TwinBee (ツインビー?) is a video game series composed primarily of cartoon-themed vertical-scrolling shoot-'em-up games produced by Konami, that were released primarily in Japan. The series originated as a coin-operated video game simply titled TwinBee in 1985, which was followed by several home versions and sequels. The character designs of almost every game in the series since Detana!! TwinBee in 1991 were provided by Japanese animator Shuzilow HA (Jujiro Hamakawa), who also planned and supervised most of the subsequent installments in the TwinBee series. The series also inspired a radio drama adaptation that lasted three seasons in Japan, as well as an anime adaptation.
The series centers around a blue bumblebee-shaped anthropomorphic fighter craft named TwinBee, who is usually accompanied by a pink "female" counterpart known as WinBee. In most games, the first player controls TwinBee while WinBee is controlled by the second player. A third ship also exists named GwinBee, a green counterpart to TwinBee and WinBee who in most games serves as a power-up, but in some instances also appear as a third playable spacecraft. In contrast to the series sci-fi theme of Konami's Gradius series, the fictional universe of the TwinBee series is set in a cartoon-like world featuring several kinds of anthropomorphic creatures in addition to regular human characters. The player control their spacecraft in most games shooting or punching at airborne enemies while literally throwing bombs on ground ones similarly to Namco's Xevious. The main power-ups in the TwinBee are yellow bells that the player can uncover by shooting at the floating clouds. The player must shoot these bells to keep them afloat and after shooting them a number of times, they will change colors, allowing the player to add new abilities to their spacecraft.
Despite being one of Konami's most prominent series in Japan during most of the 1990s, only a select few titles were localized for the foreign market. Particularly the second console game Moero TwinBee (which was released in America under the changed title Stinger); the two Super NES installments, Pop'n TwinBee and Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures, in Europe and TwinBee Da!! for Game Boy, which was released in Europe as a standalone title with the name Pop'n TwinBee and later in compilations. The second arcade game, Detana!! TwinBee, also had a limited international release under the name of Bells & Whistles. The original arcade game was featured in the Nintendo DS compilation Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits under the name RainbowBell (the European compilation however, uses the original TwinBee name).
List of gamesEdit
- TwinBee, released March 5, 1985: An original arcade vertical shooter, TwinBee plays similar to Namco's Xevious. Players use TwinBee or WinBee in a short string of six levels that repeats indefinitely, with a boss at the end of each. A Family Computer (Famicom) and a MSX version were made in 1986. The Famicom version was re-released for the Game Boy Advance under Nintendo's Famicom Mini label in Japan only. It was released in North America as part of an arcade compilation for Nintendo DS in March, 2007, where it was renamed RainbowBell; when the compilation was released in Europe, the TwinBee name was restored.
- Moero TwinBee: Cinnamon Hakase wo Sukue!, released on November 21, 1986 and in 1987 in America as Stinger, this is the first game in the TwinBee series that was released in North America. Some enemy force kidnaps Dr. Cinnamon (creator of the TwinBee ships) and TwinBee, WinBee and GwinBee must rescue him. The Japanese version for the Family Computer Disk System in 1986, this game allowed up to three players simultaneously. Unlike its predecessor, Stinger has horizontal shooter levels (like Gradius) in addition to the vertical ones. Since the Disk System extension was not released in North America, the American version was released as a cartridge, however, it lost the three player mode (only allowing for up to two players), the story scenes were removed and the difficulty was altered. Moero! TwinBee' was re-released in cartridge format in with a new easy mode added.
- TwinBee 3: Poko Poko Daimaō, released on September 29, 1989. This is the last game in the TwinBee series for the Famicom to be released and the third game in the series. It ditches Stinger's horizontal levels, which makes this more in line to the first title.
- TwinBee Da!!, first released on October 12, 1990 in Japan and in Fall 1994 in Europe: A sequel for the Game Boy to the original TwinBee. In Europe, it is known as Pop'n TwinBee (GB).
- Detana!! TwinBee (also known as Bells & Whistles outside Japan), first released on February 21, 1991: An arcade release, also ported to PC Engine (which was ported to Virtual Console), Sharp X68000, PlayStation and Sega Saturn (the latter two bundled with TwinBee Yahho!) It has no relation from the original and Famicom games. While not too different, gameplay wise, from its predecessors, Detana! improves vastly on graphics and audio. It also introduces the current character cast, like TwinBee's and WinBee's pilots (Light and Pastel, respectively) and other characters that will remain in the subsequent games. It was the most popular game in the series in Japan, and paved the way for some merchandise products (including audio dramas and an Original Video Animation). This also introduced cutscenes that played between stages, which usually showed Pastel and WinBee getting one up on Light and TwinBee.
- Pop'n TwinBee, first released on March 26, 1993, and later 1993 in Europe: A Super NES game. It is one of Detana!'s sequels, though they play different. Pop'n uses a large energy bar, which if it depletes, the game is over. The player starts the game with no lives, although it is possible to earn them later. When playing with two players, it is also possible to share energy.
- Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures (TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure in Japan), released on January 7, 1994 in Japan and also in Europe during the same year. This Super NES game meant the first real departure in the series, Rainbow Bell Adventures is a side-scrolling platformer. Also released in Europe, though the level order, some dialogue and the back-up system (the European version uses passwords, the Japanese one uses battery) are different.
- TwinBee Taisen Puzzle-Dama published on December 9, 1994 in Japan. It is a puzzle video game for PlayStation simple mechanics are part of a series of puzzles Taisen Puzzle-Dama and that this issue takes as its theme the world TwinBee.
- TwinBee Yahho!, released on April 19, 1995: Another sequel for Detana!, originally released in arcades, and later ported to the PlayStation and Saturn (along with Detana! TwinBee). Included a vocal theme song, among other vocals, with WinBee greeting the arcade owner each time it is booted, and various snatches of dialogue from most of the characters, all voiced by the cast of TwinBee Paradise.
- TwinBee PARADISE in Donburi Shima, released on February 26, 1998: More than a game, this is a CD-ROM with accessories inspired by the series (as a screensaver, etc.) for Windows 95.
- TwinBee RPG, released on April 3, 1998: Featuring 3D graphics and made for the PlayStation, this simplistic role playing game, set in the complete universe of the series, is possibly the final game in the series.
- TwinBee Dungeon, released on May 14, 2004: A roguelike dungeon RPG for cell phones themed on TwinBee universe which is part of the Mystery Dungeon series.
Two short anime films and an OVA mini-series based on the TwinBee were produced:
- The first was TwinBee WinBee Hachibun-no-ichi Panic (ツインビー ウィンビーの1/8パニック TwinBee and WinBee's Panic?), a short film released in 1994 released as a promotional tie-in to the Super Famicom game Rainbow Bell Adventure. Sometimes shortened to WinBee's Panic.
- The second anime short, Tulip Kaigan Monogatari (チューリップ海岸物語 The Tulip Coast Story?), was released in 1998 alongside the first short in a promotional tie-in to the subsequent OVA series. Alternatively titled Tulip Beach Stories.
The OVA series is titled TwinBee Paradise and is based on the radio drama of the same name. The OVA comprises three episodes, which were released individually on VHS and Laserdisc in 1999:
- "Venus' Smile" (ヴィーナスの微笑み "Venus no Hohoemi")
- "Midsummer Mirage" (真夏の蜃気楼（そのままじゃん） "Manatsu no Shinkirō (Sono Mama Jan)")
- "Evil Revival" (悪よ復活せよ！ "Aku yo Fukkatsu seyo!")
List of charactersEdit
- Light and TwinBee (ライト＆ツインビー Raito to Tsuinbī?): The main character and his blue bee-shaped robot.
- Pastel and WinBee (パステル＆ウインビー Pasuteru to Uinbī?): Light's cousin and her pink bee-shaped robot. She is also Dr. Cinnamon's granddaughter.
- Mint/Herb and GwinBee (ミントアーブ＆グインビー Minto Ābu to Guinbī?): Pastel's little brother and his green bee-shaped robot.
- Princess Melora (メローラ姫 Merōra-hime?): The ruler of Planet Meru (second planet to logonia in the JAD TV Network series, Stickie's World).
- Dr. Cinnamon (シナモン博士 Shinamon-hakase?): The TwinBees' inventor and Grandfather of Light, Pastel, and Mint.
- Dr. Warumon (ワルモン博士 Warumon-hakase?): Dr. Cinnamon's arch-rival and the creator of the EvilBees. He spends his time building armies of evil bee clones and trying to take over the world. He also dabbles in foreign politics, provoking coups, that sort of thing. He's always thwarted by TwinBee, of course. Probably the most evil man in the Universe. He also has a number of airships which invariably end up getting crashed.
- Madoka (マドカ Madoka?): Mardock's granddaughter and friend of Light, Pastel & Mint. Madoka was rescued from her insane grandfather by TwinBee and now enjoys baking and other domestic activities. She's also a fledgling mechanic, although her efforts don't always work out as planned.
- Seeds (シーズ Shīzu?) : Pilot of Black TwinBee 01 (BT-01) Ship. Android created by Dr. Warumon.
- Salyute (サリュート Saryūto?) Pilot of Black TwinBee 02 (BT-02) Ship. Android created by Dr. Warumon. Equivalent to the sister of seeds.
- Ace (エース Ēsu?) : Pilot of Shooting Star airship.
- Archduke Nonsense (ナンセンス大公 Nansensu-taikō?) : Villain in TwinBee Yahho!
- Greed: Villain in TwinBee RPG.
- Mari Tan: Pastel, Salyute and Madoka's Girlfriend in the manga The First Day of Summer and My Sweet Tuti Frutti.
Appearances in other gamesEdit
- Battle Tryst: Pastel is an unlockable playable character in this fighting game.
- Konami Wai Wai World: TwinBee is one of two playable ships (Vic Viper being the other one) in the second to last stage, which is a generic vertical shooting stage.
- Wai Wai World 2: SOS!! Parsley Jō: TwinBee is a playable character in certain levels. The levels in which he's playable are not only vertical shooting stages, but on-rails shooting stages in the vein of Space Harrier, as well.
- Parodius series: In most of the series, TwinBee and WinBee made an appearance as playable characters, while Shooting Star (the enemy red ship from TwinBee Yahho!) is playable in Sexy Parodius. Also, while Parodius is more of a parody of Gradius, it features the bell power-up system in addition to the Gradius's bar system. Both systems work in parallel and give different power-ups. The bell system's powerups are temporary, while those of the bar system aren't.
- Ganbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shōgun Magginesu: Pastel makes an appearance as an NPC in a house at the village which is visited at night.
- Snatcher: In the PlayStation and Sega Saturn ports, Light and Pastel appear as clients at the "Outer Heaven" nightclub, among other Konami characters.
- Konami Krazy Racers: Pastel is a playable character in this kart racing game with Konami characters. Since Pastel is available from the beginning, this game represents her first time as a primary-tier character. It is the second game released in United States with a TwinBee character. Also, different colored bells in this game have different power-ups.
- DreamMix TV: World Fighters: TwinBee is a playable character in this fighting game.
- Castlevania series: TwinBee makes an appearance as a secret item in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair.
- Kingdom Dragonion: TwinBee is a player character in this game.