IGN Review of Rainbow Islands Revolution
The original Rainbow Islands was an unadvertised sequel-slash-spinoff to Taito's popular Bubble Bobble arcade game, so it's not a surprise that the Nintendo DS rendition of Rainbow Islands Revolution has shipped at the same time as the Codemasters-release of Bubble Bobble Revolution in the US. What is surprising is that, unlike the remake of Bubble Bobble on the dual-screen portable, Rainbow Islands Revolution is more of a rethinking of the original arcade release that utilizes the touch screen for the entirety of its gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, the execution is so sluggish and sloppy that it just doesn't grab gamers the way an old-school arcade concept should. And ultimately this shouldn't have been separated as an original SKU, and most certainly shouldn't have been released at the full-price level.
The original arcade game was a spiritual and storyline successor to Bubble Bobble -- it shared so many similarities that home versions in the past actually packaged both titles together. As Bobby or Bubby (get it, the human versions of those bubble-blowing dinos), players wander around a vertically scrolling map of platforms taking out enemies with rainbow power. But that's where the similarities end between the original concept and the Nintendo DS version -- the handheld game uses the same maps, enemies, characters, and powers, but turns them all into a touch-screen activated action game. Now, instead of a run, jump and attack platformer, the DS version is a different style of action: players drag the main character around in a bubble, all the while handdrawing rainbows to take out the enemies. Tapping the painted rainbow will collapse the rainbow which can, in turn, take out enemies and snag pick-ups that are just out of reach.
If the game had tighter and more consistent control with a bit more variety, Rainbow Islands Revolution would have been a better-than-average arcade style Nintendo DS game. There's definitely some good ideas here, they're simply implemented poorly. Unfortunately its the wonky touch screen interface that makes things enormously sluggish: the player's on-screen character can only be moved at a specific rate with the touch screen, and the character's almost always in motion when he's not being grabbed by the player's stylus -- but it's never made obvious why he's moving in the direction he does. On top of this, rainbows can only be painted at one speed, no matter how quick you are with the stylus -- it definitely clunks things up considerably, and removes the opportunity for intense and aggressive gameplay.
It also works against the product that Codemasters chose to release this game at the higher end of the Nintendo DS software pricing, when it would have clearly found a better, more fitting place at the $19.99 "budget" tag. And the game requires players to buy their own copies of the game in order to take advantage of the multiplayer, which is unacceptable considering the game is far less system intensive than some other DS games that support the handheld's Download Play option.
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