Game Boy Galleria

Chaos in Print

Hey all! This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I just noticed on my calendar that we are nearing the 10th anniversary of my first major purchase: my Nintendo Game Boy. I was working as a paperboy, and I had saved up my money for a good six months. Then, over Spring Break in the seventh grade, I bought it at the Woolco in Red Deer. I had an aunt who worked there, and she used her 15% employee discount to help me get a good deal. I really splurged that weekend. I bought the Game Boy, the rechargeable battery pack/wall adaptor, and the game Super Mario Land. I don’t play it that much anymore. I only do like I’ve done very recently: dig it out and play when I get really bored. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to dedicate this column to doing mini-reviews of all my Game Boy games. I’ll be using my patented Nib rating system, which is what I use for my movie reviews.

One final note: I was originally going to include scans of all the labels for my Game Boy games, but ultimately I didn’t want to fill my server space with 300k of single-use images. That, and I just got lazy.

Published by: Nintendo; Number of players: 2
Review: Ahh, the classic puzzle game. You know the drill: all these shapes drop down from the top of the screen, and you have to arrange them into neat little lines. I was never big on puzzle games. They tend to get repetitive and bore me after about level 12.
Favorite moment in game: When you finish it, there’s a really cool shot of a Space Shuttle lifting off
How Long it took me to finish it: Never (Game A), 2 months (Game B)
Rating: 3 Nibs

Super Mario Land
Published by: Nintendo; Number of players: 1
Review: What’s a Nintendo video game system without a Super Mario game? The standard Mario plot is once again called into service: the Kingdom of Sarasaland has been captured by the evil Tatanga, and rightful ruler (and Mario main squeeze) Princess Daisy is being held captive. So, you (Mario) goes off to rescue her! In game play, this most similar to the Nintendo Super Mario Bros., with some novel twists. Like in this one, rather than being able to kick turtle shells to vanquish your opponents, they just sit there and explode. Also, Fireballs are replaced with “Superballs,” which are really, really, bouncy. All in all, a fun little challenge.
Favorite moment in game: Levels 2-3 and 4-3, in which the game turns into a shooter, and you pilot a sub (in 2-3) and a plane (in 4-3)
How long it took me to finish it: Six months
Rating: 4 Nibs

Disney’s DuckTales
Published by: Capcom; Number of players: 1
Review: I loved this Disney cartoon, and was quick to snatch up the video game! You are Scrooge McDuck, the richest duck in the world. To bolster your fortune, you go out into the world (and even to the moon) to gather 5 of the greatest lost treasures known! But you don’t go alone. You get help from Hewey, Dewie, Louie, Webby, Bubba the Cave Duck, and everyone’s favorite hero, Gizmo Duck. This game is just so cute. Perky tunes, lively graphics, and just an overall sense of fun. Check it out.
Favorite moment in game: Summoning forth Gizmo Duck to blast an impenetrable wall on the moon.
How long it took me to finish it: A month (easy setting), a week (normal setting), a day (hard setting)
Rating: 3 Nibs

Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Published by: Sunsoft; Number of players: 1
Review: Little did I know that a causal inquiry to look at this game in a department store would result in me getting it for my birthday a month later. The plot follows that of the same-titled movie: those evil Gremlins have taken over the Clamp Center, and you (as Gizmo the Mogwi) must go forth and stop them, using only a pencil to club them to death with. For having only 4 levels, this was one of the most challenging Game Boy games I’d ever had the pleasure of owning. Great graphics, great music, great game play, this is one of the best undiscovered treasures of the Game Boy system. I loved it!
Favorite moment in game: Just all the music. This whole game is filled with perky little tunes.
How long it took me to finish it: 10 months.
Rating: 4 Nibs

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall Of The Foot Clan
Published by: Ultra Games; Number of players: 1
Review: This being the early 90’s and all, my love of the Ninja Turtles was in full swing. So, I just had to snatch up their initial Game Boy offering. The plot is the standard one of all the Ninja Turtle games: April has been kidnaped by the Shredder and Krang, so the Turtles go off to rescue her. I really enjoyed this game, being blinded by my love of the Ninja Turtles, but in retrospect, this game is actually kind of lame. Sluggish game play (everything just moves to slow), lousy level-transition movies, and too easy. Somewhat redeemed by challenging bonus levels, hidden throughout the first two stages. But still, not what I’d hoped for.
Favorite moment in game: The tune played when you finish the game is my favorite piece of video game music ever!
How long it took me to finish it: 2 weeks
Rating: 2 Nibs

Published by: Sunsoft; Number of players: 1
Review: Of course, the early 90’s also saw the beginning of my love of the Bat. This, the first Batman Game Boy game, is based largely on the 1989 movie. The Joker is on the rampage in Gotham City, using his Smilex gas to kill everyone! You, as Batman, must go off to stop him! I will admit, the graphics in this game aren’t all that good (Batman looks like a little stick figure for most of it), but it is pretty fast-paced and exciting. Quite challenging, and full of twists. Not too bad, for what it’s worth.
Favorite moment in game: Levels 3-1 and 3-2, in which the game becomes a shooter as you take to skies in the Batwing.
How long it took me to finish it: Just about a year.
Rating: 3 Nibs.

Dr. Mario
Published by: Nintendo; Number of players: 2
Review: Since I said in my Tetris review that I’m not a big fan of puzzle games, I’m sure you’re surprised to see this on the list. Believe me, I wouldn’t have asked for it that Christmas if I knew I’d get it. It seems that the virus are getting out of control at Mario’s hospital, so you have to pelt them with vitamins to get rid of them. Match up four viruses and vitamins of the same color, and poof! The virus disappears. Like most puzzle games, this follows the Tetris formula pretty closely. I never really took to it. It’s OK, though, for those rainy days when there’s nothing else to do. And my Mom likes it. You can’t dis a game your mother likes.
Favorite moment in game: Don’t really have one.
How long it took me to finish it: Began boring me before I could get that far.
Rating: 2.5 Nibs

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers
Published by: Konami; Number of players: 1
Review: Well, since I was still had blind devotion to the Ninja Turtles, I went and snatched up the sequel. April has been kidnaped by the Shredder and Krang (again), so the Turtles go off to rescue her (again). All I can say is this is a HUGE improvement over Fall Of The Foot Clan. The graphics are better, everything flows more smoothly, and the Turtles have been given new tricks (like being able to crawl along the ceiling). It even incorporates the hugely popular skateboard level from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, and improves upon it by adding a sewer-surfing level. They even stuck in a rescue mission between levels, so you can rescue your captured turtles. This is everything the first game should have been and more.
Favorite moment in game: Two actually. The opening sequence is a pretty faithful rendition of the opening credits to the cartoon, and the “level start” and “pause game” screens incorporate the actual title cards (the background when the name of the episode is displayed) from the cartoon.
How long it took me to finish it: 8 months (easy setting), 1 month (normal setting), 1 week (hard setting)
Rating: 4 Nibs

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
Published by: Ultra Games; Number of players: 1
Review: With 1991 being the Star Trek‘s silver anniversary, that’s when we saw the first real wave of Star Trek video games hit the market. Not even the Game Boy was left out with this offering. The plot is cobbled together from about half-a-dozen episodes of the original series. The Doomsday Machine, a device that devours whole planets, is heading towards Federation territory. The Federation has developed a weapon powerful enough to destroy it, but the Klingons have stolen it, and scattered its parts across the galaxy. Your mission, as captain of the Enterprise, is to sail through hostile space, fighting off Klingons, Romulans, and Tholians to recover the parts of the weapon, and then go off to face the Doomsday Machine. About 80% of this game is a shooter, as you fly the Enterprise through space, blasting the occasional asteroid, Klingon Battle Cruiser, and Tholian Web that happens to be in your way. The other 20% is RPG, as you lead away teams down to planets to scour the planetary surface for the stolen weapon parts. This game rocks. It’s able to take what makes these kinds of games so popular, and combine it with the best elements of Star Trek. A proud addition to my collection.
Favorite moment in game: Several. Most of the background music is actual score lifted from the show. In the final level, when you are sailing through a ship graveyard to face the Doomsday Machine, there is no background music, only an eerie silence. And when you finish the game, rather than end credits, the programmers wrote goofy bios about each other.
How long it took me to finish it: A little over a year
Rating: 4 Nibs

Bart Simpson’s Escape From Camp Deadly
Published by: Acclaim Entertainment; Number of players: 1
Review: I was highly susceptible to fads throughout the 90’s, and that included picking up a Simpsons game. Summer has come for Bart and Lisa, and they’ve been shipped off to the infamous Camp Deadly, run by the evil Ironfist Burns (Mr. Burns’ nephew). Life in this camp is a living hell, so Bart decides to attempt a daring escape by scaling the infamous Mt. Deadly. Of course, Lisa always pops up, offering weapons and tools to aid in your escape. The first half of this game is Bart (that’s you) trying to survive Camp Deadly, and the second half is the titular escape. This game is OK, with good graphics and smooth game play, although they could have put more thought into the background music (about a zillion variations on the Simpsons theme). That, and it just wasn’t challenging enough. It was way too easy. But, fun for Simpsons fans.
Favorite moment in the game: Getting assistance from escaped Madman Mort to defeat Nelson.
How long it took me to finish it: Overnight
Rating: 2.5 Nibs

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Published by: Absolute Entertainment; Number of players: 1
Review: Blind devotion did me in once again. Being the Trekker that I am, I naturally snapped the Next Generation’s first foray into the Game Boy. The plot is this: you are one of the top cadets from Starfleet Academy, and as part of your training you are sent out to the Enterprise to train on the Holodeck. In this simulation, you assume command of the Enterprise for some first hand experience. Capt. Picard appears on your viewscreen to deliver your mission and then you are off! As much as I love Star Trek, this game is kind of lame. None of the action of Star Trek: 25th Anniversary is in there. Most of the time, you are just staring at a viewscreen. There are generally two kinds of missions: transport (ferry an ambassador, transport cargo) and combat. The combat missions are fun, but needed improvement. The real Enterprise doesn’t blindly fire its torpedoes hoping they’ll hit something. And why are Borg cubes easier to defeat than Romulan Warbirds? This game could have been leagues better, but sadly, it isn’t.
Favorite moment in the game: The Borg mission. I just love wailing on those cubes.
How long it took me to finish it: Is there an end? I’ve done a zillion missions with the rank of Captain and just can’t get any higher. A glass ceiling, perhaps?
Rating: 2.5 Nibs

Batman Forever
Published by: Acclaim Entertainment and Warner Interactive; Number of players: 1
Review: The Bat-bug still having bit me, I bought this game about a year after the movie came out. The plot is a watered-down version of the movie plot: The Riddler and Two-Face are on a rampage. Stop them. So, you go off, armed with all kinds of Bat-gadgets to kick ass. This is more of a fighting game, as you search buildings, come across a henchman, and beat the crap out of him. A very challenging game, filled with hidden rooms (most of which I’m still trying to find). I found this game to be quite frustrating at first, but once you get in the groove, it’s not too bad. The between-level transitions, and the end sequence, are kind of lame however. And the background music is just the same tune playing over and over.
Favorite moment in the game: Fighting Two-Face. You see, Two-Face’s trademark coin is a power-up in the game. When fighting him, if you punch him when he stops to flip his coin, he’ll drop it. You run and pick it up, you get an extra life.
How long it took me to finish it: Two months (easy setting), a week (normal setting), a day (hard setting)
Rating: 3 Nibs

And now, I’d like to turn my attention to the games I wanted, but never got. So, I’d like to call this section “Bitching about what Santa didn’t bring:”

Any of the Super Mario Land sequels – Just because the first one was such a blast, and the sequels, from what I’ve heard, were way better than the first.

Any of the Donkey Kong Land games – First year of college, my roommate borrowed a Super Nintendo, and we played Donkey Kong Country all weekend until we finished it. That game was just so cool, so naturally I wanted the Game Boy counterpart.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue – Just so I could complete the trilogy. Unlike the first two Ninja Turtle games, in this one you could only be one turtle: Michelangelo. You couldn’t be the other three until you rescued them throughout the first 3 levels.

Batman: The Animated Series – Way back in ’93, when the Batman cartoon was at the height of it’s popularity, only one video game was released based on it. And it was for Game Boy! What was really novel was each level was done up like an episode of the show. You’d go through the level, beating up the villain’s thugs and uncovering his plot, and then at the end, you finally face off with him.

Superman – Way back in ’96, when Superman: The Animated Series first premiered, only one video game was released that was based on it. Of course, a much better N64 version came out back at Christmas, but the Game Boy one was the first!

James Bond 007 – Released about a month after GoldenEye came out for the N64. Unlike GoldenEye, this game was done up as an RPG, and had a plot based largely on the movies from the 60’s. You, of course, were Bond, and you traveled the world tracking down your arch-enemy Blofeld and doing battle with the likes of Oddjob and Jaws.

Catwoman – Or, as I like to call it, “sign #3,456,197 that the Batman franchise has gone to far.” This recently released game is based largely on the Catwoman comic. In it, you are Catwoman (duh), and you go about robbing from crime-lords, staying one step ahead of the police, and just generally playing both sides against the middle. No confirmation yet on whether Batman makes a cameo.

If I had a job right now, I would probably wind up buying:

Pokémon – What can I say? I love the cartoon, saw the movie, and what little I played of the game I discovered it was very addicting. The game is essentially a low-level RPG, in which you are Ash, going about catching pokémon and trying to become a pokémon master. It wouldn’t matter which edition I get, either red, blue or yellow. Although, I’d probably prefer yellow. (You see, the yellow edition follows the plot of the cartoon more closely: your first pokémon is Pikachu, and Team Rocket occasionally pops up to make a nuisance of themselves.)

And that’s it! Oh, how I still love to play my Game Boy occasionally. What gets me is that it’s been around for 10 years. I think that makes it one of the most successful video game systems ever.

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