A photo comparison of Rainbow Islands

After the smoldering pile of shit that was Ai Cho Aniki, I needed something to play that wouldn’t make me feel massive amounts of Nerd Rage with a slight twinge of Real Rage mixed in. So I started up a new game in Dark Souls, only to stop when I realized that it had been taken over and co-opted by a racist, homophobic and misogynist fanbase who drop tired internet memes at the drop of a hat to the delight of absolutely nobody. I will probably do a write-up on this at some point.

After that, I went through my ROM collection. Mostly a lot of Taito’s bright, rainbow colored, unintentionally gay-friendly puzzle-platformers that had excellent ports to the PC-Engine. Stuff like Liquid Kids and The New Zealand Story are fun as hell and absolutely adorable, but it’s mostly Taito’s other series that gets the most of my love. That of course is Bubble Bobble, the brainchild of the late Fukio Mitsuji.

To get right down to it, I’ve spent a lot of time lately playing the various releases of Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble II. I played them, then decided to take screenshots and give my impressions on which version is the best. This is not exactly an exhaustive list, mind you; I don’t have a reliable Amiga emulator and if you think I’m going to play anything on the fucking ZX Spectrum then ha ha ha ha



The best version. This is the standard that all of the console ports are held to. It’s fun as hell, like all of Taito’s colorful, fruit-collecting adventures and is really only bested by Bubble Bobble III- Parasol Stars. Get the ROM here.

Mega Drive/Genesis


I’m sort of blowing my wad a little early here. Other then some odd palette choices, like the first stage taking place at night rather than the daytime, this is the best console port of Rainbow Islands. It looks great, sounds great, controls are spot-on and it gives you the option of playing the hard to get hidden islands from the get-go. Download that fucking ROM.



Okay, so I wasn’t exactly expecting an arcade-perfect port here, but Jesus Fucking Christ what the hell is this!? “Hello, Famicom owner, here’s an arcade game you may have played or enjoyed when not waiting in line for Street Fighter II now for your home system! It’s exactly the same, but with terrible shit-ass controls, choppy animation and level scrolling and an eye-searing color palette that will rival one of our later inventions, the Virtual Boy. Enjoy, meatbags!” Signed, Nintendo. Try out the ROM anyway.



You would expect a remake of an early nineties arcade game for a much stronger system to be pretty amazing. This is not one of those times. That cataract-like bloom filter makes me long for bright, simple pixels. The happy pop soundtrack is replaced by some sad, bass-heavy bull shit that just completely falls flat. I mean, it plays pretty well and the load times are about a second long, so it’s not all bad. Plus it comes with Bubble Bobble, so I guess it might be worth tracking down and by tracking down I mean downloading the ISO image off the ‘net.

PC-Engine CD


Really really fucking bad. Just awful. And on top of that, it’s pretty bare-bones, too. Keep in mind this is on a CD-based system, with no additions that were common with CD releases; no remixed soundtrack, no extra stages aside from the ones that are in every other release, no nothing. On a fundamental level, a CD-format vid con for a add-on that was six hundred bucks at release and had maybe a handful of good titles that doesn’t have much else aside from the base game seems wrong somehow. You’re probably just going to play this on the Mega Drive. But hey I’ll leave the ISO right here for you ’cause I’m nice like that.

Sega Master System


Shit. Maybe if I were Brazilian or something I’d like this more. Worse than the NES version somehow. ROM image because I’m putting them all up for you.

Gameboy Color


Fairly ambitious; Taito attempted to make some changes to the Game Boy port, but forgot to make the controls not garbage and make the redesigned levels fun to play and the collision detection not a total joke. The worst of the worst probably. Give it a shot, I guess.

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