Every previous entry in this series has followed a pretty similar path: after returning to a game I previously didn't enjoy all that much, I discovered it really wasn't so bad after all!
This one is going to be different. Now, that doesn't mean I'm going to declare at its end that I still dislike the Famicom port of Rainbow Islands even after giving it a second chance, but it also doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to say that I'm now madly in love with it.
Also, this port's controls and overall "feel" are close enough to those of the arcade original to not be off-putting--for the most part--and the soundtrack holds its own, too. (Note that the Famicom version of Rainbow Islands retains the arcade's "Over the Rainbow"-inspired theme, while its NES counterpart features a different and unique tune.)
As for what's keeping me from enjoying this installment as much as I enjoy, say, the pretty-much-arcade-perfect PC Engine one: a particularly noteworthy example, I think, is the limited color palette that's used here. Although the game's sprites look great, its backdrops often appear drab or washed out.
A few other reasons this Rainbow Islands port doesn't exactly stack up to its arcade or PC Engine brethren: the ever-present and action-obscuring flicker, the subtly altered gameplay (protags Bubby and Bobby can only shoot a maximum of two rainbows here, as opposed to the three that can be spawned in other iterations) and the screwed-up stage layouts.
That last negative is the most damning, if you ask me, as some of the level-design choices that were made during the production of this port are head-scratchers. Case in point: a number of stages now have spike-lined platforms that aren't, as far as I'm aware, present in other versions and that make progressing through some of the levels in this one to be an annoyingly difficult chore.
Even when stages aren't hampered by spike-lined platforms, though, they're often hamstrung by other obstacles--all of which conspire to kill the flow that I consider to be a hallmark of the arcade and PC Engine versions. As such, while playing the Famicom cart it's nearly impossible to get into the same kind of grin-inducing "zone" that makes those other iterations so enjoyable, and that's a shame.
Taito Legends compilation that was released for PC, PS2 and Xbox, although the PC Engine installment's worth picking up, too, if that's an option.)
To those of you who've also spent some time with Rainbow Islands' Famicom (or even NES) outing: what are your thoughts on it?
See also: previous 'Second Chances' posts