Taito‘s brilliant Parasol Stars (aka The Story of Bubble Bobble III) made an appearance on the original black and white Game Boy in 1992, courtesy of Ocean Software. In spite of the lack of colour the game is a faithful conversion of the original game (which first came out on the PC Engine), with cute graphics and wonderful, jolly tunes, and it is sure to bring joy to the heart of anyone who plays it.
The aim of the game is simple: armed with a multipurpose parasol (umbrella in British speak) you must eliminate all the enemies on each screen until you reach (and defeat) the boss at the end.
The parasol can be used a number of different ways. It can be used to stun and grab enemies (and throw them); it can be used as a shield; it can be used as a parachute to slow a fall, and it can be used to capture droplets (and throw them). The parasol can hold more than one water droplet. If five are held at once then they merge into one large droplet and will cascade down the platforms when thrown, or will be imbued with a special elemental power that acts like a super shot if powered-up.
There are eight themed worlds in total, each with seven rounds – the final round of each being the aforementioned boss. When you’ve beaten a boss you’re then presented with two doors to go through and one of them will lead to a bonus screen where you can catch falling food for extra points, but the other door will lead only to an intermission screen where you fall downward to the next level. In the original game there was a hidden “Nightmare World”, but I don’t think that is included in this port.
Like Bubble Bobble you can drop into holes at the bottom of the screen and fall down from the top, although not all levels have these. Enemies climb platforms and will kill you with a touch, so must be avoided.
In some levels there is often a larger enemy residing somewhere on the screen, which you must throw stuff at to eventually get rid of. If you touch it when it’s full strength, it’ll kill you. When you weaken it enough it will start twitching, indicating that you can pick it up and throw it to finish it off. If you take too long to complete a round the enemies will darken (becoming angry) and begin to move faster and more aggressively, and an invulnerable spark-type creature will turn up to chase you around the screen, increasing the urgency.
Because of the smaller screen size of the Game Boy this can make the game pretty challenging at times, in fact: I’d say that this is one of the more difficult versions of Parasol Stars available, for that reason alone.
The only downside to Game Boy Parasol Stars is that it doesn’t feature the original’s two-player cooperative mode, so is single-player only. Which – considering that the Game Boy had a two-player link cable – is a bit of an oversight. But otherwise it’s an excellent port of Taito‘s great game on Nintendo‘s humble monochrome handheld.