Rainbow Islands Evolution Game Sample - PSP

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Hooray! PSP! Yep, we're currently working on a PSP run... dug the Lenkeng out of storage (it still performs better than the Xrgb/Elgato combo) for this one and I've got A LOT of titles to go through. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the PSP... it is criminally underrated, which is saying a lot because it had a ton of releases and enjoyed more than ten great years on the market, so it's hardly what you'd call unsuccessful, though it was considerably undercut by exploits and piracy which was both a blessing and a curse (this meant a boost in hardware sales but a slump in software sales). That said, not everything on the platform was buttercups and rainbows... especially not this "update" of a beloved classic.

Originally released in Arcades in 1987 by the legends at Taito, it was the sequel to one of my all-time favorite childhood games, Bubble Bobble. Playing as either Bubby or Bobby, players climbed the heights of many stages collecting treasures, discovering secrets, and shooting many rainbows along the way that could be used as platforms as well as weapons. Most iterations of this beloved classic will cost you a pretty penny, but not this one... Rainbow Islands Evolution (and Revolution for the DS... but that's a story for another day) is dirt cheap. After reading reviews years back, I always thought "That can't be right! This game is... bad? It can't nearly be as bad as everyone is saying! It's got the foundation to be, at the very least, a fun repetitive arcade-style romp." and I snatched up the first copy I could find.

And then... I played it. Briefly. And then I watched some videos for it and thought "Wow, most people are playing this game in an emulator cause my textures don't look nearly that good and my framerate isn't nearly so consistently smooth. And they're saying stuff that isn't true like the tutorial doesn't help. " I was satisfied with that rhetoric for a while, but then I decided to revisit it to put a video for it on this channel, and I came to the soul-crushing conclusion that the game just isn't very good. Let's forget for a second that the story is ridiculous, the characters are far off the beaten path, the game uses 3D polygons and washed-out textures and colors instead of crispy colorful pixels, the gameplay was "evolved" (and not for the better), and the music kinda sucks... I could forgive all of that if the game was at least fun.

*SPOILER ALERT*

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It's not.

Yes, there is a method to the game's madness that, from watching many videos, most didn't seem to grasp, and I'll still put it a tiny step above the U.S. version of Revolution simply because you don't need a stylus to play it, but the bottom line is the game is just too slow and dull to hold my interest for more than a couple minutes at a time, and it's a far cry from its much older predecessor. Licensed by Taito and developed by Digital Whip in 2007 (the last of their three titles), I guess I should give a basic description of what you'll be dealing with now.

I'll give a brief summary of the plot by quoting Wikipedia: "Bub and Bob, the two main characters in the series, are against an evil recording company that seeks to pollute the Rainbow Islands' atmosphere by creating constant musical noise, therefore wilting the flora and mutating the fauna. Bub and Bob use a hurdy-gurdy as a weapon to create the rainbows." If it sounds crazy, that's cause it is. Nevermind that they run around in sombreros and there's this tiki-shaman guy who rattles off tips, the whole game just feels incohesive, and the plot is no exception.

The gameplay has also been updated; players can move between three planes to defeat enemies and find items on their quest to the top, and your playing style will net you items that can level up various parameters such as movement / bubble speed, jump ability, etc. (one of the few improvements). Moving around is a little temperamental between rainbows (it admittedly was in the original game too) but otherwise handles well enough. Actually, getting around is a little too easy in this one due to a max jump trick where you can deploy a bridge at the height of your jump and climb it, where you get your rainbows back indefinitely after you're far enough from the ones below. It's one of the few things that makes this game bearable after its insidious inclusion of THE RESONATOR, a little device that amps your hurd-gurd to shoot a blast mainly at bosses but enemies too. The problem is that you have to keep calling the thing and rotate your analog nub like mad to store power and it's almost impossible for it to not get hit by bosses, but at least you earn new attack patterns later and bosses are fought in a sort of tug-of-war fashion making it a little more bearable.

This a video of the game in action. Enjoy.

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