Friday, March 11, 2016

Manual Stimulation (Rainbow Islands, Famicom)

It seems strange to me now that I haven't always been a big fan of (now mostly defunct) Japanese game developer and publisher Taito.

Sure, I've always liked the company's first real hit, the arcade classic known as Space Invaders, well enough, and I fell in love with another of its quarter-munchers, Bubble Bobble, the second I laid eyes on it. Aside from that pair of games, though, I didn't think much of Taito until a couple of years ago.

What caused my opinion on the former jukebox-maker to do a 180? As far as I can remember, the turnaround was prompted by me finally--and kind of randomly--deciding to give its Chack'n Pop Famicom port and its Chuka Taisen PC Engine remake a go.

I enjoyed both of those games so much that I expanded my get-to-know-Taito-a-bit-better endeavor to include a number of others. Among them: Don Doko DonElevator ActionInsector XJigoku MeguriKiKi KaiKai and Panic Restaurant.

Admittedly, I'd played some of these titles earlier in my life. Most of them only earned a few minutes of my time, though, and none of them succeeded in blowing me away during that initial experience.

The same can be said of the Famicom conversion of Taito's Bubble Bobble follow-up, Rainbow Islands. This 8-bit "demake" (of sorts) really rubbed me the wrong way the first handful of times I played it.

Thankfully, I eventually pushed that negativity--born out of my love of the original coin-op--to the background and embraced the unique positives this iteration brings to the proverbial table.

The vast majority of those "unique positives" are tied to the graphics on display in Rainbow Islands' Famicom port, of course, but some of them are tied to its physical packaging. The game's beautiful outer box is a good example; its similarly gorgeous instruction manual is another.

The latter should be plainly obvious by sneaking even the quickest peek at the two or three scans immediately above this text. Actually, the pair that follow prove the point, too.

Could it be said that the illustrations showcased on these rose-drenched pages are on the simplistic side? Yes, it could. Still, I personally consider them to be the definition of charming despite--or even because of--their primitiveness.

I especially love the pages that depict a selection of Rainbow Islands' many enemies. That seems to be the MO of Taito's earliest game manuals, by the way. For proof, check out my "Manual Stimulation" posts devoted to Mizubaku Daibouken and The New Zealand Story, among others.

Amazingly, this particular booklet doesn't include a single screenshot--which, as far as I'm aware, is unusual for titles released in this era. (Hell, even the manual that accompanied copies of Donkey Kong, published five years earlier, offered up a couple of rudimentary screens.)

What do all of you think? Does Rainbow Islands' instruction manual impress you, or bore you? Or maybe it inspires an entirely different reaction? Regardless, share your thoughts on the scans above or even the game itself in the comment section below.

See also: 'Nice Package! (Rainbow Islands, Famicom)' and previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts

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