Bubby and Bobby (the characters’ human names) star once again as the main characters, retaining their human forms from Rainbow Islands. However, Parasol Stars is more of a take on Bubble Bobble than it is on Rainbow Islands.
The game takes place on a number of different worlds, each with a distinct theme. Each world features seven rounds, the last one always hosting a boss that must be defeated to progress to the next world. There are eight main worlds; however, in order to complete the game properly, the player must open a secret door on the final world by collecting three of the Star items – allowing access to 2 secret worlds, themed around Bubble Bobble and Chack’n Pop that are not initially visible on the main screen. Completing these two lead to the final boss, Chaostikhan (the one responsible for stealing color from the worlds, and supposedly the mastermind behind the previous game’s villains) and the true ending. According to an ACE magazine in-depth preview, the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST versions also has a secret “Nightmare” world.
The player is armed with a parasol. While it is normally closed, the player can deploy it in two ways; either open in front of them, or open above the head. The parasol is a multipurpose device, it can block as a shield, stun enemies, capture droplets or hurl enemies. At many points it can be used as a parachute.
The rounds are simple arrangements of platforms. Almost every level has droplets which drip from points in the level. They fall under the influence of gravity and roll along the platforms within the screen. The player can capture these on their parasol and throw them at enemies.
The parasol can hold more than one droplet at once; if five are held, they merge into a large droplet with a special power. There are four different kinds of droplets, with a mostly elemental theme, some of which are inherited from Bubble Bobble.