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Rainbow Wars

(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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rainbowwars.gifRainbow Wars is a retro-style arcade shooter available as a free download for Windows, and it is one of those rare finds that becomes an instant favorite once you see it in action. Sporting similar controls to that of the classic Robotron, in which two joysticks are used to control movement and firing separately, this game captures the essence of a classic arcade experience in a well-developed albeit small package.

Just plug a standard dual-analog controller into the USB port for best results, or use the keyboard if you prefer. The game also supports two-player cooperative play for maximum, unparalleled fun.

There are infinite levels to Rainbow Wars that differ in the number of enemies and the frequency with which they spawn. Six (6) different enemies, each with its own specific behavior and attack, will spawn at various times and locations throughout each level. You are given three (3) lives to clear all the enemies from a level.

Two (2) special bombs (Vortex and Blast) are awarded at specific point intervals. Just pass over them to activate their power. Vortex creates a black hole that sucks everything but your ship into it for easy target shooting. Blast sends out an impressive shock wave that destroys everything in its path—except your ship, of course.

Bonus points are awarded at the end of a level for taking little or no damage. In addition to the end-of-level bonus, a score multiplier can be earned for each 100 enemies destroyed without losing a life. Once you get hit, the score multiplier resets back to 1.0.

Analysis: Rainbow Wars is a game that I just knew I would love the minute I got my hands on it. The tight and responsive controls and fierce fast-paced action are just the ticket for facilitating some very gratifying gameplay. Everything about this game screams retro arcade classic, my only complaint is that there isn't much to it. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, because for what Rainbow Wars offers it delivers in spades.

Luke Schneider, a designer at Volition (THQ), initially conceived and developed the game in a relatively short period of time (~60 hours) using GameMaker for an internal company presentation on rapid prototyping. It turned out so well that he was allowed to offer it to the world to play for free.

Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


pinkerton June 8, 2006 6:27 AM

This is a great game.

Very fluid and beautiful yet with enough hardcore, streamlined finesse to keep you playing beyond the initial wow factor. I normally tire of this sort of game very quickly but this has just the right mix of ingredients.

Thanks very much Jay for stretching your remit to include great download games like this one.


Umm.....Is'nt this just that Geometry war's Clone / Grid Wars ?? I mean , how many vector based shooters are gonna be fascinating , using the same idea .


Jay this was an awesome find. It is one my favorite games on your site. I noticed a sort of glitch though in the game.

If you sit in a corner and fire torwards the corner diagonally from you, you can not get hurt.

Another thing to everyone else. If you dont have a dual analog controller , personally you wont get the same experience. I havent tried the keyboard, but It is very hard to put down the controller now that you have posted this game.

Jay your site rocks!! Keep up the good work


this is just beautiful!


Now this is the best thing you have posted in quite a while! I'm already addicted. I can't believe this was the result of a rapid prototyping session. It reminds me of Grid Wars (Geometry Wars clone), and I think its simplicity really helps its cause.

Another game I've been addicted to lately that follows the Robotron ancestry of controls is Gamma Bros. from PixelJam. Think of it as Robtron meets Galaga, and you're halfway there. Downloadable for Mac and PC too, so nobody is left out of the fun. I had no idea that Miles Tilmann (a great IDM music producer) also programmed games!


Thanks to Jay for posting a review. I should correct one thing though and say that the 60 hours of work on the game were spread out over a few weeks worth of time.

The game started out being based on Geometry Wars, but I didn't actually try to clone the enemies or structure of that game. While a few elements are based on GW (particularly the player firing pattern), for the most part RW is its own game. You certainly won't find 2-player support or a charge shot in Geometry Wars :)

As for the spoiler above, it will work for a while, but eventually you have to do something else (around wave 50).

Hope everyone enjoys the game!


Luke - I've made the correction to the review. And I must have missed the charge shot while playing all that time. How does one do a charge shot?

Cheers, Lyman! =)

DeuS - personally, I could play these types of games all day and be fascinated with each one. But then again, I would rather play simple 2D games than a huge expansive 3D game any day. Did you even play this one before you commented?


To charge a shot, just hold down the left mouse button (for keyboard controls at least) and release. The longer you hold it,the wider the angle of fire is, the max of course, 360 degress, which basically clears the screen. Very handy :D

DataSlayer June 8, 2006 1:51 PM

I've been commin to your site for a while Jay, but it was only recently that I found out you went to RIT. Although I don't live there anymore, Rochester's my home town. Good to see good things actually comming from there!!

Anyways, I have 3 comments about the game.

1) This game is great. Helpped me pass the time at work :-)

2) You can teleport by using the right mouse button. It radomly teleports you anywhere on the screen. This can be useful for those sticky situations, but doesn't always work to yoru benifit.

3) If you end up collecting many different bombs on the screen, specifically vortex, and you set them all off at once (by using a blast bomb), the game has a hard time processing things (now maybe its the computer I'm using). When I do this, my mouse gets stuck in the last position it was in before they were all set off, and I can only regain control once the vortex is done.


Cheers, DataSlayer! =)

The problem you experienced is likely your computer, or maybe you played a previous version of the game? Luke recently optimized a few things to improve performance, and the new version doesn't struggle the way the previous one did like you described.


I don't know if you've seen/played it yet, but Grid Wars is another fun Robotron clone. It's been in development for a while (though, since 5.4, it's been kinda halted), and it's a really polished product.


Thanks, David, it's already been reviewed here.

remister June 9, 2006 1:20 AM

Yes this is like Geometry Wars and Mutant Storm that's on the Xbox360 Arcade. But yet the gameplay is a bit tweaked so you can have a different experience. I shall be playing this hours on end. It is nice to play along any song you like, though I would like a soundtrack for the game for this. I know it might be a little bigger. But it is fun. Thanks a lot for a great game

PS Any know what makes it the end of a wave?


Remister - the end of a wave is predetermined by the level number. Since the game supports infinite levels, there must be a formula used to calculate what enemies appear and how many within each level. Once you defeat all of them, the level ends.


i love this game, but i'm having some serious problems playing the game with 2 analog sticks. sometimes, it doesnt detect that its plugged in, and when i do get it plugged in, it doesnt shoot in the direction i want it to. it doesnt shoot in the right direction with the stick, and when i rotate it, it rotates the opposite direction. anybody else having these problems?


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