Tonights episode: Bubble Bobble/Rainbow Islands, special guest star reviewer:James Reader

Who makes the best Arcade games? Such a question barely deserves the effort it takes to answer - Sega of course. But, if you happened to ask me the same question a decade or so back the answer would be different. Sure, Sega had the state of the art cabinet and hardware technology with games such as Space Harrier, Afterburner II and Outrun. But one other company had the edge over Sega by producing games with fun characters and unrivalled gameplay - Taito.

My favourite Taito game is New Zealand Story - but the two titles on this CD come close second and third. Both games are platform based, but are far more original and innovative than any of the Mario clones produced today.

Bubble Bobble casts the player as a bubble blowing dinosaur (!). The player can use the bubbles to trap enemies , or can jump on the bubbles to reach higher platforms. Trapped enemies are killed by bursting the bubble. Bubble Bobble includes simultaneous two player action and literally hundreds of pick-ups and power-ups. Sheer bliss.

Rainbow Islands is the semi-sequal to Bubble Bobble. Here the aim of the game is to reach the top of each island. The player can cast rainbows which can be used as weapons, or steps to reach higher platforms. Again Rainbow Islands had hundreds of pick-ups.

Both games feature perfect playability - tough but every time you play you seem to get a little further, and when you do die its always your fault and not the game's. Graphics are limited, but somehow fit the style of the game.

Rainbow Islands is presented twice - one is a straight copy of the Arcade original, the second is an enhanced version. In this case enhanced means that the graphics have been updated to make more of the Saturn's capabilities. Nothing to shout about and if you're an old fart like me, something that is best forgotten.

If you remember running down to the corner Arcade, 10p's in hand to play the originals than buy this now! If on the other hand your too young to remember Adam and the Ants, Who Shot JR, Roland Rat or these games then it's probably still worth buying, especially considering the low price.

GRAPHICS: True to the original - 55%
SOUND: True to the original, but catchy - 75%
PLAYABILITY: Still stands up today - 85%
LASTABILITY: Two games for the price of one - 85%
OVERALL: Subtract 20% if you=92re under 25 - 85%


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