Retro Review: Rainbow Islands Putty's Party (Bandai WonderSwan)

Rainbow-Islands-Puttys-Party-bandai-WonderSwan-Retro-ReviewDespite being one of the most iconic arcade games of all time, Rainbow Islands holds a somewhat unknown port hiding amongst the praise. Rainbow Islands: Putty's Party arrived on the Bandai WonderSwan in Japan and remained an exclusive treasure for retro importers.

As we all know the WonderSwan never left Japan, however this fact is rarely criticised due to the lack of English friendly games being available for the handheld. Rainbow Islands: Putty's Party is one of the few import friendly titles sitting amongst the likes of Mr Driller and Klonoa. After all, we're all familiar with the classic arcade game's gameplay so what could possibly go wrong?

Released in the year 2000, Rainbow Islands: Putty's Party arrived on the classic Black and White version of the Bandai WonderSwan, a good six months before the color iteration of the handheld was introduced in Japan. At this point in time, not a single version of Rainbow Islands existed in portable form, leaving the WonderSwan a fairly large task to make it's mark.

Rainbow Islands: Putty's Party Gameplay Video

The first thing you'll notice with Putty's party is the orientation of the game. As the Bandai WonderSwan boasted a wealth of controls, the device could be turned on it's side for certain games utilising the length of the screen for vertical based gameplay. As the majority of the game is spent climbing upwards, it's fair to say this was a great use of the hardware available and possibly something previously unachievable on other handhelds.

Once your WonderSwan has been rotated upwards, you'll then be in for another shock. Bub and Bob are no where to be seen, finding themselves replaced by sickeningly cute anime girl known as Putty. If the visual overload wasn't enough, Putty proceeds to shout the game's name at you in an incredibly high pitched voice.

But with oddities aside, the game begins to show it's tried and tested familiarities within a few minutes. After skipping through the initial story, the traditional platforms and enemies are back in sight getting any Rainbow Islands fan in the mood for yet another adventure. The tile sets have made a graceful transition down to the 8-bit handheld maintaining a lot of fidelity and looking rather presentable. If anything it looks exactly as you would imagine the portable version of the arcade hit to do so.

Despite looking fantastic, the praise for the game has to be limited from here on. Unfortunately the transition to the WonderSwan took a real beating in the programming department. What should have been an easy game to port, turned into something far from the original, leaving it's fair share of fans disappointed.

The controls in particular are the main area in which Putty's Party lets down the Rainbow Islands name. Featuring a rather sluggish and unresponsive configuration, you'll often find yourself heading off in the wrong direction or touching enemies unintentionally. The controls can be mastered, however for fans of the original this is something you really shouldn't have to be doing.

Framerate is also a big issue in Putty's Party. Sadly the game seems to struggle to move the sprites around at a decent speed, something which really begins to raise many questions after the wealth of Nintendo Game Boy games had mastered this technique years before the WonderSwan arrived. With fast and frantic arcade gameplay awaiting, there is no excuse for the tormenting framerate Putty's Party displays.

Overall, the game isn't completely broken and offers a fair share of fun. However if you're even the slightest fan of the original, Putty's Party will most likely disapoint you due to the flaws displayed. After a short while, these flaws combined with Putty's shouting really begin to make matters far worse than they ever were... But on a more positive note, at least this isn't the awful 2001 Game Boy Color attempt of Rainbow Islands!

Last Updated ( 16 February 2011 )  


Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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+1 (Link to this comment) Tepid Snake 2011-02-17 15:16
Nice review- always been interested in this title! Shame it seems a bit disappointing- you can really see the sluggishness in the video. Still want to know who on earth Putty is- my only guess is it's a mistranslation of Patty, Bub's girlfriend from the first BB (a total guess!)

That said, I didn't mind the GBC version that much, mostly because while the basic mechanics are very 'off' (you adjust to them eventually) they managed to keep almost all the secrets in (even the super secret items and the not-often-seen Kiki Kaikai world).

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