Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2

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Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2
Rainbow Islands flyer.png
Arcade flyer
Designer(s)Fukio Mitsuji
Composer(s)Hisayoshi Ogura
SeriesBubble Bobble
Platform(s)Arcade, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga, Nintendo Entertainment System, Master System, PC Engine CD, FM Towns, WonderSwan, Game Boy Color, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Mega Drive, Mobile
Mode(s)Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Arcade systemMain CPUs: 68000, Z80

Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2 (レインボーアイランド) is a 1987 arcade game developed and published by Taito.[1] The arcade version was licensed to Romstar for North American manufacturing and distribution. 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) (the same color scheme as in the first game).


The second stage of Rainbow Islands (arcade version)

Following the events of Bubble Bobble, Bubby and Bobby set out to defeat the "Dark Shadow" and rescue the Rainbow Islands. The Dark Shadow is the entity responsible for the events in Bubble Bobble.[2] The game is set on a chain of ten islands, each one with a different theme. Each island provides four rounds of game-play, 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.

Players can release rainbows that act as weapons, makeshift platforms, and item collectors. Slinging rainbows damages any enemies and acquires any items that the rainbows come in contact with. When jumped upon, they fall down, beating any enemies below them, and releasing a damage field above them.[2] 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, and will kill the player character if it rises above his head.[2]

Like Bubble Bobble before it, the game has multiple endings. To get the "True and Happy" ending the player must find and complete the three secret islands (although most consumer versions of the game completely lack the secret islands because of budget constraints[3]). These islands are not visible until all 7 big diamonds are collected. To get a big diamond, the player must collect seven different-colored small diamonds on the island and finish the round. The small diamonds are found by destroying enemies by dropping a rainbow on them from above or destroying them with various special items. After collecting the small diamonds, a word "NICE" appears. If the small diamonds are collected in the correct order, the player will get to a secret room at the end of each island, which contains a permanent power up. The color of the small diamonds depends on where the fallen enemies land, so the player can somewhat determine which diamond colors will drop.

The scoring system also has secrets,[vague] which allow vastly higher scores to be achieved than normal.[4]

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).[5] 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.


Rainbow Islands arcade PCB (Taito B22)
Platform Year Company Notes
Commodore 64 1989 Graftgold/Ocean[6]
ZX Spectrum
Amstrad CPC
Amiga 1990 Converted by Andrew Braybrook.
Atari ST
Mega Drive Aisystem Tokyo/Taito Released as Rainbow Islands Extra.
Nintendo Entertainment System 1988 Taito US JP[7] Released in the US as Rainbow Islands,[8] this version has different level layout and game mechanics compared to the original.[9] It also includes an island based on KiKi KaiKai as a replacement for Magical Island.
1991 Ocean EU AUS Released in Europe as Rainbow Islands: Bubble Bobble 2,[10] this version is different from the alternative Japanese and North American version and plays more like the original arcade game.[9]
Master System 1993 Taito/I.T.L./Sega This version is similar to the US/Japanese NES/Famicom version, even including the KiKi KaiKai island from that version.[9]
PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 NEC Avenue
MS-DOS 1996 Graftgold/Acclaim Released as Bubble Bobble also featuring Rainbow Islands, also includes an enhanced version with redrawn sprites and backgrounds.[2]
Sega Saturn
WonderSwan 2000 Bandai Released as Rainbow Islands: Putty's Party.
Game Boy Color 2001 TDK Mediactive Includes the KiKi KaiKai island from the US/Japanese NES/Famicom version as a secret island.
PlayStation 2 2005 Empire Interactive/Sega Released as part of Taito Legends
Mobile Taito Released as mobile version for various handsets.
Xbox 360 2009 Taito Released with updated "2.5D" graphics.

"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 CD 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. The hidden eight level of the NES version, as well as the Game Boy Color version, simply use the Bubble Bobble theme music.


In Japan, Game Machine listed Rainbow Island: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2 on their December 1, 1987 issue as being the second most-successful table arcade unit of the month.[24] It went on to become one of the top ten highest-grossing arcade games of 1988 in Japan.[25] The Spectrum version of the game was number-one on the UK sales chart from May[26] to June 1990[27] at the time of release. It was re-released at a budget price, and was number 1 again from October 1992[28] to March 1993.[29] It was also the top-selling Amiga budget title in March 1992.[30]

UK magazine C&VG gave the ST version a score of 93%, praising the graphics and calling the game addictive and "tremendous fun".[11] It was awarded 94% in the April 1990 issue of Your Sinclair[15] and was placed at number 8 in the "Your Sinclair official top 100".[31] 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.[13] The readers of Crash voted Rainbow Islands the #1 game of all time in December 1991.[32] MegaTech magazine said it was "virtually arcade perfect, with only flickery sprites letting the side down".[20]

Edge stated in 1994 that, "Taito's Rainbow Islands has all the ingredients for a superb videogame – incentives, copious rewards and bonuses, and intelligent bosses".[33]

Despite these accomplishments, in his review of the Bubble Bobble Featuring Rainbow Islands pack, Rich Leadbetter of Sega Saturn Magazine said Rainbow Islands was "vastly underrated and over-looked". He added that the gameplay still felt fresh and unique despite the passage of years, and was good enough to make the collection a must-have by itself.[2]


The Amiga version of Rainbow Islands was the first game to make #1 on Amiga Power's annual All Time Top 100 list in 1991,[34] and again in 1992.[35] It held the spot for years until losing to Sensible Soccer, which retained the title for the rest of the magazine's run.[citation needed] The Mega Drive version was the 9th best game of all time, according to Mega magazine's "Mega Top 100 Carts" in 1992. In 1996, GamesMaster ranked the game 79th on their "Top 100 Games of All Time."[36]

Format conversion[edit]

In 1989 Graftgold were invited to convert the game to five home computer formats: Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Telecomsoft had bought the conversion rights in the UK. At that time Graftgold consisted of seven people and they were working from an office above a fruit and veg store, with very uneven floors and an iron staircase for access.

They agreed to do the conversion for a fixed sum and based on getting the arcade machine and source graphics and documentation from Taito. The job they reckoned would take nine months and milestones were assigned based on their knowledge of the game and that it showed seven islands on the start screen.

The main problem was that they were on the first floor and an iron staircase for access at the back and they had to get the arcade machine upstairs. It took all of them dragging the cabinet up the stairs rather slowly. The cabinet was made of 3/4" chipboard and contained all of the workings of an old CRT TV and more. The JAMMA board was also the size of a PC motherboard.

The game took the whole team. John Cumming took charge of the maps and graphics. Gary Foreman did the C64 version. David O'Connor did the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC versions. Jason Page did the 16-bit and C64 sounds. Steve Turner did the management and the Z80 8-bit sounds. Dominic Robinson did the technical design and support. Andrew Braybrook did the 16-bit versions.

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. 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. The Brazilian version has fixed this glitch.[37]

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.[citation needed]


The Songs of arcade Rainbow Island was contained in the CD titled Ninja Warriors -G.S.M. TAITO 1- (ニンジャウォーリアーズ -G.S.M.TAITO 1-) on June 21, 1988, in Japan.


  1. ^ "Rainbow Islands The Story Of Bubble Bobble 2". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
  2. ^ a b c d e Leadbetter, Richard (October 1996). "Paint the Whole World with a Rainbow!". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 12. Emap International Limited. pp. 48–51.
  3. ^ "Rainbow Islands".
  4. ^ "The Ultimate Guide to... #01 Rainbow Islands", Retro Gamer, Imagine Publishing (79): 24–29, July 2010
  5. ^ "Rainbow Islands Extra Version". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
  6. ^ "Rainbow Islands Work In Progress". The One (6): 14–16. March 1989.
  7. ^ "Rainbow Islands – The Story of Bubble Bobble 2 PAL A – Nintendo NES Wiki". Nes-wiki.org. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  8. ^ "Rainbow Islands". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  9. ^ a b c "The Definitive Bubble Bobble", Retro Gamer, Imagine Publishing (28): 61, August 2006
  10. ^ "Rainbow Islands: Bubble Bobble 2". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  11. ^ a b "Rainbow Islands Atari ST Review". Computer and Video Games. No. 94. September 1989. pp. 80–81.
  12. ^ "C+VG Review". C+VG. Future Publishing (101): 68. April 1990.
  13. ^ a b "Crash Review". Crash (75): 45. April 1990.
  14. ^ "Sinclair User Review". Sinclair User. No. 98. April 1990. p. 71. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  15. ^ a b "Rainbow Islands Review". Your Sinclair Rock'n'Roll Years. Archived from the original on 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2013-09-29. Your Sinclair. No. 52. April 1990. p. 94. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "ACE Review". ACE (24): 92–93. September 1989.
  17. ^ "Review – Rainbow Islands". Zzap!64 (53): 10–11. September 1989. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  18. ^ "Review – Rainbow Islands". Micro Hobby (198): 38. April 1991. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  19. ^ "Review – Rainbow Islands". The Games Machine (28): 45. March 1990. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  20. ^ a b "Game Index – Rainbow Islands". MegaTech (2): 78. February 1992.
  21. ^ "Review – Rainbow Islands". Mean Machines. No. 2. Outofprintarchive.com. November 1990. pp. 92–93. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  22. ^ "Rainbow Islands Sega". Sega Master Force. No. 2. September 1993. p. 13. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  23. ^ Leadbetter, Rich (October 1996). "Review: Bubble Bobble Rainbow Islands". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 12. Emap International Limited. pp. 74–75.
  24. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 321. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 December 1987. p. 25.
  25. ^ "第2回ゲーメスト大賞 〜 年間ヒットゲームベスト100" [2nd Gamest Awards – Best 100 Hit Games of the Year]. Gamest (in Japanese). Vol. 29 (February 1989). December 27, 1988. pp. 25–41 (41). alternate url
  26. ^ "Your Sinclair Top Ten Games". Your Sinclair Rock'n'Roll Years. Archived from the original on 2015-09-12. Retrieved 2013-09-29. Your Sinclair. No. 53. May 1990. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ "Your Sinclair Top Ten Games". Your Sinclair Rock'n'Roll Years. Archived from the original on 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2014-06-22. Your Sinclair. No. 54. June 1990. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ "Your Sinclair Top Ten Games". Your Sinclair Rock'n'Roll Years. Archived from the original on 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2014-06-22. Your Sinclair. No. 82. October 1992. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ "Your Sinclair Top Ten Games". Your Sinclair Rock'n'Roll Years. Archived from the original on 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2014-06-22. Your Sinclair. No. 87. March 1993. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ "Charts: Month ending 27th March 1992". The One. No. 44 (May 1992). EMAP. 21 April 1992. p. 16.
  31. ^ "The YS Top 100 Speccy Games Of All Time (Ever!)". Your Sinclair (70): 31. October 1991. Archived from the original on 16 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-04.
  32. ^ "top 100 speccy Games". Crash (94). December 1991.
  33. ^ "Rules of the Game". Edge. No. 12. September 1994. p. 51.
  34. ^ All-Time Top 100 Games Amiga Power. No. Supplemental. May 1991. p. 4. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ "The All-Time Top 100 Games: (1) Rainbow Islands". Amiga Power. No. 13. May 1992. pp. 32–5.
  36. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time" (PDF). GamesMaster (44): 75. July 1996.
  37. ^ "What's Up With Rainbow Islands?". smspower.org. Retrieved 2016-07-02.

External links[edit]