VC Weekly 303

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe’s guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo’s download service. Written by Sam C Gittins

It seems that Konami are keeping up the momentum with their re-releases as we get yet another classic from their SNES back-catalogue. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!
Available for download this week we have...     

Pop'n Twinbee Rainbow Bell Adventures


Price: GB £5.49, EU €7.99
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Released: 1994
System: SNES

Originating as a scrolling shoot-'em-up - or even a cute-'em-up - the Pop'n Twinbee series has always been known for its extremely vibrant style and for being extremely fun to play, so I suppose it's only natural that Konami would want to carry over this winning format to the platform genre being that diversity can be good for a series, therefore we ended up getting the rather brilliantly titled Pop'n Twinbee Rainbow Bell Adventures which actually delivers far more than you might expect a spin-off title to. Our story starts with the Rainbow Bell which keeps the balance in the universe so long as it keeps ringing, one day the evil Dr. Warumon decided to steal the bell so he could use it to take over the world, without the bell people are frightened plus Princess Melora is vanishing into nothingness so it's up to you to go and get it back, what more of an excuse do you need?

You get to choose your character from three comprising of Twinbee, Winbee plus Gwinbee all of whom have very different stats so just pick the one that you like as you could always play through the game again as a different character at some point for added replay value, it doesn't seem to make too much of a difference in any case as the game is fun to play either way as you start finding your feet you'll discover that you can run, - Sonic style - throw a charged punch - similar to Rayman - or you can even charge up your jet booster in the style of Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures which is rather fitting being that this is a Konami title; indeed comparisons to elements taken from other platforming games don't end there either - you can eveb get a Kirby style hammer! - because in addition to punching your enemies or shooting them - with a laser gun pickup - you can even jump on their heads Mario style. Whichever way you decide to dispatch with your enemies though be sure to collect all of the coloured bells because these will power you up so you'll end up getting pods which trail behind you which can be helpful, weapons, speed plus invincibility in one pickup plus other assorted boosts, just try not to lose them after you're powered up as the game becomes less enjoyable then but you can always use save states to save you from this inconvenience.


If you're playing normally though then you'll lose a heart when hit - out of three - which can be replished once in a while by picking up either a heart container or fittingly a fairy which oddly seems to restore a quarter of a heart - it's like Zelda in reverse - but are also a collectable item it seems so you'll want to nab them in any case, mostly though you'll be picking up small kitten-type bells which are scattered throughout the stages seemingly ranging from One Hundred and Eleven all the way up to Seven Hundred and Seventy Seven on each stage which there seem to be over thirty of in total which includes boss stages of which there is one for each 'section' of the game, typically this seems to be every five or seven stages and they are always a fun break from the rest of the game. Indeed your main objective is simply to get from one end of each section to the exit which can be achieved quite quickly - there are even par times - but the real challenge seems to come from collecting everything, of course you don't have to but it seems to be essential if you wish to see everything that's on offer; sadly I didn't even have the patience to collect everything and I'm usually thorough, as being thorough comes naturally to me as a reviewer but this game really makes you work for it as you will have to get every bell, fairy and unlock each of the coloured doors in the game which all require keys, their location is vaguely stated on a grid which you can view by pausing the game but still it's quite an undertaking.


My advice would be to simply just play through the game so that you can enjoy it for what it is which is a fantastic, fun platforming game which is uniquely brilliant when you just want to play a title simply for the pure enjoyment of it, even bring a friend as the two-player co-op is particularly good even if you can still find plenty of reasons to play along on your own too, whichever way you tackle it you are sure to enjoy especially if you're a fan of the other Pop'n Twinbee titles as it still has that brilliant style. Indeed what impressed me the most was simply being able to blast all the way up into space on the first couple of stages where there is no real ceiling as such, if you make it all the way up to the Nine Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Kilometre mark then you will be granted access to all of the coloured bell power-ups very early on in the game, so if you can hold onto them without getting hit then it improves things tenfold; of course even if you didn't want to play it the proper way then you could take advantage of the password system to skip a few stages but really being that you can use save states now you might as well complete the game semi-legitimately in any case.   

Some really striking visuals have been employed here which are really quite unlike any other example in the genre, so naturally this is where everything truly shines as everything from the amazingly well animated sprites - check out the idle animations - to the beautiful backdrops paired with the carefully crafted organic environments which have a decent amount of variation throughout as you progress through simple Grasslands, through Mines, even Underwater plus a few other locations besides which I won't spoil but I will say that it's all a feast for the eyes. All of the audio has a cheery complimentary vibe thanks to the excellent composition created mainly by Kenichi Matsubara who has worked on many Konami games in the past and his mark is clearly stamped upon this title from start to finish; even the sound effects are pure gaming gold.


By now you will already know if this game is for you but really all you need to ask yourself is if you like either platform titles, classic Konami experiences - the like of which we may never see again - or both, if you fall into either camp then you're sure to love Rainbow Bell Adventures as it's quite simply fantastic and while the individual compnents which make up the gameplay may not be the most original being that many elements are borrowed from other titles; the end result is still nothing short of spectacular. This is a game of real quality which still shines through on modern TV's today or just on the gamepad depending on your preference, for me it filled a gap that I didn't even realise was there, taking me back to the glorious 16-bit days where everything was so much simpler and when games were simply about enjoying yourself without a hint of pretension or false promises, just fun with nothing added; so perhaps it might do the same for others too but either way what we have here is a great game.  

Verdict : Perfectly playable platformer which promises nothing but pure enjoyment.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

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