noiseredux vs.

Posted on Jun 12th 2010 at 02:27:34 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under Game Boy

According to the Nintendo list there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 650 (official) games released for the original gray brick in the US. It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when there were only five Game Boy titles to choose from. That's right, at the Game Boy's launch we ecstatic pocket gamers had very little choice. Of course it wouldn't be long before every major publisher began carrying over their popular franchises. But for a brief holiday season, these were the five games in every Game Boy owners' collections.

Alleyway is generally referred to as "that Breakout clone." And that's mostly what it is. Or technically it's a clone of Arkanoid, which was the NES' Breakout clone. But it also delivers some variants on the original simple game that make it surprisingly fun and interesting. Similar to the approach that Nintendo would later take when creating Donkey Kong 94, Alleyway begins with a very familiar level causing an initial feeling of comfort. But only a couple levels in and things start to get wacky. Whole levels begin to shift, paddles get smaller. Though the graphics are simple and the sound effects are generic bleeps and bloops, Alleyway is decent time-killer that can be a lot more fun than a game that was technically already 20 years old in concept by the time it was released on the Game Boy.

The imaginatively titled Baseball was almost a no-brainer for a launch title, being the American Past Time and all. And in truth, it's not a terrible game either. It plays rather well, although all the players are extremely slow for athletes. For the most part the game works well as a pick-up-and-play-one-game cart, but due to the fact that you cannot progress throughout a season, really there's little reason to get truly wrapped up in the game. More than likely Baseball was released as a quickie launch title that could demonstrate the benefit of the Link Cable for some 2-Player action.

As far as I'm concerned, Super Mario Land was the Game Boy's killer app. That year the top two items on my Christmas list were a Game Boy and Super Mario Land. It just seemed so exciting, a brand new Mario game -- on a brand new system! And I'll be honest, I probably liked (the American) Super Mario Bros. 2 far more than the next guy, but the prospect of Mario Land playing closer to the original Super Mario Bros. was good news. Nowadays I hear a lot of complaints about Mario Land -- it's too short, it's too easy, the sprites are too small, the controls are bad, the enemies are weird. But honestly, I shrug all of that off. This is still one of those titles that I play through once or twice a year and still enjoy every bit as much as I did back then. Truthfully, it is a short and easy game, the sprites are on the small side, the controls do take some getting used to and the enemies are weird. But that's all part of the game's charm. The new Game Boy system seemed to give a new outlet for game companies to experiment before releasing a major home console game. And that was fine with me. Generally gamers tend to prefer Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, but not me. Although it may be technically superior in every way, this is the first Game Boy game that I got completely attached to.

Though I have absolutely no data to back this up, my guess is that far more kids found Baseball under their Christmas trees that year as opposed to Tennis. Though it is a similarly simple sports game that was probably rushed to launch to promote the Game Boy's 2-Player capabilities, it's actually a much better game than Baseball. For starters, it's rather fast-paced with controls that are difficultly nuanced though very good once mastered. Graphically the game looks great -- especially today when colorized via the GBA. And the music is also quite good. Though most gamers today will overlook this one and instead for one of the Mario Tennis titles that this game preceded, I'd certainly suggest giving the original a try if you happen upon it at a reasonable price.

Ah, Tetris! I almost hate to even attempt to write about it. There's been so many long and in-depth essays written on the game. So I guess what I'd like to point out it is the sheer balls that Nintendo had when making this the pack-in game with the new Game Boy system. At the time, Mario was such a draw that they could have easily insured some immediate sales just by including Super Mario Land with the system, much like that had been doing with Super Mario Bros. and the NES. But instead, they chose some simplistic boring-looking puzzle game with a Russian soundtrack. I won't lie, I didn't even play my copy for several months. But once I did, I was as hooked as anyone else. And though it may sound like a cliched story, my mom really did constantly steal my Game Boy so she could play Tetris, which didn't end until she got her own Game Boy. We would then play against each other, and although she was good -- she just wasn't as good as me.

So this was it. These were the only games you could buy if you were a proud launch-era owner of the Game Boy. Of these original five titles, I myself only had Tetris and Mario Land at launch. How about the rest of you? Which games did you have at launch? And which would you choose now if you could go back in time?

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I remember that Christmas well. I got my Game Boy and SML. At the time SML was a great game to have on a handheld, and having stereo sound was fantastic. I also loved the 2 player Tetris via the link cable. My friend and I must have played that for hours during that school break.

After that I picked up Gradius and Castlevania, but never went much farther with the GB after that. I was too hooked on Genesis at that point, but it was a fun little system.
Notice Tetris was the only game to not have Mario in it in some fashion Wink

I wasn't aware the GB had such a small launch line up either!
I got Alleyway and a GB for my 5th or 6th birthday. It's been more then 15 years later and I still have them both, although the GB doesn't look so great anymore.
I didn't get mine at launch, but when I did get it, I received Alleyway, SML and Tetris.
And yes, my mom took the GB to play Tetris all the time as well.
In the early 90's a neighbor of my grandparents had original GBs with link cables and all of those launch games in addition to some others. I own all of them and they are among my favorite for the handheld, unaware that these were the only ones to get started on. A strong start I'd say.
Game Boy: 4 out of 5 Games featuring Mario in some way, shape or form.
Wii: No Games featuring Mario in sone way, shape or form.

What happened Nintendo?
Good read, I didn't get a Game Boy on release day but shortly after I snagged one. I did have Tetris and Super Mario Land when I did finally get it though Smiley
Mario Land and Tetris.  The others didn't look too interesting.

Got Castlevania Adventure as soon as that was released, which didn't seem like too long after launch.  Can't remember now.
I am too young to have witnessed the Game Boy launch (would have been 4 at the time), but it has been a fondly remembered part of the tender years of both me and most of my childhood friends. I think we would have gotten into it about '92 or '93.

Still, I remember having three of the five launch titles - Super Mario Land, Tetris, and Tennis, the last of which we actually played a lot over the Link Cable as far as I remember. I don't know if I myself owned all of them - there was so much trading and sharing going on that even back then it was hard to remember which games actually belonged to whom.

Game Boy gaming is really an integral part of my fondest childhood videogaming memories, we took those things everywhere (I hear that's what they were built for?). I just knew I shouldn't have sold the stuff, sooner or later I'm going to have to track down all the games I remember again...
@Anamon: that's pretty much why I started this blog! Smiley

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