There was a time in Japan when various ‘material collections’ were A Thing, and in that magical time when PCs were becoming commonplace but the general-use internet hadn’t quite taken off it felt as if game developers couldn’t do enough to throw out CDs filled with MIDI music and 256 colour images at an incredible 640x480 resolution. TwinBee Paradise in Donburi Island is a rather luxurious take on this established formula with a whole heap of interactive doodads and media delights spread across two CD-ROMS.
This package came out in February 1998, which puts it almost at the very end of the TwinBee timeline – TwinBee RPG was the final original game in the series, with the only releases after that being the PSP compilation pack and [shudder] a few pachislot/mobile phone titles. The package is split rather neatly into ‘Donburi Island’ and ‘Dokidoki Wonderland’ discs, with the former being the interactive one and the latter acting more as a repository for useful PC-related media such as (teeny-tiny) Windows icons, wallpapers, screensavers, a themed desktop clock and the like. I’ve uploaded the best quality versions of all thirty wallpapers here and you can find the all the screensavers here. Do let me know if there’s any trouble with the links and I’ll see what I can do.
That’s pretty much the second disc covered already, meaning we can concentrate on having a poke around the first. The disc is presented as an opportunity to explore the island, with relevant characters popping up to work as your tour guide for that area. It’s worth highlighting at this point that if you were hoping for any cute-em-up action you’ll come away sorely disappointed as the focus here is almost entirely on the characters and setting established in the wider TwinBee-verse.
At the more bare-bones end of the scale you’ll find several database-like areas offering some small images and a sentence or two on TwinBee games and merchandise. With wikis and fan sites being what they are today it’s hard not to feel a little underwhelmed by Konami’s official offerings here, but in the context of the era this was probably as good (and certainly as pretty) a one-stop-shop as anyone could hope for.
If you’re hoping for some secret information on the voice cast behind these colourful characters you need to head over to Reis’ (Reese? Sorry, not sure on the proper Englishification) castle studio for photos of the actors at work and brief biographies on the staff, while players longing for a little silliness can participate in a Twinbee quiz or head over to the TwinBee log house for a multiple-choice chat with Light, Pastel, and Mint. Other activites are available but are all variants on these themes – watch or listen to a character, look at some art, or take part in a light-hearted and slightly interactive event.
Then there’s this cameo-filled animation, which is in my opinion worth the price of admission all by itself -
If you wandered over here in the hope of finding an interactive TwinBee encyclopedia then Donburi Island isn’t what you’re after, and now that full episodes of TwinBee Paradise are a mere search engine away I have to admit that some portions of this set are entirely redundant. But what’s left when you remove the chaff is a bright love-letter to a fondly remembered series with some sly tributes to numerous other long forgotten Konami games thrown in for good measure. If you’re after the ultimate TwinBee experience you’ll definitely want the PSP exclusive TwinBee Portable pack, but if you’ve a soft spot for heavily dithered art and find yourself as distracted by the gif above as I currently am then Donburi Island’s worth spending an afternoon fiddling with if you happen to stumble across a cheap copy.