A rather odd bunch of games this, only one of which, Chase H.Q., was actually written for Ocean. The only other Ocean release, Rainbow Islands, was written for Firebird but when MicroProse bought the company there were licensing problems. Ocean ended up with the rights and thankfully managed to buy the Graftgold conversions which were quite simply masterful.
The follow-up to Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands features seven islands, each consisting of four levels where the objective is simply to reach the top of the vertically scrolling level, jumping between platforms and riding the rainbows you fire.
It all sounds eimple enough, but with such superbly imaginative islands - including a horror island with vampire bats, a toy island and an Arkanoid rip-off - this is a graphical delight. The urge to see yet more of the game is irresistible, especially as gameplay is simply wonderful with tons of great little coin-op touches such as three rainbow power-ups and hidden bonuses. We reviewed the game in Issue 53 and gave it 92%. Due to the legal difficulties it wasn't released for another six months by which time we thought maybe it should've got a Gold Medal!
Rainbow Arts' Turrican suffered no such problems over marking, it got 97% in Issue 61 and that's what it's worth. Thirteen levels with 1,300 screens, including a superlative vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up and some of the best graphics ever seen on hte C64, with some tremendous mega-monsters. Most of th levels consist of massive, monster-packed mazes and it's simply unmissable.
X-Out, also by Rainbow Arts, wasn't really in the same league, but this was still a very impressive horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up (82%, Issue 61). After a superlative intro sequence you get to choose three ships, each of which you can arm individually. The range of weapons is stunning and graphics are top notch throughout.
Gameplay isn't that original otherwise and multi-loading is a bit heavy, but it's a welcome addition to any compilation.
Activision's Altered Beast is another coin-op conversion; unfortunately, the Sega game was a fairly unoriginal horizontally scrolling beat-'em-up distinguished principally by some imaginative graphics. The C64's graphics are quite nice and there's a decent two-player mode, but repetitive gameplay makes this rather dull over the long term (73%, Issue 56).
And finally we have that one Ocean-developed game, Chase H.Q., and it's definitely one of their most disappointing releases. For some odd reason, the company decided to try and port across the admittedly very good Speccy code. However the C64 has a slightly slower chip, and in any case the largely monochromatic graphics are hardly impressive on a C64. As this game coincided with US Gold's glorious Turbo Out Run it was all a bit embarrassing. Looking back on it, 53% in Issue 58 was rather generous.
Two of the games are distinctly filler material, while X-Out is an interesting and playable shoot-'em-up, but Turrican and Rainbow Islands are the real stars and if you're missing one of them this is an extremely formidable compilation.
If you haven't got either then rush out and buy Power Up now!