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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Rainbow Islands Revolution (DS)

By Michael Palisano

While it stays true to its classic arcade heritage, Rainbow Islands Revolution offers some unique twists for the Nintendo DS. This update allows you to draw rainbows and move your character around the screen using the touch screen. There are two main modes of play, story and score mode where you have to avoid enemies, draw rainbows and reach the end of the level. Rainbow Islands is a decent game because its unique interface, challenging levels and multiplayer modes effectively create some interesting variations on the familiar gameplay mechanics.

Published by Codemasters and developed by Rising Star Games, this DS releases is based on the Taito arcade game from the 1980's. While it doesn't over-reach by trying to make a 3D game out of something that doesn't fit, Rainbow Islands Revolution does an excellent job in bringing the classic gameplay to modern screens without losing sight of the elements that made it so appealing in the first place. At the start of each game, you can choose either a story or a score mode. Rainbow Islands Revolutions brings the series forward with some interesting control choices. The levels this time around encompass both DS screens, which can be a little confusing at first. Fortunately, you can use the shift keys to scroll through which makes the levels easier to navigate. The basic functionality is also interesting. Instead of using the standard control pad to move and create rainbows, players use the DS' touch screen function to draw rainbows and move the characters around. This system is a little bit awkward and confusing to understand at first, but the game becomes easier with practice. In order to defeat the enemies, you first have to draw a rainbow then double click on it to make it fall. When a rainbow falls, it will destroy any enemies underneath it. You can also try and defeat these directly by making the rainbows directly on them. The multitude of challenge and variety of attacks you can use allows you to put a lot of your own personality into the game, and this free-wheeling approach makes the gameplay all the more appealing.

While it doesn't usually matter what shapes you draw your rainbows in, in the Score stages, you can earn extra points and abilities by drawing special shapes such as a five-point star which gives your character an immediate power-up. During each round, you'll also need to keep an eye on your meter to see how many rainbows you can draw. Additional energy is added each time you defeat an enemy, though you won't really need to worry about this until you reach the later, more crowded levels. When you reach the goal at the end of each stage, a treasure chest pops up that contains bonus fruit that you can collect for bonus fruits. While the gameplay is difficult at first, there are several ways in which Rainbow Islands Revolution makes things easier for players. When you come into contact with an opposing enemy or object, you don't immediately lose, instead your power-bar decreases until your energy is depleted. There are several types of enemies and some of these are much easier to anticipate than others, making them harder to avoid. You'll also need to be on the lookout for other obstacles in the levels, such as spikes that can seriously damage your character's health. Players can also find a number of extra items such as food and stars which they can use to eliminate their foes.

Playing the game in story mode also unlocks additional abilities, such as the five-point stars, which destroy all enemies on the screen when drawn. Players can also draw circles which create bubbles. Once an enemy is contained in a bubble, they can be moved around and will destroy anything they come into contact with. You can also draw triangles to create traps which suck in enemies as well. At the end of each island, you'll also need to battle a boss character. These confrontations make for some of the most engaging and intense parts of the game, and definitely add more challenge to the overall gameplay. Rainbow Islands Revolution also allows you to compete with other players via the DS' wi-fi connection. These multiplayer games are quite good as you play against a friend to see who can eliminate the most enemies and build the highest score. Between these three modes of play, there are literally dozens of different levels to play, which means that the game will have quite some longevity if you really want to delve into it.

The game's presentation and visuals are excellent, with colorful levels, brightly designed sprites and smooth animation used to create a distinctly retro feel with some modern touches. This should make the game appeal to both retro gamers and younger players looking for something action-oriented yet comic and bright. Unlike many other misguided updates, Rainbow Islands Revolution sticks with what works and its 2D presentation works nicely with the DS' screen. An excellent soundtrack is used and it compliments the action perfectly, setting a good, light-hearted mood for the player. Codemasters have done an excellent job in upgrading the game, with its classic gameplay mechanics very much in evidence but given a unique twist with the touch screen. While it takes some getting used to the touch screen controls, once you adjust, you'll find a solidly entertaining and challenging title that mixes the best of the old with new elements to create an excellent update. Rainbow Islands Revolution's accessible, enjoyable gameplay means it should be enjoyable and fun for players of all ages. The game is recommended for both older, nostalgic gamers and those looking for enjoyable, challenging fun.

Grade: B

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