monster Land, New Zealand Story et al.

  33. Pooka

    What? No-one mentions RodLand?

    Ok - Bubble Bobble - two cute dinosaurs who surround enemies with bubbles that makes them turn into cakes, fruit or other assorted goodies....

    Rainbow Islands - rainbows as your weapons....

    RodLand - you stabbed the cute things with a giant lance and smashed them into the ground several times until they turned into cakes and sweeties! Much more fun way to kill cute badguys :D

    1. Thomas 4


      I remember Rodland - you played some sort of pixie girl with giant pink hair if memory serves....

  34. Nick Davey
    Thumb Up

    Memories of my childhood

    I still remember wasting many hours playing this on our Amiga 500.

  35. Richard Wharram

    Talking of Wardner still

    Wardner had insanely great music.

    Did anyone else used to let the clock run out time and time again on level 4 (if I remember correctly) collecting gold so that the bonus points at the end would be enormous ?

    And did anyone else use anything other that the Sun Sword ?

  36. Peter Gordon

    I actually preferred Rainbow Islands to Bubble Bobble

    Not that BB isn't great (I like it too), but I enjoyed Rainbow Islands much more.

  37. Spook

    Don't forget the best arcade conversion...

    ....that being the PC Engine version (Super CD ROM only)

  38. Dave Walker 1

    Bubble Bobble FTW

    It nearly cost me my saturday job when I was younger...

    I ended up with a verbal warning for being caught in the staff canteen playing 30 minutes after I was due to start

  39. Sklar
    Thumb Up

    Bubble Bobble really took some money from me.. I did enjoy the one installed in the social club my mum used to go to when I was a kid. This one had old fashioned slots for 10p and 50p and you could 'spin' a 10p in a 50p slot and get a serious amount of credits.

    I think I've played every version out there, but was very upset after purchasing the XBLA version as all the enemies and bonuses behaved differently from the arcade version. I wasn't gonna spend hours re-learning all that when all I wanted to do was sit there for an hour and blast up to 100, getting the secret rooms up to at least level 60.

  40. Fartin Fantastic

    Play it now!

  41. Jolyon Ralph

    Future Antique Code Show ideas

    Here's my suggestions for future articles:

    Ant Attack (ZX Spectrum)

    North and South (Amiga)

    Marble Madness (various)

    Balance of Power (Amiga)

    Halls of the Things (Spectrum)

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't want to be mean but

    This article reads like something a 13-year-old schoolgirl has written for a report entitled "Your favourite pastime" or "What you did over the summer" or something equally trite.

    Seriously read the others in this series. Am I the only one who has noticed this? Read the first sentence of the Baldur's Gate one. Or why does The Secret of Monkey Island one talk about what "my friend Pippa" likes? Is it intentional, perhaps as a parody? Or what is going on here?

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