noiseredux vs.

Posted on Jun 30th 2010 at 11:06:27 PM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Game Boy Color, Classic Gaming

The Game Boy Color's launch in the Winter of 1998 should have been a big deal. It had been nine long years and the original Game Boy's outdated hardware was still chugging along. Finally Nintendo decided to offer up what would basically be a portable version of the NES. And maybe eventually a lot of GBC titles would live up to such standards, but upon the launch of hideously purple Game Boy Color system, there were only four games to choose from. Strangely none of them would really demonstrate exactly why a colorized Game Boy was something to get excited about. My only guess is it's because these early GBC titles were the black-GB cartridge type that were also backwards compatible, so perhaps they were purposefully stripped down games?

I often wonder about the board meeting that Nintendo had when planning the Game Boy Color's launch. And I figure it went something like this:

Well it's been nine long, hard years of research and development but we've finally done it! We've created a new Game Boy with a processor twice as fast as the original, with four times as much RAM, that's able to display 56 colors simultaneously on screen from its palette of 32,768! Which means it can play Centipede, a game that looked dated upon its release 18 years ago with absolutely no problem.

I mean honestly. Why Centipede? Even a port of the original Donkey Kong would have made far more sense after the success of Donkey Kong Country on the SNES. But Centipede just looks really shitty with its tiny nondescript little sprites. I just don't get it.

Game & Watch Gallery 2 is probably the best looking of the GBC launch titles. The bright colors of the modernized Game & Watch titles is really nice. Admittedly, I'm not the hugest fan of the series, so I may not be the best judge of the game. Although I can admit it can be a brief fun time-killer, at the same time most of the six included games just feel like variations of either juggle-this-stuff or dodge-this-stuff; in both instances pressing only left or right is the only requirement. However, as mentioned the cartridge does include six games to pick from, and each of them record high scores so this could keep you interested for a while if you're one of the many big fans of the series.

I actually skipped the GBC launch myself. But if I had a time machine and traveled back in time to the launch and had to choose just one of the four games, it would have been Pocket Bomberman. The Hudson original is a fun little platform-puzzler that takes the classic Bomberman formula and combines it with a side-scrolling quest. The sounds are nothing to write home about, but the graphics are at least passable as an (early)  NES game. As mentioned above, Pocket Bomberman certainly doesn't show off exactly what the new GBC hardware was fully capable of, but having said that it is still a fun and overlooked little title.

Okay so Tetris DX sort of stumps me as a launch title. Most new adapters of the GBC were upgrading from their original Game Boys, which would pretty much mean that they probably already owned Tetris. And if they popped their original Tetris cart into the GBC, it would be in color, right? Well. Yeah. For the most part Tetris DX is unnecessary. It's the same game as the Game Boy original, minus the awesome music. However there is one thing that makes Tetris DX superior: it saves high scores. Of course that's only going to be a selling point to a certain batch of gamers, but for some of us it's enough to make Tetris DX a must-own cartridge.

So now that we've reviewed these four titles, what do you think? Was the launch an indication that Nintendo was already far more focused on the eventual Game Boy Advance? Was GBC always destined to be the awkward middle-child? Or am I just being over-critical?

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I always felt the GBC was kinda late.  It was only on the market for about 3 years before the Advance came out and blew it out of the water.
Game and Watch is very vibrant!

I loved the few GBC games i owned and played before the GBA came out. I even picked up a few after GBA came out. PKMN TCG and Pac-Man Special Color Edition.
oh there's some good GBC games out there. More than a few. But for a batch of launch titles, these were rather underwhelming.
As a longtime Tetris geek, I have to completely disagree with your comment on Tetris DX being 'unnecessary'.  It is FAR more than just a colorized version of the original GB release with score saving.

First, it includes new game variants such as 'Ultra', where a timer challenges the player to make the highest score possible at the chosen level within 3 minutes, and 40 Lines, where the goal is somewhat reversed and the challenge is to get to 40 lines in the fastest time possible.  (I was addicted to this mode for months, and my current best is 1 minute 31 seconds on level 9 high 5.)

The profile system that tracks up to three separate players saves an enormous amount of data beyond high scores, from tracking your ratios of single, double, triple, and tetris', the total amount of lines completed, and even compiles a 'power' stat to compare players. (My ratio for getting a tetris is at 7%.)

The amount of polish in Tetris DX far exceeds the original GB release.  Just play them back to back and you'll likely have a hard time playing the original again.  The tetraminoes are MUCH easier to control; the classic 'stickiness' of the first GB title gives way to fluid movement that allows you to play at faster speeds without feeling like you are fighting against the controls at higher levels, and the soft drop allows a far better window of tetramino movement before a piece locks.  The nifty 'screen savers' that pop up when the game is left on are well done, including a marker-board advertisement for the (then new) Game Boy Color to a simple virtual fish-tank.

The polish even extends to multiplayer, including a bar to the side that shows a quick reference of how high the pieces are in your opponent's well, so you can time your attacks.  And the infrared port of the ol' GBC meant that multiplayer no longer required that cord to connect the two grey bricks that we always forgot to bring.

Most impressive is that the game stores an algorithm of your player profile that adjusts with every game you play, literally creating an AI from your playing.  You can then let other people challenge your computer profile and compete with an artificial you.  You can even play against this AI drone of yourself (this really pushed my playing style.  Try out-smarting yourself in competitive tetris!)

In fact, the only advantage the Game Boy original had over DX is that in the original, the 'high' adjustment placed junk pieces in the well that you had to skillfully play into, where the DX version simply makes the well more shallow instead.  I personally prefer the original's take on it, but it comes down to a play preference.  Then again, I once finished the first GB Tetris Level 9 High 5 with one hand (I was in the hospital for a week with an IV in one hand and a lot of free time) so I'm partial to the older style.)

Many hardcore Tetris fans on the intertubes cite the DX version as the best released before the GrandMaster series came around, and I agree.

But this is coming from a guy who probably put more time into Tetris than addicts to WOW.
I was so pissed when the GBC came out, especially when I saw the colorized Zelda.  Grrr.  Unlike many gamers I was a late adopter, and I ended up getting the GBP sometime in 1997, then the GBC itself in late 1999 (the yellow Pikachu one).

I don't think I've ever written this, but I really like your articles, noiseredux.  While I ended up getting a GB, I never really bought into handheld gaming until the launch of the GBA.  So, pretty much everything you do write ups on is new and fresh to me.  Keep it up!
@slackur: this part: Most impressive is that the game stores an algorithm of your player profile that adjusts with every game you play, literally creating an AI from your playing.  You can then let other people challenge your computer profile and compete with an artificial you.  You can even play against this AI drone of yourself (this really pushed my playing style.  Try out-smarting yourself in competitive tetris!) really seems to have proven me wrong. Obviously my take wasn't deep enough. And thank you for forcing me to re-re-visit this one!

Ah, hope I didn't come across as too much of a stupid fanboy over it.  As a guy who put hundreds of hours into the GB original, and then the DX version, I get a little defensive over DX. Smiley

But hey, anything to get more people to play arguably the best tetris variant in the US (Tetris DS being the only serious competitor in my book, and DX still winning out.)

BTW, kudos to these articles and giving the GB and GBC the love they never get anymore.  TONS of fun on these systems that don't get much love, they sometimes remind me of classic 8-bit systems that hold great, overlooked gems, including sequels to many favorite NES titles. 

As much as you hear about Battletoads, Double Dragon, Ducktales, Bionic Commando, Blaster Master, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, Adventure Island, Kid Icarus, Castlevania, Contra, Kirby, Final Fantasy, Zelda, Metroid, Mario, A Boy and his Blob, Earthworm Jim, Harvest Moon, Metal Gear Solid, Megaten, Monster Rancher, etc., you rarely hear about the ORIGINAL entries to these series exclusive to the GBO/GBC.

Keep up the good work!

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