Pockets in Technicolor

Posted on Sep 29th 2011 at 09:56:25 PM by (scarper)
Posted under twinbee, shmup, game, boy, konami

Most people tend to think that all shmups are the same, but there are two possible truths: First truth, the simple concept can be conceived by developers in many different ways. It can be treated as an action game, a hair-trigger reflex game, or the complete innovation of the entire genre, like Ikaruga. Galaga and Darius Gaiden are not the same. The genre has such a versatile nature that it can be-

Second truth: I am slowly becoming a shmup snob, and will need a psychiatrist in about a year.

(Released as "Pop'n Twinbee" in Europe, and "Twinbee Da!" in Japan.)

Twinbee is a shmup series created by Konami, with installments released between the 8-bit and 32-bit console generations. Twinbee Da for the Game Boy is a sequel to the original incarnation. The series is very cartooney, enriched with color and cutesy enemies. But this version is monochromatic... Does it bring in the same feel?

Genreal gameplay is quite good, and very similar to Xevious. You shoot enemies in the air with your standard bullets, and bomb ground enemies. Twinbee quite literally throws the bombs with his fists. You obtain power-ups by collecting bells. You shoot the bells to change their pattern, and the power-up you receive is based on whatever pattern it is when you collect it. Enemy ships attack you in formations, and the bullets are shot at you based on your location. There are six total stages, and the first four are selectable from the start menu.

The excitability and cute nature of the game makes it kick all sorts of ass, and poses a worthy title for shmup fans to seek out. The difficulty starts out easy, with enough action on screen to keep you busy. The steady difficulty and varying bullet patterns keep the repetition at zero. Those who've played the home console versions will notice the lack of color, but that does not threaten enjoyability. A fun arcade game to burn time on, and a great challenge for shmup fans, as long as you can get past it's only major flaw:

The broken power-up system. Shooting bells until they turn into what you need can be a restless pain. Some bells are designed to give you certain power-ups, which can be learned and memorized in the beginning part of Stage 1. However, the speed of your ship is an upgradable power-up, and starts out way too slow. You loose your power-ups after dying, unless you collect the "angel" icon with your next life, thus regaining all your previous power-ups. But this is difficult. The bottom line is, if your ship is too slow at the second half of the game, you are then practically unable to navigate through thick hoards of bullets. Otherwise, getting tri-shots and multiple "ghosts" of yourself make you feel like a boss.

Twinbee is a good game for hardcore Game Boy collectors and shmup fans, but in terms of availability, I will redirect you to the Gradius and R-Type series. Twinbee Da! for Game Boy is rare in quantity, but goes for less than $20 whenever the Japanese version is found. There is no language barrier, since all the text (except for the title) is in English.

Posted on Sep 16th 2011 at 10:38:51 PM by (scarper)
Posted under dance, revolution, gb3, konami

That's right kids. Dance Dance Revolution was brought to the Game Boy Color. If that wasn't surprising enough, there are five installments. Five. Including a Disney Mix. They were only released in Japan, and exercise is not required.

Dance Dance Revolution is a rhythm game, in which players hit four buttons (with their feet) in correspondence with the rhythmically arranged arrows on screen. DDR was aimed at being a dancing simulator, but has since become an arcade legend, that one game you're weird friend has for PS2, and even an exercise tool. With the Game Boy Color version, players use a handheld dancepad that hooks onto the Game Boy. Using crazy alien mechanics, it presses down the Game Boy's buttons. It can also be played with just the D-Pad, but you'll need to use the A and B buttons to press two "arrows" at once.

The Game Boy Color is known for having a wonderful 8-bit sound chip, used by almost every chiptune artist. Dance Dance Revolution GB3 takes advantage of this, by making well known DDR songs into thumpy, melodic and pulsating MIDI scores. They actually don't sound terrible. Just think chiptune music, but with DDR!! There was not a single song that I found difficult to listen to whilst playing, except for Pink Dinosaur.

DDR GB3 has 20 songs, all of which are MIDI versions from standard DDR games, including Dream a Dream, Love Again Tonight, and Trip Machine Climax. There are three difficulties, allowing first time players to easily get the "rhythm" of the game. Harder modes give you more arrows and "eighth notes" to deal with, making it get even more fun.

Being a huge DDR fan myself, I had low expectations for DDR GB3. But this is loads of fun. I'm serious. It becomes surprisingly addicting, and fun to beat your own high scores, play higher difficulties, and show off to your friends that you have DDR on the f***ing Game Boy. A great arcade game to bring on the go and have simple mindless fun. I suggest it to fans of the series, and anyone interested in rhythm games. DDR GB3 seems to be the best installment of the Game Boy Color iterations, as it has the most songs, and appears to the most abundant on the market.

As far as affordability is concerned, I have no idea if this is rare. I only see about 3-4 copies of any DDR GB game on Ebay at a time, but they usually sell for $20, most of the time bundled with the Dance Pad attachment. I got mine for $16 with the box and dance pad. My guess is that the DDR GB series was popular in Japan, but Japanese sellers probably don't think any American would want it (except for me... ^_^)

Posted on Aug 25th 2011 at 11:06:02 PM by (scarper)
Posted under wave, race, game, boy

RC Pro Am on water, Wave Race became the defining title of water based racing games.


Wave Race has this frantic arcade-racer feel about it. It successfully feels like racing on water, requiring curve approaches to be different than in standard racers. Some parts of tracks have currents going in a specific direction, along with rocks to bump across and ramps to strategically manipulate. Your jet-ski has a turbo meter that charges up when not in use. This can be used to pull ahead of the pack, speed along straightaways, jump longer distances, curve out of tight turns, and make up for mistakes.

Three modes of gameplay are offered, each with three engine classes/difficulties: Circuit Mode, where you race against three other jet-skis around a series of tracks. More tracks and laps are added as you advance engine classes. Slalom Mode, where the objective is to go through more gates than everyone else. This can get really fun once you start planning track specific strategies. Circuit Mode has eight tracks in total, and Slalom Mode has eight courses. (The Slalom Courses almost remind me of battle arenas in Mario Kart.) The last mode is Practice, which can be used to plan routes and memorize tracks without the stress of other racers. It can also be used as a Time Trial mode, since records made in Practice are recorded on the scoreboard.

What I really like is how there's never one single way to approach a track. Most racing games require specific maneuvers at certain parts, but Wave Race allows a sense of freedom in the way you race. You get to do it your own way. The tracks themselves are designed extremely well, featuring more obstacles and complicated turn patterns as you progress. The game engine is likewise excellent, showing off clever water physics that force you to do more thinking than a standard racer. I normally use Practice Mode to memorize tracks, plan a route, and then kick everyone's asses in one player mode afterward.

You'll be spending quite a bit of addicted time with Wave Race. Most of the tracks in both modes will require route planning and memorization in order to completely dominate the final engine class. And if you can find a friend with a copy, play each other for victory and maybe compare track times to see who tops out. Wave Race supports up to 4 simultaneous Game Boy's in multiplayer, as long as everyone has a copy.

Nintendo later made an excellent 3D sequel on the Nintendo 64. Wave Race 64 drove the inspiration for future water racers like Jet Moto, Hydro Thunder, and Aqua GT. If Wave Race was never around to prove the possibility of water racers, these games would probably not have been made.

Wave Race is a great game for pretty much anyone. Even those who don't like racers will get the hang of this pretty quickly, only to find your ass getting kicked by the later engine classes, and then kick their asses back after some Practice Mode. It is very affordable, with copies today selling for one dollar.

Posted on Aug 21st 2011 at 10:48:22 PM by (scarper)
Posted under fatal, fury, game, boy, takara

It's Fatal Fury, the moon gravity edition!! Unfortunately, this does not mean Mai's boobs move on their own.

The home console version of Fatal Fury 2 is greatly inferior to the "Mark of the Wolves" installment. Strangely enough, the Game Boy houses the same type of situation. Fans of the series should definitely get Real Bout Fatal Fury Special for Game Boy instead of this. I'll explain why later.

Overall, Fatal Fury 2 is designed well, but two major factors prevent this from being a good game. Players move extremely slow. The controls feel like they work, but the lack of speed makes it feel very poor. This results in unfair COM battles which brings us to the next issue.

Problem number two is bad AI. The way Takara prevented button mashing was by making the AI block almost all the time. Literally, about three fourths of the moves I ever made in this game were blocked. This allows the player to plan out how their specific moves and combos can be utilized and timed correctly, but the restraining slowness makes it all get repetitive real quick.

As with most GB fighters, Fatal Fury 2 features chibi-like character sprites. Moves and combos have been transferred from the original, making combos like the power wave just as accessible as before. Once you get the hang of things (and not button-mash) Fatal Fury 2 can be semi-pleasant to play. Arcade style fighting games are supposed to be easy to get the hang of and hard to master, but this is not easy to get the hang of at all.

Fans of Fatal Fury should forget about this game entirely and find Real Bout Fatal Fury Special instead (I'm gonna review that sometime soonish.) That installment shows dramatic improvement from what this game did wrong. As far as this version is concerned, I see absolutely no reason why anyone would want to play it.

Posted on Aug 14th 2011 at 02:00:35 AM by (scarper)
Posted under resident, evil, gaiden, game, boy, color, capcom

One would think that a portable top-down Resident Evil would be easy to make into an awesome game. In many ways, the first few RE's already feel like top-down shooters. RE Gaiden is very close to being awesome, but Capcom tried way too hard.

It takes place inside a zombie infested cruise ship, accidentally caused by none other than the Umbrella Pharmaceuticals. At first glance, Gaiden looks like a top-down shooter with zombies. Awesome, right guys? Guys?...

To kill a zombie, you hold down B to move the crosshairs over the enemy and engage in battle mode. You are then taken to a first person perspective, shooting the enemy Mario Golf style. The red box in the center line moves back and forth, with its speed depending on what type of weapon you are using. This is partially where Gaiden falls flat on its face for two reasons: You can only run away by killing the enemy, or by forcibly taking damage. If a zombie approaches you, you are then forced into battle mode regardless of the ammo you will keep running out of. It's a fun twist at first, but when your trying to get to the other side of the ship, it gets annoying real quick. Once out of ammo, you are forced to use the weak combat knife.

Aside from this, RE Gaiden plays and feels like a traditional Resident Evil game. To make things more simple, I will break down the rest of the review into two categories:

:::Good for Survival Horror Fans:::

The first part of the game is spent exploring the cruise ship, and hoarding off zombies along the way. As plot develops, most of the ship becomes already explored making you find ways to get into other places, usually with keys. Often times, you will find yourself in a frustrating situation because you either ran out of ammo AGAIN, or cannot find the item you need to access your current destination. This can be solved by exploring areas hinted by cutscene dialogue, or by finding a map on the internet IRL.

There's plenty of gameplay to be had, with the average gamer spending about 20 hours before beating. In many ways, it does feel like the classic RE titles, but too often does it drift off into a zombie filled match of Blues Clues. Example: Plot development says I need to get into this room, but its locked. I have already went inside every current unlocked door on the entire ship, and am out of keys/items used to unlock other doors. So now I need to rummage through the entire ship starting from the general vicinity in order to make progress, all whilst avoiding zombies, and not finding sufficient amounts of ammo. Ammo conservation has always been a factor in Resident Evil, but Gaiden took that a bit too far. Which brings us to the next section:

:::Bad for People Who Want to Shoot Zombies:::

Why you may ask? Because most of the time, you won't have enough ammo to shoot them with. And despite the large amount of zombies, 80% of the game progression lies in exploration and gaining access to certain rooms. You do pick up kickass weapons along the way, like shotguns, grenades, and a rocket launcher, but only so much ammo is available to collect. And once you've used ammo, it does not reappear. But you know what DOES reappear? The zombies!!! This has been the primary roots my frustration with Resident Evil Gaiden.

Final thoughts: I still think RE Gaiden is a good Survival Horror game, but it needs some work in order to be one of the Game Boy's best. Fans of the series and genre will probably like it, if they can get past its flaws (and yes, the dialogue is still hilariously cheesy.) I personally think this game kicks ass a portable gem, but don't expect it to be perfect. Nowadays, you will find more enjoyable Game Boy titles at much cheaper prices, but others might be okay with having to spend at least $20. It's not a common cartridge, but hey, at least its not as rare as Shantae!! ^_^

Posted on Aug 12th 2011 at 08:10:48 PM by (scarper)
Posted under wario, land, game, boy

Few successful games let you play as the villain, and care for nobody but yourself. No princess to rescue, no world to save. Your only goal is to find treasure, and ransom the gold statue of Princess Toadstool for money. Yes. This is Wario Land.

Wario Land takes a snide twist from the standard Mario formula. You still get Nintendo's wonderful platforming, but you also get this neat sense of exploration. It's rich with secret areas, and secret worlds, encouraging you to increase your treasure hoard to its full potential. After beating the game, the level map tells you where the remaining treasure is hidden which gives you a nice clear path for 100% completion. With 40 brilliant levels to explore, you get quite a large amount of gameplay.

In his standard form, Wario can perform a dash attack, allowing you to break blocks and destroy anything that gets in the way of his shiny things. You can also obtain three other temporary power-up hats which dissapear after taking damage. They include an increased dash, jet engines, and a flamethrower hat. These can be used to go places otherwise unattainable, get more coins, discover more treasure, and make Wario happier. There really is no stress in this game at all.

This game is the Anti-Mario. You'll even hear some of the original Mario tunes as if it were remixed by a stoner. The general concept of Wario Land, allowing you to perfectly portray the role of an anti-hero, is complete genius on Nintendo's part. Being a legendary game which helped give the Game Boy its extraordinary appeal, Wario Land is one of the best platformers released on the console.

I highly suggest this game to anyone who owns a Game Boy at all. It's quite affordable, especially for the amount of game you get. Nowadays, bare copies will cost you a little under $10.

Posted on Aug 10th 2011 at 03:21:59 AM by (scarper)
Posted under felix, baby, felix, halloween, game, boy

The moment I saw that there was a half decent action/platformer featuring adorable cartoon cats, I pounced on the opportunity as quickly as possible.

Baby Felix, the 2000 spin-off of Don Oriolo's Felix the Cat, was a cartoon series that aired exclusively in Japan. Baby Felix Halloween for GBC was released at around the same time, but as a Europe exclusive, and has seen almost no reviews or any remote amount of attention at all (probably due to the fact that nobody in Europe knew what Baby Felix was.)

And that's a damn shame too, because I quite enjoyed this title. Anyone who's a ham for 2-D action/platforming would love to play this.

The gameplay feels a lot like the Castlevania games for Game Boy. There are 5 levels, each featuring considerable length, enemies, and fun challenging end bosses. You have two playable characters with the exact same attacks: A melee attack (a hat or a wand) and a ranged attack (slingshot or magic-balls.) Gender bend, do what you will, they're both the same. Controls are simple and easy to use, offering this unique parkour-like feel when playing.

I would also like to applaud the amazing background music written for this game. The Game Boy had a fantastic sound board, and Baby Felix is a prime example of how great it can be: (turn down your volume before playing this video.)

By no means is this one of the Game Boy's best, but it is great for 2-D action fans (I can guarantee, you'd be the only person you know who would ever own a copy.) The visuals get repetitive, but the structure of the gameplay always stay fresh and enjoyable. There's even a small shmup sequence in the space themed level.

There are three difficulty levels, although I would recommend most avid gamers to play on Hard. This makes the enemies take more hits, slight change in the level structure, and the bosses nice and challenging. Playing this on Hard really made it feel like Castlevania, but with cats!! ^_^

Baby Felix Halloween has lots of excellent things going for it. I recommend it to fans of the genre, but only if you love 2-D sidescrollers. If you're just getting started with the Game Boy, then I will point you in the direction of Donkey Kong '96 and Wario Land, along with the slew of other nice sidescrollers. It is rare by definition, but affordable when sold without a box.

I would normally show you people a good gameplay video, but due to the un-popularity of the title, the only two I could find had people talking in the background. Watch at own ears risk.

Thanks for reading guys!! Look forward to Game Boy reviews of Resident Evil Gaiden, and Dance Dance Revolution. I shall continue to find more obscure GB gems, and give them the justice they deserve.

Posted on Aug 2nd 2011 at 12:48:00 AM by (scarper)
Posted under rayman, game boy, color, ubisoft

This really does stay true to its original. After Ubisoft gave Rayman a 3-D sequel, they decided that the coupe de grace of side-scrolling platformers (it's been re-released for 15 years now) had earned itself a second go:

What we have here is a revamp of one of the most iconic platformers of all time. Rayman mocks the concept of its predecessor while giving players all new ground to cover. After beating the game, I can safely say that this Game Boy Color exclusive is just as brilliant, challenging, and fun as its brethren. You might as well call this a sequel to the 2-D masterpiece, since it takes a lot from the original, but gives brand new levels. Once again, Ubisoft has taken everything great about platforming, added some of their own spices, and created quite a tasty quadrito(1).



Now that's definitely a visual masterpiece. I don't remember a 2-D anything on the PS1 looking that good (even some of the newer 2-D games can't compete.) Rayman on the GBC is more lush in color than most games on the console, giving it that same sense of visual dominance. They both have perfect controls, which are simple and easy to use. Add complex level designs, and you've got yourself a fine gem. Less is more.

HOME TO POCKET Verdict: It's the same game, but with different levels, 8-bits, and no boss fights. Wait... NO BOSS FIGHTS!?!?!

Well, there technically is one kickass final boss, but all that does is make you wonder why Ubisoft cut such a huge corner. The original had loads of boss fights, and they were all awesome!! But why not here? Was Ubisoft in a hurry?

But that was not a hindrance to my experience. The challenging gameplay is more than enough to keep you busy. After you beat the game, you have the option of going back and rescuing all the Toons for 100% completion. Then you unlock a new set of levels, along with a Time Trial Mode. Time Trial mode? That's as much replayability as a racing game!!

Here's a couple quick examples of how variety-tastic this game can be:

(Not my videos.)

If there's one thing that needs credit all, then it's the brilliantly clever level designs. That giant grape can be used to bounce down a spiky hill, or get stuck on an enemies head and be used as a moving platform. If there was an item or a type of obstacle, it was milked for every possible situation that could have ever been thought of, without copying the same situation twice or harming the exotic variety. True genius.

Final Thoughts:
I'm impressed that they were able to keep track of all your data with a 10 character password system, because there was a lot of game to be offered. I may have beaten it, but I still plan on taking it off the shelf sometime, and beat me some Time Trial records.

Don't let the lack of bosses turn you away. If you're a fan of platformers at all, then I highly recommend Rayman. Its not commonly played, but its very affordable. I scored my copy for only 2$ plus shipping. You owe it to yourself to sacrifice a Starbucks beverage for hours of colorful platforming.

(1) Quadrito: Take one burrito, wrap a burrito around it, place both inside of a third burrito, and finish it off with an all encompassing fourth burrito.

Posted on Jul 28th 2011 at 06:29:50 AM by (scarper)
Posted under gameboy, donkey, kong, land, super, nintendo, country

At the beginning years of the Gameboy's reign, we'd see semi-ports of NES games like Megaman, Mario and Gradius, but Donkey Kong Land was the first to take a stab at the Super Nintendo.

Being released one year after their SNES equivalents, the Donkey Kong Land series seemed to successfully capture the lush visuals and easy flow of Donkey Kong Country. The plot, controls, and even the environmental setup were almost identical with each other, but the designs of the levels themselves were completely different.

Interestingly enough, I played Donkey Kong Country 2 for the SNES a few months before playing this. Sounds like the perfect time fooor:

:::Home to Pocket Comparison!!

In the SNES version, sprites and backgrounds are very flush in color, giving an almost 3D feel during gameplay. The shape and animation quality of the sprites separate themselves from the traditional SNES sprite. On the Gameboy edition, sprites are monochrome, but the shading gives a nice touch. The shapes and animations give a similar flow, separating themselves from the average pixel-tastic Gameboy games. Controls feel very spot on, allowing a wonderful sense of flow during gameplay. They both give an extremely similar look and feel when played on their respective consoles.

Final "Home to Pocket" verdict? Take Donkey Kong Country 2, condense it, rid it of color, and completely shift all level designs into something brand new, and you have Donkey Kong Land 2.

Gameplay is kept very similar to DK Country. You complete a series of 5+ levels before fighting a boss. Environments range from the traditional platform jumper, to underwater levels, and even wall jumping at special points. Within the levels are various banana coins (used to save your game) 1-2 Kremlin Coins and one DK Coin: Collect all 48 Kremlin Coins to unlock a secret world where you face a handful of challenging levels before defeating K. Rool for the second and final time. Kremlin Coins are located in hidden bonus rounds while DK Coins (which reward you with nothing but 100% completion) are hidden in the level. Minus the secret world, there are 5 other worlds, totaling in about 30+ levels.

Much like every DK Country title, this game is hard. Hard, but completely fair. If you die after jumping off a rope above two moving giant wasps and run into the jumping Kremlin that you timed incorrectly, it is YOUR fault. The controls are spot on, and I couldn't repeat that enough. I would recommend avoiding this on the original's blurry green screen, since sprites will get confused with the background.

In some levels, you are given an alternate character used to play through the majority of the level, and they are a tougher than testicles Rhino, a Snake with lemur genes, an impact web shooting/platform making Spider, a pecan shooting Parrot, and a Swordfish. One minor disappointment is that you need to spend two Banana Coins whenever you want to save a game. Which, doesn't get all too ridiculous once you figure out how to spam exiting levels.

This game is incredibly fun to play and complete. Extremely rewarding once the secret world is unlocked and beaten. It looks and plays just like its Super Nintendo version, giving you all new grounds to cover, and still feeling very familiar to the previous home console installment. You are playing a SNES game on the monochromatic Gameboy. It is that awesome.

This is scarper's Blog.
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I really love Game Boys, but more so the simplicity of owning a Game Boy Color. Although its not immediately noticeable, the GB/GBC has a LOT of fantastic portable versions of just about every franchise at the time it was commercially available. And most of the time, they had different content than their home console predecessors. Dare I mention the amazing exclusive games. The general experience of owning a Game Boy has yet to be re-created by anyone, including Nintendo.

The goal of this blog is to give those forgotten yet fantastic Game Boy games the credit they truly deserve, and to show people how amazing and genuinely fun it is to own an original Game Boy. Colors included.

I am an avid retro gamer, and used to collect for a lot of systems, but now that I plan on attending college and whatnot, money and time have become an importantish thing. So now I collect nothing but Game Boy games. I'm a film maker, and also show considerable interest in broadcast journalism (My YouTube channel reviewing GB games will happen shortly.) I am a senior high school, and plan on studying film in college. Although Game Boy Advance reviews are not contained in this blog, I do love the GBA to death. It was my childhood console, and a treasured one at that.

Here's mah Backloggery page:
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