Review: Parasol Stars, a masterful reworking of Bubble Bobble
In terms of gameplay, Parasol Stars is a heady mixture of ideas from its predecessors. Set across a number of single screens, the basic aim of the one or two-player game is to clear a screen of nasties whilst amassing as many bonuses as possible. Retaining their human form from Rainbow Islands, the game’s odd scenario tells of how the freshly-saved inhabitants of the Rainbow Islands expressed their gratitude by giving the dungaree-clad pair a magic umbrella each. However, as news swept the area of an evil being called Chaos Tikahn overrunning other planets in the galaxy, a space wind magically swept the brollies and their passengers towards their new adventure. Depending on the worlds – and there’s Casino, Machinery, and Music among the eight to battle though – the backdrops and sprites change to reflect the differences. Thus, as you ‘brolly’ your way through Woodland World, all manner of vengeful vegetation scurries about and the end-of-level Bosses are larger versions of these. The screens follow a basic pattern of symmetrical platform arrangements, upon which Chaos’s minions roam. Bub and Bob are then dropped into the bottom corners of the screen, and the aliens kick into life. With the titular Parasols replacing their past arrangements of deadly rainbows and encapsulating bubbles, you may think that the twins are pretty much unarmed. However, these are magic Parasols and, as such, can be used to scoop up an errant nasty and lob them across the screen at their cohorts – alternatively, the players can also pick up their partner and use them instead! In addition, water, fire and zappy droplets also can be gathered and thrown from the raised Parasol’s surface and, when five are collected, their effectiveness doubles – the water droplets, for instance, combine to create a Bubble Bobble-style waterfall to sweep away all in its path. Control over the two heroes is via the joystick, with the directional controls guiding them as they run and jump, and when used in conjunction with the fire-button, readying the all-important brollies for action. Graphically, it fits in perfectly with the others but the area where Parasol succeeds most is in the ever-essential gameplay stakes. The game’s gentle learning curve eases the player into its intricacies, and although there’s plenty of scope for progress, there’s no way this will be beaten in one sitting.