Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan (Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC)

In the Land of Imagination, the residents are about to celebrate a festival of colors.  But when guest of honor Rainbow Billy launches the fireworks, they wake up a sleeping monochrome dragon under the sea!  This angry Leviathan steals all the colors from the land, and now Billy must bring them all back and rescue his friends, and make more than 60 new ones, too!  Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a turn-based RPG with elements of Paper Mario platforming thrown in.  And the battles aren’t really battles at all. You must talk your way through each skirmish to make new friends out of your foes!  The game is available on nearly all current game consoles and PC, but reviewed on Switch here.

You’ll move around Billy in top down fashion, and you can jump and roll.  Early on you’ll befriend a talking fishing rod who acts as your ‘interact’ button, hitting objects to reveal goodies and such.  You’ll also travel the seas with a talking tugboat named the “Friend Ship.”  You’ll sail to different islands bringing back color to each one and save the land in the process.

When you come across a grumpy black and white character, a turn-based ‘battle’ will ensue.  “Battle” being in quotes because you really don’t fight anybody, but make friends with them instead.  First what you do is select the ‘listen’ command to find out what is bugging your foe.  Then you choose the right response from a list.  If you do that, then you can use your other friends to fill in colors in the enemy.  You do this by playing timed button press mini-games.  If you win and fill in all the colors of the bad guy, you’ll win the ‘battle’ and make a new friend!  If you mess up, the enemy can attack your ‘morale’ meter and if it is gone, you’ll have to start the battle over.  But no other penalty is given when you lose.  When you make a new friend, they’ll go live in a room in the “Friend Ship.”  Here you can visit them and give them gifts to help them level up.  Levelled up friends will have more color choices in battle.

I like almost everything about this game.  The colorful graphics, characters that look like a cross between Cuphead and Mr. Driller, and the overall idea they were going for with making friends.  However, the one thing I do not like is the battles, and that’s usually the gameplay meat of any RPG.  Having to pick the right things to say reminds me of a dating sim, and I don’t like those games.  And while each battle adds something new, they still felt tedious to me most of the time.  They also don’t explain some of the nuances of battle very well, and it made me lose interest faster than I expected.  And there isn’t much room for error in these battles as well.  Another little problem is the text is too small in handheld mode.  Interestingly enough, in the options screen there is a dyslexia friendly text option.  I don’t know what that does, but I’m surprised more games don’t do that!  Everything else about the game is great, so if you can look past those tedious battles, you’ll have a good time.

Kid Factor:

Since the ‘battles’ focus on making friends instead of fighting, there’s nothing violent or objectionable here.  Strong reading skill is a must, though.  Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is rated E for Everyone.

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