Friday, 16 October 2015

Snes Game Review 100: Pop'n TwinBee Rainbow Bell Adventures

Ok so for my one hundredth SNES review what have I picked? Well I have picked Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures, or as it is known in Japan TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure. I had all kinds of ideas for what I should do for my one hundredth review if it should be specially or normal and in the end I think I just decided I should pick a game and get down to it or it would never happen. One of the interesting bits of trivia about this game is that it wasn't released in the USA at all, it was strictly speaking a Japanese and European exclusive, something which didn't really happen that often in terms of the SNES. Usually it seemed like a game would get a Japanese release which might then see it get an American release which would only then filter down to us if it had done OK in both of these previous markets. Why this game skipped the US I have no idea at all.

So other than obviously the Japanese version being in Japanese is there any differences between it and the version Europe got? Well actually there are more than you would expect. The level order in the Japanese version is a little bit more open allowing you to choose at poits what stage to do next, some stages have alternate exits, similar to Super Mario World allowing paths to be drawn that otherwise wouldn't open up. In the European version, though the order is laid out for you in a strictly linear fashion, you simply finish a level and then move on to the next one.There is dialogue between Dr. Cinnamon and the main characters Light, Pastel and Mint (the Pilots of Twinbee, Winbee and Gwinbee) at the level select screen in the Japanese version but this was cut from the European version for some reason. The European version uses passwords to save your progress where the Japanese one offers a battery back-up as well as the choice of using passwords. And last but not least the Japanese version has multiple endings depending on the player's performance (which the game rates) the European version just has one set ending. Now I might be wrong but to me I feel that a lot of this has to do with the way a bright colourful game like this was perceived in Europe, if its bright and silly looking here then its seen to be kids’ stuff, the Japanese are different though they tend to see a bright cartoony style as just one of several legitimate choices for how a game or animated film can be, I think they thought we would see the game as childish so they stripped out some of the more adult challenge and story based aspects and maybe they had a point in doing it. I got this game on release as a present I actually asked my parents for. A lot of my friends didn’t even give this game a second thought, they saw the graphics in magazine previews and pretty much straight labelled it babies stuff. I on the other hand have always been in to things like Anime and know that even with the brightest of colours and the cutest of looks sometimes there can be a lot more than just that held within.

Now there are probably three types of people reading this, the first will be those who already know about the game and want to find out my opinion, the next will be those who have never heard of the title or the characters leaving the last group those who will know that the characters belong to Konami, who will know who Twinbee is but will be going wasn't he that ship from those vertically scrolling shooter games. Well the quick answer is that yes Twinbee was from a series of shooting games in fact one of these games was on the Super Nes one year before Rainbow Bell adventures.

Pop'n Twinbee the snes game was in fact the sixth game in the TwinBee series and a direct follow-up to an arcade game The European version of this snes game was the first TwinBee related game to be localized for the European market. You might ask why I am not reviewing that game first, well there is a simple answer to that question and its the fact that I don't own it. Not to get too sidetracked but alongside sega's Fantasy Zone game Twinbee is pretty much the game responsible for the creation of the "cute 'em up" sub-genre of shoots. Its a shoot em up space ship shooting game with beautiful cute colours, upbeat cartoon style music and, snippets of voice acting I wont review it do to my rule of not reviewing things I don't own on the SNES but I will say its a delightful breath of fresh air that brings a smile to your face as you play it. I only mention it because this is one of the things that really made Rainbow Bell Adventures a surprise, you see with there being a whole series of shoot em up games featuring these characters it was a real shot from left field to see them suddenly release a platform game instead of doing what everyone expected and quickly rehashing a quick SNES sequel to the title from the previous year, you know minimum effort maximum cash style. So old Konami definitely get a bonus point from me here for doing something different.

Ok so let me play story teller here and give you a brief idea of the story (in game this is told to you via the intro sequence). So there are these ''Rainbow Bells'' right and somehow these bells keep the peace throughout the whole galaxy, they seem to do this by keeping a green haired princess alive. So all is good right? No as an evil scientist and his troopers steal the Rainbow Bells and take over the world. You play as the previously mentioned Twinbee, Winbee and Gwinbee and you have to stop him. Yeah its not about to win any book of the year awards here for story telling but its good enough to give you a reason for what your doing.

So you get to choose between the three character Twinbee the blue one, the pink Winbee the pink one, or the green Gwinbee the green one. They are all pretty much the same in how they move and how they control but there are some small differences. First and most importantly there is a charge punch move you can do and there is also the ability to charge your ship so you can shoot off at whatever angle your pressing at the time you release your jets, well the charge-up times are different Winbee charges her flying ability quickly but is slow to charge her punch, Gwinbee charges his punches quickly but takes a long time to charge up his jets, and Twinbee is the middle ground character his punch and flying ability have a medium charge making him the most rounded character. There is another minor difference between them but I will get to that in a little.

The game is absolutely chock a block full of different power-ups, something it takes from its shoot em up heritage. Your basic moves include both a punching attack and jumping, the jumping itself can be used as an attack as you will harm enemies by landing on top of them. Power-ups though come in the form of various coloured bells which appear after you have defeated an enemy. Obviously different colours give you different things. One coloured bell will give you a laser gun power-up another will give you a character dependant physical weapon with Twinbee getting a hammer, Winbee getting a whip, and Gwinbee getting projectile baby rattles. Then there is a bell which will give you a shield, a belle which gives you a mini ship which will follow behind you and a belle which will give you time limited invincibility.

OK so the basic idea in most levels is to find and enter the exit gate. This is no simple keep going right and you'll find it thing like in some games though or at least not all of the time, sure In a few levels, finding the exit is rather straightforward, but in others it can involve a whole lot of exploration. Then every so many levels you are met with a boss. There are the above mentioned bells to pick up for power ups but there are also score related bells which you can sort of consider the equivalent of Mario's coins. You will need to use your charge moves to either blow through a wall or to fly up in to the air. Something in this game I love but is actually pointless is the fact that if you charge up and rocket in to the air again and again eventually you can reach all the way in to space, there is nothing to do up there other than let go and see yourself plummeting downwards but the very fact they allow you to do this without putting some invisible ceiling in place or making you die if you go to high feels very liberating, its like they knew people would want to try it.

The graphics in Rainbow Bell Adventure are so darn cute but its more than that they are so full of colour that there a visual treat especially if you have played a lot of Xbox 360 grey chest high wall shooters recently, if you go from something like that back to Rainbow Bell it will just lay you on your ass and make you think back fondly to the good old 16bit era. The playable characters have lots of animation to them, they feel like they positively pop to life on the screen this coupled with the music just brings everything to life. The music is light and bubbly while also being fun and upbeat, I cant say that you will leave the game humming it but it certainly does put you in the right mood to enjoy this kind of game.

I think the game controls like a dream, its quiet simply awesome, it doesn't just control well its also so much fun to rocket around and bounce off walls and see what tricks you can do. The game is very fun but I also feel it works best in small bite sized chunks, I would advise you to play four or five levels jot down the password and then come back to it rather than trying to do all 33 in one sitting. I know that compared to the likes of super Mario World 33 doesn't sound like a very high number and well its not. If you were to attack this game with a I must complete it attitude you would knock it out of the way very quickly but that would ignore how fun this game is.

So what would I score this game? Well I think I would give it a nice solid 8. Its a nice fun game, its a bit different but I do think that it could do with being a little longer, I do think that some of the things that were removed from the Japanese version were removed to the games detriment and I do think that there are better games out there even if this is a darn fine game. How much are you going to spend if your considering this game though? Well the cheapest I could find at the moment was an English cart only copy for £20 with people asking up to £40 for a loose cart in some instances, a Japanese loose cartridge is closer to £10 but of course you'll need a modified system or a converter, its not like the in game text or anything is really needed so you could easily play and finish a Japanese copy. It might be worth looking at wrongly labelled auctions as I actually got my copy cheaper due to someone listing it as the previous Pop'n Twinbee game (they gave the name of that game but a picture of this cartridge).

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