Bubble Bobble was one of my favorite games in my youth. Man, I remember playing it for hours together with my brother on our old Sega Master System, without ever finishing it or getting tired of it. Rainbow Island, the sequel to Bubble Bobble, is a less known game to me, but it acquired a classic status among a lot of old school gamers.
The story behind the games is just silly - the girlfriends of Bubby & Bobby have been kidnapped (for no apparent reason) by some evil wizards which dragged the girls off to a cave 100 floors under the earth. They also turned the boys in two bubble-blowing little dinosaurs (don't ask me why), making them Bub & Bob. Well, it's up to them to rescue their girlfriends and to regain their human shapes.
In Rainbow Island the adventure continues as the manual says - but you're a normal boy again and now you can use rainbows instead of bubbles to stand on and attack enemies. This time you're headed up walking on your rainbows, while in Bubble Bobble you where going down in the 100-door-cellar.
This Saturn-package contains three games. First of all there is the original Bubble Bobble. It's an authentic conversion of the arcade game, so those of you who played the Master System-version of Final Bubble Bobble, will find out that there are no midway-bosses like in that version. Despite its age the game is still very much fun for two-players. The animations are really funny, the control is excellent, the music is a bit cheesy, but suitable and fun nonetheless if you're in old school gaming. The game is very challenging - I still didn't manage to accomplish it - 73 out of the 100 levels is as far as I can ever get. A letdown is the lack of a password mode that was found in other versions of the game. It also isn't possible to save your game nor does the game save your high scores, which I found extremely disappointing, because it's fun to try to beat your last score.
The original Rainbow Islands is also included, and it's fun to play but I didn't find it as addictive as Bubble Bobble. The lack of 2-player is a real pity, because that could have given you much more to look forward to. Anyway, the game is enjoyable, with colorful bosses, but it gets very difficult really fast, with too many enemies in the playing area, making the screen sometimes a bit disorderly. While I don't consider it a classic, it's still amusing, even by today's standards.
The third game included is 'Rainbow Islands Enhanced'. It's still the original Rainbow Islands, but with more polished looking characters and a much more colorful background. I didn't find it an improvement over the original. There still isn't a simultaneous 2-player available and the colorful backgrounds make it often very hard to see what's going on. Even more than the original, the game is a colored mess, especially in the later levels, with enemies sometimes hardly noticeable against the background, which makes the game even harder. I advise you to stick with the original Rainbow Islands.
I'm going to give this game a decent rating, but I'll admit that it's mostly out of nostalgic feelings. I still think Bubble Bobble is one of the greatest games ever, but this Saturn-package is a bit moderate due to the lack of options. I find just the original Bubble Bobble, original Rainbow Islands and a failed enhanced Rainbow Island too sparse for a Saturn-game. They should at least have included a save-game mode and a possible 2-player option for Rainbow Islands. Despite its shortcomings, it's okay to pick this one up for a low-budget price, especially if you've never played Bubble Bobble before (shame on you!).