These days, most Nintendo-published video games are eventually released across the planet. But every once in a while, a game slips through the cracks. Thus it's more than a little ironic that Captain Rainbow, a game about Nintendo characters who have slipped through the cracks, is one of these Japan-only titles. But did Captain Rainbow never leave Japan for a good reason or is this just another title in the long list of games that have inexplicably never left Japanese shores?
Adult humor is not something Nintendo is well known for. In the Wii generation, Nintendo has worked hard (especially in the West) to present a family-friendly image to pull in more and more of the children and casual markets. This makes the humor of Captain Rainbow all the more shocking. The most notorious example is the hunt for Birdo's vibrator but that is far from the only one. The entire quest for the samurai Takamaru revolves around him getting past his obsession with Tracy's giant breasts—which he has built a shrine to at the base of a rock face that resembles them. Ossan from NES golf is constantly scratching his balls—which often turn out to be golf balls shoved down the front of his overalls. These events present some truly funny moments and the constant feeling of "I can't believe this is a Nintendo game."
The characters of Captain Rainbow all come from past Nintendo titles. Some come from old NES games while others come from titles created by Skip Ltd.. Together, they all find themselves
on Mimin Island where legend says that you can have your greatest wish granted. While the point of the game is to help the other characters get their wishes, you must befriend them before you can do that. This is where most of the story is centered. Sometimes befriending them takes you on a hilarious or charming little adventure. Other times it's just a boring, useless slog. This game really had a chance to give Nintendo's C-list characters their own moments to shine but only succeeds about half the time.
As funny as the funny moments are, they're few and far between. For most of this twelve-hour game, you'll be breaking objects, hunting for star fragments, walking from point "A" to point "B"
for a quest, listening to the other characters yammer on about their problems, or just waiting... simply waiting.
Waiting is definitely the worst part of the game. I made a joke in my diary about Captain Rainbow's first two hours about making a sandwich while waiting for the sun to climb to the right height in the sky to open a door. It wasn't a joke, this actually happened—and more than once. And not just for doors either. Each character has a specific schedule and unless you encounter them at the right place and the right time, it is impossible to continue on with their quest line. Therefore, it wasn't uncommon for me to spend five to ten minutes waiting for a character to arrive at the proper location just to start the next section of his or her quest. But if I thought waiting for events and characters was boring and terrible, that was nothing compared to the waiting the mini-games forced upon me.
When you fail certain mini-games, you simply are not allowed to retry them till the following day. This means to try again you must run back to your bed, sleep twice (you wake once at dusk and once at dawn), run back to the game's starting NPC, and stand around doing nothing till mid-day when the game opens. This whole process takes around ten minutes. In other words, this is a game that punishes you by literally wasting your time. Sure, sometimes you can work on someone else's quest while you wait, but as most quests are interconnected, you will often only be able to work on one quest at a time. To top it off, all of the mini-games are just plain boring—and some are even broken.
Maybe I'm getting jaded in my old age (I'm 28), but the Nintendo gibberish-speak in Captain Rainbow came close to making my ears bleed. It's not that the voices were shrill or annoying in and of themselves, it's that the gibberish voices are exactly the same five-second loop no matter what the text says. It's not all that bad to start, but after hearing identical gibberish dozens of times in a single conversation, it starts to feel like nails on a chalkboard. I actually had to play long portions of the game muted because of it.
While there were some very funny moments to be found in Captain Rainbow, they are ultimately overshadowed by the sheer amount of mindless boredom that permeates the rest of the game. The gameplay is uninspired, the mini-games flawed, and the constant waiting unbearable. There is a reason Captain Rainbow was a commercial and critical failure here in Japan: It's a boring, monotonous game.
Captain Rainbow was released in Japan on August 28, 2008 for the Nintendo Wii. There are currently no plans for an international release.
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