Game Boy

[last updated: 25-NOV-2011]

Alleyway

RATING: n/a

WHEN: Dec 2010

Very weak rendition of Breakout. Worth it for the sound effects, though.


[no review]

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Completion: No ending.

Bomberman GB 3

RATING: n/a

WHEN: Jun 2011

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Bomberman Quest

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: 1999

Short and sweet.


I love Bomberman, but I can't say I'm a big fan of RPGs. So this is actually pretty good, even if it is nothing like an RPG!

There aren't typical RPG things like shops or towns or levelling up. There's a place where you can make new bombs, there's a whopping one town which is more of a central hub between zones, and you can increase the length and power of your bombs, as well as gain more health after beating bosses. There are short dungeons, puzzles, item collecting, and other such things. Basic stuff.

As fun as the game is, it's all over very quickly, and it's very, very easy. Just about every enemy in the game can be beaten with the Homing Bomb and Power Gloves; you can return to a save point anytime you want, even while in boss fights; and the Gold Armour makes you practically indestructible. Of course, you can choose not to follow those tactics, which makes the game a little more challenging, but still. And after you beat the three secret bosses, there's really nothing to come back for; no second quest or anything. But despite this huge paragraph of nag nag nag, it's a fun, enjoyable little game while it lasts. I recommend it.

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Completion: 100%.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Casper

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Blurgh.


Casper The Friendly Ghost: The Video Game presumably of the movie. Would you believe this game is scary as hell? I know the original Casper can be seen as creepy, what with every episode ending with him gaining a friend, only to have none in the next episode with no explanation, but this is just blatantly disturbing. And not even for the right reasons!

Basically, Kat and Casper are traipsing through the castle, and to proceed you must accomplish a hall of four mini-games. Complete them all, progress to the next batch. Fail, and you get kicked outside. It's fairly simple enough. One mini-game is a basic matter of bouncing library books back to the book box, and another is almost like Missile Command, where you have to explode Stretch, Stinky and Fatso before they kamikaze attack the "OOZ". One is actually a more linear variation of Lode Runner, where you must retrieve items to activate the exit, and defeat your enemies by sinking them in pits. Naturally, the games change from level to level, but the fourth one is always the one that gives me hassle.

In a nutshell, it's one of those "impossible machine" games where you place a variety of random items on a track, and must make them all interact with each other to accomplish the given goal; the first one being make Kat's breakfast. Among the ton of items you have are a chicken with an egg ready to poop out, an egg cracker, and a curved track so that egg will meet the tracker. All fine and dandy. All you need is a way to get that chicken's egg out.

A lightbulb? Like, to warm it up? Eggs need warming to hatch. No, that doesn't work. A rocket ship? Scare the chicken to lay it's egg? Nada. How about a rope? THAT WORKS.

Apparently tugging a chicken's tail feathers tightly enough makes it lay an egg.

What's disturbing about the game is that it has this... bold outlined, minimal shading art style that's really hard to describe. Everyone has these giant outlines which emphasise just about every little detail, despite being tiny sprites, and what should be cartoon-like fun comes across as... very unpleasant. A few times much smaller sprites are used, which are more tolerable, but their animation is similarly unnatural that there's no escape.

And that impossible machine mini-game? Kat is FRIGHTENING AS HELL.

It doesn't help that the music is consistently quiet, and although it is upbeat in a few songs, the volume and tone never quite match. Not to mention that goddamned fourth mini-game is completely silent, so you're forced to sit with no comforting sounds while demon Kat stares the hell out of you.

Like a lot of multi-cart games, you play this more for the wacky experience rather than looking for any challenge; or fun, for that matter.

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Completion: No.

The Chessmaster

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Video game versions of board games tend to do pretty horribly, so yeah.


Just what you're meant to expect from computer-driven Chess, really. A dickhead of an opponent, an inability to actually lose the game thanks to suicide attempts being disqualified as "illegal moves" even when you're down to two units that have their paths blocked. There's only four screens to the game: The copyright notices, the title, the game itself, and the pause menu. There's no options at all, like to make the opponent more brutal or less intelligent. I can't believe people paid ú30 for this stuff back in the day.

That's not a real screenshot, btw. The ROM doesn't seem to exist!

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Completion: No ending.

Classic Bubble Bobble

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 2000

Bubble Bobble without the 2-Player isn't very enjoyable.


Bubble Bobble is one of those games I enjoy with a friend, but is pretty much the opposite of enjoyable alone, yet I bought this, a handheld version that normally would require me to buy two cartridges to have 2-player, if it even had 2-player. It doesn't. It's only single-player. Brilliant decision, Taito!

Not that I'd want to buy the game twice if it did have 2-player, as the camera completely ruins the game. See, you can only see one block under you. This isn't so bad when there are no looping gaps in the playfield, but they come in on the second level along with the flying Baron von Blubba. Even if you're just trying to drop to a lower platform, you have no idea what's below you. This is a game where one-hit kills are rampant, enemies love to just erratically jump up to a higher platform when you're on it, and you can only see one block below you.

If there's one good thing to say, it's that the graphics are rather nice, but this game is so bad it makes this review look good.

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Completion: No.

Daedalean Opus

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

A demonstration of how wacky game ideas are allowed to be released on the Game Boy, and somehow work, too!


Who would have thought the arm of taking abstract shapes and finding a way to piece them together that works a neat square or rectangle could make a video game you actually sell on the market, let alone localise for English audiences? God bless handheld consoles!

No, really, that is the entire game.

The ENTIRE GAME.

It gets deviously hard very quickly, and by very quickly, I mean the second stage.


I mean how the hell!? How do these fit in there? How do they fit!?!?

Then again, I probably tried to fit the triangle block into the square peg when I was a kid, so I'm sure to a less mentally challenged individual this would be a fair enough time killer.

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Completion: No.

Donkey Kong

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1995

NOTES: First game!

My favourite puzzle platformer.


[no review]

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Completion: Finished.

Donkey Kong Land

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 2000/2001

Donkey Kong Country does not belong on the Game Boy.


Donkey Kong Country, although a fairly simple platformer, has a heart of gold, I feel. It's up to its shoulders in challenge, has more secrets than you could shake a stick at in its era, and despite it simplicity, made the best usage of its variety, always remaining entertaining. If I may be so incredibly biased, I'd say it stands up reasonably well over a decade later (though I will say the sequel is an overall better game). Now, that's the original SNES version. What happens when you try and port it to the greyscale Game Boy?

In theory, not much changes between the two. The two different Kongs are still there, the animal buddies are intact (even if they vanish once you enter a new screen), and the overall basic premise remains. You run around whacking enemies, collecting bananas and facing bosses at the end of each world. Simple stuff. The problem is, Donkey Kong Country was a very smooth and flowing game that made some great usage of its hardware, and rather than just trying to make something that works well on its own and not by comparison, you get rather oddball control physics with quirks from here to Nebraska. For whatever reason, running and then jumping actually slows you down ever so slightly, which is just enough to really throw off some of your jumps; the D-Pad is also frighteningly sensitive, and on the many moving platform levels, it's all too easy to just stumble off without even knowing it.

And that's the problem - there's just an overall lack of polish. Would you believe that when you die, there's not even a ditty to signify that? If you fall down a pit, boom, you're kicked back to the map screen within a millisecond. All too often it happens too quickly for you to even realise where you blundered, and given the very cramped nature of the screen where you can just barely see what's ahead (in later stages you will be making blind jumps; not often, but a single blind jump is one too many), it's just not cool. Heck, even getting hit and losing one of your Kongs (which is meant to be an extra hitpoint) can seal your fate - if you get hit while in midair, you are fucked. Either your Kong is going to appear and fall straight down with the moving platform having gone on without him, or the first Kong will fall down a pit while being knocked off screen, which even if you have a spare Kong, will count as a regular pit kill and send you back to the map screen. The game has no indicator whether or not you have a free Kong and I thus spent a lot of time trying wandering "am I going mad? I'm sure I picked up a Kong barrel...!" but yes, even during the getting hit animation, you can lose an entire life if your Kong falls off-screen. Quality fucking programming, fellas! The console games would usually prevent such midair issues by giving you a free jump and having only a split second delay, and the later Land games would just instantly remove the current Kong with no extraneous animation (and also have an icon for your spare Kong, for good measure), but even as a first try, this just feels remarkably sloppy.

People have said that the fancy graphics of Donkey Kong Country helped distract from the simplistic and shallow gameplay. Can't say I agree, but I will say it certainly helps make the level designs look so much more fancy. When they're on a console with only four shades of grey to work with, the ugliness and simplicity of them shines all too clearly. Levels are often flat and lack the distinctive plethora of secrets usually bundled into the console levels, and there's just no real sense of high-octane danger. Remember the mine cart levels, the blind terror-filled water stages, or the temples with rolling wheels? Yeah, Donkey Kong Land can't recreate those. There's one level where you get chased by fish for a while, but that's really it. There's no excitement or buzz to keep me going, and if I wasn't determined to finish the game after so many years, I would've been happy to just drop it. If anything, the game does have brand new areas; all of the boss fights are totally fresh (albeit rather lacking), and there are two new stage themes - moving platforms in the sky, and a final world set along buildings and scaffolding, inspired by the Donkey Kong arcade game. The latter's not that interesting, however, and the former is almost criminally boring. Slow moving platforms going across far-too-large stages, fuck yeah!

Prerendered graphics can impress if done well, and the Donkey Kong Country series uses them quite attractively, but it had the appropriate hardware to use them on. Donkey Kong Land tries to recreate the detail and texture of the original levels, but when it has a total of four colours to work with (shared between both sprites and backgrounds), it just comes across as an ugly mess. Rather than trying to work with these limitations, it just results in important stage elements getting lost against the background, and sometimes not even knowing what's a platform and what's just detail. It may look better on the Game Boy Color due to it automatic colouring sprites and backgrounds as red and green respectively, but the fact remains that if it took for an updated console to show up just so it could look practical, that's just terrible planning. I played this on a TV, so I can only imagine how bad the motion blur would be against all those indistinct blobs. On the bright side, the sequels make more practical use of the graphics, although they do end up looking a little sparse.

Normally for... conceptually-challenged games like this I try and pass them off as "curiosities." I'm not sure if I can manage that, as Donkey Kong Land just gave me no incentive to play it. The levels were boring, the bosses were unsatisfying, and it was an utterly unrewarding experience. There's no reason to bother seeking 100% completion, and when the final boss sucker punches you within the first second of entering, a black "CONGRATULATIONS!" screen is sure-fire way to kill any further interest in replaying it.

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Completion: Finished. 53%.

Donkey Kong Land 2

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 1997

Donkey Kong Country 2 actually works reasonably well on the Game Boy.


When my brother and I first played this years and years and years ago, we were not pleased. We'd never played any of the Donkey Kong Country games, and this came across as awkward, cumbersome and poorly made. We also thought Super Mario Land 2 was the bee's freakin' knees back then, so that shows what we were like back then. (I've been meaning to re-evaluate that game!)

Playing it now (and after playing its truly dreadful predecessor), I'm actually surprised at how well made it is. Mind you, I was playing it on a TV and I imagine one of our issues back in the day was the hideous motion blur, but it comes across a very well made port, especially given the hardware and the source material. The engine is almost surprisingly accurate to the SNES version, with all the same subtleties and nuances present in fine working order; the only one that got me was how Dixie would immediately go into a ponytail spin no matter what height you were when jumping, whereas in the original she would wait until the full height of her jump being using it. But, yeesh, can I really complain about that? I know I'm a pedantic asshole, but I can't blame the faults of muscle memory on another game. The partner-throwing ability is absent and not all of the stages are present, but I'm just astonished that Donkey Kong Country 2 could be ported so smoothly that all is forgiven.

Well... not quite. The main problem with the game is that it's a near-exact port of the SNES game. This is a triumph in itself, but also means there's literally no reason to play it if you've got the original. There's a few changes here and there to make it work on the platform, but you're not getting a brand new game out of it. I'm sure back in the day this was hardly an issue - Donkey Kong Country 2 on the go! Not to mention how the game was accessible pretty much everywhere; it seemed every store in existence of the late 90s had a copy of this. Now, however, it's just redundant - easy emulation means DKC2 is no problem to get a hold of, and you can very well play it on a portable platform, even as an official release on the Game Boy Advance. What once could've been a distinctive selling point for this game is now what seals its fate in obscurity. Alas.

I won't deny my judgment is not exactly sound since I didn't even reach the third world of the game, but what I played did impress me. I just wish what I played was, well, a little more fresh. If anything, I think Donkey Kong Land 3 branches out more from its console counterpart, but I'm not sure if that's for the best or not. I'd love to rate this game a point or two higher, but I can't deny its modern redundancy.

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Completion: No.

Dynablaster

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: Aug 2009

A couple of cute innovations, but it doesn't make the game any less of a slog.


[NEW!] Essentially the original NES Bomberman with a few splashes of variety here and there. You get an overworld and a shop and an inventory system, and all the features are actually particularly neat - it's a really interesting format for a Bomberman game!

The actual game, meanwhile, wears out its welcome very quickly. You've got enemies that refuse to be trapped, and levels that loop infinitely, making it difficult to even find these enemies. Combined with the fact there's just too many levels, it makes you wish you were playing something else.
When you're checking out the Bomber Boy section, raise a glass to the hours of my life I lost just to collate the data of a twenty year old video game.
Story of my life.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: There's a longer review at the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Ferrari Grand Prix Challenge

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Play OutRun, then imagine it sucks very hard. That's what this game is!


There's something wrong with the universe when OutRun plays great, but games that play like OutRun tend to suck very, very hard. As is the case with Ferrari Grand Prix Championship, where you enter a grand prix championship in a Ferrari, of all things. However, since it's a grand prix, you've got to qualify yourself, boy! Get qualifyin'.

I don't know about you, but qualifying races are one of the worst things to endure in a video game ever. In real life, it's understandable because you just can't have any old asshole join the grand prix championship, but video games are generally designed to be fun. I don't want to start up one of those "what ARE video games meant to be?" discussions, because at the end of the day, a majority are made to be fun for the player in, and hence prompt them to buy it and provide profit to whoever made the games. Thus, for something to be fun, it's generally got to be fun all the time. You know what qualifying races are? Not fun. You waste two minutes going around the course just so you can do it again, now with the bonus of other racers doing the same with you!

Screw qualifying races.

Of course, it doesn't help the game itself just isn't that fun. In reality, if you're driving and you come to a turn, unless it's got super magnets or a curve or a wizard helping you out, the car's probably going to go off the road if no steering is done, though depending on how strong the curve is how long it takes for the car to go off will vary, naturally. It's just logic! Ferrari Grand Prix, despite frequent turns, never actually makes your car change its position very much at all. In fact, I had to genuinely try to take the car off-road! Considering OutRun demanding you treat every corner seriously so you wouldn't crash into a tree and make a fool of yourself in front of the babe, it's a drastic change and doesn't do the game any favours.

Additionally, I know jack shit about car physics, but having one car ram into the behind of another I would expect to damage both, but of course, it's only you who gets harmed. Collide with another behind, in front or to their side, and no matter what, they'll drive on like nothing happened while you putter to a halt and have to catch up again. More reason to not bother playing the game!

Until the GBA came along, I can't think of a single racing game for a handheld console that didn't reek of stale onions. Alas.

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Completion: No.

Game & Watch Gallery 2

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

Five little mini-games of various lasting appeals.


I already ranted about it in the Game & Watch Gallery 4 review, but the Game & Watch Gallery games aren't quite my cup of tea. Their games are fun and enjoyable, but the lack of change in them just bugs me, though that's just the way they are. So, yeah, if you're reading this in order of console listings, you'll have to wait a bit for a real argument on that matter! I ain't rewording what I've said before.

As for the games inside, Parachute and Helmet are entertaining little games with the latter of them being superior in my view, Chef takes a while to warm up but gets pretty good when it does, Vermin is easily the weakest of the lot, and Donkey Kong is probably the best one there is. There's also Ball, but I never unlocked it thanks to the save battery quite literally being disconnected and rattling about inside. And also because I cannot tolerate more than a minute of Vermin. Honestly.

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Completion: No ending.

Gex: Enter the Gecko

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

I never understood it.


Steve bought this on the same day I got Game & Watch Gallery 2, and regretted getting it only five minutes into playing it. And I can't blame him at all. Unlike most platform games, you're given an objective to accomplish in the level, whether it's merely reaching the goal or collecting/destroying a certain amount of things or whatever, but it's always impossible. The screen scrolls to a destination to provide you with a clue, taking it's sweet ass time in doing so, and ends up being a non sequitur and only complicates matters, leaving Gex to run around the world aimlessly and hoping that something will somehow end the game without hitting the power switch.

It's really, really, catastrophically bad, this. Just to spell it out.

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Completion: No.

Heiankyo Alien

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Not a bad time killer.


It's okay, but could be better.

Old mode sucks.

Review over!

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: I made some silly little page dedicated to it. God knows why.

Kirby's Dream Land

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

Shares Bomberman Quest's traits, except with replay value!


[no review]

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Completion: Finished on both difficulties.

Klax

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Not a bad time killer.


I mostly paid attention to stuff during the 1990s. You know, like the world. I did not have time for Klax, as I never even knew about it. Northern Ireland isn't exactly renowned for amazing arcade selections. Belfast Airport once had Asterix and Bomberman, but now all they have is a gambling machine converted into Street Fighter II (don't ask me how that works!) and a bunch of shooting and driving games. Puzzle games are a foreign concept outside of pub quizzes.

Klax. Stack patterned tiles on top of each other, vertically, horizontally or diagonally, and make three to get them to vanish. Your paddle can hold five at a time before collapsing, so you can hold onto the junk until there's a better time for it.

It's an okay game. The tagline's really about the only good part, though, and the fact it's meant to be matching patterns rather than colours can really get one puzzled if they're not thinking straight (which is how I think all the time), but it's a decent enough Game Boy puzzler.

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Completion: No ending?

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1999

I think I played it wrong.


Link's Awakening, kinda like all of the instalments in the Zelda series, is said to be one of the best games ever. It could be legitimate praise, Nintendo fanboys going nuts, or just people following the herd. I wasn't really all that enamoured with it. In fact, now that I've completed it, I'd almost say I didn't enjoy it.

As I have no doubt said numerous before, I play the Zelda games for the dungeons. Anything else is just padding to distract me from the juicy, puzzle-solving, face-swording action, and that is precisely why I loved the hell out of A Link To The Past - you can be like me and just dash straight onto the next dungeon, or you can hang around and take care of other matters, or pick up every item you can before advancing onwards. It was open-ended and hella good!

Link's Awakening is not open-ended, and a sign that Nintendo no longer cared for people playing things their own way, but to do it their way. Thus, you go through the same order of dungeons in the same basic progression of the overworld. This ain't bad, mind you, and pretty natural of a video game. But, unfortunately, it means bullshit. Before you can get directions to the next dungeon, you've got to wade through some stupid tasks, such as guiding a ghost back to his home or rescuing Marin from a bridge. If you pay attention to the overworld and whatnot and enjoy exploring, it's probably only natural to know what to do and where to go. But I want me some dungeons!

And, sadly, the dungeons just aren't that fun for me. Maybe it was the downscaled screen size, which limited the amount of stuff that could be packed into each screen; maybe it was the often frustrating enemies that would be invincible for most of the time, but their eradication was required to open doors (and they would respawn!); maybe it was how only two item buttons were accessible, often leaving you defenceless in the name of puzzle solving; maybe I found too many of the dungeons to have awkward gimmicks or clumsy navigation; or maybe I was just in a sour mood for most of the time playing it. But, basically, I really didn't enjoy a lot of the time I played this. Unlike A Link To The Past, which was consistently enjoyable and I would look forward to each passing dungeon, in Link's Awakening there really wasn't much to look forward to. I could look forward to the boss, but only rarely was it not an absolute chore - I could look forward to the next dungeon, which would more often than not turn out to be an even worse slog than the last. I could look forward to the next item, but whoopty fucking doo, a shovel! When I finally get to have fun with an unlimited Fire Rod, the game's practically already over.

I like the graphical style (I was never fussed on the looks of LTTP) and the ending has an awesome concept, if a bit flawed by how I didn't really give a shit about the island before, but... yeah, I just wasn't impressed by a lot of the game. Maybe I was comparing it too much to Link to the Past or playing it in the wrong mindset, or maybe I should just stop making excuses and say I thought the game was a pretty unpleasant slog, but if anything, I'm glad I finished it.

I don't know what that says about the game, though.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: One of many games I played in 2009

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2001

Another Zelda game that's fun but I can't get anywhere in. I won't hold that against it.


[no review]

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Completion: No.

Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2000

I haven't played this in years, but hey, it looks good!


[no review]

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Completion: No.

Mario & Yoshi

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: Aug 1996

Why did they make this portable and not Wario's Woods?


Mario & Yoshi is just one of the many Mario puzzle games released, but Steve was unaware of that when he bought it, believing it to be a traditional Mario game. He was very sad when he was stuck with it for a week-long holiday, while I got the traditional gameplay-style Super Mario Land 2.

Your goal into hatch eggs by joining the bottom half and top half of the shell. The more enemies between the top and bottom half, the bigger and more majestic the Yoshi that comes out will be. You can also put two of the same enemy on top of each other, but that barely racks up points. There's also Mode B, where you have to remove all enemies from the screen, which is more fun in my view.

In comparison to Tetris, Wario's Woods and Tetris Attack and other such games, Mario & Yoshi is incredibly shallow. The game never gets the adrenaline running, nor does it require much to play well. If you can hold a stuffed egg until the top half arrives without dying, you're pretty much set. You're better getting something else.

Minus points because I regret never sharing Super Mario Land 2 with Steve. =(

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Completion: No ending?

Mega Man Xtreme

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: Jan 2005

Taking the term "rehash" a bit too far.


Ironically, I bought this after I had Mega Man Xtreme 2, a game that thoroughly trumps this in every category. Xtreme is a mish-mashing of Mega Man X1 and X2, with a new story to intertwine them and a couple of new bosses. Thankfully, unlike Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, they shrunk down the graphics here, and did so quite nicely. The problem? It's exactly the same. Items are still in their same locations, as are the enemies, and nothing new has been added to the areas.

I can understand this being praise-worthy. I mean, they brought levels from a SNES game to a Game Boy Colour flawlessly! But of course, being a Mega Man fan, I must needlessly complain about anything and everything. After getting Mega Man X Collection, the only advantage Xtreme has now is being portable and having those adorable little graphics.

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Completion: 100%.

Mega Man Xtreme 2

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: Jun 2001

A better attempt than the first one, but vertical scrolling and instant-death water isn't fun.


Xtreme 2 expands upon the first one in every way. The levels are now new, there are bosses from Mega Man X3, Zero is a playable character (who has his own story, bosses and levels), you can now buy items, and overall, the game feels more polished. Of course, this doesn't mean it's free from typical Mega Man cheapness, particularly from vertical scrolling and just about every environmental hazard being instant death.

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Completion: 100%.

Metal Gear Solid

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2000

Haven't played.


[no review]

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Completion: No.

Mickey's Dangerous Chase

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Well, it's playable. It sure is a video game, no denying that!


Yet another of Capcom's Disney-licensed video games, this bears a particularly striking resemblance to Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers. Romping through linear courses, picking up boxes to hurl at unsuspecting foes, gathering stars that don't appear to do anything, all in the name of chasing Pete for some reason. Of course, it quickly becomes rather farcical, as you never actually see Pete. Every level ends with running into Goofy (who's just waiting for you, suspiciously enough) and relays to you where Pete just went, and after you go to where he said Pete was, he says once more that he left for somewhere else. Pete only shows up on the game over screen, and although I'm sure you meet him eventually, when you have to trek through a spike-filled warehouse, cross a lake on a speedboat with piranhas leaping out to devour some flesh, and traverse up a cliff via balloon, all the while never seeing the person you're after, I think they just take it all a little too far.

To mix things up, there are auto-scrolling stages, usually providing you with a form of automotive transport to endure it, such as a speedboat, car, or a "nice, friendly bird." They're fairly inoffensive, but the car stage is mildly brutal thanks to the dodgy camera and falling platforms. See, at the beginning there are three roads. If you jump while on the middle one, you can no longer see what's on the bottom one, but you need to know what's there as the top two paths don't last forever. At this point, it's not too bad, but later on it becomes particularly hazardous when there are spikes just off-screen during leaps of faith, and it begins changing the pattern of how to treat them, whether leaping as far as you can or hugging the cliff to land safely. And considering you never get more than three hit points, it's not cool!

It's playable, simplistic platformer, but like a lot of entries in the genre, it never exactly reaches out for the player to be engaged; all it asks is you pay enough attention to finish the game. I just didn't have the patience to try.

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Completion: No.


Further reading: One of many games I played in 2009

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Monotonous.


I don't know who exactly my target audience is with this site, so I've no idea if the folk who visit this place were in direct captivity of Pokemon and all that or if the 80s intellectual properties were their sort of thing, or even if the wonders of the 70s was their metier. Regardless, I think the Power Rangers movie is awesome. What isn't awesome is the lacklustre video game for the Game Boy!

Akin to Mega Man, you choose one of five bosses to visit the stage of, and choose one of six Power Rangers, but thanks to the monochrome display of the ol' pea green brick, you can only really tell who's male and female, and who isn't the White Ranger. And with that, you walk through mostly flat areas, punching and kicking Putties until they die, each kill adding a bar to your Power metre, and when it's full, it's Morphin' time!

Jesus Christ, I was hoping I had disengaged myself from the show by now. I haven't seen it in fourteen years! HOW DO I STILL KNOW THE LINGO

Becoming a Ranger, really, just means you're twice as powerful, twice as strong against enemy attacks, your life bar is refilled, and the Power Rangers theme plays until you leave the screen. Keep progressing, and you'll encounter the boss, who usually has some silly gimmick like flying off screen when you hit him, ducking underwater a lot, and so on. It's all very basic. Beat all the bosses and you can go to the final stage, which has a boss rush before you face the final two challenges!

Thanks to the stage selection, the gimmicky stages and the unique musical style, the game does have a very Mega Man-as-a-brawler vibe about it. However, unlike Mega Man, there's nothing very engaging about it all. The levels are very flat and very uninteresting, and quite often repeat elements, not to mention the enemies only seem to exist so you can power up into Ranger mode. I made it to the final boss, and continued to question myself why I was bothering all the way there. It's just not very gripping!

It's got good graphics and music, though. That's worth a point or two.

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Completion: No ending.

Minesweeper

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Programs > Games. Give it a run yourself.


Thanks to the world of exciting computer magic, everybody knows Minesweeper. It's for people who can't play Solitaire but are too cool for 3D Pinball. You select spaces to eliminate safe areas and leave only the ones that could threaten your very existence on this world. By means of exploding you dead.

And that's it. Despite the title screen looking like it's going to give you an ultra realistic minesweeping experience, it's pretty much the same as the one everyone knows, complete with smiling face to signify your progress. Plus it's got this really, really catchy ditty that totally gives the game two more points it doesn't deserve. Right on!

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Completion: No ending.

Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

While it's slightly playable, it's never very fun. At all.


I bought this only a few weeks after getting the N64 game of the same name; I never got past the first level, and I can say with all certainty I never plan to. The game controls like a typical 2D Zelda game, only with the additions of jumping, being unable to walk diagonally, and having terrible range with your weapons. Enemies are either harmless or ruthless, but most of your deaths come from the horrible jumping puzzles across stepping stones. It is, quite simply, an awful game, and it's embarrassing that Konami decided to localise this and not any of the Game Boy games that were actually good.

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Completion: No.

Pac-Man: Special Colour Edition

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 1999

One dose Pac-Man, one dose some puzzle game.


Everybody has played Pac-Man in some form or other, whether it's the original arcade, some rerelease or a knock-off of the concept, everybody's played the game. Do not question this. And aside from the screen being cropped down to fit the Game Boy (though you can shrink it to fit everything on) and a 2-Player mode where any ghost you gobble is sent to your opponent's field, it's exactly the same, right down to the cute intermissions.

So it's a good thing they included Pac Panic, a decent puzzle game involved three kinds of tiles you lay in a three piece L shape; blocks, ghosts, and periodically Pac-Man. Creating a line of blocks across the screen erases them and gives you points, but the main goal is to have Pac-Man munch as many ghosts in one trip, and it's actually really fun, certainly a pleasant alternative to Tetris. The Puzzle mode is even awesomer, requiring you to eliminate all the ghosts in as little turns as possible, and even though it's not much deeper than plain ol' Pac-Man, the addition of this second game surely adds more than if it were just the main game alone. Wouldn't really say it's worth paying much for, though. I mean, Pac-Man. Everybody's played it!

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Completion: No.

Pocket Bomberman

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1999

This accurately captures the excitement of the game.


Bomberman Quest was a bit of a spinoff, being a semi-RPG and all, but Bomberman becoming a platformer doesn't go quite as well.

The game is essentially the NES Bomberman, with the mazes and not progressing until you kill all enemies and exiting via entering a door; except it's a platformer. Enemies walk across platforms, Bomberman jumps, and the bombs haven't changed. They can float. It's all very weird, and thanks to some odd level design, it can be awkward to get about the place, and some cheap deaths can be dealt because that it doesn't show much of what's ahead of you. The Quest Mode is very long and very boring, but the Jump Mode is a short and sweet distraction.

In a sense, Pocket Bomberman is a 2D, portable, cut-down version of Bomberman Hero, with it's drastic change of gameplay, odd story, no familiar faces, and lack of multi-player. And also because they're both horribly mediocre.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Pokemon Blue & Red

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: May 1999

The one and only, in my view.


Pokemon is a series I want to like. I liked it when I got it, because I had a higher tolerance for turn-based RPGs then, and I played it recently in hopes of regaining the love. While I did discover that I admire the primitive feeling to the game, I also discovered that it's more monotonous than I imagined.

A majority of the game is spent fighting, which is understandable, but the battle system is just an utter bore and levelling up boils down to just finding an attack that's good and repeating it. I appreciate the simplicity, though, with only four attacks and each with their own energy metre, but the fact levelling up takes forever and you need to have several Pokemon on high levels to stand a chance, it boils down to frustration.

Which is a shame, as the environment, characters and story appeal to me, but it's just the crappy battle system and the mothertrucking caves that turn me off. There really need to be more games with Zelda-like battle systems, and this is a series is desperate need of one.

Despite the nagging, you'd never believe that this is my favourite of the series. It's all in the simplicity. No eggs, no extra islands, no berries or seeds, and the amount of Pokemon isn't unnecessarily huge. Just turn it into a Zelda game and I'd love it.

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Completion: Beat all Gym Leaders. PokÚdex is incomplete.

Pokemon Gold & Silver

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 2001

Simple is good.


More can sometimes be better, but in the process of adding a hundred more Pokemon, a new island and night-day system and all that other bull honky, they've lost the love.

Sure, I may not be a fan of the original game now, but it has this low quality retro charm about it, with it's primitive graphics, quaint music and humourous writing. Gold & Silver, however, just added so much that the primary goal of catching every Pokemon ever was a joke. And even if you ignored that possibility, you had to fight sixteen gym leaders on both Johto and Kanto, and there are now three legendary dogs and two legendary birds, plus Celebi, the new Mew that didn't even compare.

See, not only is there so much shit to do, but the new additions just kind of lack the charm of the original. There are some great new Pokemon, that's for certain, but there's also Delibird, a Santa Claus like penguin thing. I think that's the only example I need to supply to say that the overall roster kind of pales in comparison to the simplicity of the original.

I honestly hate to be a moaner who keeps nagging on about how things are never as good as their predecessors, but I just feel that Gold & Silver sparked a downhill trek to the games just straying further and further away from my liking-this-game zone. And they really should have just made battles into like Zelda games.

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Completion: No.

Pokemon Yellow

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2000

We both disliked Pikachu, so why did Steve buy this?


[no review]

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Completion: Steve needed all Pokemon.

Primal Rage

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Ugh.


In an extraordinary feat of boredom while waiting for a coach back to the airport, I played through all of this. All of it. A feat I'm simultaneously proud of but also wish to never repeat again.

The game itself? Well, it's not dying of a choppy or slow frame rate, which is an automatic plus for Game Boy fighting games, and the animation is preserved well, but it's just not a lot of fun. The best thing I can say is that this multi-cart edition, "DIGITAL MONSTER" has a hacked title screen with what appears to be a cutesy Machamp on it, and then it suddenly turns realistic and grim on the character select screen.

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Completion: Finished.

Puchi Carat

RATING: n/a

WHEN: Feb 2008

NOTES: Japanese version.

Perfect little time killer.


[no review]

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Completion: Need to unlock last few cards.


Further reading: If you like transcribed dialogue, check out the Puchi Carat shrine!

Serpent

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Super special awesome!


Mobile phones across the globe made it aware that, yes, although you could contact whoever you wanted from wherever you wanted, it was still best used to play MIDI-renditions of songs on the charts and for the legendary game known as Snake. Guiding that little reptilian specimen across his barren environment in search of food to make his tail grooooow to such envious length that all the other snakes would hide their tails in shame, knowing they had been beaten in the ultimate test of how long they were, as this snake you were commanding was just too great. It was a fun game! I don't think it's on many mobile phones anymore, though. Shame, as it was like the only thing you could do well those numerical keys. Aside from phoning people, I guess, but who uses that feature these days?

Serpent (strangely labelled SERPENTDE on every multi-cart I've seen it on) takes that concept, but rejigs it into a SNAKE WAR. Two snakes, out for blood, traverse the barren arena, twisting and turning all in an attempt to block the opponent's movement; if they are immobile for too long, they freak out and EXPLODE. That is your goal. That is every snake's goal. Aside from those who end up on planes, in which case their goal is pretty darn sweet.

It's just a case of suffocating each other. If they create a perfect loop with their tail, the area within will generate an item or two, which can range from shortening their tail (so they don't suffocate themselves in it, which I did plenty of times to myself unintentionally), freeze the opponent's tail (if they're on the left side and go to the right, the tail will still be stretching all the way it was from the left, if you get my badly worded meaning), and best of all: HOMING MISSILES. Honestly. SNAKE HOMING MISSILES.

Win or lose, you're treated to your snake demonstrating their feelings, whether it's a smug grin for winning the war, or a tearful lament on having lost to their opponent. The entire game has fantastic, bombastic, battle-ready music that gets you PUMPED UP for some SNAKE WAR. Honest to God. Is there anywhere this game can blunder?

Well, yes, sadly. For whatever reason, pushing the D-Pad to choose where to go may have been a little too sensible for the developers, so like that NES pinball game, pressing left on the D-Pad will turn your snake counter clockwise, and pressing A will turn it clockwise. Admittedly, it does make sense, but for me it can make things a bit of a hassle during hectic duels. See, I associate right with right. If I want to turn right, I press right. But if I want to go left, I press left. The fact that left isn't left, but is now A, can BOGGLE ME BACKWARDS, so I'll lose all sense of direction and probably end up smothering my snake accidentally, leading to a very embarrassing fate as it's left to explode utterly.

Controls aside, it's amazing how simplistic the game is, but at the same time, so incredible. I could easily imagine this being remade for online competitive gaming with 16-player support, totally rivalling Counterstrike or whatever in terms of popularity and rock awesomity and having machinima webcomics made of it.

If no one else will, I will. I'm tempted, you know.

Check it out.

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Completion: No ending?

The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 2001

Doesn't change a thing to their reputation.


Games based on The Simpsons have a reputation of being horrible, and the Game Boy ones are especially notorious for that. This pits the five Simpsons in seven stages of horror (Homer gets three stages), all based off a segment from the actual Halloween episodes. There's no humour of any sort, nor any fun to be had, and it's not even pleasant to look at or listen to; yet GameSpot gave it a reasonable score of 7.8, which I truly don't understand. Then again, GameSpot also gave Sonic Advance 2 and 3 better scores than the first one, so screw them. This game is the worst kind of awful.

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Completion: No.

Spartan X

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Could've been great, but video games like to settle on being average, it seems!


Released in the US as Kung-Fu Master, this is one of the sequels to NES Kung-Fu that nobody remembers. You walk left and right, jump, punch and kick, and basically fight bad dudes in a way one could almost say is like a side-scrolling Final Fight. Except with the mediocrity multiplied by five million.

See, that's all there is to the game. You can't grab anyone, you can't double jump; heck, there's only three items in the game, and only one is a weapon; one that barely does shit, for that matter! Enemies run along set paths, sometimes jump, and generally try to bump into you and molest health away from you, and you face a boss at the end of each stage. The first one with a dude with a chainsaw, who's actually remarkably easy, since for some reason he prefers to try and hit your scalp with the saw most of the time, so you can just rush in and pound his guts out.

The second is a barrel tossing fatty, and since each barrel takes off one block of your five block health metre, it's very nasty, so you have to lure him away from the stacks and lay into him with some karate master power. The third stage's boss looks a lot like Cobra Commander, and shoots a bomb that ignites a patch of the floor, and is actually the second toughest boss in the game. At the third stage!

One major fault with the game is that, quite simply, it feels very unpolished. There are only six stages in the game, and to even say they have level design is laughable, since it's more or less a series of elevations with enemies that fly from the sky. It takes until level 4 for moving platforms to show up, and they seem to only exist to tie in with the industrial factory motif of it and the next level. Not to mention those two stages share a boss, and they are the easiest bosses in the game: Ninja girls. They fling shurikens and stab with their swords, which you've probably expect to be a little more harmful than barrels, but you can literally punch her into the sky until she dies. If she jumps and you attack her, she'll get knocked back higher, yet still continuing her descent. Thus, you can easily get her health down to zilch with a button spasm; and maybe kill her outright if your timing is superb.

The last boss is your typical buff karate fool who can do leaping kicks that can actually kill you in one leap if you keep moving towards him, as one hit takes one and a half blocks off and shoves you back, allowing you to repeat the blunder. It's ludicrously cheap, but it's not like the rest of the game isn't. He does, however, follow a rather silly pattern, which has a long enough gap for you to nail in three kicks before he leaps again. And then it goes straight to the credits.

It's hard to praise the game! I mean, the basic concept of a platformer mixing in beat-em-up elements is pretty rad, but Spartan X just doesn't really do anything good with it. Kung-Fu never really appealed to me, and the only positive this has over the original is having more diverse areas and being portable. Still, at six levels long, you can finish this in under ten minutes if you're prepared for the cheap bosses, and I can't really see myself playing through it again aside from the obvious reason of "boredom." Could've been great, though!

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: I wrote some dumb overview of the game.

Spy vs. Spy

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: 2000

Simple, arcade fun.


Spy vs. Spy plays no different from the previous games, where you run around rooms finding items, killing the other spy, and escaping, except this is actually good. There are three difficulties, and four locations with eight maps each, and the ability to face off against a friend or the computer. It's simple, and it's fun, although it could've seriously done with a save function. Nobody likes hideously long passwords.

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Completion: No.

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 2001

You can only seen four blocks ahead of you. Brilliant!


Super Mario Bros. is a great game, even if I'm nowhere near being good at it. Now shrink the screen size to a quarter of what it was, without downsizing the sprites, and see how well anyone will do.

The problem I find with Deluxe is that it has the recipe for being great: Super Mario Bros. in portable form, with the additions of The Lost Levels, a 2-Player competitive mode, two challenge modes, as well as some silly extras to unlock. But the fact the screen is so small just brings it down; you can make the screen go up and down, but it's never enough. Either you don't see the Spiny that's going to fall on you, or you don't see the pit you'll run into.

It's a shame, because it's ported really well. The graphics are unchanged and the new sprites are fitting, the sound's there, and the physics and everything are still the same; The Lost Levels isn't given quite the same treatment, but still. If they gave more thought to the how the hell you'd see everything department instead of seeing one danger at a time, I'd have enjoyed the game a lot more instead of shouting at it.

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Completion: Challenge Mode needs finished.

Super Mario Land

RATING: 4/4

WHEN: 1998

I like simple. :{


I can't seem to review Super Mario Land without essentially going "it's a rather crappy game and even worse when you compare it to the rest of the series (although seriously in the state the Mario series is in now I doubt anyone really cares) but I think it rocks anyway direct hit five flaming heads ten out of ten and etc."

I hate having a review where I give a game a positive comment and a high score but don't list my reasons as to why, unless it's a game pretty much the entire internet loves and lists their reasons in which case I can just go "hey me too" and leave it at that; but nobody really loves Super Mario Land. And I'm simply not one of those people who writes a fifty page love letter, detailing in exquisitely written form why everyone else should love it. I mean, look at the rest of that site and see if you think I'm that kind of guy. If you do then EAT FIST

The best reason I can come up with for liking Super Mario Land is, quite simply, that I like its simplicity. I admire the minimalistic graphics, the out-of-place music and the even more out-of-place shooting sections.

Those are my reasons for liking Super Mario Land and giving it a 9 out of 10.

news flash ragey can't review =(

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Completion: Totally finished - and in under 20 minutes, too!


Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

RATING: 3/4 (needs reassessing)

WHEN: Aug 1996

A more traditional game than the prequel.


While Steve got Mario & Yoshi, I got Super Mario Land 2, a game featuring the first appearance of Wario, a bunny cap that lets you glide, and a cow fish. Guess who was jealous.

A huge step up from the original, there are Super Mario World elements here, namely similar graphics, a world map, flight (it's more gliding really), and the spin jump. As the subtitle suggests, there are six coins you get from bosses in six worlds, and once you get them all, you can enter Wario's castle. Get a Game Over, and you have to collect them all again, which is pretty annoying.

The levels are bigger, and Mario's controls aren't quite so tight and restricting, although they're a bit too loose; but there's not as much charm as the original Super Mario Land. There are no stages where you ride vehicles (although you do go to space by riding a bubble), the enemies aren't quite as abstract, and the music is more Mario and less like what you'd hear accompanying TV depictions of hillbillies. Charm aside, it's an enjoyable game, and it's worth playing through at least once.

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Completion: 100%.

Tasmania Story

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

Interesting for all the wrong reasons.


In summary: Kind of like Bomb Jack where you have to collect items on a static screen with enemies pursuing you; kind of like Crazy Castle in that you can't jump, you must bounce on tiles to reach higher ground, and your only defence is laying bombs for enemies to run into.

In detail: This game is disturbing.

The visual style is very stark, with white taking up a majority of the screen, but no middle hues of grey in sight; the characters are just solid black, with white for detail. Each sprite only has like three frames of animation, all with exaggerated facial expressions and jittery movement, giving an almost Rocky & Bullwinkle vibe when viewed while in a very terrified state of mind. Your character, a cap-wearing black-faced boy, bears a permanent grin that spans the entire width of his face, and considering he's being chased by snarling, body-lacking blob monsters not unlike the viruses from Dr. Mario, is a mite inappropriate, to say the least. Not to mention the items you collect... whatever they are! They're abstract, often bearing vague resemblance to stylised Australian creatures, but... abstract and stylised. And they sit en-masse upon platforms waiting to be collected by the frightfully jolly boy.

All of this is prefaced with a story scene featured a tiger sprinting through the barren planes, with melancholy music playing over. It's about the most colour in the game, and is actually very artfully done, but my word, the style is just very uncomfortable. Fascinatingly interesting, yet disturbing.

The game itself is pretty meh, being an interesting enough concept but just too difficult and dull for me to truly get into, but the visuals are just highly engaging. Had they been anything else, I would've paid no attention, but give them these abstract and eye-catching graphics and I manage to bump the score up a few unnecessary knots. The ten point system rocks.

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Completion: No.


Further reading: I once tried to make sense of the game. It didn't end well.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 1998

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

A pleasant change but frustration level is through the roof.


When I first got the multi-cart, this was the first game I played. I was somehow totally unaware it was a nonlinear game along the lines of Metroid or the new Castlevania games for nine years, until I finally picked it up again after seeing the new movie of the series.

The game is a lot shorter and simpler in comparison to Metroid, as there are no need for suits or beam upgrades or anything; you defeat bosses, rescue your fellow turtles, use their abilities and find key cards to progress through the game, and all in all, it's not too shabby. However, it's ludicrously difficult when it comes to boss fights.

See, the bosses are huge, and they keep up with tradition by damaging you if you collide with them. However, since you cannot use projectiles when you're not on a ladder, and all of the characters have pitifully lacking range, this makes matters difficult as it's hard to defeat the bosses without trading hits. This problem is elevated to ridiculous levels in the final battle, where you must fight all the bosses in the game one after the other; your health is refilled after each, but if you lose your pizza (which acts essentially as an extra life), you can't go back for another one. Worst of all, if you die, you have to fight them all over again. That was the point where my patience was broken and I resorted to completing it on an emulator.

On the bright side, the game is nice enough to have an easily editable password system so you can upgrade your maximum health or get more continues with it, and overall, it could be worse. But seriously, those bosses are hell.

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Completion: Finished.

Tomb Raider

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 2000

I think it's like Prince of Persia. I never liked it, nor Tomb Raider.


Just like every game before Tomb Raider Legends, the Game Boy Colour adaptation is really rather dire. You have to press up on the D-Pad to jump, and you'll jump straight up after Lara takes a whole two seconds to prep herself up for it. To jump in a direction, you need to hold the run button and press up, where she'll make an incredible leap forward and probably clonk into a wall, knocking her ass flat. It's just as clunky as the console versions!

You also need to crouch to pick up items, you automatically use dynamite after selecting it from the inventory, Lara refuses to aim her gun at enemies when they're up close, and the awkward view point that shows a flat top to platforms but angled sides (see image to get the drift better) means I didn't realise the real edge of the platform above me was a step closer. Whoops.

Since Legends is the only Tomb Raider game I've enjoyed, the most I can say is that the animation of this game is semi-decent; the graphics are pretty ugly, really, but Lara's rotoscoped animations and the fluidly moving critters are pretty nice, though the fact that Lara's bosom vibrates when she does the simplest action is just disturbing enough to not award any points for that factor either.

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Completion: No.

Tom & Jerry

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 2002

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

It's games like this that make one very critical of the whole art form. If you can consider it that with how many FIFA games there are.


You'd think a cartoon that is nothing more than a cat and mouse chasing each other with murderous intent at ludicrous proportions would make a fantastic video game, but every piece of media made is consistently awful! I think the problem is that instead of making a genuine cat-and-mouse game, all the developers just make a generic platformer, or in a few instances a 3D 4-player beat-em-up.

This game is a platformer. And a very flawed one at that.

You know you're in for a treat when the music very rarely works, and when it does it refuses to play more than one instrument. And it can be interrupted by the sound of your jumping. Not to mention the music itself is disgustingly minimalist; for the first level it is an eight note tune, repeated over, and over, and over, and over until you start jumping like mad in an attempt to turn it off. Simple songs can be great, as evidenced by The Strawbs' Wasting My Time Thinking Of You (plug!!), but yeah, it's a bit hard for video games to do it well when their background music is consistently repeating all the time, forever, 24/7.

I think it's obvious I'm just delaying from talking about the gameplay itself. I've said it's a generic platformer. It's one hell of a generic platformer. What needs to be said? The fact you have no means of attack whatsoever?

Oh wait.

Jerry, a magnificent mouse who could put his finger in a pistol and make it backfire upon his murderer, has no way to exterminate all the threats putting a damper on his life. Of course, it doesn't help that only two of the enemies you face are both organic and within attacking rage: A flower and Tom hiding in a dustbin. You come across falling acorns, spikes lining the pavement, flipping sewer covers and more, and somehow immobile flowers are able to hurt you, just by being flowers. Of course, it's only halfway through level 2 that they start snapping at you, giving them a reason to be lethal, but it doesn't make things less confusing for the first half.

Even how the game is presented is cumbersome. On the HUD, you've got your collected bits of cheese that presumably give you an extra life after you hit a certain target; the timer, a line of hearts, and Jerry's face. Going by video game logic, you'd assume the hearts to be the life meter, but they don't vanish when you get hit. Instead, Jerry's face goes through varying degrees of agony. Probably the best graphics in the game, and a cute touch, but the problem is my use of the word "agony" is unfounded. Unhurt, Jerry's smilin' away. One hit, the smile wavers slightly. Another, he's a little shocked, and yet another he's sweating pretty bad. One more and he's toast. While a nice change, the expressions are remarkably subdued for Tom & Jerry, so when he's one hit away from death, he doesn't look that way. Instead, he looks "gosh, if I bump into two more harmless garden plants I may be a goner!" Not to mention that enemies are everywhere, so, yeah, it's hard to tell when you're going to die.

Have I mentioned that you can only see 46 pixels ahead of yourself? It completely prevents you from making effective use of the run button, and is just really, really stupid.

Thankfully, the ROM on the multi-cart seems to be severely glitched, hence the wonky music, and freezes when I complete the second level. The real ROM I downloaded for the screenshot, sadly, does not have the same fault, and lets me play further. That is something I wouldn't wish upon anybody.

It's bad.

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Completion: No.

Tom & Jerry: Frantic Antics!

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1998

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

There's nothing explicitly wrong with it, but nothing explicitly right either.


That really does summarise the game in a nutshell. Based off the movie, both Tom and Jerry romp through twelve levels of generic platform fun, with a whopping three bosses! Almost creatively, enemies are not thwarted by landing upon their bonce, but rather by rolling into them. I'd love to comment on how that seems a rather odd form of attacking in a game of Tom & Jerry, where using everything from rakes to napkins to shotguns were fair play, but this is based off the movie, which may as well call itself Jom & Terry what with it's downright departure from good quality.

Two additions that make the game a little less cookie-cutter are those of fetch quests and vehicles. The latter may as well not exist; Tom gets both of the vehicles, a scooter and spring shoes, and the shoes are the only ones necessary to the game, as the scooter only gives you a reason to excuse the fact you landed in a pit. Both of them can be ditched with a press of the B button, but this means if you collide with them while running, you don't get them at all; for the scooter, this is a plus, but the spring shoes you can obtain only once from Jerry, and are essential to passing the level; lose them, and you'll have to commit suicide. Coincidentally, the spring shoes are used in one of the two nonlinear levels where you have to find Robyn's backpack among a maze of boxes and cellar hallways (with spiders!), and also coincidentally, dying boots you back to the very beginning of a level, meaning you'll have to search for the bag all over again. Vunderbar!

There's three fetch quests; one to find Aunt Figg's telegram (why she entrusts a mouse with this I've no idea), the aforementioned backpack search, and one where you have to pop balloons throughout the level in search of Robyn's pendant, which is the only linear fetch quest. And then there's also four quarters of a ball of cheese or something in every level, but getting them all doesn't seem to reward you with much other than a little ditty.

Here comes the bit where I repeat what I said at the beginning! Frantic Antics! could have had any other license in it's place and no one would have noticed, and the fact it had fetch quests and nonlinear stages can't exactly save it from being seen as any more than a generic licensed platformer; and there's no reason it should be. Good to kill an hour, but nothing more.

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Completion: Finished.

Volley Fire

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1998/1999

NOTES: From a multi-cart.

An interesting change from the usual shmup, but not exactly executed well.


A Game Boy game where the title is remarkably accurate. See, you play as a space ship, and you go to these planets where you fight other space ships in asteroid fields, and you volley fire! Like tennis! Except not quite! See, you're on the bottom, enemy's on top, and there's drifting debris between you which you have to fire between. Both lasers colliding cancels them out, so you basically have to manoeuvre in such a way that your opponent flies into your lasers, or simply hammer that button and hope he's slow at countering. Then you have to kill the opponent three times before you can progress.

Three times. I am serious. Just once is frustrating enough, let alone twice, but the developers at Toei must have been laughing their socks off at the thought of having to kill this strategy-impaired opponent THREE TIMES before you could progress to the next stage, where NOTHING HAS CHANGED. It takes until level three before reflective debris comes in, bouncing your shots back at you, which actually helps a lot in killing the enemy, and then level 4 features the first "boss," so to speak: Three turrets.

The second world actually makes things interesting, with bat monsters lurking between the two ships, as well as a giant rock to protrudes into you periodically, plus moveable rocks that you can shoot onto either player's field. If it had been this from the beginning, I could still be interested, but fighting the same stupid enemy NINE TIMES with only one minor change JUST ISN'T COOL. Of course, all these changes make it even EASIER to kill the opponent, so hm. Level 2 of this world makes the whole field scroll!

And from there on it actually gets quite interesting. But honestly, that first world is just such a boring pain in the ass that one wonders why it exists. It can barely be a tutorial, since only the most basic concept is carried over to the rest, not to mention it's three levels too long to be an introduction to the game.

Give it a modification and it could be pretty damn sweet, but as it is, it's just very, very monotonous.

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Completion: No.

Wario Blast Featuring Bomberman!

RATING: 0/4

WHEN: 1998

Simply not fun.


You'd imagine the combination of Bomberman and Wario, two incredibly awesome characters with respectively awesome gameplay, would turn out to be a dream come true. Not true.

The game is Bomberman at its most basic; there are no unique items, no monsters to ride, or even proper multi-player; you need a Super Game Boy for that. You choose as Wario or Bomberman, and proceed to blow up clones of the other character repeatedly until you face a boss, and repeat and repeat and repeat. Environmental hazards are sometimes introduced, but it's still the same old rubbish. If anything, the game is a good example of how badly an otherwise great crossover can fail.

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Completion: Finished.


Further reading: There's a longer review at the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place! Also, some General Writing I wrote on it.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1996/1997

More action-based than the others.


[no review]

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Completion: Birdhouse ending.

Wario Land II

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1999

Long. Very long. But fun.


[no review]

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Completion: Still a number of paths to finish.

Wario Land 3

RATING: 4/4

WHEN: 2000

I can see why people say it's great.


When I first got Wario Land 3, I regretted it. The fact that you started off with only a crappy charge was really a major turnoff, and everything from the map to the pause screen seemed very overwhelming, and the change of goal meant I only got to the third stage before getting sick of it for several years.

And then when I was playing over some games I planned to sell for reviewing and evaluating purposes, I actually found this to be pretty good. Yeah, I still wasn't a fan of having to earn your moves, but that and how treasures altered the environment gave more reason to return to older levels, and made it necessary in most cases, as levels now hold four treasures, as well as eight giant coins that were never adequately explained. But regardless of those setbacks, the game is really pretty awesome, and judging from a foggy memory, I'd have to say this is better than Wario Land 2, though that game is a bit easier to get into. I admit that I still find Wario Land 4 to be the best; this may be a much larger game with all kinds of replay value, but as usual, my reason for preferring an inferior product is simply because I find it quaint and full of charm.

Yes.

I'm a terrible reviewer.

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Completion: Finished. Need all treasures.