Review – Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns

I once heard from a colleague that you can literally do a bullet-hell shooter with any asset you can imagine. You can make your ship a giant carrot while you fight magenta smartphones, because why not? As long as it controls well and it features a nice sensation of becoming powerful as you progress through it, a shoot ’em up game can feature anything imaginable. Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns took this idea a bit too far, it seems.

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I feel like they tried to convey a message with this game, but all I got was that someone’s mushrooms were definitely not shitake.

Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns actually features a “story” told in a little intro cutscene. The premise is about an edgy dude who hates pretty much everything in this day and age, ranging from religion to pop culture and politics. One day, he decides to eat a unicorn-flavored ice cream. Doing so forces him to look for a bathroom to do that thing we all do, and our hero sees himself with no option other than using a chemical toilet. For some reason, that triggers what I can only assume is the worst bad trip since Wurroom. With that, our protagonist is skyrocketed into the heavens, being forced to destroy everything he hates the most with lasers and rainbow bombs. Let’s just say this setting is… creative…

What we have here is a bullet-hell shooter reminiscent of Parodius and Cho Aniki. It doesn’t feature any coherent art direction whatsoever. It’s just a bunch of internet and pop culture references shooting lasers at you at all times, and it’s up to your rainbow-pooping hero to destroy them all. The game has five worlds with five levels each. Each world features a specific theme: religion, social media, politics, politically correct culture, and Disney taking over all media as we know it. You know, everything we love the most about internet.

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Fighting Tom Cruise at the end of the “religion world” is hilarious… for the first twenty seconds or so.

Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns thinks that its “enemy design” is its best selling point. I’ll be honest and admit that I laughed a bit when I first fought a gigantic Donald Trump haircut in the politics level and a parody of Ninja in the social media level, but it gets tiresome quickly. All you’re fighting is animated icons that arbitrarily shoot lasers at you, with bosses that feature really annoying attack patterns that will one-shot kill you if you don’t pay enough attention. This is one of those games that kill you in one hit, but unlike pretty much every single other bullet hell shooter ever made, it doesn’t feature extra lives or checkpoints. If you die, you’re thrown back to the beginning of the world, devoid of power-ups and progression. You can say what you want about how hard Ikaruga is, but that game had extra lives at least.

I wouldn’t even call Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns challenging per se. Just like most bullet-hell shooters, it’s all about pattern recognition. You shouldn’t necessarily position your eyes towards your enemies, but rather on your ship; dodging incoming bullets with extreme precision. Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns commits the cardinal sin of over relying on bosses shooting spiral streams of bullets with extra erratic patterns. That, coupled with some occasionally questionable hit detection and the aforementioned lack of extra lives, turns the game into an endurance test. It’s a shame, because despite the occasional hit detection issues, the controls are actually excellent.

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Take that, Zuckerberg!

I can’t help but feel that a good chunk of Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns‘ issues could have been mitigated with the addition of a life system. Since the silly visuals aren’t the reason you’d want to keep on playing it for too long, fixing how ridiculously unfair this game can be would have turned it into a much more enjoyable experience. As for now, all we have is a shooter that, despite featuring really good controls, doesn’t feature other good selling points. It’s not visually appealing, the soundtrack is annoying, its difficulty is completely unbalanced, and it loses its “comedic” appeal after fighting the same Tom Cruise boss for the eleventh time.

 

Graphics: 4.0

There is a lot of wacky imagery being thrown at you at any given moment, but the game itself doesn’t feature any semblance of art direction whatsoever. It’s just a bunch of stuff onscreen.

Gameplay: 8.5

Only two buttons are used: a regular shot and a screen-clearing bomb. The gameplay is fast and fluid, but problems stemming from the game’s visuals hinder it quite a bit.

Sound: 4.0

There is one loud chiptune song for each world you play. None of them will impress you at all. In fact, all of them are beyond repetitive.

Fun Factor: 6.0

It’s fun for a while, but it loses its appeal after a few minutes. It’s all about shooting things that are constantly referenced on the internet. It’s also in dire need of a life system.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns is available now on PS4 and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Rainbows, Toilets and Unicorns was provided by the publisher.

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