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Captain Rainbow

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Like floral gums and Val Kilmer, we love Captain Rainbow but don’t know why. The fact that 70% of the game is impenetrable Japanese text makes it as understandable as a philosophy thesis written using a Spirograph, and yet still that universally understood language of gaming rightness shines through. Rocks go WHAM! when cleaved with a yo-yo slash. Menu screens are torn straight from a comic book. Jaunty music is trampled underfoot by a plodding doom march when Rainbow power depletes. The whole island looks like someone used Okami as a paint by numbers – the same ornate style, far louder palette. This is the art and sound design the Wii should live for: impact through vision, not oomph.

The aesthetics are matched by a positivity that would get eaten alive on any other platform. As Rainbow’s geeky alter-ego, one of your basic powers is to give anyone you meet a massive thumbs-up. He grins, they grin, we grin; everyone is happy and there’s not a bullet-riddled corpse in sight. How refreshing. Transform into the man himself and a remote shake blasts away grubby ooze with cleansing light – very Chibi-Robo.

But here the understanding runs out. Like Skip’s robotic house servant, Captain Rainbow is here to help the citizens of the island. Whereas a good scrub would sort out Chibi’s chums, the problems here are far more narrative based. Online translations sort us out, but reading that Birdo is in prison due to police confusion over its gender is no match for discovering a comic poke at Nintendo lore for yourself. Getting around the dialogue seems pointless; your reward for exploring and fetching (for this is what you spend the remaining 30% of the game doing) is the juicy character work. Playing volleyball with the chaps from Advance Wars is all well and good, but we hate being idiots in one of the cleverest worlds around. This is a wonderful game but you’re best off quietly hoping for a translation.

Oct 13, 2008

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