Parasol Stars logo

Whip out your parasol, put your speedy boots on and get ready for action. The evil Chaostikahn is trying to conquer the universe, and only the Bub and Bob brothers can stop him.

Imagine for a second, if you will, that you are a programmer, and one day while sitting in your office, madly playing Kick Off 2 with the rest of your team, the phone rings. On the other end is Mr Ocean, he saw your last game and liked it, so he wants you to write the sequel to Rainbow Islands. For a few moments dollar signs flash before your eyes, and all you can think of are the royalties, the fame and the groupies, but after a short while you return to your senses and begin to consider your options.

Should you: a) "Sorry Mr Ocean but we have to wash our hair every night for the next year and a half." (I mean just think how universally despised you'd be if you ballsed it up); b) say: "Certainly your highness, put a whacking advance cheque in the post." then set about writing a completely new and exciting eight-way-scrolling arcade action platform game starring the ubiquitous Bub and Bob; c) say: "OK go on, you've talked me into it, don't bother with the advance, just put me on a hefty royalty, deal and send the copies of Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands for reference." Then set about duplicating the style and gameplay of the aforementioned games so accurately you're bound to have a huge smash and make a killing.

There are no prizes for guessing the route that Ocean have taken with this third installment of the ever popular Bub and Bob trilogy, but the big surprise is simply how exceptionally good this game is.

Raindrops keep falling on my head
Once again you play the role of one, or both of the unfortunate Bub and Bob brothers in the rather excellent simultaneous two-player mode. I say unfortunate because someone is forever metamorphosing you into lizards or stealing your girlfriends Batty and Petty. This time the evil warmonger Chaostikhan has released a host of menacing monsters throughout the universe. But no worry, because as usual you have a magic weapon that will help you make your way through innumerable levels of mayhem to inevitable triumph.

This time around your weapon is an amazing technicolour parasol, given in gratitude by the inhabitants of the Rainbow Islands, and its uses are manifest. You can catch the waterdrops that trickle down most of the screens and hurl them against the nasties, or you can spear the baddies directly on the tip of your brolly and throw them at one another. If there are inaccessible areas of the screen you can collect give droplets on your parasol to make one huge drop, then send it gushing down the screen in a cascade, which wipes away everything in its path. And whn the going gets too tough on any particular platform you can bail out and use the parasol in true parachute style prevent you from landing on an opponent.

It's full of stars
Whereas Rainbow Islands had (as the name suggests) you hopping from island in your quest, Parasol Stars is fully interplanetary, and it's whole worlds you have to rid of hideous nasties.


Despite covering absolutely now new ground whatsoever, Parasol Stars manages to both captivate and delight.

Like the islands in the previous game, the worlds of Parasol Stars> are themed, and the monsters vary from planet to planet. The first world is music world and you battle with pianos, accordions, trumpets and other instruments. From here you must work your way through Woodland, Ocean, Machine, Casino, Cloud, Giant and Rainbow worlds, and the manual hints at more beyond this.

The same old surprises are still hidden in there; hurl a bunch of raindrops along a platform and it will mysteriously sprout all manner of delightfully edible pickups. Collect them by walking over them or throwing more water at them and they yield points. And we all know what points make, don't we? Yes, that's right, point make high scores. A good score is some thing that's very high to quantity in Parasol Stars, it's possible to complete the first screen with as little as 5,000 points or as many as 130,000.

Such a vast difference comes about due to the hundreds (at least) of weird pickups that appear spontaneously in the game. Some give you obvious things like invincibility, while others seem to do nothing, until the end of the level when the biggest chocolate eclair in the world will come hurtling from the sky and whack you upside the head. Fear not tough, for within that humongous cream cake lay a massive 100,000 points.

The disappointing thing about these mega power-ups, though, is that they seem so, well... random. When you get one you feel more like you've been lucky, rather than you've actually earned it. In Rainbow Islands however you had to do something stupid, like collect every silver crown, kill 24 baddies and stand on your head singing Frank Sinatra songs before you got one of the truly weird and profitable power-ups, but in Parasol Stars they just happen.

I'm forever Bubble Bobble
Rather than the action taking place on one continuously-vertical scrolling level, like Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars is definitely a game of screens. When one is complete you scroll flip-screen. When one is complete you scroll flip-screen style to the next. In this, and many other aspects it is more like Bubble Bobble.

The Bubble Bobble similarity is confused slightly by the fact that later screens scroll. That is to say that one screen/level is wider than one monitor screen, so the game scrolls within the confines of this screen/level.

Is it enough to imitate a bygone and better game? Well, when the basic idea is as strong as this, and when the imitation is done as well as this, the answer is yes. Despite covering absolutely no new ground whatsoever, Parasol Stars manages to captivate and delight. I could go on praising, but I've better things to do, like improve my high score.


Parasol Stars logo

Mit "Bubble Bobble" fing es 1987 in der Spielhalle an: Alle Welt war von den beiden putzigen Plattformen-Drachen begeistert. Das blieb auch bei der Amiga-Umsetzung so, der Nachfolger "Rainbow Islands" zog dann die letzten Zweifler in seinen Bann. Und jetzt geht's endlich weiter!

Eigentlich wollten Bub und Bob ja in Rente gehen, nachdem sie auf den Regenbogen-Inseln für Ruhe und Ordnung gesorgt hatten. Zwei so erfolgreichere Helden im Altenheim, das paßte Ocean aber gar nicht ins Konzept! Also müssen die Jungs noch mal ran, um hier dem fiesen Chaostikhan das Handwerk zu legen - ehe der Schlimmling mit seinen Monsterhorden noch das ganze Universum verseucht...

Insgesamt sieben Planeten warten auf ihre Befreiung, von denen jeder noch einmal in sieben Level unterteilt ist. Zusätzlich gibt's drei Geheimwelten, deren Eingänge in akribischer Kleinarten gesucht werden müssen. Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, wimmelt es überall von Feinden, auch die obligatorischen Endgegner harren ihre obligatorischen Tracht Prügel. Als Waffen besitzen Bub und Bob lediglich ihre Sonnenschirme, die übrigens ein Geschenk der dankbaren Bewohner von Rainbow Island sind. Und diese Schirmchen haben's ganz schön in sich: Schon ihre bloße Berührung wirkt tödlich, zudem können Bub und Bob mit ihnen Wassertropfen aufsammeln, um sie dann den wasserscheuen Monstern entgegen zu schleudern. Läßt man fünf Tropfen zusammenkommen, wird daraus ein Mega-Tropfen, der sämtlichen Feinden das Fürchten lehrt.

Daneben sind auch die üblichen Extras vertreten: am Wegesrand verstreute Mahlzeiten für den kleinen Hunger zwischendurch, Siebenmeilen-Stiefel zum schnelleren Vorwärtskommen, Smartbombs und zusätzliche Leben, weil die drei von hayus aus vorhandenen kaum für alle sieben Planeten reichen werden.

Grafik und Sound sind von gewohnt zuckersüßer Güte, wobei man die einzelnen Spielabschnitte wie beim Vorgänger auch hier wieder bestimmten Themen gewidmet hat. So spielt die erste Runde z.B. in einer Musikwelt, in der unsere Mini-Helden dem Angriff verschiedener Musikinstrumente ausgesetzt sind - etwa mutierten Trompeten, Killer-Pianos, und ähnlichen Bestien. Auch in puncto Gameplay stimmt alles, nichtzuletzt, weil der zwischenzeitlich ("Rainbow Islands") eingesparte Zwei-Spieler-Simultanmodus wieder eingeführt wurde. Man kann sogar seinem Kollegen aufs (Schirm-) Dach steigen, um auf diese Weise an die etwas entlegeneren Extras heranzukommen.

Man braucht also kein Prophet sein, um vorherzusehen, daß Bub & Bob mit diesem Spiel die Herzen ihrer Fans wieder genauso erobern werden, wie ihnen das vorher schon zweimal gelungen ist. Die Programmierer haben jedenfalls das ihre dazu getan, apropos Programmierer: Diesmal gab es gar kein Arcade-Original, die Amigaversion wurde unmittelbar von der PC-Engine konvertiert. Das Ergebnis kann sich wirklich sehen und spielen lassen! (L. Bunder)


Parasol Stars logo

Well, it's here, but what everyone wants to know is, "Is it better than Rainbow Islands?"

It's here at last! Man the barricades, batten down the hatches, splice the mainbrace, no-one gets out alive! Time for some (serious) reviewing...
Parasol Stars is the third game in the Bubble Bobble series, having been preceded by Bubble Bobble (obviously) and Rainbow Islands, the current AMIGA POWER choice as Best Amiga Game Of All Time. And that's all the background you're getting, 'cos quite frankly all three games have such silly, dodgy-translated Japanese storylines it'd be a total waste of space to go into them here.

Instead, let's get right down to the nitty-gritty - is this game better than Rainbow Islands or what?
No. There you go, pretty revolutionary concept, huh? Now some of you may be thinking 'He's thrown away his best card dangerously early in the review there Brian, this is a review of 1200 words and it's going to need 110 percent effort if he's going to keep the crowd interested to the end', but the point to note here is that, despite what everyone in the world (including us) might have said, it doesn't really matter two hoots how this compares to Rainbow Islands.

Well, it does a bit, if only for the sake of argument (so check out the STARS IN THEIR EYES box), but the most important thing by far is - and forgive me if I'm stating the obvious here - how good a game it is in its own right. The best pedigree in the world means nothing if it's just used to sell a mediocre cash-in (ref Gauntlet 3) just like the worst background imaginable can still produce an all-time classic (ref The Blues Brothers).

So forget about the history. Forget about Rainbow Islands. Forget about Bubble Bobble. Forget the hype. Forget your own name if you like, but let's take a cold, hard look at Parasol Stars - the game.


The two-player game is one of the best I've ever seen

OH NO! IT'S HYPOCRISY ALERT!
Okay, so I know I just said 'forget about Bubble Bobble', but the unavoidable first thing that strikes you when you start to play Parasol Stars is just how like its illustrious parent it is.
Single screens (for the most part, a few levels scroll horizontally a little bit), masses of baddies in set formations, and often loads of bubbles floating around containing weapons lifted directly from the original game (see TROUBLE WITH BUBBLES).

The nasties' movements are noticeably similar too, floaty, bouncy, jumpy kinds of stuff, and they even share the same property of getting 'angry' if you half-kill them and then allow them to recover before you finish the job off.

Gameplay-wise you've got the same objective, just kill everything on each level and move onto the next one, making judicious use of the Bubble BobbleRainbow Islands devotee will tell you), at random around the screen.

Perhaps a good comparison to make at this point would be with Switchblade and Switchlade II - in that case too, a simple arcade game was followed by a sequel which upped the style quotient by several hundred percent and refined the design almost to perfection without really changing it a significant amount. (And, the original Switchblade was over-rated too, but let's not get into that...)


Is it as good as Rainbow Islands? No

STEP BACK IN TIME, DR WELLS
In many ways, then, Parasol Stars is a step backwards (at least in design terms). But then, as we were discussing earlier, so what? It is still, it can't be denied, an excellent game. I personally didn't care for Bubble Bobble as a one-player game at all, but this is immensely playable in solo mode, with the same ease and instinctiveness of control that was one of Rainbow Islands strongest points.

Not that the two-player version isn't great, though, it's one of the best I've ever seen. The interaction is inspired, and adds a whole new dimension to the game, whether the two players are battling it out (stealing bonuses, hitting each other with weapons or even picking each other up and using the other character as ammunition to throw at the baddies) or co-operating to even the odds by sharing power-ups, saving your brother from baddies or even using your parasol as a platform to give the other player a boost to an otherwise unreachable bonus or area screen.

The critical difference between this and Bubble Bobble though, is that you don't feel as if you're missing out on half the fun if you're playing Parasol Stars by yourself.

So after that neat ideological back-flip, what are we left with? A great game? Certainly. A worthy sequel? Undoubtedly. An earth-moving, life-altering, boundary-shattering, transcendental game experience? Afraid not. Parasol Stars is a fab little arcade game, and that's as far as it goes. You might argue that that's all you could ever expect it to be, and maybe you'd be right, but in the last year I've played a lot of games that have moved me more than this one, and perhaps I've given the real reason away by calling it 'little'. Of all the things I'd have expected from Parasol Stars, a feeling of 'bigness' was probably the most important one, and it doesn't really have it.

Please don't get me wrong, I like this game a hell of a lot, but at the end of the day it has to go down as just the slightest of disappointments.


A BOY AND HIS BROLLY - EIGHT WAYS TO WEATHER THE STORM
In common with our heroes' previous armaments, the parasols of Parasol Stars are versatile and powerful weapons - these aren't your everyday umbrellas, oh no. Bubby and Bobby's multi-coloured weather shields have 101 uses (well, at least eight anyway). Let's take a quick look and see just what they can really do...
Parasol Stars
Worn slung against the shoulder, a groovy and stylish fashion accessory.
Parasol Stars
Raised vertically over the ehad, a sterling protector against rain, hail, snow, or collision with projectiles fired by enemy characters.
Parasol Stars
Alternatively, hold forwards for multi-directional.
Parasol Stars
Fed up of looking at those ugly baddies? Just pick 'em up and stick 'em above your head and you'll never have to see 'em again!
Parasol Stars
Also works with twin brothers.
Parasol Stars
Alternatively, save yourself the bother of getting close by simply collecting a handy power-up...
Parasol Stars
...and lobbing it at the meanies from a safe distance. Take that, repulsive cutesy weirdos!
Parasol Stars
And finally, in best cartoon style, open when falling from a great height to glide to the ground in a graceful and controlled manner.

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW
Parasol Stars: Map

This map screen which appears between worlds shows you the state of Bubby and Bobby's universe as the game proceeds. Initially all the worlds except Rainbow World (top left, and the starting point of Bubby and Bobby's adventure) are filed with dull greys but as the boys complete each stage, the worlds are returned to their natural colours.

There are seven worlds to start off with, but successful completion of secret tasks reveals another two (the colourful knubbly one near the bottom right and the spooky-looking one near the top left on the map) which can be tackled after the last normal world in order to see the 'proper' end sequence.

This is the same as the original PC Engine version of the game, but Ocean's programmers have also created another brand-new exclusive world which can be accessed purely for kicks and bonus points. It's not actually shown on this map, and we're not going to blow the surprise by telling you how to get to it just yet, but it is in there. Stand by, then, for Music World, Woodland World, Machine World, Casino World and a few more besides.

TROUBLE WITH BUBBLES
That's trouble for the baddies, of course.
Scattered through the various screens of Parasol Stars you'll find little bubbles with one of four icons inside. All of them can be grabbed with your parasol and fired at the baddies to identical effect, but collect enough of them and they form one giant bubble, each kind of which behaves in a different way.
Parasol Stars: Water bubbleWATER
Form a giant water bubble and release it and i acts like the water flow in Bubble Bobble, sending a stream cascading to the bottom of the screen by the quickest possible route, carrying any baddies (or Bubby or Bobby) who get in the way along with it, or inflicting serious damage on any nasty big enough not to get swept away.
Parasol Stars: Fire bubbleFIRE
A released fire bubble also immitates a Bubble Bobble feature, the napalm droplet. It causes a sheet of flame to spread over the floor for about four times Bubby or Bobby's width, which is deadly to any baddie that touches it (except end-of level bosses, who suffer severe damage). Bubby and Bobby must take care not to step in the flames themselves, though, or they'll be frozen (if that's the right word) to the spot for several seconds.
Parasol Stars: Lightning bubbleLIGHTNING
Yet another refugee from Bubble Bobble, the giant lightning bubble actually behaves like an overgrown version of the little lightning bubbles. Let loose a big one and it shoots across the screen, obliterating everything in its path and going through walls like they weren't there. (But again, you'll need to hit an end-of-level boss several times even with these).
Parasol Stars: Stars bubbleSTARS
The only weapon which doesn't have an ancestor in Bubble Bobble. Fire up a giant star bubble and the five little ones making it up will separate again, form a circle and spin off in a massive spiral pattern, inflicting the appropriate havoc on anything they touch. As you don't have to line yourself up with an enemy to use this weapon and it covers more or less the entire screen, this is the most powerful power-up you'll get.
STARS IN THEIR EYES
No game is an island, as they say (or something), which means you've got to compare them to one or another, sooner or later. Which is just what we're going to do here.
More than anything else, Parasol Stars is going to have to stand comparison with three other games - the two previous Bubble Bobble titles (Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands) and the current holder of the 'best single-screen platform baddie-basher award, Rodland. Oh yes, and SWIV. Here then, in a handy series of cut-out-and-keep guides for future reference, is how it shapes up against the best of the immediate competition. You may agree, you may disagree (most of the office seems to), but read it anyway. You might learn something...
WHY ISN'T IT REALLY ANY BETTER THAN RODLAND?
The most obvious modern comparison for Parasol Stars is Storm's Rodland (86 percent in issue six). The single-screen (more or les) style, the close-range beat-'em-up action and the basic gameplay of the two titles is sometimes strinkingly similar (witness, for example, the way you can use some enemies to clobber others in both games). To be honest there's very little to choose between the pair, but my personal voice goes (just) to Rodland for that game's tighter, more focussed action - occasionally Parasol Stars is just so chaotic you can get killed without seeing what hit you, which I'm not all that keen on. (Having said that, everyone else in the office prefers Parasol Stars).
WHY IS IT BETTER THAN BUBBLE BOBBLE?
Pretty easy, this one. Bubble Bobble came out three years ago, and it shows. Parasol Stars is bigger, faster, slicker, more varied and more involved, and it's loads of fun in one-player mode as well as with two, something you can't say about the older game. While PS is very obviously descended from BB, it's miles beyond it in every department.
WHY ISN'T IT BETTER THAN RAINBOW ISLANDS?
Here's the question everyone at AMIGA POWER wants to know the answer to, but in actual fact the answer is a simple one. What it all boils down to is the basic gameplay concept. While Rainbow Islands was centred totally around trying to get to the top of each platform structure, a naturally compulsive goal (getting somewhere and then being knocked back down - whether physically at a specific point or in a general 'game over' sense - is a sure-fire way of making sure you want to try it all over again), Parasol Stars gives you the much simpler objective of beating up a screen of baddies in order to get to another screen of baddies. And that's all. While the changing scenery and new enemies do add an addictive pull rooted in curiosity, it just isn't anything like as strong as Rainbow's play on basic human nature.
AND HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO SWIV?
(That's enough corpse-kicking - Ed.)

Parasol Stars logo CU Amiga Superstar

First there was Bubble Bobble. Then there was Rainbow Islands. Now, Ocean round off the Bub and Bob trilogy with Parasol Stars. Steve Merrett goes planet hopping.

Rainbow Islands is a tough act to follow - even if you are from Taito's successful cutesy stable - but Ocean's Parasol Stars conversion is quite easily a contender for 1992's game of the year. Bub and Bob's travels have seem them up against some of the weirdest sprites Taito's fevered minds could provide, with such characters as Baron Von Blubba already familiar to veterans of Rainbow and its predecessor, Bubble Bobble.

One of the nicest touches of the series is the continuity of characters, themes and ideas. For instance, the little hooded demons and razor-toothed fish from the bubbling Brontosauri encountered in the first game, returned in the sequel under a variety of disguises - only to reveal their true identity whenever they got killed.
And, once again, they make more comebacks than Gary Glitter throughout.

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. As can be expected from a console conversion, everything is geared towards simplicity, and programmer Mik West has also tightened a few areas where the PC engine original came a cropper. Bub and Bob both are extremely responsive and the sprite detection is generous without being inaccurate.

The individual screens vary in size, but the largest span two screen widths, and scroll horizontally to accommodate the action. In addition, these are patrolled by up to fifteen enemy sprites who follow set patterns before homing in for the kill.

Normally, with so much moving on-screen, you'd expect it to slow down dramatically, but in Parasol there's absolutely no sign of slowing whatsoever, and even when the screen is literally covered with sprites and bonuses, the frenetic pace is retained.

As the nasties are picked off and thrown around, all the usual goodies you expect of the series start to appear. Fruit, lightning bolts, and assorted gems can be collected for extra points, and extra weapons and speed-up boots enhance the twins' performance.

Although the aim of the game is to clear each of the screens, performing specific tasks in a predetermined order will reveal special hidden rooms within which bonuses galore lurk - they're tricky to find, but can also offer short cuts to the later worlds. This is one of the best features of Parasol Stars and, indeed, the Bub and Bob series. The flexibility of the gameplay allows the players to complete the screens either by progressing through the levels or simply to amass as many bonuses and find as many hidden features as possible - and as there's so much to see within the eight worlds, Parasol's lasting appeal is guaranteed.

Quite why Parasol was never made into a coin-op I'll never know, as it is a worthy addition to the Bubble Bobble family. With a predecessor as illustrious as Rainbow Islands, Parasol's gameplay had to be exceptional if it were to succeed. Happily, there's more to it than the first two, with a nice puzzle element complementing the heavily-disguised shoot 'em up action perfectly.

Each backdrop is subtle in the use of colour, with plenty of dulled hues depicting the backdrops, and these are a good contrast to the bright and gaudy sprites. This gives the impression that something evil is amok which is added to by the larger guardians who await your attentions every eight stages.

Like the smaller sprites, these are both cute and deadly, and as the bosses leap around the screen they unleash mouthfuls of deadly minions, but, fortunately, special powers can be picked up to make your task easier.

Eventually, their energy will be completely weakened and they will erupt into a blaze of goodies which must be collected before the screen whites out to the next world.

The Bub and Bob series went from good to excellent in the transition between Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands, and this third installment keeps up the tradition. It's by no means better than Rainbow, and somehow doesn't come across as polished, but it's still one of the best games I've played on the Amiga.

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.

In all, one of the best games to appear from Ocean's home-grown studio and a credit to the Mancunian giants. The trouble with the word 'classic' is that it is given out willy-nilly, cheapening its worth. Parasol Stars, however, is truly deserving of the accolade. Sheer brilliance, and no mistaking.


ARIBA! Replacing the jolly airs of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow', Parasol Stars is supported by another typically bright tune which accompanies the action. However, for reasons best known to Taito and Ocean, on facing the end-of-level Bosses, this changing to an up-beat version of the Lambada theme. Nobody seems to know why the Latino 'music of lurve' was used, but it still keeps in with the silly nature of the proceedings.
WORLD POWER Although Parasol is only supposed to have eight worlds, programmer Mik West has created his own which is hidden somewhere between the second and third planets. Billed as 'Nightmare World', this eight-screen area is full of evil nasties and tiny globule sprites who carreer around at greate speed.
Graphically, it is noticeably different from the other worlds, but you'll only get to see it if you follow exactly the right procedure. As well as this secret land, Parasol Stars also contains two more hidden areas, one of which is made up of Von Blubbas and the other which resembles a large gobstopper.
CONSOLE YOURSELF... Whilst every Sega and Nintendo owner crows over their Sonics, Zeldas, and Marios, only recently has the Amiga shown its potential in the console fields with the likes of Robocod, Parasol Stars and Gremlin's forthcoming Zool. Although the Super NES and Megadrive are particularly skilled in the areas of smooth scrolling and sprite expansion, the Amiga can work around these areas to produce games which equal them in playability and better them in terms of graphic definition.
The sheer number of console-style games also indicates that the quality is gtowing steadily and may soon rival the Nintendo and Sega - machines which specialise in the genre and consequently, HAVE to be good at them. Thus, over the next few months, we can expect a fresh wave of console-quality games from the likes of Core (Chuck Rock II: Son Of Chuck), System 3 (Silly Putty) and Millennium (Splash Gordon: James Pond III). Let battle commence...

WORLDS IN MOTION
Bub and Bob's travels bring them into contact with all manner of weird world-related creatures. One world is made up of seven nasty-inhabited screens, but awaiting your attention at the end of each world, is a larger 'Boss creature.
Parasol Stars: Music World
MUSIC WORLD: Containing manic trumpets, pianos and accordians, this is basically a warm-up stage to prepare you for things to come.
Parasol Stars: Woodland World
WOODLAND WORLD: Here, the screen designs get more intricate, necessitating Bub and Bob to throw each other up to the higher platforms.
Parasol Stars: Ocean World
OCEAN WORLD: By now, the nasties are moving at a far greater rate, and the water which decorates the lower areas of the screen also slows you down slightly.
Parasol Stars: Machin World
MACHINE WORLD: Against a grimy industrial wasteland, automated baddies pave the way for a Transforer-style fire-breathing guardian.
Parasol Stars: Casino World
CASINO WORLD: Larger creatures, such as fruit machines, mean that the twins must make the most of the water bubbles this world contains.
Parasol Stars: Cloud World
CLOUD WORLD: Featuring satellites and the like, this world is followed by the enlarged goings-on of GIANT world which precedes the final battle.


Parasol Stars logo

David 'Pilsbury Doughbuy' Wilson put on 20 stone, donned his baggiest brightly-coloured dungarees and went all cutesy-wootsie. Why? To get into character for Parasol Stars, the latest instalment in the Bubble Bobble saga from Ocean.

Once upon a time, there were two unbearably cute creatures. They starred in Bubble Bobble - a cutesy platform game that set the standard by which other computer cutesie games would be judged - and made a handsome wedge out of it. Then an even better game can out. It was called Rainbow Islands, it was the sequel to Bubble Bobble and it again starred the nefarious (though now considerably wealthy) Bub and Bob.

Well, the golden boys of cutesie games are back (via executive yacht from their tax haven in the Costa Del Cute) to star in their third outing, Parasol Stars.

Remember how in Bubble Bobble, our two cutesie pals were in dinosaur guise, battling the evil Baron Von Blubba who'd half inched their chicks? Then they acquired human form to visit the Rainbow Islands and rescue the inhabitants from the evil hordes of Doh. Now, still in human form, they're whisked into a galaxy of cutesy chaos, masterminded by the evil Chaostikahn and his many menacing minions.

Right, the guys have been armed with bubbles(?), and rainbows, so what's next on the agenda from their rather unlikely arsenal? AK-47s? M-16s? Nope - brollies. For saving the Rainbow Islands, the grateful villagers presented the dynamic duo with magic parasols. Gad! Now, armed with only said parasol, you (as Bub, and a pal as Bob if you like) have to battle across seven stars with wildly varied themes like Casino Star, Music Star and Machine Star before returning for a big showdown in Rainbow World.

Good job then, is it not, that your adversaries range from giant cutesie one-arm bandits to trumpets and birdies poking out of nests. "Woooh! Scary! Whoopie blinkin' doo", I hear you cry, but never underestimate the bad guys.

There's tons of hidden depth in Parasol Stars, not least in the inclusion of three hidden stars - that's a further 21 bonus levels. Although the control system is simple, Bub and Bob sport a selection of brolly routines that'd put the mighty Steed to shame. Putting the broll up protects the cutesie scamps from enemy shots and also serves to collecting falling water, fire or lightning doophas. Collect five or six of these and it turns into a super missile which you can then launch at the bad guys or bonus fruit for rapid collection.

Hit a baddie with your parasol and he'll fall stunned and off-colour. You can now pick the blighter up, carry him off on top of your broll and launch him as a missile. You can also put the brolly up to break or slow your fall. There's the usual tons of fruit and goodies to be collected and, after an end of level nastie, an especially large cake appears.

Two-player games can be co-operative or competitive. You can help each other by allowing a chum to jump off the top of your umbrella, or you can whack your pal, pick him up and use him as a missile! There are few things more satisfying than hurling a missile to collect the large bonus cake, just as your pal arrives to pick it up (heh, heh, heh).

Amiga reviewDavid: What can I say? Enough of you raved your socked off to Rainbow Islands, and on the strength of that, Parasol Stars can't miss it. It's equally cute, it's simple to get to grips with and has a lot of subtle depth. It's a brilliant two-player game (you can either help each other out a great deal or be the nastiest kid on the block) and the whole thing is so slickly put together it'll have you coming back for more (and more).

The graphics are bright and colourful and the action thick and fast. End of level sprites are huge, imaginative and well hard. Even when the screen is chock-full of fruity goodies to collect, two players and hordes of nasties, the action doesn't slow down. Gameplay is a guaranteed winner, mixing frenetic shoot 'em up action with puzzling and two player co-operation.

The Ocean in-house programming team, consisting of Mick West (coding), Don McDermott (graphics) and Mathew Cannon (music) has done an excellent job in converting a brilliant Taito coin-op idea. I say 'idea', fact fans, because the game never actually appeared in the arcades. It did make a brief appearance on the PC Engine, but the floppy version is actually an improvement on the console version - a whole new star/world has been added just for you.

Suffice to say, if you've ever been envious of Mario 3 or Sonic The Hedgehog, Parasol Stars is the closest to a console cutie you'll see on a floppy right now. And if shluppy-shlurpy, cutesie-wootsie plattie-wattie fun is your bag, you'd have to be bonkers not to invest in a copy of Parasol Stars It's blinkin' smart.


Parasol Stars
Here's a typical Parasol Stars screen. It's a level from the Musical Star and the game's getting quite tricky now (you were lulled into a false sense of security earlier - weren't you? That's because of the fiendishly, coaxingly cosy learning curve).
The action starts with a single screen maze, but many later levels boast half-screen scrolling to the left and right.
Some of the nasties won't be instantly accessible, so you may have to use your noodle. Could you climb up onto that platform by jumping on a bubble or Bub's brolly? Could you wash away those bad guys by dropping a water bomb at the top corner of the screen? Eeee! It's a right brain teaser, and no mistake.
Incidentally, if you drop off the bottom of the screen, you'll fall back on at the top, but remember to put your parasol up for a cutsie floating descent. Ahhh!
PARASOL POWER-UPS
Water Drops
Collecting water droplets on your brolly can amass a super bubble. Throw this and you'll unleash a mini flood that'll sweep all and sundry to a watery doom.
Electric Drops
These dripping bubbles contain mini electric bolts. Collect five and you'll have a Thor type thunderbolt to hurl at the bad guys.
Fire Drops
Tricky one this. Five big fire drops make one huge fire bubble. Throwing this baby takes some skill, though. Unlike other weapons that fly off in missile fashion, fire just drops at your feet and is as hazardous to you and your chum as it is to nasties. Hot stuff.
Star Drops
These amass to form a super star weapon which, when fired, sends out a spinning Catherine Wheel of sparks that'll take out anything it touches. Youch!
CUTESPEAK
You won't get very far in the world of Parasol Stars if you don't speak their lingo. So it's a good job that ZERO has chosen to offer you this invaluable Cutespeak Phrase Book.
CHAPTER 1 THE HOSPITAL
Cute: Woooh! I've got a scwapey-wapey on my kneesies.
Trns: Oh dear, I have cuts and abrasions on my knees that require urgent medical attention.
Cute: The Moo-mo in the woodland world bwashed me on the bott-bott.
Trns: A particularly violent bovine struck me violently on the posterior.
(That's quite enough Cutespeak. Ed.)
NASTY WASTIES
Ooo-er! There are some jolly scarwey cweatures lurking about in the Parasol Stars system. Here's a selection!
NASTIE WASTIE 1
Parasol Stars
You'll have to be a pretty top-notch game player if you plan to do battle with this nastie. He's the end of level sprite for the hidden Nightmare Star.
NASTIE WASTIE 2
Parasol Stars
This nasty bronto has a volcano on his back (well, it's better than a chip on your shoulder). Look out for the lava as you collect your lightning bolts.
NASTIE WASTIE 3
Parasol Stars
Musical Star is the venue for your bout with the Big Bass Drum Baddie. Poor Bobby just lost a life, so he has to pick up his potion again that'll arm him with lightning bolts.