Over the past couple months I've done a lot of posts surveying various arcade-centric genres of games to play using an arcade stick. In that time I've developed a certain new-found fondness for Shmups. But the truth is the real reason I bought my Hori Fighting Stick in the first place was to play, well... Fighting Games. Now many of you out there probably scoff at the thought of a Game Boy Fighter, but there were actually quite a few commendable ports released.
When the Playstation was first released, it took me forever to save up for one. And one I finally was able to get my hands on the console, I couldn't actually afford to buy any games for a while. Thankfully it at least came with a demo disc that contained a demo for a new game called Battle Arena Toshinden
. And though I never actually played the full game, I rocked that demo for quite some time. The concept of a 3D Fighter was still very new and impressive to me at the time.
The Game Boy port of Battle Arena Toshinden
obviously removes the 3D perspective. But what's most impressive is that Takara was able to strip the game of its selling point, and still make a rather awesome 2D Fighter out of the remaining game. All eight characters are present as well as an exclusive hidden character, Uranus. Takara wisely chose to use a super-deformed approach to the sprites which allows for more screen-space to play with. Perhaps most importantly is the fluidity of the controls. Special moves are pulled off with ease. Battle Arena Toshinden
is an incredibly impressive port that stands on its on as a great portable Fighter.
You have to hand it to Rare for at least trying
to port Killer Instinct
to the Game Boy. However it just didn't fare as well as the conversion that Donkey Kong Country
had made from the SNES to the Game Boy. First off Cinder and and Raptor were cut from the roster. And though the the remaining characters are recognizable, the backgrounds are rather boring. The controls are decent enough, though. So if you're a huge fan of the series then this might be a passable portable version for you. It's also notable that Rare was able to implement a 2-Player capability when using the Super Game Boy. Mortal Kombat
is bad. Really bad. Looking back on it now, the arcade game itself wasn't even really that great of a game. It certainly didn't have the excellent controls of Street Fighter II
. But what it did have was digitized actors and lots of blood. In fact it had enough blood to make us overlook how poor the gameplay actually was.
Sadly the Game Boy port does nothing to detract from how terrible it is. The controls are obviously worse than the console ports due to the button limitations of the Game Boy. In fact most of the special moves are incredibly difficult to even pull off. It's almost astounding that Acclaim even decided to release the game, though at the height of MK-Fever it's understandable why they would have wanted the product out there.
When Mortal Kombat II
was released in 1994, the clear winner to me was the SNES version. This was my chosen version, and got played a hell of a lot whenever a friend would come over the house. However, in all honesty it's a portable version that's remembered almost equally as fondly to me now when thinking back.
Sure the Game Boy port of Mortal Kombat II
is not without its faults. Baraka didn't even make the cut! But at the same time it seems that Acclaim did everything in its power to right the wrongs of the first Game Boy game. Here, the characters don't look like shit; the controls are fluid so that special moves are actually possible to pull of; the frame-rate is suitable; and most impressively each character can do an individual fatality, a level-specific fatality and even a babality! As stripped down as this version is, it's actually quite a lot of fun. Primal Rage
is another example of a developer trying to cram too much into a small cart without understanding how to properly play to the strengths of the Game Boy's hardware. Which is to say that the game looks pretty well -- it does a nice job of attempting to mimic the impressive graphics of its console counterparts. But unfortunately, all the details put into the characters force the game to flicker pretty badly due to the frame-rate of the action. I can't say the game isn't fun, but at the same time the port leaves a lot to be desired and really is more of a curio than lost gem.
Takara's port of Samurai Shodown
is similar to what they did with Battle Arena Toshinden
. Which is a good thing. The character sprites are all super-deformed and excellently detailed. The controls are wonderful and easy to pull off special moves. There's twelve characters to choose from -- an impressive feat given that the Game Boy port of Mortal Kombat
was forced to cut its roster down to six, for instance. This is definitely a game I'd recommend to any Game Boy Fighter fans out there.
The Game Boy port of Street Fighter II
is far from perfect. The frame-rate is choppy, the characters move slow, and you're limited to only nine of the original twelve characters. But at the same time I have to give credit to Capcom for how hard they tried
visually. The character sprites look rather awesome (look at Blanka!) and the backgrounds attempt the same level of detail as the SNES port. Though it's easy to say that this is a pretty lousy port of a 2D Fighter when compared to something like Battle Arena Toshinden
, if you're a huge Street Fighter II
fan like myself, you're going to at least be interested in giving this one a shot.
Now I'd like to think that this post was pretty exhaustive. But of course the Game Boy library is so vast, it's certainly possible that I missed out on some of the absolute best and worst Fighting Games out there. Please let me know via the comment box below!
Hey Noise, I've been reading your blog here for a while and I'm really digging it! I love me some portable action, so I'm always looking for new gameboy games to try out.
One game that you might check out is Power Quest, it's a fairly basic almost Pokemon-esque pseudo RPG where you build and fight with little toy robots. All the fighting however is done as a standard 2D fighter. It's not a hugely deep fighter by any means, but it's an overall very fun game. One of my favorites back in the day, and pretty cheap to pick up nowadays. I definitely recommend giving it a try.
@lokkenjawnz: wow, that's weird you'd recommend that. It was actually in the pile of games I was including in this blog post, but ultimately I decided not to include it just based on the fact that it was the only GBC title and since it had the RPG element.... haha. So yeah, I've played it. I'm not really crazy about it, because I'm not a Pokemon fan, but I do find it interesting and unique. Thanks!
@noiseredux: Yeah I figured you'd have played it already given your penchant for the Gameboy family. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy the hell out of it. And the 16 character save passwords are so fun right?
Mortal Kombat and MKII were both complete shit on Gameboy. The most effective way to fight was to attempt and of the combo/"power moves" a second before your rival got within range because it would finish on screen by the time he got to you.
I have never had the grace of playing a fighting game on Gameboy that did not have a delay between you pushing buttons and the characters reacting.
@Izret101: MKII is a lot more forgiving than I. Or perhaps I'm just a sucker for it out of nostalgia? At any rate, Battle Arena Toshinden and Samurai Shodown are both great examples of how to make a Fighter shine on GB.
Also you didn't mention that Johnny Cage was left out of MK and Johnny Cage, Kung Lao and Raiden were also left out of the second one also
But over all it was a huge improvement over the original MK.
oh yeah, I meant to mention who was left out of each. (Did anyone miss Johnny Cage? Honestly? But I did miss Baraka in II.)
I had that MK and MKII double cart for the GB back in the day. I absolutely hated MK.But they kept Reptile in MKII so I was happy enough with it.
Awesome Blog BTW.
I'm surprised that the makers of Killer Instinct and Samurai Showdown didn't take advantage of the full Game Boy screen. It seems weird to me that they'd choose to make a window within the already tiny window.
@Sirgin: they didn't. Those screen shots are taken from the Super Game Boy on a TV screen, which did add a border to games.
@noiseredux: Ohhh, stupid me. Thanks for reminding me!
You missed out on a huge number of Gameboy fighters.
Off the top of my head -
The King of Fighters series: Skip '95, which suffers from moves having all the impact of two people trying to scratch each other to death, and import '96, which nails the feel of the best fighting games.
Samurai Shodown 3: Cleverly hidden under an unrelated name, this import is one of the largest Gameboy carts ever made. Where did all the extra space go? Well, the graphics are nearly as good as fighting games on the Neo Geo Pocket, there's spoken voice. and full screen artwork throughout. The only downside is the soundtrack - the original Samurai Shodown for Gameboy summoned a wicked 8 bit electric guitar, while this one...it's hard to describe anything this forgettable.
World Heroes Jet: By now, you may have guessed that Takara really knows how to get the most out of their 8 bit ports. This one is one of the least inspired, but still keeps up the polish. You won't be disappointed with a purchase.
Raging Fighter: Now we begin our descent. This one has detailed graphics, like Streetfighter 2, but without the skipping animation that comes from replacing sprites with background tiles. It looks like it should be a 4 star experience, until you realize just how uninspired it all is. Seriously, it's boring. I can't say more than that. It doesn't suck. You've played worse games.
But the entire time you're playing it, you may find yourself wishing you were playing those worse games.
Fist of the North Star ( series ) - then again, maybe not.
This is just me scratching the surface of the fighting games available for the system. If you've enjoyed reading this post, I may write about the others...