Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2

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Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2
Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2
Arcade flyer
Developer(s) Taito
Publisher(s) Taito
Designer(s) Fukio Mitsuji
Composer(s) Hisayoshi Ogura
Platform(s) Arcade, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga, NES, Master System, TurboGrafx-16, FM Towns, WonderSwan, Game Boy Color, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Sega Mega Drive, Mobile
Release date(s) 1987
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet Upright
Display Raster, 320 x 224 (horizontal), 60 Hz, Palette Colors 8192

Rainbow Islands (レインボーアイランド?) is a 1987 arcade game developed and published by Taito. The game is subtitled "The Story of Bubble Bobble 2" and is the sequel to Taito's hit game Bubble Bobble from the previous year. It is the second of four arcade games in the Bubble Bobble series (followed by Bubble Symphony and Bubble Memories, but itself has two direct sequels: Parasol Stars and Bubble Bobble Part 2). The game was ported for numerous home computers and game consoles.

The main characters are Bubblun and Bobblun, the protagonists of Bubble Bobble (known as "Bub and Bob" in the western releases). However, in this game they appear in their human forms as "Bubby" and "Bobby", as opposed to the "bubble dragons" of the first game (following on from the first game's true ending). Also unlike the first game, players must now "alternate" (i.e., take turns), with player one as Bubby (green shirt), and player 2 as Bobby (blue shirt) (as with the first game).


The second stage of Rainbow Islands. (arcade version)

The game is set on a chain of ten islands, each one with a different theme. Each island provides four rounds of gameplay, and once these are complete the player moves to the next island in the chain. In each round the player must get to the top before the sea level rises and kills them. The islands get progressively more difficult, with enemies moving much faster on the later ones. These are depicted on a map screen before the start of each island. The three secret islands are not visible until all 7 big diamonds are collected. To get a big diamond, the player must collect seven different-coloured small diamonds on the island and finish it. The small diamonds are found by beating enemies by dropping a rainbow on them from above or beating them with various power-ups. After collecting the small diamonds, a word "NICE" will appear. Most consumer versions of the game completely lack the secret islands.

Players can release rainbows that act as both weapons against the enemies and as a makeshift platform. By jumping on them, they fall down beating any enemies below it. Collecting power-ups increases the player's speed, the speed of the rainbows and how many are spawned. If players take too long in a level, water will start to rise up from the bottom of the stage.

One of the features which sets this game apart from many others (and has no doubt been responsible for the game's popularity) is its 'hidden depths'. While initially appearing to be quite a simple game, Rainbow Islands in fact has a vast number of secrets for the player to discover, including secret levels, secret power-ups and riddles. Because of these elements, completing the game properly requires a large amount of dedication from the player. The scoring system also has secrets, which allow vastly higher scores to be achieved than normal.

Extra version[edit]

Rainbow Islands Extra Version is a modified version of Rainbow Islands; the game is exactly the same except the stages' enemies and bosses appear in a different order (much like Bubble Bobble's Super Mode). Rainbow Islands Extra was released in limited quantities in the arcade. The game was also included as a mode in the Sega Mega Drive version of Rainbow Islands. The arcade version was licensed to Romstar for North American manufacturing and distribution.


Rainbow Islands arcade PCB (Taito B22)

Rainbow Islands has been converted to the following home computer and video game console platforms:

Over the Rainbow theme[edit]

The original arcade game contained in-game music reminiscent of the song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. This song was included in the Japanese Mega Drive, PC Engine and Famicom releases of the game, as well at the Ocean Software home Computer ports (Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari ST)

However, in later console versions of the game (Master System, NES, Saturn, PS1, and the Japanese Taito Memories and international Taito Legends collections), aside from part of the chorus, the in-game music was changed so as not to infringe copyright.

Critical reaction[edit]

Review scores
Publication Score
Computer and Video Games 96%[5]
Crash 94%[3]
Sinclair User 94%[4]
Your Sinclair 94%[2]
Zzap!64 96%[9]
Micro Hobby 89%[6]
The Games Machine 93%[7]
ACE 875[8]
MegaTech 86%[10]
Mean Machines 92%[11]
Publication Award
Zzap!64 Gold Medal
Crash Crash Smash
Sinclair User SU Classic

The Amiga version of Rainbow Islands was the first game to make #1 on Amiga Power's annual All Time Top 100 list, and held the spot for years until losing to Sensible Soccer, which retained the title for the rest of the magazine's run.

The ZX Spectrum port of the game was awarded 94% in the April 1990 issue of Your Sinclair[12] and was placed at number 8 in the Your Sinclair official top 100. In issue 93 of the same magazine, the readers voted it the 2nd best game of all time. It was also awarded 94% score in Crash. The readers of Crash voted Rainbow Islands the #1 game of all time in December 1991.

UK magazine C&VG gave the ST version a score of 93%, praising the graphics and calling the game addictive and "tremendous fun".[13]

The Mega Drive version was the 9th best game of all time, according to Mega Magazine[14] MegaTech magazine said it was "virtually arcade perfect, with only flickery sprites letting the side down".

Edge stated that, "Taito's Rainbow Islands has all the ingredients for a superb videogame – incentives, copious rewards and bonuses, and intelligent bosses".[15]

Regional differences[edit]

The European version of the Sega Master System port contains a bad glitch that crashes the game after Level 7, sending the player back to the title screen.[citation needed] If the level select code is used to access Level 8, the same glitch occurs at the end of that level completely preventing the player from seeing the ending.[citation needed] The Brazilian version has fixed this glitch.[citation needed]

The European version of the NES port, developed by Ocean, is more faithful to the Arcade version, whereas the Japanese and North American versions have original level designs and story intermissions.

Preceded by
Gazza's Superstar Soccer
UK number-one Spectrum game
May–June 1990
Succeeded by
Manchester United


  1. ^ "Rainbow Islands - The Story of Bubble Bobble 2 PAL A - Nintendo NES Wiki". Nes-wiki.org. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  2. ^ "Rainbow Islands". Ysrnry.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  3. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  4. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  5. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  6. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  7. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  8. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  9. ^ "Zzap!64 100th Issue Pull-Out Special Page 5". Zzap64.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  10. ^ MegaTech review, EMAP, issue 2, page 80
  11. ^ "Out-of-Print Archive • Mega Drive/Genesis reviews • Rainbow Islands". Outofprintarchive.com. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  12. ^ "Rainbow Islands". Ysrnry.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  13. ^ Glancey, Paul (September 1989). "Wonderboy III". Computer and Video Games (94). pp. 80–81 
  14. ^ Mega (magazine) issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, October 1992
  15. ^ "Rules of the Game". Edge (12): 51. September 1994. 

External links[edit]