TwinBee(ツインビー?) is a video game series composed primarily of cartoon-themed vertical-scrolling shoot-'em-up games produced by Konami that were released primarily in Japan. The series originated as a coin-operated video game simply titled TwinBee in 1985, which was followed by several home versions and sequels. The character designs of almost every game in the series since Detana!! TwinBee in 1991 were provided by Japanese animator Shuzilow HA (Jujiro Hamakawa), who also planned and supervised most of the subsequent installments in the TwinBee series. The series also inspired a radio drama adaptation that lasted three seasons in Japan, as well as an anime adaptation.
The series centers around a blue bee-shaped anthropomorphic spacecraft named TwinBee, who is usually accompanied by a pink "female" counterpart known as WinBee. In most games, the first player controls TwinBee while WinBee is controlled by the second player. A third ship also exists named GwinBee, a green counterpart to TwinBee and WinBee who in most games serves as a power-up, but in some instances also appear as a third playable spacecraft. In contrast to the series sci-fi theme of Konami's Gradius series, the fictional universe of the TwinBee series is set in a cartoon-like world featuring several kinds of anthropomorphic creatures in addition to regular human characters. The player control their spacecraft in most games shooting or punching at airborne enemies while literally throwing bombs on ground ones similarly to Namco's Xevious. The main power-ups in the TwinBee are yellow bells that the player can uncover by shooting at the floating clouds. The player must shoot these bells to keep them afloat and after shooting them a number of times, they will change colors, allowing the player to add new abilities to their spacecraft.
Despite being one of Konami's most prominent series in Japan during most of the 1990s, only a select few titles were localized for the foreign market. Particularly the second console game Moero! TwinBee (which was released in America under the changed title Stinger); the two Super NES installments, Pop'n TwinBee and Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures, in Europe and TwinBee Da!! for Game Boy, which was released in Europe as a standalone title with the name Pop'n TwinBee and later in compilations. The second arcade game, Detana!! TwinBee, also had a limited international release under the name of Bells & Whistles. The original arcade game was featured in the Nintendo DS compilation Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits under the name RainbowBell (the European compilation however, uses the original TwinBee name).
TwinBee, released March 5, 1985: An original arcade vertical shooter, TwinBee plays similar to Namco's Xevious. Players use TwinBee or WinBee in a short string of six levels that repeats indefinitely, with a boss at the end of each. A Family Computer (Famicom) and a MSX version were made in 1986. The Famicom version was re-released for the Game Boy Advance under Nintendo's Famicom Mini label in Japan only. It was released in North America as part of an arcade compilation for Nintendo DS in March, 2007, where it was renamed RainbowBell; when the compilation was released in Europe, the TwinBee name was restored. The game was also redone in 3D and released on the Nintendo eShop under Nintendo's 3D Classics line.
Moero! TwinBee: Cinnamon Hakushi wo Sukue!, released on November 21, 1986 and in 1987 in America as Stinger, this is the first game in the TwinBee series that was released in North America. Some enemy force kidnaps Dr. Cinnamon (creator of the TwinBee ships) and TwinBee, WinBee and GwinBee must rescue him. The Japanese version for the Family Computer Disk System in 1986, this game allowed up to three players simultaneously. Unlike its predecessor, Stinger has horizontal shooter levels (like Gradius) in addition to the vertical ones. Since the Disk System extension was not released in North America, the American version was released as a cartridge, however, it lost the three player mode (only allowing for up to two players), the story scenes were removed and the difficulty was altered. Moero! TwinBee' was re-released in cartridge format in 1993 with a new easy mode added.
TwinBee 3: Poko Poko Daimaō released on September 29, 1989. This is the last game in the TwinBee series for the Famicom to be released and the third game in the series. It ditches Stinger's horizontal levels, which makes this more in line to the first title.
Pop'n TwinBee, first released on October 12, 1990 in Japan and in Fall 1994 in Europe: A sequel for the Game Boy to the original TwinBee. In Japan, it is known as TwinBee Da!!.
Detana!! TwinBee (also known as Bells & Whistles outside Japan), first released on February 21, 1991: An arcade release, also ported to PC Engine (which was ported to Virtual Console), Sharp X68000, PlayStation and Sega Saturn (the latter two bundled with TwinBee Yahho!) It has no relation from the original and Famicom games. While not too different, gameplay wise, from its predecessors, Detana! improves vastly on graphics and audio. It also introduces the current character cast, like TwinBee's and WinBee's characters (Light and Pastel, respectively) and other characters that will remain in the subsequent games. It was the most popular game in the series in Japan, and paved the way for some merchandise products (including audio dramas and an Original Video Animation). This also introduced cutscenes that played between stages, which usually showed Pastel and WinBee getting one up on Light and TwinBee.
Pop'n TwinBee, first released on March 26, 1993, and later 1993 in Europe: A Super NES game. It is one of Detana!'s sequels, though they play different. Pop uses a large energy bar, which if it depletes, the game is over. The player starts the game with no lives, although it is possible to earn them later. When playing with two players, it is also possible to share energy.
Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures (TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure in Japan), released on January 7, 1994 in Japan and also in Europe during the same year. This Super NES game meant the first real departure in the series, Rainbow Bell Adventures is a side-scrolling platformer. Also released in Europe, though the level order, some dialogue and the back-up system (the European version uses passwords, the Japanese one uses battery) are different.
TwinBee Taisen Puzzle-Dama published on December 9, 1994 in Japan. It is a puzzle video game for PlayStation simple mechanics are part of a series of puzzles Taisen Puzzle-Dama and that this issue takes as its theme the world TwinBee.
TwinBee Yahho!, released on April 19, 1995: Another sequel for Detana!, originally released in arcades, and later ported to the PlayStation and Saturn (along with Detana! TwinBee). Included a vocal theme song, among other vocals, with WinBee greeting the arcade owner each time it is booted, and various snatches of dialogue from most of the characters, all voiced by the cast of TwinBee Paradise.
Twinbee PARADISE in Donburishima, released on February 26, 1998: More than a game, this is a CD-ROM with accessories inspired by the series (as a screensaver, etc.) for Windows 95.
TwinBee RPG, released on April 3, 1998: Featuring 3D graphics and made for the PlayStation, this simplistic role playing game, set in the complete universe of the series, is possibly the final game in the series.
A radio drama version of the series was produced following the release of Pop'n TwinBee for the Super Famicom titled TwinBee Paradise(ツインビーPARADISE?), which began airing on the radio station NCB on October 10, 1993. The series lasted three seasons, with the third and final series concluding on March 30, 1997, comprising a total of 96 episodes, which were later released in drama CD collections.
TwinBee Paradise features the same cast of characters previously introduced in Detana!! TwinBee and Pop'n TwinBee. TwinBee Paradise further developed the fictional universe of the TwinBee and many story elements introduced in the serials, including the names of TwinBee's and WinBee's pilots, Light and Pastel (who were originally nameless characters in the games), were canonized in later video games such as TwinBee Yahho! and TwinBee RPG.
Two short anime films and an OVA mini-series based on the TwinBee were produced:
The first was TwinBee WinBee Hachibun-no-ichi Panic(ツインビー ウィンビーの1/8パニック,TwinBee and WinBee's 1/8 Panic?), a short film released in 1994 released as a promotional tie-in to the Super Famicom game Rainbow Bell Adventure. Sometimes shortened to Winbee's 1/8 Panic.
The second anime short, Tulip Kaigan Monogatari(チューリップ海岸物語,The Tulip Coast Story?), was released in 1998 alongside the first short in a promotional tie-in to the subsequent OVA series. Alternatively titled Tulip Beach Stories.
The OVA series is titled TwinBee Paradise and is based on the radio drama of the same name. The OVA comprises three episodes, which were released individually on VHS and Laserdisc in 1999:
Four 1993 Comic Gamest supplements (volumes 85, 89, 93 y 97) contained manga of Detana! TwinBee drawn and written by Mine Yoshizaki. Between 1994 and 1996, an official manga, also by Yoshizaki, was published in three volumes in the collection Gamest Comics (numbers 011, 039 and 076).
Skatch : Twinbee's Pilot in Stinger and Twinbee 3.
Hoip : Winbee's Pilot in Stinger and Twinbee 3.
Dr. Spice : Villain in Rainbowbell.
After "Detana!! TwinBee":
Light & TwinBee(ライト＆ツインビー,Raito to Tsuinbī?): The main character and his blue bee-shaped robot. He the eldest of Dr. Cinnamon's grandchildren.
Pastel & WinBee(パステル＆ウインビー,Pasuteru to Uinbī?): Light's cousin and her pink bee-shaped robot. She is a younger member of Dr. Cinnamon's grandchildren.
Mint-Herb & GwinBee(ミントアーブ＆グインビー,Minto Ābu to Guinbī?): Pastel's little brother and his green bee-shaped robot. He's the youngest member of Dr. Cinnamon's grandchildren.
Princess Melora(メローラ姫,Merōra-hime?): The ruler of Planet Meru.
Dr. Cinnamon(シナモン博士,Shinamon-hakase?): The TwinBees' inventor and Grand father of Light, Pastel and Mint.
Dr. Warumon(ワルモン博士,Warumon-hakase?): The Evilbees' inventor, he's Dr Cinnamon's arch-rival. He spends his time building armies of evil bee clones and trying to take over the world. He also dabbles in foreign politics, provoking coups, that sort of thing. He's always thwarted by TwinBee, of course. Probably the most evil man in the Universe. He also has a number of airships which invariably end up getting crashed.
Madoka(マドカ,Madoka?): Mardock's granddaughter and friend of Light, Pastel & Mint. Madoka was rescued from her insane grandfather by TwinBee and now enjoys baking and other domestic activities. She's also a fledgling mechanic, although her efforts don't always work out as planned.
Seeds(シーズ,Shīzu?) : Pilot of Black TwinBee 01 (BT-01) Ship. Android created by Dr. Warumon.
Salyute(サリュート,Saryūto?) Pilot of Black TwinBee 02 (BT-02) Ship. Android created by Dr. Warumon. Equivalent to the sister of seeds.
Konami Wai Wai World: TwinBee is one of two playable ships (Vic Viper being the other one) in the second to last stage, which is a generic vertical shooting stage.
Wai Wai World 2: SOS!! Parsley Jō: TwinBee is a playable character in certain levels. However, the levels in which he is playable are not just vertical shooting stages, but on-rails shooting stages in the vein of Space Harrier, as well.
Parodius series: In most of the series, TwinBee and WinBee made an appearance as playable characters, while Shooting Star (the enemy red ship in TwinBee Yahho!) is playable in Sexy Parodius. Also, while Parodius is more of a parody of Gradius, it features the bell powerup system in addition to the Gradius's bar system one, as well. Both systems works in parallel and give different powerups. Also, the bell system's powerups are temporary, while the bar system not.
Konami Krazy Racers: Pastel is a playable character in this kart-racing game with Konami characters. Since Pastel is available from the beginning this game represents her first time as a primary-tier character. It is the second game released in United States with a TwinBee character. Also, different colored bells in this game have different powerups.