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Rainbow Skies Review

Rainbow Skies Review

Rainbow Skies was originally released five years ago on the PlayStation consoles and the handheld Vita, check out our review of it here. Publishers Eastasiasoft are back with developers Side Quest to bring this classic turn-based isometric RPG onto the Nintendo Switch. Have they made any changes to the game, or is this just an exact port of the previous version? Is this tactical RPG worth adding to your Switch library?

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Before getting to the core game, you have a choice to make. How do you like to play?

  • With some help starting out: select this mode if you want a few coins and basic equipment. During the game, you will additionally receive equipment and free aid.

  • Without hand holding: you start without any help and you unlock everything yourself. 

    These settings do not affect the game's difficulty and how strong the enemies are, they will just determine if you get a leg up with items.

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Rainbow Skies introduces us to blonde-haired Damion, the hero of the story. He is at home, and we find this muscle-bound knight very hungover. He remembers nothing from the day before other than that horrible drinking contest that he had entered! Damion totally forgot that the examination for his Monster Taming Certificate is taking place today. Your Uncle Kogharus, who is in charge of the testing, has asked Layne to judge Damion’s abilities, and he is standing in the house waiting for Damion to get his arse into gear. 

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They live in Arca, a floating world that is held up by airships. It is floating because the world that lies beneath it, called Lunah, is rumoured to be full of toxic air — a couple of breaths and your bones go soft and weak, and your skin blisters when exposed. We get to explore the island as Layne tries to test Damion’s skills in monster taming. I don’t want to spoil everything in the story, but I will tell you that things go very wrong, and during a battle with a massive slime, Damion and Layne find themselves falling to the “lethal” world below them. 

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Lunah is home to Ashly, a novice mage. She is just learning how to use magic from her grandmother and is practising monster-binding spells on the different monsters she finds. While she’s attempting her first binding spell, Damion and Layne crash down where she is, and she, unfortunately for them, is successful with the spell. The three of them end up magically bound together. The story follows them as they travel the lands to find a way to break the spell so that they aren’t stuck together for all of eternity and can get back home.

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Theoretically, you are never “forced” to fight, and you can flee at any point, but whenever you interact with a character or creature, you are usually tossed into a fight. When you start a battle, you are taken to an isometric battlefield that is set up like a grid. This is a turn-based battle that will have you performing actions between the moves that the enemies make. When it’s your turn, you have a bit of time to figure out which of your special abilities would be useful, as most of them require the enemy to be in a specific spot to be effective. A couple of the spells, like the fireball, have a wide attack area and let you select exactly which enemy you want to target. Magic attacks like this are especially useful if a bind spell has been cast against you and you can not move, at least you are still able to do a bit of damage while you are stuck. 

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This game is full of grinding, especially since you don’t get much for XP when you defeat an enemy. This is especially frustrating when you have to defeat a full screen of enemies when you challenge only one. The battles themselves don’t usually take a very long time to complete, but having to fight constantly gets annoying pretty quickly. I do appreciate that to do a normal attack, you can just walk straight into the enemy, so you don’t need to go into a menu to select it. Each character has a different amount of actions that they can do before their turn is over, so it was nice being able to get in a couple of hits before the next enemy got their turn and attacked.

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The characters in the game can learn other attacks besides the normal, melee-style one. They can learn magic by studying spell books that you can purchase from merchants. Not every character can learn all the different magic attacks, but you can see in the menu whose head is pictured beside the name to know which book is compatible with whom. Just make sure you remember to equip the tome to the student learning it so that the book doesn’t just sit in your inventory unused.   

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Before or even during battle, be sure to eat apples that fill the food bar by 10%, carrots that do 15%, or rolls that replenish 20%. The more full your character is, the more damage they deal. You can only carry a small amount as your bag will be full, so you will have to buy some food or potion bags to increase the amount that you can have at one time. It sucks when you find a chest with lots of great items, and you can’t pick them up as your inventory is full. Fortunately, whatever you can’t carry will remain in the chest, so you are able to go through what you currently have and use some of the items to make room for others. It’s just annoying that buying a new bag will only give you room for one additional item. You will also find random items in chests and when you win battles that seem useless. Go visit the Blacksmith and upgrade your weapons using these collectables by combining them with your armour and supplies. Mixing a tentacle with your sword is sure to make it stronger!

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You will come across nurses placed in various spots as you are exploring. The nurse can heal HP, and MP, revive fallen characters, and heal other conditions you have, like poisoning. Her services aren’t free, though; you will have to pay for each one you choose to have performed. Each service has to be selected separately, which can be time-consuming. It would have been nice to have the option to get all the characters healed up at once, ready to jump back into battle. It is handy that you come across them quite regularly because, as I stated before, you have a very limited amount of potions that you can carry, and if you are like me, you will find tons of mana-replenishing tonics, not the super useful health ones. So, at least with the nurse around, you are able to get your team back into fighting shape.

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Rainbow Skies feels like it is trying to recreate the feel and look of Final Fantasy Tactics. That same grid-based combat is here, but its visuals are a lot more cartoony and brightly coloured. Besides the appearance of the characters, the game uses different fonts and over-the-top animations for the characters to give your team some personality, though some are definitely more irritating than they need to be! Rainbow Skies does have some voice acting, but not for the full duration when a character is talking, just a one-line quip at the end. These are entertaining and seem to fit the personalities of the characters, like the nurse always saying, “Need medicine?” or “Take care”.

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There are a lot of interesting enemies to fight in Rainbow Skies, but you will notice after a while that these same colourful foes are used over and over. I’ve fought so many of the exact same scorpions, mushrooms, and other fungi-style enemies! Having a bit more variety, even with a change of colours, would have been nice. The music has a similar issue where it is good, but there isn’t a huge variety, and the tunes get repetitive pretty quickly, especially the one that plays when you are walking around and exploring. I’m not the biggest violin/fiddle music fan, so I found that track particularly grating. 

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You can go into the main menu and learn new Skills for your characters. Some require you to be at a certain level, while others require a certain spell that you already have to be at a higher level so that it makes a stronger version of the base skill available — like Force Blow has to be at level 10 so that you can unlock the next skill. All three of your characters have stats that can be upgraded at any time using the Skill Stones that you pick up when you defeat an enemy. There are three different colours, Blue, Red, and Gold, that will be used to power up your character. Each of the stats will require a different stone to use for upgrading. Hit Points usually use Blue, whereas Magic needs red, but this can vary between the characters. It seems that you will have a larger quantity of the Blue compared to the others, but you can use these to jump up the amount of hit points your characters have, so be sure to use them to help you out in battles, especially if you are getting your butt kicked!

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The game is full of silly checklist-style quests that really aren’t needed since there are so many story-based tasks for you to do. I’m sorry, but the game is very repetitive already, so I don’t want to fight random minions or perform fetch quests just to tick off a box. Though it was nice that in the menu, you can see how far you are in the game percentage-wise, along with how much of the side story you have completed, how much of the Bestiary is complete, and how many Awards your team has earned. Having this helped gauge how far you were in the game easily after playing for hours. As I am typing this, I am reminded how if you don’t click on any buttons for a few seconds, the game automatically pauses and allows you to choose to continue or go back to the title menu. 

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Rainbow Skies boasts complexity but sometimes lacks depth, leaving you feeling like an observer in its world rather than an active participant. Battling repetitive foes and the constant grind can detract from the story's potential impact, it just didn’t suck me in. It was definitely trying to be something more impressive than what it ended up being. It’s not a horrible game, but it’s just hard to put in the time required to get through the story. If you played the original game, the only difference in this version is that the characters look more like the profile images that pop up when they are speaking. Otherwise, you know exactly what you are getting.

5.00/10 5

Rainbow Skies (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

Rainbow Skies is a vibrant and cartoony-style isometric RPG that feels like it is trying to be the next Final Fantasy Tactics but doesn’t pull it off with repetitive gameplay and a story that you don’t feel a part of.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alana Dunitz

Alana Dunitz

Staff Writer

I'm too stubborn to quit! I run on caffeine and kitty snuggles <3

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