Thursday, 5 December 2013

Chapter III: Rainbow Islands

On his early days as a proud owner of an Amiga 500, my cousin Walter The Baptist had a neighbour which was the main provider of games for many of the kids in the area. This man was just known as “The Man of the three hundred games”. No one knew his name, but real names are boring for kids, since I’m sure everyone that ever existed had at least one nickname in childhood. The only thing I remember about this man look is that he had a beard, and looked old. Maybe he was just thirty years old, after all he lived with his parents, but in our minds he was almost like Father Christmas.

One day, before I even had my own Amiga, I accompanied Walter and his friend Roy Drought to visit the 300 games Man. I still had my Speccy 48k, and Rainbow Islands was the game of the moment. I couldn’t stop nagging Walter and Roy about it but they just couldn’t care. They were grown-ups, they had a new computer to match. In their minds, a Spectrum 48k was just a children toy.

When we arrived at the man’s house, Walter and Roy started to browse the famed three hundred games collection. I doubt that anyone ever counted how many games he had, and I also don’t know who came up with the moniker. Another question for Walter next Christmas. While they were browsing, I brought up Rainbow Islands again, and they just told me to shut up. I was sad, and started to realize that being the youngest in the group meant a long tough road ahead. Then, I heard the 300 games Man say ‘Oh, Rainbow Islands! Brilliant game that one’. Walter and Roy had to respect me from now on, or at least until that day was over. Our Elder approved my little game for my little toy machine.

I can’t recall where or when I got Rainbow Islands for the Amiga. It almost seems like I always had it. Every child should have the right to play Rainbow Islands, and it seems my parents assured that fundamental right. Thanks mom and dad!

Still, I hold a grudge against the game. No, not against the game, that seems unfair, but against that Vampire dickhead at the end of third level. What a dick! I could never beat him, and I sure can’t believe anyone can beat him without a fully powered rainbow. Let’s see if this 32 old man with nothing to prove can finally teach that asshole vampire a lesson.

I have to say that playing Rainbow Islands after all these years is still a joy. While it wasn’t the kind of game that could show the Amiga’s capabilities back in the day, it’s still visually very appealing in its simplicity. I tried the Arcade original just to see the differences, and even if it’s not hard to tell them apart, major clapping must go to Graftgold for such a brilliant conversion. The arcade runs smoother, with more frames per second and the colours are a bit more garish in the conversion. Yet, all the levels I tried looked and played exactly the same. It seems that there are some levels missing in the conversion, but I didn’t dug enough to verify that.

Looking at this makes me want to eat jellies
The music is apparently some sort of remix of the Wizard of Oz theme song, but not having seen the film in my youth, for me this was always Rainbow Islands song and not anyone else’s. I have to say I prefer the Amiga’s sound and music when compared to the original, which is something that doesn’t surprises me, being such a fan of our dear machine sound capabilities.

I thought that returning to this game after so many years later was comparable to going to my high school reunion after winning an Oscar and marrying Scarlett Johansson. I had no doubts that I would reach my arch-nemesis on my first try while unleashing massive rainbow related carnage. Well, that didn’t happen, and my mission was much harder than I anticipated. Maybe my reflexes have been dulled by years of playing Elder Scrolls and Civilization, but I was constantly slaughtered by the army of cute spiders and grasshopper helicopters.

Date with destiny
But still I knew that today would be the day that our destinies finally meet. Me against Max Vampire or whatever his name is. Many years passed since my latest humiliation and there was no question that I wasn’t going to let go of this opportunity. After some tries I finally got the hang of it, and my rainbows felt like they had homing properties as I was leaving a charred trail of rainbow burned corpses behind me. As I was climbing the pile of dead werewolves and bats to reach the top of Max Vampire’s castle, I knew that I only had one shot. My rainbow powers were in their ultimate stage, triple arched and very very fast.

These werewolves look seriously pissed off
When I reached the top, it seemed like time had frozen, those 5 seconds felt like the time I spent in the post office queue this morning. I unleashed everything I had, hoping that Max Vampire would be blinded by all the rainbows. Or even if he didn’t get dazzled by all the colours in front of him, I hoped he could at least see the error of his ways and renounce to all the evil is his life. We could have hugged, we could have been friends.

One of us dies today
That didn’t happen. He cowardly sent his army of bats to eat me alive while I desperately tried to keep them at bay with my rainbows. I died a horrifying but honourable death, as I was just a bar away of cleansing Monster Island of all evil.

Damn you Max Vampire!


  1. Fun and interesting stories, Skegg. I remember having similar experiences with certain games, and knowing some similar people as a kid. Seems like in the old days, each neighbourhood's gaming circles have often had the same kind of social architecture. =)

    1. Yes, that was also one of the reasons for me to start this blog. I was sure there would be people that could relate to these experiences.:)

  2. My sister used to be playing this game a lot on our Atari ST. If I remember right, she never managed to get past the vampire boss, too.

    1. Max Vampire destroys childhoods. I hope your sister managed to pull through.:)