Some may say you can’t kill disco, but in this dystopian 8-bit world, evil robots sure are trying. What’s worse is that the world’s greatest musicologist, Dr. Dysco, has mysteriously vanished… how totally not groovy!

Join us in the Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon and find out if this title has caught the beat or is as dated as cheap disco. Find out the results in our review, after the break!

Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon
Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Windows, and Mac

Developed by Vector Hat
Published by Thalamus Digital
Released: 1st July 2022
Nintendo Switch digital copy provided by Thalamus Digital

It’s the year 2084. Earth is ruled by evil robots from another dimension who are hell-bent on outlawing music and dancing. Of course, you’re bound to discover underground venues where the beat goes on whenever anything is outlawed.

There’s only one way to stop the perilous machines, and that’s with Dr. Dysko’s newly developed Rainbow Laser… unfortunately he was kidnapped before completing this most excellent weapon. It’s up to you to enter the Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon to smash some bots and save the only hope for music and dancing in this twin-stick arcade shooter.

You begin in an empty room where you pickup your starting weapons: the Laserpistol and the Syncopistol; from there you’ll explore the procedurally generated dungeon in search of Dr. Dysco and the exit. Use the left stick to move and the right stick to shoot your weapons.

During exploration, you’ll be tasked with many challenging rooms where you’ll either have to destroy an onslaught of robots or collect a specific amount of keys to proceed; you’ll be scored based on how quickly you complete the room and if you can do so without receiving damage in addition to how many rooms you complete and enemies you defeat. You’ll also have the opportunity to collect even more weapons, each with different abilities. The Time Bomb, for example, shoots a single projectile that explodes into many after a set amount of time. My favourite is probably the Spitfire which spews a rapid spread of projectiles similar to a flamethrower.

If you want to get through the dungeon alive, you’ll want to use your non-standard weapons wisely as they all come with a limited amount of ammo. You can swap between your collected shooters by using the L and R buttons for the left and right hand respectively. One cool trick the tutorial doesn’t tell you is how you can change the shooting style by clicking A, B, or Y. Perhaps you want one weapon shooting in front and the other at the back, or maybe you prefer shooting in a cone shape. Play around to see what suits you best.

As the name suggests, Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon revolves largely around music. The title has a playlist of twelve tracks, each one is pretty catchy in itself. Elements of the game respond to the beat of the music, such as hazardous obstacles and deathly projectiles. Even your own weapons react to the music. Take a look at your inventory and you’ll see blips in a bar under each weapon; this tells you how the weapon shoots its projectiles and the tempo it does it at in relevance to the currently played song. Before starting a game, you can also choose which track to start on, whether you want the playlist shuffled, or even have the same song repeated.

The game itself, though simple to play, can be difficult to conquer. Rarely did I feel that gameplay was unfair however, as, with time, you’ll start to get into the flow of how the dungeon works. The difficulty, as well as the aesthetics, are very reminiscent of old arcade games you’d spend loads of tokens in just to get to the end of the game, luckily there are a few difficulty levels that help prevent the game from becoming more of a chore. 

Hard is just like playing at the arcade, forcing you to start from scratch as soon as your health is depleted. Normal is a little more lenient, letting you restart from the last room you exited upon death and resetting your score. Easy is for those who’d rather not let their flow get interrupted; upon death, both your score and health is reset, allowing you to play on with little delay. What I like about this type of choice in difficulty is how you essentially get the same experience no matter what mode you choose. Nothing is really watered down with how much damage you give or receive. Each mode also shares the same online leaderboard (unless you survive without death) which sounds odd at first, but when you factor in the fact that your score is reduced to zero after every death, it makes sense and I appreciate the option to make my journey that bit less stressful.

Aesthetically, I love this game and its 8-bit funky style. It’s simple and, as I mentioned previously, very reminiscent of older arcade games. One thing which was a bit of a strain on the eyes however is how flashy the graphics are on default, luckily these can be turned off in the settings menu in addition to an additional setting for more balanced colours. These settings are also great for anyone who may suffer from photosensitive epilepsy HOWEVER it’s a shame you have to go through a couple of menus of flashing graphics before you can switch them off. A better option would be to ask the player if they would like to turn them off upon first launching the title.

Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon is a fun little twin-stick shooter with throwbacks to 80’s arcade games. It’s easy to play but hard to master with difficulty modes that help prevent completing runs a complete chore. It also has a mostly catchy soundtrack and the visuals are a treat for those who want to feel a little more nostalgia. 

Final rating – 4 out of 5

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!