There are tragedies in gaming, you know. Things that happen that just shouldn’t. The Sega 32x. The Red Ring of Death. Sonic 4.
But – most prominently for me – the saddest thing ever to happen is society’s complete dismissal of Parasol Stars, the best game in the Bubble Bobble series, the best PC Engine game of all time, and the greatest game Taito ever made. Come at me. I’ll take you all on. (Is brutally beaten) Oh no! Wait!! (More severe violence is visited upon Stuart’s feeble body) I’m so weak! I have no strength at all!! Please, stop!!! (Dies from injuries)
Cowabunga, dudes! This is Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here to finish the article, on account of Stuart Gipp having finally been murdered for his atrocious opinions. Let me just grab a slice of pizza, as I am wont to do, and we’ll get stuck in.
Following up Rainbow Islands – an absolute stonker by all accounts – can’t have been easy. Thankfully, Taito were able to combine the best of the original Bubble Bobble and its follow-up to create a perfect little arcade game. Not as good as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, of course! But still good stuff. The weird thing is, Parasol Stars never hit arcades. Which is confuse-a-mungous, dudes! Because it’s an arcade game through-and-through in its structure, gameplay and aesthetics!
And what gameplay! Taking control of Bub and/or Bob (naturally two-Turtle mode is supported), you must journey through stages that are initially single-screen efforts but soon expand into horizontal scrolling. Using the titular parasols as weapons you swipe, pick up and throw enemies at one another; as with Bubble Bobble, once all the monsters have been sent packing in a stage, you’ll advance to the next one. Wrinkles are thrown into these familiar antics with special bubbles you can collect atop your umbrella; collect several water bubbles, for example, and you can create a tidal wave that wipes out any creatures unfortunate enough to get in its way. There are also thunder and rainbow bubbles, which replicate effects from the previous games in the franchise. Every few stages you’ll encounter a boss battle, playing out to “La Lambada”; it’s a good theme song for sure, but I prefer the work of Partnerz in Kryme. Tackling these monstrosities will result in a lovely shower of pick-ups, followed by the next world.
Clearing the original PC Engine version (easily the best one of the lot, though none of the ports are bad) basically requires you to get au fait with the hidden items – throwing a captured enemy at certain spots will causes bonus pick-ups to spawn. Usually, there’ll be multiple items to a “line”, as well, so hanging around and throwing enemies to get as many points and credits as possible is recommended. Watch out though – take too long, and an invincible enemy will appear! But he’s nothing me and my brothers couldn’t handle with a little Turtle Power!!
The typically mysterious ways of this series manifest themselves in the “Miracles”; throughout the game, blue panels with symbols will appear and getting three of them will result in a “MIRACLE!” effect; what causes these to spawn is even more mysterious than the Foot Clan who run rampant on the streets of New York city, but rest assured there is some kind of method to the madness. You’ll need three “Star” icons to actually see the true ending of Parasol Stars – this way, two extra hidden worlds are unlocked at the end of the game, one of the earlier examples of “retro stages”, being based on Chack N’ Pop and Bubble Bobble.
It’s a great little game, and now it’s finally available again on the PC Engine/Turbo Grafx/Core Grafx Mini system, to be discovered and thoroughly enjoyed. I dare say you’ll have a shell of a time with this one! (Vague mumbling sounds) Yikes! Looks like he’s still alive! I’d better make myself scarce! Catch you later, dudes!
Ugh… my head is killing me. So, anyway, yes, Parasol Stars is (Sorry, we’ve run out of space. – Ed)