The State of the GBA market

[the positive]


While my previous rant about the Game Boy Advance's game library may have suggested doom and gloom, it wasn't always. However, I can't say I've actually looked at what many consider the best games for the GBA, so here's the decent ones I've played and owned myself.


Wario Land 4

A miniature Wario toy is being crushed and experiencing the worst pain ever, and not even the seagull cares.

Despite Wario's grisly grin and the goofy crocodiles, this level really is beautiful, especially with the music.

A second after this snapshot was taken, the pink axe murderer was deflated, dead, and dropped 50 coins. Rad.

Some may see Wario Land 4 as a step backwards. There aren't any split level paths, fancy world maps, levels with objectives, the need to collect your abilities, or a fancy pants story. You just enter a pyramid to get rich, go through six worlds (with eighteen stages altogether), and have simplistic goals to get keys, jewel shards, maybe a CD, and hit the frog switch and escape. The more treasure you have at the end of the game, the hotter your rescued princess is. Pretty basic compared to the previous three games, which featured all what I listed at the beginning, plus tons of levels. But that's why I like it.

Instead of being the video game equivalent of a five hundred page "epic", Wario Land 4 is short, simple and sweet. It can be completed in a day, and maybe a few more to do the other difficulties and get everything, and that's one of the reasons why I think it's good. It doesn't drag anything out with samey levels, unnecessary collectables or any of that bees wax, just the simple joys.

That, and the graphics are awesome, the music is catchy, and it simply (there's that word again!) plays fun. And Fat Wario is just hilarious.



Sonic Advance

Look familiar?

Knuckles? Swimming? IMPOSSIBLE

Just to further make everyone know she's a stereotypical girl, Amy's hammer has hearts.

Sonic? On a Nintendo console? Shock and horrors! is what Sonic nerds said back in 2002. People liked it but they didn't really make much of a fuss about it. But they did make a song and dance for Advance 2 and 3. Swines.

Sonic Advance plays essentially like the Mega Drive games, with the addition of some swanky moves that aren't useful in any way, but they're nice to have. There's also Amy, who plays significantly different from the lads, as she can't spindash, can't kill enemies with her jump, but can use her hammer to not only attack, but to jump higher. Other than that, and the lack of co-operative multi-player (frfrzfzfrz), it plays like the Mega Drive games, has numerous throwbacks and references to the old games, and even has special stages. Pity they're simply not fun.

Sonic Advance is the closest we've got to the original games in terms of gameplay (despite what people say about Rush, it's nothing like the Mega Drive games), and it's a great shame they instead turned the direction into an exercise of boredom in Sonic Advance 2. If they had given us another game like this, they could've ironed out the bugs and made us a game of very close to or maybe even equal quality of the Mega Drive games.


CT Special Forces 3


Boxes on a beach = Level design!

Female enemies? CAN'T HAVE THIS

CT Special Forces 3 is apparently a port of a PlayStation game. Since there's just about no coverage of the original on the internet, I can't verify, but none the less, it's a damn fine game.

It may look like a Metal Slug-esque game, but it focuses more than evasion than jumping around and shooting everyone. You can still do that, but it's just an easier way to get wasted. Your default weapon is a pistol, but unlike Metal Slug's variant, this shoots slowly, does just about no damage, and simply isn't cool at all. You do have grenades, machine guns, rocket launchers, flame throwers, and shotguns, but you really need to stock up on ammunition for them before they become useful.

And while you have a health bar, enemies still take a whollop out of your health with attacks, and thus, that's why evasion is important. You do respawn right where you died (or near where you died if you fall off a cliff) with no loss of ammunition, which eases the pain a bit, and unlike Metal Slug Advance, your character doesn't flinch at all when being hit, so you can plow on through. Not even to mutant half-naked muscle men.

There's also some minor parts with different gameplay, like using a tank, helicopter, or sniper rifle, but there's only about four sections of those in the game, really. Sadly, the game has some downfalls. Namely, the levels drag on for too long, some of them are rather samey, the game is begging for a co-operative multi-player mode, and it uses a password system. A password system in a 2004 game. CRAZY.


F-Zero Climax

Look out Captain Falcon!

A fine example of how much they screwed up the characters. Plus, INTERNET HILARITY

Look out Captain Falcon! Again!

F-Zero: Maximum Velocity played like the SNES F-Zero, but it didn't feel new or enjoyable. F-Zero GP Legend never really got me, but I'm not sure why; it simply never intrigued me.

F-Zero Climax is just better, in my opinion. There's a few more characters (although they're just those cookie cutter anime guys with recoloured ships), more courses, awful story mode ditched, controls made less sucky, and a track editor! Still has the horrible anime designs (I mean seriously, they made Octoman evil. I can't accept that), but it doesn't deter the fact that this is a damn good game, and it's an amazing shame that they never bothered to release it in English, considering they localised the infinitely inferior GP Legend.

Recommended, but considering it's Japan only, there's always F-Zero GX. It may not be portable, have as many courses, those silly anime characters, or a track editor, but goddamn, it's pretty freakin' awesome.


Bubble Bobble: Old & New

fatties how about no (buuuurn) that guy's called stoner lol

lol j/k

Okay it's not that bad but Jesus there's little to no redeeming features. In my opinion.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

INTERNET HILARITY Because I fail at the game, I had to pinch this image. And this too. So ashamed.

A Zelda game. I don't think anybody ever questions about the inclusion of Zelda games on lists like this, so I'll head onto the next one.

Close one there, I almost had to write an acceptable amount there.

Gunstar Super Heroes

Zany boardgame! Dizzying air ship segment! Exploding goons!

Actually here in Europe they renamed it Gunstar Future Heroes, which is about the stupidest name ever.

Gunstar Super Heroes is, naturally, a sequel to Gunstar Heroes, starring a different crew although they're named the same, up against enemies of the same names and basic features as before, and even some of their stages. They removed the ability to mix and match weapons, pretty much removing a major part of it, and replacing it with more melee attacks and three styles or projectile; homing, powerful, and regular.

Naturally this caused some people to blub blub blub and say it's essentially the original with prettier graphics, no 2-Player (nooooo), no mixing and matching of weapons, more story-focused gameplay, and a few retreads and new areas. It's round about right, but that doesn't mean it's not a bad game. It's a beautiful game and highly, highly enjoyable, and it may have lost it's distinctive features and only seven levels long, it's still a great game on it's own. Plus, it's made by muthatruckin' Treasure, and therefore it would be a sin for it to be bad.


Mega Man Zero

Great dialogue! Somehow, being poked in the ankle with a spear can make your torso fall off. You dead.

Another Mega Man series? This continues after the X series, starring Zero, the robot with the fluctuating personality, and he's now accompanied by an unintelligible storyline. Instead of the familiar "eight robot masters/mavericks and maybe some other stages" design, things work differently. You go on missions, usually with an objective to do, although sometimes you simply just reach the exit. Sometime there's a traditional maverick-esque boss, sometimes there's a human-esque boss, and I think sometimes there's none at all.

Instead of getting weapons from bosses, you get jack, except from a few, which give you elemental chips that effect the style of damage to your weapons. Some scientist guy makes you more weapons. Plus, if you run out of lives you can fail missions, and can only redo them if you saved before them, or start a new file.

There's also Cyber Elves, but I've already babbled enough. The other games introduce importance to rankings, EX Skills, Forms and other such hoo haa, and they're all pretty good, although they're all difficult, especially the first one. It doesn't really matter which you get, although the forth is easiest, the second has a much cooler forth weapon than the first and third, and the first allows you to explore when you're not on missions, and I find it the most memorable.

Omitted line! "Starring everyone's favourite robot representation of Christ (interpret that on your own)"

Metroid Zero Mission

Guess what you shoot. EAT SOME Witty caption lol

Not another GBA remake! people probably screamed. If I actually frequented such places, I'd likely tell them to shut up.

The original Metroid, remade, with pretty graphics, new areas, new enemies, and new abilities? Wowzers! And it is a very good game. Everything's been tweaked so it's not only more welcoming to new players (I couldn't get into the original NES Metroid oh no violent people get away), but so it offers a change for experienced players. There's also the original NES Metroid included as an unlockable, despite the fact it's available on like three other Metroid games.

It doesn't quite match up to Super Metroid in overall greatness, but it's still great on it's own.


Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

I'm a cheating swine. BirdoXPeach? barf. Old ? Blocks! A nerd's dream.

The third in the series of Mario RPGs, the brothers finally work together, but considering the two have to squash, burn, electrocute, hammer, and fall on each other to work together, not a sign of a working relationship.

The game takes place not in the Mushroom Kingdom, but in the Beanbean Kingdom, where the witch Cackletta and her Engrish spouting lackey have replaced Peach's voice with explosives and aim to overthrow fatty Queen Bean and rule both kingdoms. Dastardly! There's also plot twists like Bowser helping you then losing his memory and joining a bandit to fight against you and yackity schmakity.

But is the game fun? Certainly. The battle system is fun and imaginative, otherwise boring conversations are brightened up by slapstick and typical Mario humour, there are obligatory minigames, and there are some amusing throwbacks to old games. Plus, we get that Mario Bros. remake again! (nooo)

The new settings and characters give a breath of fresh air, and it's simply a very fun game.


Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Yeah, keep that to yourself. Eat the power of Christ, mutant! Toasty.

Another renamed game, here in Europe they removed the subtitle, so it's simply "Castlevania". Silly.

Circle of the Moon follows the tradition set by Symphony of the Night (which I can't believe I've never played), meaning it's like Metroid, except not. Thankfully, instead of shemales or faggy vampires, you play as a good ol' vampire hunter with a whip, and such things as a double jump, wall jump, and tumbling.

While I prefer the old traditional linear Castlevania games, this is very enjoyable, with challenging difficulty, interesting enemies (well, apart from the abundance of skeletons. Not even cool biker skeletons but plain vanilla skeletons), and music from the N64 games that are reproduced pretty good.


Honourable mentions

Simple joys like WarioWare make me smile. Yeah they're basic, simple games with not much lasting appeal outside of multi-cartridge co-operative multi-player but GODDAMN those graphics are beautiful. Expecting a wise choice like Mario Kart or Konami Krazy Racers? Then THINK AGAIN
WarioWare, Inc. Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland & The Amazing Mirror Banjo Pilot

While some didn't make my list (which isn't supposed to be like a top 10 whatever it's just ones I particularly like and think they don't stink), there's some that are worth mentioning.

And now, I express sympathy. The Game Boy Advance started off by slightly filtering the degree of crappy games than it's predecessors, but in the end, ultimately ended up with more. There are presumably some gems for it I haven't covered, and I recommend looking for them, because when crap like this are best sellers, something is dreadfully wrong.