Rainbow Islands was the coin-op sequel to Taito’s Bubble Bobble (converted by Software Creations and published by Firebird in 1987). Bub and Bob had to battle through twenty eight levels of platform action, spread across seven different islands – Insect Island, Combat Island, Monster Island, Toy Island, Doh’s Island, Robot Island and Dragon Island. Each island consisted of four levels and then a confrontation with that island’s ‘boss’ before the player could continue to the next island.
The game could either be played solo or two players could play alternately. When the player pressed fire, Bub or Bob would make a rainbow. This could be used to climb up the screen. The objective for each level was to reach the goal at the top before the island sank. Rainbows could also be fired at the various 'meanies' (e.g. worms, bees, spiders on the Insect Island) that tried to stop them from finishing each level. If Bub or Bob jumped at a rainbow, it would shatter and drop, destroying anything in its path (or anything that might have been walking across it at the time!). If separate rainbows were touching, then breaking one would also break all the other rainbows in the chain.
Objects were collected by simply walking over them, or hitting them with a rainbow. The most important objects were the running shoes (which gave greater speed), yellow potions (which gave faster rainbows) and red potions (which increased the number of rainbows produced by one up to a maximum of three at a time). If Bub or Bob were hit by a 'meanie' then they would lose a life, as well as any non-permanent extra abilities that they had collected up to that point.
There were plenty of objects to be collected, and they all scored points. Some had additional significance that wasn't always obvious. For example, different coloured diamonds could be collected throughout the levels. However, if the player collected them in the correct order (the colours of the rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), then a large door appeared when they faced the 'boss' at the end of the island. The player could avoid battling the boss by going into the door. This took them to a secret room where they could collect an enormous diamond for more points. There would also be a bonus item that would give the player a permanent special power.
The collectible items that appeared when you shot a 'meanie' with a rainbow weren't random. The item that appeared would depend on whether you shot them on the same level as you or whether you got them from above (i.e. dropped a shattering rainbow on their head!). There were quite a few conditions that determined the item type that appeared. Even when armed with the knowledge, it would often be impossible to produce a particular item to order because the player was far too busy trying to stay alive!
The conversions written by Graftgold only covered the standard seven islands. An extra three islands were included in the coin-op that were only accessible if you collected the large diamond from each of the first seven islands. The extra islands were - Magical Island, Darius Island and finally, Bubble Island.
Ocean Software (based in Manchester, UK) eventually published Rainbow Islands for the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64. Other publishers have since written other conversions - Acclaim published Probe's version for the Sony PlayStation and PC (including versions of Bubble Bobble for good measure!), and TDK published a GameBoy Color version (which isn't a patch on Graftgold's conversions if you ask me!).