“A heartwarming story of a young boy on a quest to bring the color back to his world through the power of friendship.”


Available On: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, & Microsoft Windows REVIEWED ON: XBOX SERIES X

Don’t let the bright, cartoony visuals of Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan make you think that this is only a game for kids. While children will no doubt enjoy playing this game, I can safely say that adults who enjoy a game that oozes charm and packs a lot of heart will also appreciate it. The game designers have done an excellent job creating a game that successfully incorporates RPG elements in an Action/Adventure title.

What Games Are Similar to Rainbow Billy?

  • Costume Quest I and II
  • All mainline Pokémon games
  • Ni No Kuni I and II
  • Paper Mario series
  • Oceanhorn

If you enjoyed the combat mechanics of the Costume Quest series, the battles in Rainbow Billy will be instantly familiar. Encounters are turn-based battles where basic quick-time events determine whether or not your attacks hit the enemy successfully.

Just like games in the Pokémon series, the titular character Billy isn’t actually doing the fighting himself. Throughout the course of his journey, Billy will acquire allies that will do the attacking for him.

Similar to the Ni No Kuni series of games, the player can level up his friends by giving them items that they like as well as by feeding them different kinds of fish.

Battles in Rainbow Billy play out in the same visual style as the Paper Mario series and utilize very similar mechanics. You do battle in a cardboard box and quick-time events are used during the attack phase of the encounter.

Exploration in the game is done by navigating your Friend Ship through the treacherous seas, hopping from island to island. This is very reminiscent of my time spent playing Oceanhorn.

How Does Rainbow Billy Set Itself Apart from Similar Titles?

A Variety of Quick-Time Battle Events: Each of the allies you recruit has a different kind of quick-time event to determine whether or not their attacks are successful. Some of these quick-time events include timed button presses, using paddles to prevent bouncing objects from leaving your screen à la Pong, and a spinning slot machine game where you have to match rainbow-colored symbols. In the first main area of the game, the friends you recruit all have easy to complete quick-time events. Think Costume Quest style battles, but more variety in the quick-time battle events.

A Surprisingly Deep Combat System: At first, you are only allowed to play a single friend token per turn against the enemy. Later on, you are allowed three rows with three spaces each in which to place your tokens, allowing Billy to attack more each turn. However, the more allied tokens placed in each row, the more difficult the battle mini games become. Thankfully, if you are not up to the challenge, you can change the difficulty from the Options menu. Think Costume Quest style battles, but the farther you progress into the game, the difficulty of the quick-time events increases.

Battles get more dynamic as you progress in the game.

A Compassionate, Heart-Warming Take on Combat: Each battle in Rainbow Billy starts with a conversation between Billy and the monster he is going to fight. By reading the dialogue carefully, you can determine what is causing them to be unhappy and lash out in anger. At the beginning of each subsequent turn, you are given the option to talk or listen to your enemy. By choosing to talk to the enemy, you will engage them further in a conversation about what is troubling them. If you select the most compassionate response, the enemy will react positively and will reveal a colored symbol icon next to them. Once you reveal all of a monster’s colored symbols, you know which friend tokens to play to cause damage. If you don’t take the time to read the enemy’s dialogue or select a heartless response, you won’t know what kind of attacks will damage the enemy, thus significantly prolonging each battle. This tenderhearted approach to combat is unique, significantly different from any other game I have personally played.


The hand-drawn, cartoon aesthetic is a great choice for a game like Rainbow Billy. The visuals are both sharp and crisp, and the animated story sections sprinkled throughout the game make you feel as if you are watching a real cartoon. The animated cutscenes are extremely high-quality and visually astounding. Picture being able to play through your favorite Saturday morning cartoon from yesteryear, and you get a good sense of what to expect from the visuals in this title.


The titular character Billy, along with his boat Friend-Ship and his trusty punching rod, sets out to end the black and white curse placed on the world by the Leviathan. The only way to reverse the curse is to obtain the missing color cores and show all the world’s creatures you discover love and compassion. Only by befriending the world’s creatures can Billy hope to stand a chance of defeating the Leviathan. Defeating each area’s boss will grant Billy the color core and restore all color to that part of the world. To face the Leviathan himself and put an end to the curse, Billy must obtain all three color cores and form strong bonds of friendship with the creatures he befriends throughout his adventure.

Played RPGs before? If so, then the story presented in Rainbow Billy will not surprise you in the least. You play as the hero who, along with the friends he makes on his journey, will be able to right the wrongs of the world and defeat the main villain. So while the story doesn’t break any new ground, the overall positivity and important life lessons doled out during the story is a unique approach to take for a game of this genre. Imagine a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest protagonist seeking to understand every enemy’s perspective and actively working to improve their well-being to the point where differences are eventually cast aside and they gain a new companion in the process. Rainbow Billy breaks new ground in that every battle you fight is won only by taking the time to listen to your enemy, empathize with what they are going through, and offer them advice to better themselves.


In my time spent playing through Rainbow Billy, there were no major technical hiccups or issues. It ran smoothly from start to finish, and I was never aware of an instance in which the framerate suffered. The game never encountered an error of any kind that would cause it to suddenly close.

However, with that being said, there were a few little annoyances that I had while playing through this title. First of all, there are a handful of puzzles in various areas of the game that I felt had pretty obtuse solutions (I’m looking at you, light puzzles). I freely admit puzzle solving is not my forte. But some of these harder to solve puzzles might be a significant roadblock for children trying to play through and enjoy the game.

Most islands you encounter in the game are bite-sized (think Oceanhorn or Windwaker), thereby negating the need for checkpoints or fast-travel options. However, there are a handful of larger islands with more platforming and puzzle sections, as well as multiple interior and exterior areas to traverse. Having larger islands to explore is great and broke up the monotony of constantly sailing between islands. Nevertheless, having no option to fast-travel between different sections of the larger islands is annoying, especially during the late-stages of the game where I needed to go back and revisit each island to ensure I found all creatures and collectibles.

Most platforming sections in the game are very well-done and do not punish players who may stumble through them. Nonetheless, there is a minor nitpick I had: Billy will not be able to jump up to the next highest platform if he is standing too close to it. This isn’t due to the next platform being too high to reach or overlapping the platform you are on. It is a slight glitch in the design of the game. If Billy was standing too close, I had to maneuver him backwards to get farther away from the platform and try again.

There were two more serious flaws I encountered in my playthrough of the game. The first flaw was simply rather amusing, as I used the punching rod to grab hold of a balloon as I was platforming across the island. There was a glitch where the game played the animation of the punching rod reaching for the next balloon, but had me travel across the entire world to a random island. This was no big deal, as I could just select the island I was on before and warp back. The more serious glitch I experienced actually caused me to get stuck. Usually when you make a mistake, Billy respawns in the place you were previously so you can try again. The glitch kept respawning me where I had fallen into the sea, and no amount of button presses or jumping would fix the problem. I opened up the journal and tried to fast-travel to another island in that world to get the game to reset my location. It did not work, as the game kept respawning me on the same island, falling repeatedly into the sea. The only solution I found was to warp to an island in a DIFFERENT world, then warp back to the island where I was previously. With that fixed, I had to start my trek from the beginning of said island.


Combat System5
Total26 / 30

Rainbow Billy is a delightful experience from start to finish. The mediocre story and the presence of a few gameplay hiccups are not enough to offset the crisp visuals, surprisingly deep combat system, and unique fusion of several different genres. The game isn’t just charming and brimming with plenty of heart: It actually manages to impart important life lessons to its players through its overall message.

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