Welcome to a special co-production of the Transitions Blog and Game Boy Player Land. We teamed up to investigate the launch of the Game Boy Advance, a system which was released ten years ago this week in North America and went on to sell over 80 million units worldwide over the next decade.
Continue reading on dsheinem's blog: http://www.rfgeneration.c...y-Advance-Launch-1772.php
Last month The Legend Of Zelda turned 25. And because of this every single retro-gaming related website ran a bunch of features related to the series. So I figured I'd wait for the celebration to die down and then get into it here. Or rather, I just got sidetracked and forgot to get around to it until now. Whatever. But the series is certainly important to me. And as such it's important to this blog. Seeing as how the blog started as a way to showcase lesser known Game Boy carts, it should be noted that my purchase of the Nintendo Game Boy Player attachment for the GameCube was based almost solely on the fact that doing so would suddenly mean that there were a pile of Zelda games that I could play on my TV. So let's take a look at all those Zelda games that found their way to a Game Boy handheld.
The Legend Of Zelda was re-released as part of the Game Boy Advance's Classic NES series. That choice was certainly a no-brainer. The game is of course not only a high-point of the NES, but of gaming in general. It basically created an entire genre that meshed action with elements of role playing. The GBA port is excellent and cheap-n-easy to find on the after market. All GBA enthusiasts should have this one.
Surprisingly the sequel Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link also made it to the Classic NES line. Strange considering the phrase "black sheep" being almost synonymous with the game. Though for all the flack it receives, I'm a longtime fan of this one. The truth is, Adventure Of Link was actually my first Zelda game. I got it for my birthday soon after its release. At the time the first game was impossible to find in local toy stores, so this was my introduction to the series. Say what you will about it. There's a very unique and daring quest within. The GBA port is wonderfully faithful to the original, and considering it's probably the cheapest GB-related Zelda game to find in the wild, it's worth giving it a go even if you don't remember loving it the first time.
A Link To The Past is my favorite game ever. So I'm totally biased when I say that everybody should own this game either in its original SNES form, or here on the GBA. It looks fantastic on a GBA SP screen, although suffers slightly from a few oddly annoying voice samples that were added to the re-release. They aren't nearly as overdone as in the GBA port of Super Mario Bros. 2 though.
The GBA re-release is also notable for including a bonus game, the brand new Four Swords which would be the first multi-player Zelda game. It recycled sprites from Link To The Past which was welcome artistically, but it was also somewhat of a burden to play. Sadly unlike its GameCube sequel, there's no single-player campaign on the GBA game. This means that some of us (me) who don't have local gamer friends with their own GBA's and copies of the game never got the chance to delve in to this one.
Link's Awakening was released for the Game Boy in 1993, and was a total revelation. Although the GB's hardware was lesser than that of the NES, the graphics, gameplay and story of this one actually aligned with the SNES' Link To The Past. Playing the game on Game Boy hardware back then was stunning to say the least, as nobody realized that the handheld was capable of such things. Even to this day the title remains a cult-classic in the Zelda series, often considered the standard by which to judge all portable outings.
Link's Awakening received a Game Boy Color re-release in 1998 which adds to the game by giving it vibrant colors, an extra dungeon and even compatibility with the Game Boy Camera.
Perhaps the two most overlooked titles in the official Zelda cannon, Oracle Of Ages and Oracle Of Seasons are the definition of ambition. What began as an attempt to port the original Legend Of Zelda to the NES somehow turned into an original game, then three games, and eventually scaled down to two games. The misconception among gamers seems to be that these are two takes on the same game -- like Pokemon Red and Blue. But that's not the case at all. The two Oracle games are completely different and original quests. One relies heavily on puzzles, the other on action. One toys with time, the other with nature. But each of them are remarkable little gems that should get a bit more attention than they do.
Minish Cap would be the final Zelda game to come out on a GB handheld, and it's a solid affair. Admittedly it's the one that I've spent the least amount of time with as I personally got slightly bored with the shrinking and growing gimmick. However, I can certainly say that it's artistically great, borrowing heavily from A Link To The Past's art style and features some jaw-dropping visuals on the GBA. Fans of the heavy-puzzle side of the series will enjoy this one quite a bit, though the game's biggest criticism tends to be its brevity.
So there we have it -- the GB side of Zelda. What are your favorites and why?
Hooray for indie developers! Not only do they sink hours of their time into a game that possibly nobody will ever play, but they do it with such unselfish motivations. I certainly assume that Nathan Tolbert, the man behind the GBA title Anguna: Warriors Of Virtue spent so much time on his game not to be rich and famous, but instead to pay homage to games that meant a lot to him -- namely the Legend Of Zelda series obviously. And that's commendable. So many of us talk crap about weak games. We talk about what we would have done had we been the ones making the game. But how many of us actually sit down and spend the time to code a new GBA game. Well, not me. That's for sure. So I salute the Nathan Tolbert's of the world because they are the ones who now have the power to keep our dead consoles alive. You see, Anguna was released in 2008, the year after Nintendo themselves killed the Game Boy Advance.
Anguna is a very impressive independent release. It certainly looks far more professional than many homebrew games. And there's an incredible amount of detail included. Obviously the graphics are well-done as evident by the screens pictured. But what's really great is all the extras -- there are numerous secondary weapons to pick up, maps to find, a fully working save-feature, and even a catalog of the monsters you've come in contact with. Furthermore the game features five full dungeons to complete. This is really a deep Adventure RPG considering it was a labor of love that was worked on in free time. I'm certainly not saying it's as sprawling as a Zelda game, but it's easily the most vast GBA homebrew game I'm ever seen.
What's even greater about the game is the amount of post-release love the developer has devoted to it. There is a wonderful website kept at http://www.tolberts.net/anguna/ that hosts downloads of the game in both GBA and DS format, intakes bug reports, and even offers up maps and FAQs should you happen to get stumped.
If you're a Game Boy Advance collector you may want to order a physical copy of the cart as well while they're still available. Of course you could have the ROM for free, but a cart version not only makes a nice collectible, but it shows a bit of support for a hard-working indie developer. And I for one want to encourage game designers to continue to make new GBA releases. Speaking of which, I asked Nathan if he had any plans to make an Anguna sequel, and he basically said that he had been planning one for a while but couldn't find an artist. He's currently working on porting Anguna to some other consoles, but doesn't rule out another GBA release in the next few years. So head on over to http://www.tolberts.net/anguna/ and check out Anguna for yourself, and if you really enjoy it why not encourage Nathan to continue to help keep the GBA alive?
July's game for the Together Retro game club at http://www.racketboy.com was the Sega classic Outrun which I revisited with glee. Outrun is one of the games I remember always wasting a few quarters on back in the early 90's arcade at my local mall. It's a game of great simplicity -- drive a cool car as fast as you can, or lose. But even looking at the (dated?) game now, it's easy to see the appeal that it would have had on a pre-teen version of myself. Remember, the arcade version put you literally behind the wheel of a Ferrari and let you gun it toward the beach with a blonde in the passenger's seat. Any avid follower of Saved By The Bell and its ilk would have been drawn in.
The GBA port of Outrun is excellent in my humble opinion. It has a very 16-bit feel to it that holds up quite well to how my brain remembers the arcade original. The music, which you cannot forget to mention while discussing Outrun is just as great as ever. In fact, I'm now on the hunt for the soundtrack recording by the SST Band, as Outrun is often mentioned in discussions of best-soundtracks-of-all time. And rightly so. The GBA controls are responsive and satisfactory as far as I'm concerned.
Speaking of which, when I first started playing the game this past month I decided I would do so using a GameCube racing wheel in an attempt to recapture the feel of the arcade. The wheel I chose was this one, made by Intec. It's a nice smaller sized wheel that doesn't take up a ton of space if you don't have a huge game room. It features lots of buttons on both the left and right side, making it ideal for both lefties and righties -- or for switching between control schemes on the fly while making some crazy turns. Also, its built in suction cups cause it to firmly plant itself on my Ikea desk and integrate itself quite seamlessly with my Game Boy Player set up.
Unfortunately as fun as bringing the arcade home was, it turns out that I just could not beat the damn game with the wheel. So eventually I resorted back to my trusty Hori pad. The thing about Outrun is that it's not a terribly long game by any means. I beat it at least three or four times throughout the month in fact (see high-score picture below right for proof!). But what's nice is the choose-your-own-route dynamic of the courses. When you get to the old Robert Frost-style forks, you decide which way to go. I didn't end up beating every combination of courses myself, as I really couldn't keep track of which ones I had done.
I'm not sure if a score of 25359300 is actually any good, but it was my (recorded) high score of the month. I can't say I really even mastered the game as the truth is I never even figured out when it would be advantageous to hit the brake. Really my only strategy was to put it in high gear as often as I could take it, and to just ease off the gas whenever I had to take a sharp turn or make a daring pass. Somehow this worked out for me. At any rate, I can definitely say I had a lot of fun with this game, and it's certainly one of my favorite arcade racers of all time.
For the first time of the Summer this year, my wife and I hit the beach this past weekend. We brought drinks and a nice lunch. The water still seemed a bit too chilly for swimming, but it certainly felt nice just laying under the sun. My wife is an avid reader, so she brought a book to pass the time. Surprise! Surprise! -- I brought my Game Boy Advance.
Now the art of selecting a beach game is tricky. As far as I'm concerned I usually need something that isn't too graphically intensive. Remember, you're sitting under a bright sun, so there's considerable glare no matter how you position yourself. Anything that has lots of detail is going to be a burden. Also, I a pause-button or turn-based game is a must. You have to be able to stop at any moment when you're at the beach because of the aforementioned glare, or well... just because this is relaxing time. Not intense time.
My beach game of last Summer was Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. It worked well because each round generally doesn't last that long, you can pause at any time, and although it is a puzzler, it relies more on strategy than on agility. Also, there isn't an overwhelming amount of detail -- really just primary colors.
This year I decided on an RPG. It seemed like since I'd just be laying on the sand, I wouldn't mind taking the extra time to read the text and get into a story. Similarly, the battles would be turn-based, so I wouldn't have to rush anything. So now I'm three hours into DemiKids: Light Version and absolutely loving it.
DemKids is a spin-off of the popular Shin Megami Tensei series of games which also includes the cult-classic Persona series. The DemiKids games are certainly influenced by other games, but the result is nothing short of awesome. The game follows a group of elementary school children on a quest that overlaps both the year 20xx and another dimension ruled by demons. The current-day kid vibe seems to be reminiscent of the Mother series. And although I'm not a big Pokemon fan personally, the gimmick of recruiting a party of demons to do your battling for you is intriguing and not overly annoying in a gotta-catch-em-all sort of way either.
I know it's still early in the game, but so far I'm having a great time. A lot of times I won't bother starting an RPG because I feel like I don't have the time to commit to perpetuating the storyline, so I'll eventually lose interest. Of course having it as a beach game just might help.
What are your beach games? What criteria would you use to describe a beach game? Or do you just think I'm nuts for bringing a Game Boy so close to sand and ocean?
Since I've been keeping the Game Boy Player Land blog, I've gotten a fair share of messages sent to me with various Game Boy related questions and comments. I love this sort of thing. People might send me a heads up on a rare cart popping up on eBay at a good price, or let me know about a title I've never heard of that I might like. Other times I get questions about various accessories, or technical specs, or similar subjects related to the Game Boy line. However the other day I got a really interesting message that got me thinking that I should share some information here for everybody who may have similar questions.
Here's a quote:
...something I need your help with.
I was very excited to find this at Gamestop and not so excited when I got home. Final Fantasy VI Advance. It has a completely different label on it. I thought it looked weird, but I didn't know what it was supposed to look like. If you study the case hard enough you can notice very small differences. It looks like a professional reprint or whatever you want to call it. The chip inside looks different than I've seen before, but I'm no expert on GBA games. I've only opened a few. It does have Nintendo printed on the chip. Anyway I've included photos. Mainly curious to see if the chip is legit. I'll probably return it either way. Let me know what your input is on it. Thanks a ton!
I no longer have my GBA, so I'll have to wait until I get my Gamecube hooked up before I can test it.
Thanks for the help! Take care!
Dale was also thoughtful enough to take some very good pictures of his Final Fantasy Advance VI cart for my inspection, which he was nice enough to give me permission to use in this post:
Now right away the label on the cartridge gave me cause for alarm. Every single copy of every installment of the Final Fantasy Advance series that I've ever happened upon has been the same plain-Jane black-text-on-white label. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that this is a bootleg cartridge. Of course there exists limited edition releases, promotional copies, imports, etc. I'm certainly not going to pretend that I've seen every GBA cart in existence.
But that brought me to my first real red flag. I've gotten many messages in the past where people have shown me a picture of a GBA cart label that has Japanese text on it and asked if I could figure out what game it might be. And that's always a breeze. You see every cart has an AGB number on it. The AGB number is like a game's specific catalog number which can very easily be Googled. It's as easy as that.
Example, when I type AGB-AKWE-USA-1 into Google, the first thing that pops up is Konami Krazy Racers. Similarly, when I typed in AGB-ALLE-USA and expected to get Lunar Legend for my example, instead I learned that my copy of Lunar Legend is a bootleg that had fooled me until now.
Which brings me to my next item to look for. Once I realized that the AGB number on my Lunar Legend cart brought up nothing, I flipped the cart over and looked at the chip board under a bright light. Sure enough, the little green board did not say Nintendo. Generally this is a quick and easy test. However, this isn't always the case. Check out that picture above that Dale took of his Final Fantasy VI chip board. You can see that it actually does say Nintendo. And right next to it is an AGB number, which by the way was how I figured out for sure that his cart was a bootleg. Googling AGB-E06-02 brought up a Yahoo! Answers thread about a copy of Pokemon Emerald bought off eBay that -- sure enough -- turned out to be a bootleg.
And what was the telltale sign for our Yahoo! Answers Pokemon Emerald victim? The damn game won't save! That's a very common problem with GBA bootlegs. And in my opinion, it's the biggest problem with them. There's many collectors out there who feel ripped off because they're not getting the official Nintendo-approved product. To be honest, that's not my issue. Sure I enjoy finding a complete-in-box game, but it's not necessary. I have many cart-only games as I'm generally pretty cheap and I'll take what I can get. But if a game won't save, that makes me furious. Especially if it won't save because it's a fake. I should point out that my (apparently bootleg) copy of Lunar Legend saves just fine. Perhaps some bootlegs are of higher quality than others? But who knows how long it'll keep its saves for.
If you're a collector and feel concerned that a game you're after on eBay or at the local flea market might be a bootleg here's a few tips and pointers to help you get better at spotting phony carts in the wild.
First, a few pictures taken from Nintendo's own website on Anti-Piracy, found at http://ap.nintendo.com/de...hotos/gameboy_advance.jsp:
Notice the poor quality of the labels, especially in the case of Super Mario World. This is similar to the weird "fiery" version of Dale's Final Fantasy Advance VI above. But of course, this -- like all of the signs -- are not always present. Such as the case with my Lunar Legend. The label on that cart was very convincing.
Another helpful guide is found on eBay itself, since so many bootlegs carts seem to get distributed there, either knowingly or unknowingly. The full text can be found at http://reviews.ebay.com/B...0QQugidZ10000000000991496 and much like the Nintendo guide, it offers up similar pictures to compare.
Perhaps you noticed that both the Nintendo guide and the eBay guide both used Golden Sun as an example? That brings us to another valid point. Generally, the more popular the game, the more likely it is that it would get bootlegged. That is to say that there are far more Zelda bootlegs floating around out there than there are Urban Yeti fakes. So keep that in mind when you're out hunting for the classics.
Using the info that I've posted here, as well as the linked articles you should get a lot better at spotting fakes. But you'll also figure out that it's not always quick and easy to notice them. Many boot-jobs are rather well done, and can fool you until you really take the time to inspect it. Case-in-point, my Lunar Legend bootleg that revealed itself to me while writing this very post.
Oh, and if you're wondering how our friend Dale made out with his Final Fantasy VI bootleg that he unwittingly purchased, he sent me this update message just as I was finishing up this post:
Well I took the FFVI game back. I took it to a GS I've never been to before. I went there cause I had to pick up MGS: Twin Snakes. Anyway the people there were really cool about it. They were like "that is definitely a bootleg". They said it was a shame since it was such a good game. I was happy they didn't hassle me about it though.
Also... I think this copy is a little better than the other one.
To celebrate the launch of the Game Boy Advance in 2001, Nintendo Power magazine decided to start a series of quarterly special editions known as Nintendo Power Advance. These quarterlies were significantly more expensive ($14.99) than the monthly magazine, and as you might have guessed -- focused solely on the Game Boy Advance. Sadly for we GBA enthusiasts only four volumes were ultimately released. And though certainly the reviews may have been a bit biased, each issue is actually a really awesome little time capsule of the year that was the GBA's first.
Generally speaking, each issue would feature in-depth walkthroughs and strategy guides for a handful of major releases. Then they would have a "buyer's guide" that would give half-page previews of upcoming titles. Sprinkled throughout would be various GBA-related news, advertisements, tricks & tips. So let us take a journey through the magazines' short lifespan.
Volume 1 (aka: the Premier Issue) (130 pages) was intended to announce the arrival of the Game Boy Advance system. Accordingly, the issue opens with an article entitled Introducing Game Boy Advance which offers an "actual size" picture of the new handheld, along with a breakdown of its specs, features and various accessories that were already available.
The featured games in this issue were:
Super Mario Advance
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon
The Buyer's Guide features:
Super Dodge Ball Advance
Pinobee: Wings Of Adventure
GT Advance Championship Racing
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
Tweety And The Magic Gems
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Fire Pro Wrestling
Top Gear GT Championship
Army Men Advance
Konami Krazy Racers
Volume 2's (130 pages) cover featured Mario Kart: Super Circuit. It also came with a subscription card that offered "Your Choice Free!" of either a Mario Kart: Super Circuit T-shirt, a pair of Nintendo Power Advance headphones or a Pokemon Crystal Version Player's Guide. (Note: If anyone has those headphones, I'd like them for myself.) This issue is of particular interest to me due to the inclusion of a full moves list for the entire roster of Super Street Fighter II, which is easily one my all-time favorite GBA releases.
The games featured in this issue were:
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival
Jurassic Park III: Park Builder
Lego Bionicle: Quest For The Toa
This volume also includes a section entitled Sports Arena which features:
ESPN Final Round Golf 2002
High Heat MLB 2002
The Buyer's Guide includes:
Mega Man Battle Network
Jurassic Park III: The DNA Factor
Final Fight One
Klonoa: Empire Of Dreams
Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
Volume 3's (138 pages) cover is dedicated to Golden Sun, Nintendo's very own 16-bit RPG retro throwback. And if that doesn't get your RPG mouth watering, the issue also features a section on the GBA re-release of the SNES cult-classic Breath Of Fire. The issue comes with that same subscription offer (still want those headphones).
The games highlighted in this volume were:
Wario Land 4
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
Breath Of Fire
Though the issue contained less featured games upfront, it seems appropriate due to the vast coverage required of two RPG's. The issue also added considerably more bulk to the Buyer's Guide this time out which included:
Midway's Greatest Arcade Hits
Disney's Donald Duck Advance
Jackie Chan Adventures
Spyro: Season Of Ice
Tom And Jerry: The Magic Ring
Road To Wrestlemania
Spongebob Squarepants: Supersponge
Rampage Puzzle Attack
Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder
Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX
Madden NFL 2002
Monster Rancher Advance
Midnight Club Street Racing
Planet Of The Apes
Alienators: Evolution Continues
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2
Tiny Toons Adventures: Buster's Bad Dream
Hot Wheels: Burnin' Rubber
ESPN Great Outdoor Games: Bass 2002
Star Wars: Jedi Power Battles
The fourth and final volume was unique in that it only featured one game. Volume 4 (130 pages) served as a complete strategy guide to Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2. In fact the first 100 pages of the issue were spent offering in-depth walkthroughs for each level and breaking down the enemies, power-ups and minutia of my personal favorite Mario Bros. sequel.
The final Buyer's Guide included:
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
The Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Jojo A-Go-Go
Razor Freestyle Scooter
E.T. The Extraterrestrial
Nancy Drew: Message In A Haunted Mansion
The Flintstone's: Big Trouble In Bedrock
American Bass Challenge
An American Tail: Fievel's Gold Rush
Motocross Maniacs Advance
Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars
Salt Lake 2002
NBA Jam 2002
Inspector Gadget: Advance Mission
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear
Jonny Mosely Mad Trix
Disney's Peter Pan: Return To Never Land
Ecks Vs. Sever
Bomberman Max 2: Red Advance and Blue Advance
Mike Tyson's Boxing
Zone Of The Enders: The Fist Of Mars
Guilty Gear X: Advance Edition
High Heat Baseball 2003
Breath Of Fire II
Sadly there was no Volume 5. Looking back it's unclear why. Perhaps it was the elevated price tag, considering that the same games were probably at least somewhat featured in the far cheaper monthly Nintendo Power magazine? Perhaps there weren't enough people like me who were interested in free Game Boy Advance headphones? Whatever it was, it wasn't a waning interest in the GBA system, as an overload of games would be released for the handheld over the following six years. And these four brief volumes of Nintendo Power Advance serve as a great overview of a year when one of the absolute greatest handhelds of all time was still in its infancy.
There's no surprise that the Game Boy Advance is generally loved by retro gamer enthusiasts. Indeed it was a platform that saw many great and classic games ported, remade, demade and re-imagined. It also offered many carts that contained multiple old school games that could please us so-called Cheap Ass Gamers. With this in mind -- and keeping up with the recent series of Game Boy Player Land blog posts focusing on arcade-stick friendly titles -- let us investigate the world of GBA Retro Compilations.
Activision Anthology is by far one of the most impressive retro compilations released for the Game Boy Advance. The cart contains almost fifty Atari 2600 games including classics like Pitfall, Keystone Kapers, and Atlantis. Unsurprisingly, each game is emulated quite well considering the vastly superior GBA hardware.
The real real pleasant surprise is the amount of extra that went into the GBA cartridge, both in presentation as well as extras. The menu screens display a virtual room and allow you to browse through racks of virtual 2600 cartridges. You can even inspect zoomed-in versions of the game labels or read histories of the games. Activision even went as far as to include a nice handful of homebrew 2600 games -- something not present on the home console versions of the anthology! What's even better for Game Boy Player fans is the ability to use a GBA as a 2nd player controller, and play cooperatively using a single screen. This cart is highly recommended.
Atari Anniversary Advance is a nice collection of six Atari arcade games: Asteroid, Battlezone, Centipede, Missile Command, Super Breakout, and Tempest. The games are faithful emulations of the original arcade titles, so fans of the early days of arcade should be pleased. The cartridge also contains a bonus Atari trivia game and offers up a single-cart, single-GBA 2Player option -- again, rather perfect for the Game Boy Player.
Capcom Classic Mini Mix is a great little compilation of three Capcom NES games: Bionic Commando, Mighty Final Fight, and Strider. Each game is emulated pretty perfectly from the NES. Bionic Commando is generally the draw-in here, as the NES version is pretty well remembered. On the other hand, the NES version of Strider is extremely different from the arcade or Genesis versions that most of us probably remember. Likewise, Mighty Final Fight is a demake of the arcade version of Final Fight that looks and plays far closer to River City Ransom. I personally recommend this collection for Mighty Final Fight alone. Though sadly Capcom really didn't add much to this cart in the way of extras -- not even a save feature.
The rather cumbersomely titled Komani Collector's Series Arcade Advanced is a nice collection of six Konami Arcade classics: Frogger, Gyruss, Rush'n Attack, Scramble, Time Pilot, and Yie Ar Kung-Fu. Like most of these sorts of early arcade collections, the GBA has little problem emulating the games. There is a nice single-cart 2Player option available, as well as some optional modernized versions of the games. In keeping up with the nostalgia, Konami was also thoughtful enough to offer up some extras by way of the famous Konami Code.
Namco Museum is pretty much a necessity for GBA retro enthusiasts. Admittedly, I'm a bit biased as Galaga is one of my personal all-time favorite games. That being said, the other three games included -- Dig Dug, Ms. Pac-Man and Pole Position are all certainly classics in their own right. The games all play great though my biggest complaint is the lack of a high-score save feature like the one found on the other home console releases of Namco Museum. There's apparently also a 50th Anniversary addition GBA cart that adds Rally-X and the original Pac-Man but sacrifices Pole Position.
The Sega Arcade Gallery is a great collection of four Sega arcade ports: After Burner, Out Run, Space Harrier, and Super Hang On. The games all play quite well, with the possible exception of a so-so After Burner. On the other hand Space Harrier is rather impressive given its original complicated presentation. If I had to come up with any complaint at all, it would be that THQ decided to include two racing games which can come off a bit redundant. Though I certainly can't complain that Out Run is included. Unfortunately extras are non-existent and there is no high-score save feature.
Sega Smashpack is another bare-bones compilation of three Sega games: Ecco The Dolphin, Golden Axe, and Sonic Spinball. The compilation is definitely a mixed bag. The port of Ecco The Dolphin is quite impressive. However the port of Golden Axe is rather poor in execution and lacks the co-op mode that it is most known for. Sonic Spinball is a fine port, though an actual Sonic The Hedgehog title would have been preferred in its place.
Having said all that, each of these collections is generally worth seeking out for one game or another. As I've said in other recent arcade-related posts, playing a game like Galaga or Ms. Pac-man using an arcade stick is especially awesome. Now what retro collections am I missing out on?
From time to time I've encountered some pretty awesome ads from the history of the Game Boy line of handhelds. I was 8 years old when the first Game Boy was released, and I've followed the line rather closely. So in a way it's endearing to see this time line grow up with my generation. For your review I've assembled a bit of a retrospective of the Game Boy line and how each new iteration has been presented to the world.
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