Straight to home systemsEdit
Unlike many of the other games in the series, this game was never released to arcades - it was first released on the PC Engine, and has been ported to a number of other home systems. Parasol Stars was misreported as being the third coin-op in the Bubble Bobble series by many magazines at the time, and there are rumours about prototypes for an arcade version, which now appear to be false; Taito has officially stated that an arcade game was never produced. Mick West (who was the programmer of the Game Boy version) stated that they ported the game directly from the PC Engine and that "no coin-op of the game exists".
The game was released in limited quantities in North America for the TurboGrafx-16 by Working Designs. The Game Boy version was published by Ocean Software, who also published the Commodore Amiga version in 1992. The game was also planned for the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum but scrapped.
Relation to other gamesEdit
The game's subtitle is The Story of Bubble Bobble III, which was also used as the subtitle for Bubble Memories, released in 1995. Bubble Memories is a prequel (given the "Memories" part of the name) to the 1994 game Bubble Symphony, which was released as Bubble Bobble 2 in some countries. Nonetheless, Rainbow Islands is indeed the sequel to the original Bubble Bobble, even though said sequel doesn't retain the gameplay from the first. Since Bubble Memories was released years after Parasol Stars, it may be a retcon in which Parasol Stars never happened, whereby after the events of Rainbow Islands, the humans Bubby and Bobby are once again transformed into the bubble dragons Bubblun and Bobblun. However, it's also possible that Parasol Stars could be a side story, or "gaiden" to the series occurring after Rainbow Islands, but before Bubble Memories.
Bubby and Bobby (the characters' human names) star once again as the main characters, retaining their human forms from Rainbow Islands. However, Parasol Stars is more of a take on Bubble Bobble than it is on Rainbow Islands.
The game takes place on a number of different planets, each with a distinct theme. Each planet features seven rounds, the last one always hosting a boss that must be defeated to progress to the next planet. There are eight main planets; however, in order to complete the game properly, the player must open a secret door on the final planet by collecting three of the Star items - allowing access to 2 secret planets, themed around Bubble Bobble and Chack'n Pop that are not initially visible on the main screen. Completing these two lead to the final boss, Chaostikhan (the one responsible for stealing color from the worlds, and supposedly the mastermind behind the previous game's villains) and the true ending.
The rounds are simple arrangements of platforms. On every round, droplets fall down from the ceiling and flow through the level. These are of strategic importance to the player.
The player is armed with a parasol. While it is normally closed, the player can deploy it in two ways; either open in front of them, or open above the head.
The parasol is a multi-purpose device, it can block as a shield, stun enemies, capture droplets or hurl enemies. At many points it can be used as a parachute.
Almost every level has droplets which drip from points in the level. They fall under the influence of gravity and roll along the platforms within the screen. The player can capture these on their parasol and throw them at enemies.
The parasol can hold more than one droplet at once; if five are held, they merge into a large droplet with a special power.
There are four different kinds of droplets, with a mostly elemental theme. Some of them are inherited from Bubble Bobble.