Twinbee hails from his titular cartoon-themed vertical-scrolling shoot-em up series. The player control a blue bee-shaped anthropomorphic spacecraft, in most games shooting or punching at airborne enemies while literally throwing bombs on ground ones similarly to Namco's Xevious.
In contrast to the 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, such as the pilots Light, Pastel and Dr.Cinnamon. The series proved to be very successful at Japan in 90's, spawning very long-running radio drama series which helped to broaden up Twinbee's universe: for example, pilots were first nameless, but were given names in the radio drama, which then were canonised for the later games. The series also produced off few spinoff games, and few anime adaption episodes based on the radio drama.
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 under the changed title Stinger) and the two Super NES installments, Pop'n TwinBee and TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure, in Europe. 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
List of games
- TwinBee (known as RainbowBell in North America), 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 Hakushi 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 American. 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.
- 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 and in fall 1994 in Europe: A sequel to the original TwinBee for the Game Boy. In Europe it is known as Pop'n TwinBee.
- Detana!! TwinBee (also known as Bells & Whistles outside Japan), first released on February 21, 1991: An arcade release, also ported to PC Engine Sharp X68000, PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PSP (the latter three 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 characters (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 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.
- TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventure (Pop'n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures in Europe), first released in 1993 in Europe and on January 7, 1994 in Japan: Also for Super NES. 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 Donburishima, 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 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.
- Pastel Jan, released on 2002: A rock-paper-scissors video game for mobile phones.
- TwinBee Dungeon, released May 14, 2004: A roguelike dungeon RPG for cell phones themed on TwinBee universe which is part of the Mystery Dungeon series.
- TwinBee Portable, released January 25, 2007 (Japan): A PSP compilation featuring TwinBee, Detana!! TwinBee, Pop'n TwinBee, TwinBee Yahho!, and a remake of the Game Boy game TwinBee Da!.
- TwinBee JG Pachisuro, released in September, 2007 (Japan): A TwinBee themed pachislot machine released by KPE. The machine is based on TwinBee Yahho! world.
- Line GoGo! TwinBee, released in May 20, 2013 (Japan): A Classic of TwinBee Characters was released a iOS and Android and delevoped by Dracolle Studios.
- TwinBee Miracle, Cancelled in 1996.
A radio drama version of the series was produced following the release of Pop'n TwinBee for the Super Famicom titled , which began airing on the radio station NCB on October 10, 1993. The series lasted three seasons, with the third and final series concluding on March 30, 1997, comprising a total of 96 episodes, which were later released in drama CD collections.
TwinBee Paradise features the same cast of characters previously introduced in Detana!! TwinBee and Pop'n TwinBee. TwinBee Paradise further developed the fictional universe of the TwinBee and many story elements introduced in the serials, including the names of TwinBee's and WinBee's pilots, Light and Pastel (who were originally nameless characters in the games), were canonized in later video games such as TwinBee Yahho! and TwinBee RPG.
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 1/8 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 1/8 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.
- 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 Shinkirou (Sono Mama Jan))
- Evil Revival (悪よ復活せよ！Aku yo Fukkatsu seyo!)
Four 1993 Comic Gamest supplements (volumes 85, 89, 93 y 97) contained mangas of Detana! TwinBee drawn and written by Mine Yoshizaki. Between 1994 and 1996, an official manga, also by Yoshizaki, was published in three volumes in the collection Gamest Comics (numbers 011, 039 and 076).
List of characters
- Annamon: Twinbee's Pilot.
- Donnamon : Winbee's Pilot.
- Squash: Twinbee's Pilot in Stinger and Twinbee 3.
- Whip : Twinbee's Pilot in Stinger and Twinbee 3.
- Dr. Spice: Villain in Rainbowbell.
After "Detana!! Twinbee":
- Light Annamon and Twinbee: The main character and his blue bee-shaped robot. He the eldest of Dr. Cinnamon's grandchildren.
- Pastel and Winbee: Light's cousin and her pink bee-shaped robot. She the younger member of Dr. Cinnamon's grandchildren.
- Herb and Gwinbee: Pastel's little brother and his green bee-shaped robot. He's the youngest member of Dr. Cinnamon's grandchildren. Herb is commonly called by the nickname "Mint"
- Princess Melora: The ruler of Planet Mel.
- Dr. Cinnamon: The Twinbees' inventor and Grand father of Light, Pastel and Mint.
- Dr. Warumon: The Evilbees' inventor, he's Dr Cinnamon's arch-rival. He spends his time building armies of evil bee clones and trying to take over the world.
- Dr. Mardock
- Madoka: Mardock's granddaughter and friend of Light, Pastel & Mint. She returns in the Otomedius series.
- Princess Melody
- Archduke Nonsense
- Mrs. Apple
- Nurse Peach
- Evil Bee
Appearances in other games
- 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: Twinbee is a playable character in certain levels. However, the levels in which he is playable are not just 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 is playable in Sexy Parodius. Also, while Parodius is more of a parody of Gradius, it features the bell powerup system in addition to the Gradius's bar system one, as well. Both systems works in parallel and give different powerups. Also, the bell system's powerups are temporary, while the bar system not.
- Ganbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shogun 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 versions, 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 powerups.
- DreamMix TV World Fighters: Twinbee is a playable character in this fighting game.