Monday, July 20, 2009

Classic Game Boy titles and hidden gems


It's amazing what was possible on the Game Boy. I remember thinking when I was a kid that a portable Nintendo would be just about the awesomest thing ever and I wanted a Game Boy like nothing before. Luckily, I did get it for my birthday the year it came out and got a few games shortly there after, like Super Mario Land, Castlevania Adventure and of course, Tetris.

I hadn't picked up a game for the original Game Boy for ages, having moved on to the Advance and then the DS and left all those black and white (or black and green) games behind. But recently, I started to feel nostalgic for SML and decided to get a few other gems for the system while I was at it.

SML is an excellent addition to the Mario universe - if only an easy one. I beat it time and time again as a kid and loved every minute of it. The music is so good in the whole game that when I think of SMB music, this is the game I think of. The levels are strange for sure (Mario in Egypt anyone?) but the game play is classic Mario and really, really fun. The graphics are a bit smaller and the game is very short, but it's a very fun quick game for sure. I did beat the game on my first playthrough after 20 years, but I still love it.

In the cavalcade of GB fun, I also picked up a copy of Metroid II, which I have been interested to play for quite some time. Metroid II is kind of a typical Game Boy game: larger sprites to match their graphic design to their console counterparts and tinny music, but the game is much more than just these two weaknesses. The game play is actually fairly linear where you are only able to access sections of the world after beating other sections. There is no map but one isn't needed. You just keep pushing forward. It's pretty enjoyable overall.

SML 2 followed shortly there after and what an improvement over SML! The sprites are more inline with other Mario titles of the 8-bit era and the worlds feel like they fit into the Mario universe better. There are alot of good moments in the game. It is much longer and really is a more realized world that does justice to that era of Mario titles.

Castlevania Adventure is not one of the best titles on the GB - Simon moves slower than a sloth and the game is ridiculously hard. Back in the day, I could only get a level or two in. But with Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, all those problems are fixed and the game, while my time with it is limited, is one of the best Game Boy titles.

There are also the Dragon Warrior titles (1-3), two of which - 1 & 2 - are included on one cart. They are slightly easier than their console counterparts and awesome RPG's for such a small system.

But the absolute creme of the crop has to be The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. It's so close to a console feel on a pportable system that its hard to believe its about 20 years old. The game is super fun with an awesome story and remains one of the best Zelda games period. No kidding.

The game takes place on an island and there are a number of typical Zelda game play elements - getting weapons/items to solve dungeon problems, collecting things after beating the bosses to lead up to the end encounter (in this case, it's musical instruments) and a fun, sprawling, open world adventure complete with all your classic Zelda favorites.

I have been playing it non-stop for a week and I forgot just how good the game is. It's massively engaging and has a great story, which I won't spoil here, but it does keep you wanting to see what's next, which is really all you could ask.

I only hope Nintendo realeases some of the classics on DSi-ware - but you can always get out your Super Game Boy, or your GB Advance SP, or even the original black and white GB, relive - and possibly discover - some great GB titles.

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