Archive for the Gameboy Color Category

Top 100 GameBoy Games #70-61

Posted in Editorials, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Hidden gems, Retro Gaming, Retrospectives, Top Games Lists on December 1, 2012 by satoshimatrix

In 1989, Nintendo released the GameBoy Compact Portable Videogame system – a monochrome, non backlit interchangeable cartridge-based handheld with a low resolution screen and a less powerful processor than even their aging NES.

Thanks to brilliant marketing and the importance of the pack-in game Tetris, GameBoy would prove to be a massive success almost overnight. In the early 1990’s, everyone and their mother or father (often literally) needed to own a GameBoy.

As grand as the initial success of the platform was though, the real legacy of the GameBoy was it’s longevity. As Nintendo would prove to the world, flashy visuals and powerful hardware were not required to turn the so-called “inferior” GameBoy hardware into a roaring success when developers solely focused on simplicity and raw fun rather than expensive hardware.

The Lynx, GameGear, Game.com, Wonderswan, and Neo-Geo Pocket – the GameBoy would endure and outlast all of them for over a decade until 1998 when the original design was finally replaced by a slightly upgraded model called the GameBoy Color, with a full color LCD and a slightly faster CPU.

Like the original monochrome model, the GameBoy Color would face competition from superior hardware such as the WonderSwan Crystal and Neo-Geo Pocket Color and again outsell and outlast them both before it was finally retired in 2002 with the release of the 32-Bit GameBoy Advance – ending well over a decade of 8-bit portable titles from Nintendo and the their many third party partners.

This list is dedicated to the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games released between 1989 to 2002. It contains both original black-and-white and color titles. Placement was deemed after several hundred candidates had been evaluated in a number of ways including how well each holds up today in terms of playability and enjoyment.

Since many classic 8-bit games can be a real test of player’s patience and skill, I am ranking every game on its overall difficulty using a simple scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is brain dead easy and 10 is…well, Battletoads. A 5 on this scale means the game has average difficulty with perhaps some challenging elements, but nothing the average gamer should get stuck on for too long.

I’m also including many links to videos and other online information sources. Links are indicated by orange words. Please open these links in a new tab or window so you don’t have to navigate away from this article.

If you missed the prior entries, they can be found here:

Part 1 #100-91
Part 2 #90-81
Part 3 #80-71

So without further ado, enjoy my picks for the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games that still matter! Continue reading

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Top 100 GameBoy games #80-71

Posted in Editorials, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Hidden gems, Retro Gaming, Retrospectives, Top Games Lists on October 25, 2012 by satoshimatrix

In 1989, Nintendo released the GameBoy Compact Portable Videogame system – a monochrome, non backlit interchangeable cartridge-based handheld with a low resolution screen and a less powerful processor than even their aging NES.

Thanks to brilliant marketing and the importance of the pack-in game Tetris, GameBoy would prove to be a massive success almost overnight. In the early 1990’s, everyone and their mother or father (often literally) needed to own a GameBoy.

As grand as the initial success of the platform was though, the real legacy of the GameBoy is it’s longevity. As Nintendo would prove to the world, flashy visuals and powerful hardware were not required to turn the so-called “inferior” GameBoy hardware into a roaring success when developers solely focused on simplicity and raw fun rather than expensive hardware.

The Lynx, GameGear, Game.com, Wonderswan, Neo-Geo Pocket – the GameBoy would endure and outlast all of them for over a decade until 1998 when the original design was replaced by a slightly upgraded model called the GameBoy Color, with a full color LCD and a slightly faster CPU.

Like the original monochrome model, the GameBoy Color would face competition from superior hardware such as the WonderSwan Crystal and Neo-Geo Pocket Color and outsell and outlast them both before it was finally retired in 2002 with the release of the 32-Bit GameBoy Advance – ending well over a decade of 8-bit portable titles from Nintendo.

This list is dedicated to the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games released between 1989 to 2002. It contains both original black-and-white and color titles. Placement was deemed after several hundred candidates had been evaluated in a number of ways including how well each holds up today in terms of playability and enjoyment.

Since many classic 8-bit games can be a real test of player’s patience and skill, I am ranking every game on its overall difficulty using a simple scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is brain dead easy and 10 is…well, Battletoads. A 5 on this scale means the game is average difficulty with perhaps some challenging elements, but nothing the average gamer should get stuck on for too long.

I’m also including many links to videos and other online information sources. Links are indicated by orange words. Please open these links in a new tab or window so you don’t have to navigate away from this article.

If you missed the prior entries, they can be found here.

Part 1 #100-91
Part 2 #90-81

So without further ado, enjoy my picks for the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games that still matter!

Continue reading

Top 100 GameBoy games #90-81

Posted in Editorials, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Hidden gems, Imports, Retro Gaming, Retrospectives, Top Games Lists with tags , , on September 2, 2012 by satoshimatrix

In 1989, Nintendo released the GameBoy Compact Portable Videogame system – a monochrome, non backlit interchangeable cartridge-based handheld with a low resolution screen and a less powerful processor than even their aging NES.

Thanks to brilliant marketing and the importance of the pack-in game Tetris, GameBoy would prove to be a massive success almost overnight. In the early 1990’s, everyone and their mother or father (often literally) needed to own a GameBoy.

As grand as the initial success of the platform was though, the real legacy of the GameBoy is it’s longevity. As Nintendo would prove to the world, flashy visuals and powerful hardware were not required to turn the so-called “inferior” GameBoy hardware into a roaring success when developers solely focused on simplicity and raw fun rather than expensive hardware.

The Lynx, GameGear, Game.com, Wonderswan, Neo-Geo Pocket – the GameBoy would endure and outlast all of them for over a decade until 1998 when the original design was replaced by a slightly upgraded model called the GameBoy Color, with a full color LCD and a slightly faster CPU.

Like the original monochrome model, the GameBoy Color would face competition from superior hardware such as the WonderSwan Crystal and Neo-Geo Pocket Color and outsell and outlast them both before it was finally retired in 2002 with the release of the 32-Bit GameBoy Advance – ending well over a decade of 8-bit portable titles from Nintendo.

This list is dedicated to the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games released between 1989 to 2002. It contains both original black-and-white and color titles. Placement was deemed after several hundred candidates had been evaluated in a number of ways including how well each holds up today in terms of playability and enjoyment.

Since many classic 8-bit games can be a real test of player’s patience and skill, I am ranking every game on its overall difficulty using a simple scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is brain dead easy and 10 is…well, Battletoads. A 5 on this scale means the game is average difficulty with perhaps some challenging elements, but nothing the average gamer should get stuck on for too long.

I’m also including many links to videos and other online information sources. Links are indicated by orange words. Please open these links in a new tab or window so you don’t have to navigate away from this article.

So without further ado, enjoy my picks for the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games that still matter!

Check out part 1, #100-91 if you missed it. Continue reading

Top 100 GameBoy Games #100-91

Posted in Editorials, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Hidden gems, Imports, Retro Gaming, Retrospectives, Top Games Lists with tags , , on August 20, 2012 by satoshimatrix

In 1989, Nintendo released the GameBoy Compact Portable Videogame system – a monochrome, non backlit interchangeable cartridge-based handheld with a low resolution screen and a less powerful processor than even their aging NES.

Thanks to brilliant marketing and the importance of the pack-in game Tetris, GameBoy would prove to be a massive success almost overnight. In the early 90’s, everyone and their mother or father (often literally) needed to own a GameBoy.

As grand as the initial success of the platform was though, the real legacy of the GameBoy is it’s longevity. As Nintendo would prove to the world for the first time, flashy visuals and powerful hardware were not required to turn the so-called “inferior” GameBoy hardware into a roaring success when developers solely focused on simplicity and raw fun rather than expensive hardware.

The Lynx, GameGear, Game.com, Wonderswan, Neo-Geo Pocket – the GameBoy would endure and outlast all of them for over a decade until 1998 when the original design was replaced by a slightly upgraded model with a full color LCD and a slightly faster CPU called the GameBoy Color.

Like the original monochrome model, the GameBoy Color would face competition from superior hardware such as the WonderSwan Crystal and Neo-Geo Pocket Color and outsell and outlast them both before it was finally retired in 2002 with the release of the 32-Bit GameBoy Advance – ending well over a decade of 8-bit portable titles from Nintendo.

This list is dedicated to the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games released between 1989 to 2002. It contains both original black-and-white and color titles. Placement was deemed after several hundred candidates that been evaluated in a number of ways including how well each holds up today in terms of playability and enjoyment.

Since many classic 8-bit games can be a real test of player’s patience and skill, I am ranking every game on its overall difficulty using a simple scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is brain dead easy and 10 is…well, Battletoads. A 5 on this scale means it’s average difficulty with perhaps some challenging elements, but nothing the average gamer should get stuck on for too long.

I’m also including many links to videos and other online information sources. Links are indicated by orange words. Please open these links in a new tab or window so you don’t have to navigate away from this article.

So without further ado, enjoy my picks for the top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games! Continue reading

Top 25 GameBoy/GameBoy Color Games

Posted in Editorials, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Hidden gems, Retro Gaming on April 21, 2011 by satoshimatrix

IMPORTANT NOTICE!

This top 25 list is now outdated and obsolete. It is replaced by my Top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color Games of All time list. Please ignore this and read the newer, more detailed top 100 list instead. This list is OLD.

Click here to view the new top 100 list.

A while back, I wrote the top 25 NES Powerpak Killer Apps list, and to my surprise that article turned out to be my most popular article ever. Flooded with requests to write similar lists for other systems, here’s the first of what I hope to turn into a semi-regular segment.

In 1989, Nintendo released the GameBoy Compact Portable Videogame system. The GameBoy was a monochrome, non backlit handheld with low resolution screen and a less powerful processor than even the NES, but it soon proved to be a hit. The GameBoy brand would endure until it was replaced by the Nintendo DS in the mid 2000’s. The original GameBoy had a successor called the GameBoy Color released in 1998. The GameBoy Color was a very similar system with the same screen resolution and basic design, but with a slightly faster CPU and full 8-bit color support.

This list is dedicated to the top 25 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games released between 1989 to 2002 when the GBC was retired in favor of the completely newly design GameBoy Advance. I had considered writing two lists, one for GameBoy and one for GameBoy Color, but ultimately the two are so similar a combined list made more sense to me.

Note that this article is jammed packed with pictures, so those who have subscribed to the email feed should visit the actual page to get the full experience.

So without further ado, enjoy my picks for the top 25 GameBoy and GameBoy Color games!

Again,

IMPORTANT NOTICE!

This top 25 list is now outdated and obsolete. It is replaced by my Top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color Games of All time list. Please ignore this and read the newer, more detailed top 100 list instead. This list is OLD.

Click here to view the new top 100 list.

#25

Star Trek 25th Anniversary

1991
Konami
Platform: GameBoy Original
Horizontal shooter, Action-Adventure
Price range: $4-10

A giant machine known as the Doomsday Machine now roams space, obliterating whole worlds in its path, its origin unknown. Indestructible to all known weapons, Federation scientists scramble to develop a weapon capable of destroying the Doomsday Machine before it can enter Federation space. To make the situation worse, the Klingons have stolen the prototype to destroy the weapon, dismantled it and scattered its parts across several worlds. The USS Enterprise has been assigned to recover the parts and defeat the Doomsday Machine before it reaches Earth.

1991 marked Star Trek‘s 25th anniversary. The Next Generation‘s popularity demanded Star Trek merchandise of all sorts, which of course included games. For the 25th anniversary of the original series, Star Trek games were produced for a number of consoles, including the GameBoy. Straying from general practice, the GameBoy Trek wasn’t a port of any console game. Instead of being an ill-conceived shovelware title to cash in on the popularity of the license, the GameBoy game played to the system’s limitations and strengths, delivering not a adventure-focused game, but an action shmup with only light adventure elements tossed in for good measure.

Why you should play it

A Star Trek shmup? Sign me up. Even to this day I can count on one hand the actually good Star Trek videogames, and this would be among them. If you’re a Trekker, you’ll love the fact that the whole story of the game centers around the classic episode “The Doomsday Machine”. If you’re not a Trekker, you’ll appreciate there’s a decent shmup structure with the ability to adjust your speed, power and shields. This one totally blows the NES Star Trek TOS game out of the water. Track it down.

#24

Operation C

1991
Konami
Platform: GameBoy Original
Action platformer
Price range: $8-15

Operation C is an original title specifically designed for the GameBoy with stages heavily influenced by the NES megahits Contra and Super C. A new evil group called Black Viper threatens the planet, so Contra duo Bill and Lance once again grab their infinite ammo rifles, leave their t-shirts at home and rush into both sidescrolling and vertical scrolling manic shooter hell. Gotta love it.

Why you should play it

Despite the limited housepower and low resolution of the original GameBoy, Operation C manages to deliver all the action and excitement of its console cousins. Not even the lack of color could stop this one from being a winner. Many slight improvements such as the ability to combine guns like the Super Spread Gun and Homing Spread Gun made it a lot of fun, not to mention the default weapon is the handy auto firing machine gun. It offers classic Contra difficulty. It may be only five stages long, but it’s a real challenge.

#23

Super Mario Land

1989
Nintendo EAD
Platform: GameBoy Original
Action Platformer
Price range: $4-8

Among the launch titles for the GameBoy in 1989, Super Mario Land provided new adopters of the handheld the ability to get their Mario platforming fix on the go for the first time. Unlike Tetris, Mario Land was not a pack-in game but sales nevertheless were very high, making Mario Land among the most successful GameBoy titles ever produced.

Super Mario Land returned to the formula of the first Super Mario Bros. Travel through different worlds of four stages each, collect mushrooms and fire flowers, and attempt to save the beautiful Princess Daisy. Mario Land mixed things up by adding auto – scrolling shump sections where Mario drives a sub and later an airplane.

Why you should play it

Along with Tetris, Super Mario Land was a perfect match for the Gameboy delivering all the fun and excitement of the console Super Mario Bros. experience in the palm of your hand. The graphics were were simpler and sprites were smaller and more basic, but Mario Land was just as fast paced and varied enough to entertain for hours. Finally, there can never be enough said about the fantastic soundtrack composed by the legendary Hip Tanaka. Super Mario Land is without a doubt, a landmark title that holds up extremely well to this day.

Super Mario Land‘s music composed by the famous Hip Tanaka, has some…..outlandish remixes. Among the more bizarre ones are the lyrical remix by the Ambassadors of Funk in the 1993 Nintendo album Super Mario Compact Disco. If you’ve never heard this before, check it out below. The music video is amazingly bad.

#22

Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel

2000
Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya
Platform: GameBoy Color only
Action-Stealth
Price range: $15-25

The United States government sends Solid Snake somewhere in Africa to once again infiltrate a militant terrorist group who has gotten hold of a prototype Metal Gear – a walking, nuclear warhead armed tank – and stop the terrorists, destroy this new Metal Gear, and save the world.

Released in 2000, Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel is a semi non-canon sequel to the Playstation’s blockbuster hit, Metal Gear Solid. Ghost Babel is a completely original game that borrows design cues from the original MSX Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, but also gameplay tweaks and features first seen in the PS1 title such as the VR missions.

Why you should play it

Metal Gear Solid on the GBC is a beautifully executed game that is extremely well suited to the hardware. From the look of the detailed graphics and fluid animations to the complexity of the guard AI, it’s immediately clear Konami put a lot of effort and production value into this title. It isn’t all that expensive to buy used either.

I’m not even particularly a Metal Gear fan in the least. I’ve yet to finish any of the console Metal Gear games that have been put out over the years. Yet still I find myself picking up Ghost Babel and completing it every couple of years. If you missed this one the first time around, give it another go. You’ll be glad you did. This game is really just that awesome.

#21

Survival Kids

1999
Konami
Platform: GameBoy Color, Super Gameboy
Adventure
Price range: $15-30

Survival Kids is a adventure/survival sim where you assume the role of Mary or Ken, a ten year old girl or boy who washes up on a deserted island and is forced to fend for her/himself to survive and eventually seek help.

Survival Kids is actually the first in a long running series of survival simulators Konami has made over the years, and is directly related to Konami’s Lost in Blue series on the Nintendo DS. It benefits from full color on the GBC, but can also be played with a custom limited pallet on the Super GameBoy, or even the original black and white GameBoy if that’s all you have.

Why you should play it

Survival Kids is an a very well made, unique effort on the GBC. There isn’t another game like it in the slightest on the handheld. The ability to play as a girl is both surprising and welcome. It might seem odd a girl would be excited to get a knife for her tenth birthday, but hey, it’s nice to see adventure games of this nature giving the choice of playing as a girl and avoiding stereotypes and established gender roles.

Foraging, hunting, exploring, building tools, Survival Kids has it all. It’s a fairly rare game, so make sure you don’t pass it up should you see it in your local game store.

Still not sure Survival Kids is for you? Check out this short snippet of gameplay of the first day in the game.

#20

Final Fantasy Legend III/SaGa 3

1993
Square
Platform: Original GameBoy
Role Playing Game
Price range: $15-20

Long ago, after a long and costly war, the magical land known as Pureland was sealed away from the rest of the world. Then out of nowhere, the mysterious Pureland fountain appeared in the clouds and began endlessly pouring water onto the land. The problem grew and grew until it threatened to flood the entire planet.

Three young children and their mentor are sent back and forth in time to retrieve parts for the ancient dormant timeship known as the Talon in order to find out why Pureland is flooding the world and change this history. This….probably made more sense in Japanese.

In actuality not a Final Fantasy game at all, Legend 3 is instead the third in the SaGa series. Made by Square, many elements are shared, including an excellent battle system, soundtrack and story, the only reason the FF label is slapped on was for brand recognition and to further popularize Final Fantasy in the west.

Why you should play it

For an early handheld RPG, Final Fantasy Legend 3/SaGa 3 gets a lot of things right. When you defeat monsters, they will occasionally drop meat or bolts, which can convert your party members into mutants or cyborgs, augmenting their appearance and giving special abilities. There’s a fairly deep magic system, a good, if convoluted story that mixes fantasy and sci-fi, and some of the best RPG music ever. The Talon theme comes to mind whenever I think of the best videogame music on the GameBoy.

The epic Talon theme for your listening pleasure.



#19

Megaman V

1995
Capcom
Platform: Original GameBoy with Super GameBoy support
Action Platformer
Price range: $25-40

Unlike the first four Megaman titles to hit the GameBoy, Megaman V is not a remixed game consisting of Robot Masters from older NES games. Instead, Megaman V is a completely new game with new bosses, called the Star Droids. When Megaman’s Mega Buster proves useless against the Star Droids, Dr. Light upgrades Megaman’s arm cannon to fire his fist as a projectile, which has enough force to damage the Star Droids. What follows is the only Megaman game in the classic series to not feature Dr. Wily as the end boss!

Why you should play it

Released in 1995, Megaman V is the final Megaman Classic title on the GameBoy and takes what Capcom learned from the privious four games into one final crescendo effort. The visuals, audio, and gameplay are all top notch, and the change of the Mega Buster to the Mega Arm is sufficiently different enough that you won’t get a similar game on any other system. I like it an awful lot, but I still think there are better Megaman games, even on the GameBoy. Megaman V is also fairly rare.

In late 2003, Capcom announced Megaman Mania, a collection of all five GameBoy Megaman games with newly added color support. Unfortunately, the project was ultimately canceled when Capcom evidently “lost the original source code”. Despite this, early screenshots appear to show Megaman V fairly deep into the colorized development, if not completely finished. Perhaps one day the prototype will surface, or the fan community of hackers will pick up where Capcom left off. For now, we can only dream about what might have been with Megaman Mania.

#18

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

1992
Nintendo EAD
Platform: Original GameBoy
Action Platformer
Price range: $10-15

18 Super Mario Land 2

While Mario was away to rescue Daisy in the original Super Mario Land, Wario came to Mario Land, brainwashed the inhabitants and then moved in to Mario’s Castle. Upon his return, Mario discovered Wario had erected a great door to Mario’s former home, which will only open once six golden coins are put in place.

Super Mario land 2 was the first appearance of the anti-hero Wario, who has since become a popular Nintendo character on his own, spawning the Wario Land series and many years later, the Wario Ware series of mini-games.

Why you should play it

Like the first Super Mario Land, Super Mario Land 2 is an absolute blast to play through. Taking design cues from Super Mario World, Mario now has multiple hats, has a spin attack, and can freely scroll to the left as well as to the right. Mario Land 2 drastically increased the size of its sprites without sacrificing screen visibility too much. It still looked a little basic, but was much more similar in overall look to later NES games being made at the time. The game is fairly lengthy with a good selection of worlds to visit and lots of replay value.

#17

Ganbare Goemon Hoshizorashi Dyamites Arawaru!!

2000
Konami
Platform: GameBoy Color only
Action Platformer
Price range: $15-30

Amongst all of the Goemon RPGs on the GameBoy, Dynamites Arawaru is the only platformer. The gameplay is pretty much like Goemon 2 and 3 for the Super Famicom, although goofy cat enemies litter the game as opposed to rabbits. Goemon and Ebisumaru have been separated, and each has their own set of levels. While Goemon’s levels are your traditional left-to-right scrolling stages, Ebisumaru’s mix it up a bit by scrolling from right-to-left. It’s a little odd, but it keeps things fresh.

Like most of the best Goemon games, this one was never released outside of Japan, making it a somewhat uncommon import. The last I checked it wasn’t anywhere to be found on ebay, so you’ll probably have to hit up your local import store for this one.

Why you should play it

Gabare Goemon Hoshizorashi Dyamite’s Arawaru is a Japan-only title without any English translation, but this is a platformer. As such, there’s very little in the way of a language barrier and no reason at all to avoid this one unless you absolutely hate Goemon (we could never hang out). The visuals are quite impressive and detailed. The game isn’t especially long clocking in at around 3 hours or so, nor it is very difficult, but it’s among the best Goemon titles and deserves a look.

#16

Trip World

1992
Sunsoft
Platform: Original GameBoy
Action Platformer
Price range: $20-40

Once upon a time, Tocapu, a magical shape-shifting creature called a Shabubu, lived in the land of Trip World. Yocapu lived with his grandfarther on the holy mountain of Dubios. It was here that the Flower of Peace resides, with Yocapa’s Grandpa the sole guardian of the flower. One day, a band of thieves stole the flower and caused chaos. Now it is up to Yocapa to get the flower and restore order.

Trip World is a very underrated GameBoy title produced by one of it’s era’s best developers, Sunsoft. Trip World was only released in Japan and a few European countries such as Germany. The development team would later go on to create the incredible Gimmick! on the Famicom several months later.

Why you should play it

If you love Sunsoft, you owe it to yourself to track this elusive game down. As with Gimmick!, the sprites are beautiful and incredibly animated, the music is fast, upbeat and quite good, and the and the game itself is a lot of fun to play. It’s nowhere near as difficult as Gimmick!, so it’s a perfect casual game for a relaxing afternoon.

#15

Megaman IV

1993
Capcom
Platform: Original GameBoy
Action Platformer
Price range: $15-25

The nefarious Dr. Wily has again reprogrammed eight more robots on display at the annual Robot Masters Expo. Sending these new robots across the planet to wreak havoc, Dr.Wily once again tries to take over the world. Wily never learns.

Megaman is sent in once more to put a stop to the bad Doctor’s plan. This time, Dr. Light informs Megaman of a new type of energy called P-Chips which can be made into useful items. Among the deadly Wily robots is Ballade, a heavily armed robot with more firepower than any robot before him. Megaman’s greatest challenge yet awaits him.

Megaman IV is the fourth GameBoy adaptation of the Blue Bomber’s NES exploits. Like the first three GameBoy Megaman titles, IV is a mix of four bosses from Megaman 4 and Megaman 5 on the NES but with brand new stages. Tossed in to the mix are a few GB exclusive bosses as well as the powerful killer robot Ballade. Released before the Super GameBoy there is no true color support, but the game nevertheless looks great on the Super GameBoy, GameBoy Color or even GameBoy Advance.

Why you should play it

Fans of challenging platforming, detailed sprites, fantastic stereo remixes of some of the best music in the series, and spot on gameplay will find a lot to like here. Released on the heels of Megaman 5 on the NES, Megaman IV is in my opinion, even better than Megaman V and is one of my personal favorite classic series Megaman games to date.

#14

Pokémon TCG

2000
Hudson Soft
Platform: GameBoy Color with Super GameBoy support
Action Platformer
Price range: $10-15

Pokémon, Pokémon, Pokémon. Pokémon was everywhere in the later years of the GameBoy. Even the card game based on the GameBoy game made two appearances on the GameBoy! The Pokémon Trading Card Game brought the entire library of cards (at the time) as well as some GB exclusives to gamers who either couldn’t afford or didn’t want to bother with the real cards.

Here players could build virtual decks and pit them against computer-controlled opponents. Although the Pokémon were all only cards, the objective of the game was similar to the RPGs. As a beginner card player, the goal is to collection many cards, build decks, challenge clubs and collect badges to complete in the grand hall to inharet the legendary Pokémon cards.

There was also a sequel that came out a year later in Japan with even more cards, but unfortunately this superior version was never released outside Japan. Luckily though, a fan translation is available that mostly translates all game menus, so with only a minimal walkthrough the game is entirely playable in English.

Why you should play it

Call me crazy, but I absolutely love the Pokémon TCG. Like everyone else at the time, I had (and still have) a crap ton of Pokémon cards. Also like everyone else, I never had anyone to play the actual card game with. For me and tens of thousands of other kids, the Gameboy version allowed the TCG to actually be played and enjoyed without worrying about scratching that 1st edition holographic Charizard. Don’t worry if you don’t already know how to play the game – there’s an excellent in-game tutorial to get you started. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself collecting virtual cards even more riggoriously than you might have collected the real ones.


#13

Kirby’s Dreamland 2

1995
Nintendo EAD
Platform: Original GameBoy
Action Platformer
Price range: $10-15

Although the star rod has been recovered and peace returned to Dreamland for a time, the Rainbow Bridges that connect the seven Rainbow Islands have been stolen by an evil force called Dark Matter, who has possessed King Dedede and is intent on conquering Dream Land. This time accompanied by his three animal friends, Kirby once again sets out to save Dreamland by defeating Dark Matter.

A sequel of sorts to the NES classic Kirby’s Adventure, Dreamland 2 introduced three animal partners and many new worlds for Kirby to explore. Rick the hamster is great on land and can give Kirby a good boost in height. Coo the owl flies through areas and can easily cope with high winds, but is slow in water. Kine the fish is slow on land and can’t fly, but he can swim quickly in water and easily cope with fast currents.

Why you should play it

Kirby’s Dreamland 2‘s genius is in the animal partnership. In addition to Kirby’s powers he gains when he inhales enemies, Kirby gains new abilities when he partners with his animal buddies. For instance, alone, the sparky enemies turn Kirby into a stationary electric generator, but with Rick he can shock enemies, with Coo he can cast lighting bolts, and with Kine he can…launch lightbulbs that explode like mines. The same is true for the dozen or so power ups present in the game, offering a lot of replay value as you experiment with each of the abilities. While nowhere near as colorful as Kirby’s Adventure, Dreamland 2 offers Super GameBoy support which makes the game look quite good.

IMPORTANT NOTICE!

This top 25 list is now outdated and obsolete. It is replaced by my Top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color Games of All time list. Please ignore this and read the newer, more detailed top 100 list instead. This list is OLD.

Click here to view the new top 100 list.

#12

Pokémon Puzzle Challenge/Tetris Attack/Panel De Pon!

2000
Intelligent Systems
Platform: GameBoy Color only
Puzzle
Price range: $15-20

Pokémon Puzzle Challenge is a puzzle game created by Intelligent Systems. In Puzzle Challenge, a well is partially filled with 5 distinct types of tile pieces. Adjacent tiles may be swapped horizontally with the cursor. The object is to match three or more tiles vertically or horizontally, resulting in the tiles clearing after a short delay animation, during which they become immovable.  Additional points may be earned with either “combos,” which involve clearing more than 3 tiles simultaneously, or “chains,” which require that the tiles above a clearing set fall into another clear. Like in Tetris, if the stack of tiles reaches to the top of the screen, the game will end.

After the massive success of Tetris, the puzzle genre sprang up almost overnight just as the platform genre did in the wake of Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Among the better puzzlers to come out in the years to follow was a cute, charming and girlish game created by Intelligent Systems called Panel De Pon! released for the Super Famicom.

The powers to be at Nintendo decided to localize this puzzler by replacing Lip and and her girlfriends with Yoshi characters and then rename the game to Tetris Attack for brand familiarity just as Square had renamed the SaGa games to be under the Final Fantasy label. In 2000, Panel De Pon was released on the GameBoy Color, and once again the characters were swapped for the big craze at the time, Pokémon. Pokémon Puzzle League is therefore simply Panel De Pon with a fresh coat of Pokémon paint.

Why you should play it

Even if you HATE Pokémon, give this game a shot – its honestly just Panel de Pon/Tetris Attack with Pokémon wallpaper. Underneath the cuddly Pokémon exterior is an extremely deep, rich, and addictive game experience that surpasses any superficial distaste you may have for all things Pokémon.

#11

Donkey Kong Country

2000
Rareware
Platform: GameBoy Color only
Action Platformer
Price range: $8-15

While Donkey Kong was napping, the evil King K. Rool, the leader of the Kremlins, stole DK’s banana horde and kidnapped his buddy Diddy, encasing Diddy in a barrel. When the gorilla awoke, he found the Kremlins were starting to take over his island. Never one to let action pass him up, DK sets out to rescue Diddy and get his bananas back from the Kremlin krew and stop King K. Rool.

Donkey Kong Country was first released in 1994 using advanced digitalized sprites that wowed gamers who were just starting to transition from 16-bit consoles to the new 32-bit offerings. As it’s aged, Donkey Kong Country has generated somewhat of a mixed fan base. There are some who feel it holds up incredibly well, while others claim it was terrible from the get-go and now that its shiny new paint has dried, it can be seen for the bad game it is. For me, I’m clearly in the camp that defends DKC as one of the best games of its generation regardless of graphics, and I think the GBC version proves this point nicely. While it was later ported to the Gameboy Advance, this is the definitive version that I still find the most impressive.

Why you should play it
Donkey Kong Country was an amazing achievement on the SNES in 1994, and the GameBoy Color adaptation is no less impressive. Utilizing the color pallet of the GBC to it’s fullest, Donkey Kong Country might just be the most colorful game for the system. All the stages from the classic game are reproduced here. While it doesn’t look quite as good as the original, it’s an amazing achievement for the system.

#10

Megaman Xtreme 1/2

2000/2001
Capcom
Platform: GBC with SGB support/GBC only
Action Platformer
Price range: $8-12, 15-20

A group of Mavericks have hacked into the mother computer in the Maverick Hunter’s base and are using old Maverick battle data to distract the Hunters. X must go into the mother computer, destroy the battle data, and stop the hackers. Then one day, readings of Reploids on the southern pacafiic Laguz Island vanish, and X and Zero are sent in to investigate the island and attempt to determine what is going on behind the disappearance of so many Repolids.

It might seem odd to group both Megaman Xtreme and it’s sequel together, but they’re so similar to each other I felt it only right to place them together in the tenth position. Like the classic Megaman games before them, Xtreme was a mixing of the first two X games on the SNES. The translation between the SNES to GBC was done extremely well. Most of the stages, bosses, powerups, etc were brought on for the GBC, and I went nuts when these games came out as the Megaman X games on the SNES were among my favorite videogames, period.

Megaman Xtreme 2 is an even further improvement over the first, presenting an even better audio/visual experience, as well as gameplay tweaks, most notably the inclusion of playable as Zero, and even switching between X and Zero on the fly, a concept no prior Megaman game used.

Why you should play them

Just as Megaman X was an evolution of the NES games, so are Megaman Xtreme 1 & 2. Despite the limited hardware, these games really do deliver a comperable gameplay experience as could be found on the SNES in their 16-bit originals.

For me, seeing my favorite games re-imagined on the GBC was a real treat. The reason these games are still relivent is because they offer extremely solid gameplay. Zero, who uses a close range energy saber, plays drastically differently than long range X. Between the two games are dozens of hours of exciting, fast Megaman action. To put it simply, Megaman games are awesome and so are you for playing them. Good job.

#9

Tetris

1989
Nintendo
Platform: Original GameBoy
Puzzle
Price range: $4-8

The most successful puzzle videogame of all time, Tetris challenges the player’s spatial relation abilities by presenting them with different shapes made of four square blocks. The blocks are randomly presented one at a time at the top of a rectangular play field, and quickly begin descending toward the bottom. The player can rotate the shapes and move them horizontally as they descend, and if you are able to make a complete horizontal line of blocks, that line will clear from the field.

When the GameBoy launched in 1989, Tetris was both its pack-in game and it’s biggest killer app. Perfectly suited for the handheld, Tetris changed perception that videogames were intended for children only and soon many adults, especially women, began to buy GameBoys just to play this one game. It’s not even uncommon for hear that people who bought GameBoys never bought any other game because Tetris was all they ever needed.

Why you should play it

It’s Tetris. The GAMEBOY Tetris. I mean c’mon what do I need to say? This was THE reason to buy the system.

For all of it’s importance, there’s simply no way I couldn’t have to put Tetris out of the top 10, but even still I feel there are other games that surpass it as the best for the system. The best version of Tetris perhaps, the best puzzler ever perhaps, but the best GameBoy game? I’m afraid not. Feel free to disagree….this is only my opinion. Some people take Tetris too seriously.

#8Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow

1995/96/97/98
GameFreak
Platform: Original GameBoy with Super GameBoy support
Turn based strategy, RPG
Price range: $15-20

You would have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of Pokémon, but I’ll provide a breif overview nevertheless. Pokémon, Japanese short form for Pocket Monsters in much the same way Family Computer was shortened to Famicom, are a group of special animals with powers and abilities that make them highly prized and sought after.

As a young Pokémon Trainer, your task is to catch and train as many Pokémon as possible, battling with other trainers and collecting gym badges. Once eight gym badges are gathered, you can compete in the Pokémon League, where the best trainers square off for the title of champion. Along the way you will also encounter and defeat the evil Team Rocket, who steal Pokémon and force them to do bad things.

Pokémon Red and Blue were released in 1998 in North America and Europe. Already a huge success in Japan, Pokémon became a massive fad fueled mostly by the original two GameBoy games, but also by the anime, trading card game, toys and other merchandise that quickly followed. It wasn’t until 2001 that the worldwide craze was over, but much of the surge can still be felt today as Pokémon still enjoys a very large adult fanbase of people who grew up with these two titles.

Why you should play them

Only second to the original pack-in Tetris, Pokémon Red and Blue were the most significant games on the GameBoy. Even the term “GameBoy killer apps” is a huge understatement when it comes to Red and Blue‘s importance. These games single handedly gave the GameBoy a huge resurgence nearly ten years into its life. It’s thanks to Pokemon original black-and-white GameBoy games were still being developed well into the year 2000.

It’s probably fair to say that had Pokémon not come around, the GameBoy Color may never have even been developed and the course of handheld history would be forever altered. The success of the GBC, GBA and DS all owes a huge debt of gratitude to Pokémon.

Red, Blue, & Yellow were absolute instant classics and started a true phenomenon that everyone had to get in on. Released in Japan in 1996, the original Red & Green games were not visually or even technically impressive, but they were incredibly engaging, likable and most of all, addictive. The true genius of the game was the fact that there were two versions, each with some Pokémon that could not be found in the other. The solution for this was to trade via the GameBoy Game Link cable. Pokémon became the best use of the cable since the original Tetris.

In 1997, a special Blue version with slightly enhanced graphics was released as a promotional game in Japan before hitting retail shelves. A year later, the Yellow version was released, taking the same overall game as before but infusing it with many elements from the anime such as Pikechu being the only starter, Team Rocket’s Jessie & James and more changes.

The series has evolved over the years into something truly spectacular, and continues to be both popular as well as really good. The urge to collect all the Pokémon started here. As they say, you gotta catch ’em all. Oh, and these games have Missingno. That’s gotta count for something. There’s a reason these two games together are among the best selling videogames of all time.

IMPORTANT NOTICE!

This top 25 list is now outdated and obsolete. It is replaced by my Top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color Games of All time list. Please ignore this and read the newer, more detailed top 100 list instead. This list is OLD.

Click here to view the new top 100 list.

#7

Legend of Zelda Orcale of Ages/Seasons

2001
Flagship/Capcom/Nintendo
Platform: GameBoy Color with GameBoy Advance support
Action-Adventure
Price range: $15-25 each

In the Oracle of Seasons, the Triforce sends Link to the land of Holodrum. Link soon comes acorss a beautiful, tanned dancer named Din, the Oracle of Seasons. Soon after meeting her, Link is powerless to stop her being kidnapped at the hands of the evil general Onox. Onox imprisons Din in a crystal, which causes the seasons of the land to wildly and instantly change, disrupting the natural balance of the land. Link must travel across Holodrum, brave its fractured seasons and find the eight Essences of the Seasons to rescue Din.

In the Oracle of Ages, the Triforce sends Link to the land of Labrynna. Link soon comes across a beautiful singer named Nayru, the Oracle of Ages. The demon sorceress Veran tricks Link and possesses Nayru’s body which causes all time in Labrynna to go into chaos. Link must travel across Labrynna in two timelines to find the eight Essences of Time to rescue Nayru, and stop an ultimate plan to resurrect Ganon.

The two Zelda Oracle games were released simultaneously in 2001. Announced over two years prior, Nintendo had initially planned to port and recreate the NES Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: the Adventure of Link on the GameBoy Color, as well as create a third game to complete what was planned as the Triforce trilogy.

When problems arose due to the limited screensize of the handheld, the project shifted to three completely new Zelda games for the hardware. Ultimately though, it was decided this system would be too complex and the project again shifted gears to only Seasons and Ages as we know of them now.

Why you should play them

It should be a foregone conclusion that Zelda games are almost always among the best games on any Nintendo platform, but I’ll humor you. Alone, either of these games would be fine candidates for the seventh best GameBoy title. Each Oracle game is a breathtaking look at what the hardware could do and why the GameBoy was still king after so many years on the market.

Sprites were colorful and detailed, the gameplay was the perfect blend between puzzles and action, and despite how complex the games were, there wans’t a hint of slowdown. Then factor in that the game’s can be linked together to unlock additional bosses and carry your collectibles from one to the other. As much as I’ve enjoyed Zelda games that followed this pair, there hasn’t been any Zelda games made since that surpasses the incredible effort here.

#6

Warlocked

2000
Bits-Corp
Platform: GameBoy Color only
Real Time Stategy
Price range: $4-15

Though there has been skirmishes near the southern border for nearly a century, Queen Azarel’s kingdom had remained relatively safe.
But with the recent rush of Beast raids in territories farther north, it had become obvious that Chief Zog was determined to destroy the humans once and for all. Left with no choice, the Queen sends a call throughout the land for the Wizards to come to her aid.
Now, from high atop the walls of Konjo Castle, Azarel gazed down upon her troops, Loyal and brave to the last man, the soldiers awaited her orders…

Released in 2000, Bits Corp’s Warlocked brought the RTS genre to the GameBoy in an exciting way. Featuring 25 levels across two campaigns, Warlocked was basically Warcraft for the GameBoy. Units could be built, sent where you wanted at will, and the enemy was cunning with signs of advanced AI. Warlocked was an utter marvel on the GBC. There’s also the Wizards, who can cast unique spells and spices the game up considerably.

Why you should play it

As you might recall from my review, Warlocked is an outstanding real time strategy game that defies logic by being really, really good on such limited hardware. Perhaps Warlocked is even the best 8-bit strategy game ever made, bumping M.U.L.E out of that spot. It looks good, sounds good, plays good and has enough complexity that you will want to come back for more, and replay levels even after you beat them for faster times and higher scores. Warlocked is extremely affordable today, so if you’re looking for a great GBC gem, look no further.

#5

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

1994
Nintendo R&D1
Platform: GameBoy Original
Action Platformer
Price range: $5-15

After his defeat to Mario in Six Golden Coins, a dejected Wario leaves Mario Land and sets off on a journey of discovery – not for personal self-worth or purpose, but rather in search of riches so he may afford to build an extravagant castle of his own, just like Mario. Wario learns about a pirate island filled with booty, and decides to make this island his next target. Here Wario is sure to face many challenges on his way to his fortune.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 is a Mario game in name only. Merely the spiritual successor of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Mario is completely absent this time around (save for the ending). Instead of the usual Nintendo mascot, this game stars Wario in a Super Mario World sized platformer.

Much more than just a swap in the first letter, Wario Land takes the successful formula of that game, switches in a new protagonist, improves upon the graphics and adds an extra layer of gameplay depth thanks to the inclusion of bizarre power-up hats. Wario’s gameplay style is brute force mixed with elements of careful jumps and deductive reasoning.

Wario plays very differently from Mario, who instead of jumping on enemies, tackles them. Where Mario wears different suits to gain new abilities, Wario wears different hats to agument what he can do. Wario Land spawned another three games to follow it, but the original is far better than any of the later efforts, except for the rather excellent Virtual Boy version.

The Boss battles are all very unique, large and impressive. The game’s unusually lengthy, even longer than Super Mario Land 2. It could take several weeks to complete, a feat not many other GameBoy games can attest to. There’s also plenty of replay value as you increase your cash to get Wario more and more coins to afford bigger and bigger houses for the end game. You don’t want to end up living in a bird house, do you?

Why you should play it

This is an absolute must-play game for the GameBoy. The graphics have been changed to a very good looking cartoonish look, the change to actually give a reason for collecting all the coins is great, the change in gameplay mechanics to tackle enemies instead of jumping on them, and even the fresh new character make Wario Land not only the best in the Mario Land trilogy, but one of the very best GameBoy games ever made.

Wario Land‘s just as solid as any console Mario title, so it’s only fitting to play it as such. Although Wario Land doesn’t have any color support, the Super GameBoy and GameBoy Color can colorize it to look rather good, almost as if it were on the NES. It’s a bit ironic to think that the best Mario game on the GameBoy is actually a Wario game!

#4

Donkey Kong ’94

1994
Nintendo EAD
Platform: Original GameBoy with Super GameBoy support
Arcade Action Platformer
Price range: $10-15

Released in time for the launch of the Super GameBoy, Donkey Kong ’94 offers enhanced colors and a special background when played on the Super GameBoy, and is generally considered to be the killer app for the Super GameBoy accessory.

The game is loosely based on the 1981 arcade hit Donkey Kong and its sequel Donkey Kong Jr. While it starts off as a direct port of the original arcade game, Donkey Kong ’94 quickly proves to be far more than that. After the original four arcade boards are cleared, many brand new, GameBoy exclusive levels open up with new challenges, enemies and objectives never before seen. It’s officially simply known as Donkey Kong, but many fans refer to it as Donkey Kong ’94 to avoid confusion with the original Donkey Kong.

Why you should play it

Donkey Kong ’94 exceeded expectations by leaps and bounds. By far the best port of Donkey Kong to any console to date, Mario now had many new moves at his disposal, there were dozens of new levels and in many new puzzles to solve. With the Super GameBoy or even on the black and white original, Donkey Kong offers many hours of fun arcade action that actually exceeds what you’d get at the arcade!

IMPORTANT NOTICE!

This top 25 list is now outdated and obsolete. It is replaced by my Top 100 GameBoy and GameBoy Color Games of All time list. Please ignore this and read the newer, more detailed top 100 list instead. This list is OLD.

Click here to view the new top 100 list.

#3

The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening DX

1998
Nintendo EAD
Platform: GameBoy Original & Gameboy Color remake, with Super Gameboy support
Action Adventure
Price range: $8-15

After being caught in a terrible storm, Link’s ship is destroyed, and he washes ashore the mysterious Koholint Island. Link is soon found by a local village girl named Marin, and brought to her home to recover. Soon, Link is visited by an owl who gives him the quest of gathering the eight instruments of the Sirens and awakening the Wind Fish who is sleeping inside of a giant egg in the mountains.

The Legend of Zelda IV: Link’s Awakening was released in 1993 for the GameBoy, and again in a special color enhanced version in 1998 in Link’s Awakening DX. DX colorizes the entire game and added minor tweaks to make a great game even better. Zelda DX was widely considered to the GameBoy Color’s killer app until the arrival of Pokémon.

As you can see, Link’s Awakening is easily one of the best looking games on the GameBoy, even without the benefit of color added from the DX version. Sprites had a perfect cartoonish look that make the game look nearly as good as Link to the Past on the SNES. Not bad for the GameBoy!

Why you should play it

Zelda DXis my far my favorite Zelda title ever made. It hits every major mark when it comes to a great handheld experience. It’s one of the longest, most visually impressive titles out there with spot on control, wonderful music and just like the two Oracle games, DX not only delivers the established Zelda game forumla but actually expands on it. Bombs, boomerangs swords and arrows now shared the spotlight with the Roc’s feather, the Magma Rod and the Power Glove. (it’s so bad!) among many others new items. Zelda DX would became the benchmark for which all future 2D Zelda games would be judged.

#2

Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal

Welcome to Johto! It’s a whole new world to explore. In this new land, meet many new Pokémon, interact with the PokéGear – a watch, radio, map and phone in one – challenge a new set of Gym Leaders and just as before, aim to become the greatest Pokémon trainer in the land.

The long awaited set of sequels to one of the most popular RPG series ever made, Gold and Silver were a very big deal when they were released in the fall of 2000. Released at a time when Pokémon popularity was beginning to subside, Gold and Silver largely helped the GameBoy once again crush yet another competitor, the Neo-Geo Pocket Color. Nothing could stand against the might of Pokémon.

A year later, the game would return again in Crystal, a slightly tweaked version with some minor graphical enhancements including animated sprites for all Pokémon, minor plot changes, and the inclusion of a playable girl for the first time in the series.

Why you should play them

Pokémon Gold & Silver were huge. Huge in every way you can think. The Pokémon were now in full color. The sprites were far more detailed than before. There were 100 new Pokémon, dozens of new moves. A brand new world to explore and even the old one for nostalgia sake. The battle system was tweaked, the music made even better, a day/night time system with a real time clock. A breeding center. There were so many improvements to a great game formula that Gold, Silver and Crystal are the best games on the GameBoy Color. Well, almost.

#1

Shantae

2002
Wayforward Technologies
Platform: GameBoy Color, with Gameboy Advance support
Action platformer
Price range: $90-150

Half-Genie girl Shantae lives in Scuttle Town, of which she is hired as a genie protector. When the town falls under attack by lady-pirate Risky Boots, Shantae rushes in defend the town, but while she does manage to drive them off, Risky steals a Steam Engine from the villages Relic Hunter, Mimic.

Shantae learns that Risky plans on using the steam engine along with four powerful elemental stones to build an incredibly powerful mech to terrorize the lands. Shantae sets out to get the stones first and stop Risky’s plan from succeeding. On her quest, Shantae learns magical dances to transform herself into various animal forms to help her deal with environmental challenges. The monkey form can jump very high and scale walls, the elephant can smash through heavy objects, the harpy form can fly, and so on.

Released at the very tail end of the GameBoy Color’s lifespan, Shantae was a sleeper hit if there ever was one. Developed by the virtually unknown Wayforward and published by Capcom, Shantae was released after the GameBoy Advance was already on the market. All the stars were aligning against Shantae and it quickly fell into obscurity.

Why you should play it

As I stated in my original review, Shantae is outstanding. It’s a perfect blend of free-roaming action RPGs with many elements of Metroidvania thrown in for good measure. Shantae is technically and visually a masterpiece. This is not only be best looking gameboy Color game, but the best looking 8-bit game ever made. It is extremely colorful, lush, sprites are detailed and animate extremely fluidly, and the whole game carries a distinctive Arabian vibe that’s hard to dislike. There’s even parallax scrolling!

Hidden in this one obscure GBC game is the best GameBoy experience you can find. There’s Zelda-like puzzles, Metroid-like world to explore, and a Castlevania 2-like Day/night and town system. Shantae represents everything that NES sidescrolling RPGs such as Zelda II or the Battle of Olymus were trying for, and yet even today Shantae remains an overlooked classic. As Jeremy Parish stated on his blog, “Shantae stands as the ultimate chapter of 8-bit gaming, a gorgeous and entertaining tribute to all that had come before — and that’s hardly a legacy to be ashamed of. ”

Keep in mind that because of the obscurity of the game upon its release, the game was released in limited quantities. Coupled with an almost EarthBound cult following, prices in recent years have skyrocketed. You should expect to pay at least $90 – often much higher – for even a loose cart. I feel lucky to have bought the game new back when it was released in 2002. Shantae is, without a doubt outstanding.

So there you have it. 25 reasons why even after all these years, the GameBoy is still king of handhelds.

Did your favorite games make the cut? If not, don’t fret – I’m planning a follow up with some honorable mentions.

Warlocked Review (GBC)

Posted in Gameboy Color, Hidden gems, Retro Gaming, Reviews on February 27, 2011 by satoshimatrix

Welcome to the World of Warlocked

There are game genres that lend themselves to portables quite well – RPGs, puzzlers, digital board games and platformers just to name a few. Another genre that fits like a glove are real time strategy games, but they are strangely few and far between. Enter Warlocked, a real-time strategy war game with most of the bells and whistles of PC RTS games…and it’s on the Gameboy Color.

 
Story

Though there has been skirmishes near the southern border for nearly a century, Queen Azarel’s kingdom had remained relatively safe.
But with the recent rush of Beast raids in territories farther north, it had become obvious that Chief Zog was determined to destroy the humans once and for all. Left with no choice, the Queen sends a call throughout the land for the Wizards to come to her aid.
Now, from high atop the walls of Konjo Castle, Azarel gazed down upon her troops, Loyal and brave to the last man, the soldiers awaited her orders…

 
Graphics

Reducing an RTS to the resolution of the GBC was no easy feat. How can you work on such a small scale that allows sprites to be large enough to be visible, clear enough to be instantly distinguishable, yet small enough to be able to populate the screen at numbers of upwards of a dozen at any one time? Amazingly, the team at Bits did an outstanding job at accomplishing exactly this.
Warlocked is a GBC-only game that pushes the hardware like no other game tried on the hardware. There can be be a half dozen things going on at once from workers cutting trees, a worker building a guard tower, an invasion squad attacking the enemy and another attacking an invading squad.

 
As the Gameboy Color could only display 52 colors at once, color limitations change the colors used for sprites, making them somewhat hard to see on the old non-backlit LCD screen of the GBC. Of course, with things like the Gameboy Player, GBA SP or dare I say emulation, this is not longer an issue, but something to keep in mind if you plan on popping this one into the ol’ GBC.

 
Warlocked is roughly tile based, allowing all that occurs on screen to be clear and destinctive. Units, buildings, backgrounds and objects are instantly reconizable with good use of color throughout. Warlocked really does look quite good. Granted, when a lot is happening onscreen, the tiny GBC 8Mhz Z-80 simply can’t keep up and Warlocked can experience some slowdown, but not enough to become a nuisance.

 
Audio
Although the instrumentation of the GBC is less than ideal, Warlocked is full of many memorable tracks that will linger in your memory after you finish playing. Warlocked was composed by Jeroen Tel, probably best known for his contribution to many Commodore 64 titles and the rather outstanding music featured in the 8-bit versions of Robocop 3. Utilizing  his experience with chiptune technology to the fullest extent, Tel composed a great, memorable soundtrack for Warlocked that endures the test of time and still sounds great today. Here’s an example of the soundtrack using the opening sequence music.

It should also be noted that Warlocked used voice clips when commanding selected units. The voice samples are remarkably crisp and clear for the Gameboy Color, possibly the best done on the hardware. Sound effects are cartoony and work given the limitations of the hardware mixed with the style of the game.
Gameplay

Warlocked is a real time strategy game in the vein of the original Warcraft series. There are five main types of units:

Workers
Workers can gather gold from mines, cut down trees for fuel, construct additional pylons buildings or attack enemy buildings. They cannot attack other units and have the lowest HP of all units aside from baby dragons. They cost $50 gold to produce.

Knights
Knights are your typical melee attackers. They are a bit slow but wear heavy armor making them the strongest units in the game. Their sword swings are powerful and a small squad of them can wreak havoc on just about anything other than Dragons. They cost $100 gold to produce.

Archers
Archers are the exact opposite of Knights. They attack at range and have low defenses, nearly that of Workers. Arrows do less direct damage than Knight swords, but attacking from a distance gives them the advantage of staying out of immediate range of counterattacks. They cost $100 gold and 10 fuel to produce.

Wizards
Wizards are what Warlocked is all about. You cannot produce Wizards; only find them. Are are around thirty wizards total, each with different abilities, some offensive and others passive. For instance, there’s Quakewiz and Stormwiz who can summon earthquakes and lightening storms respectively to kill enemy units or damage property. Likewise, there’s Chickenwiz and Sleepwiz who can cast spells to turn enemies into extremely weak chickens or cast them asleep.
On the other hand, there are more passive Wizards like Brickwiz, who strengthens guard tower defenses, Sweatwiz who doubles worker movement speeds, and Queen Azarel and Chief Zog who reduce training times of new units by half.

Dragons
Like Wizards, Dragons cannot be produced. In some stages, when one of your units approchs a Dragon nest, the egg will hatch and a defenseless baby dragon will be at the player’s disposal. The player must then safely lead the dragon back to their HQ for safe keeping. Once the baby dragon arrives, it will quickly mature into a full sized Dragon, a powerful flying unit that can attack anything. Dragons move a bit slowly and are subject to arrow fire from archers, towers and the enemy HQ.  Unlike Wizards, Dragons cannot be healed if injured by returning them to the main hall.
Warlcoked’s single player consists of 26 levels – 13 for each faction. That might now sound like a lot, but there’s probably six to eight hours of gameplay in Warlocked; not bad for any 8-bit game.

 
There is also a multiplayer component where you can trade Wizards and even go head-to-head battling another human opponent, bringing with an army constructed from surviving units from the single player campaign. This idea sounds awesome, but even though I had friends at the time who owned the game, I never got a chance to experience the multiplayer aspects of Warlocked.

 

Control
Warlocked manages to make excellent use of every button the GBC, making it one of the few games that puts the Select button to good use throughout.
D-pad: Move cursor, choose menu options

A: Confirm, Select units, attack. Hold to select multiple units

B: Cancel, attack an area of ground

Select: Deselect/Reselect A selected unit (try saying that three times fast!)

Start: Opens the menu

Select + A: Assign a squad of units to “Team A”

Select + B: Assign a squad of units to “Team B”

A+ B: Demolish a constructed building and salvage 50% of the resources it cost to build

 

Frustration
Warlocked is only frustrating until you get the hang of how the game is played and how to exploit the almost brain-dead AI. If you build a series of guard towers then send a worker in sight of an enemy, that enemy will always attack the worker. If you then tell the worker to retreat back to the guard towers, the enemy will attempt to follow, taking damage from the guard towers. You can literally tell the worker to circle strafe around the guard towers and then enemy will never attack either the worker or the guard towers!

 
Wizards can only be found one at a time in stages. If a wizard dies, you permanently lose them. To avoid this annoyance, make sure to return a wizard to the temple when injured. You can them summon them right away at full health.
The game allows for real time saves as well, making it a perfect portable game that you can play and suspend any time you wish.

 
Availability & Price
Despite a fairly low production run, Warlocked seems to be in low demand and can be found for as low as $2, even on ebay. It isn’t as extremely common as other GBC titles, but finding a copy of Warlocked shouldn’t be a problem. Remember that like all old Nintendo games, Warlocked has a 2025 cell battery that has an estimated shelf life of 5-10 years. Depending on how much use the battery saw, you might have to replace it, so it’s a good idea to invest a dollar or so more on a new 2032 for your new Warlocked cartridge.

 
History
Warlocked was developed by Bits Studios, a British developer responsible for dozens of titles, most notably Alien 3, Castelian, The Itchy & Scatchy Game, and R-Type DX. Warlocked was the first real time strategy title the developer produced, and its success lead them to planning a sequel to start a series.
The sequel, called simply Wizards, was in development for the Gameboy Advance but was eventually canceled for unknown reasons, making Warlocked the only game in a planned series. In 2008 Bits Studios was closed down due to lagging sales.
Youtube has managed to preserve a press release beta video showing what Wizards might have looked like. Watching it brings a tear to my eye.

Overall
Good
•    Clear, colorful graphics
•    Exciting
•    A decent challenge, especially the later Beast Campaign levels.
Bad
•    Braindead AI can be exploited for easy victories
•    When given a distant destination, the braindead AI will “guess” at how best to move units around obstiles, often moving them unnessesarily into enemey fire or otherwise has no human player would move. Still, gotta remember it’s a GBC game.

 
Conclusion
Warlocked is an impressive effort on the Gameboy Color, perhaps making it the best 8-bit strategy game ever made, bumping M.U.L.E out of that spot. It looks good, sounds good, plays good and has enough complexity that you will want to come back for more, and replay levels even after you beat them for faster times and higher scores. The game is extremely affordable today, so if you’re looking for a great GBC gem, look no further.

 

Data
Platform: Game B0y Color
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Release Date: July 24, 2000
Developer: Bits Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
Also from the developer: Alien 3, Castelian, The Itchy & Scatchy Game, and R-Type DX
Also try: Warcraft, Warcraft II
Game Length: ~6-10 hours
ESRB: T (cartoony death, but still death)
Buy/Skip: Buy it you cheapskate!

Wendy: Every Witch Way Review (GBC)

Posted in Gameboy Color, Retro Gaming, Reviews on September 12, 2010 by satoshimatrix

Wayforward’s Metal Storm inspired unique twist on platforming

Have you heard of this game? Chances are you haven’t. Wendy: Every Witch Way is a fairly obscure Gameboy Color game that you’d probably pass over if you saw it today. Afterall, Wendy the witch is a children’s cartoon character and the vast majority of games made for the Gameboy were intended for kids.

Boring stuff right?

Based on experience with the excellent Shantae, I’ve been seeking out the other games made by Wayforward over the past few years. Wayforward was one of the few developers to truly “get” the Gameboy Color; their games turned the hardware limitations into strengths and produced excellent games for the system that rival the best NES or Master System games.

Is this game really worth seeking out or is it just honestly another licensed kids game to avoid? Going in with little info other than it was a Wayforward game, I wanted to know the answer.

Story

Everyone’s favorite pre-teen witch accidentally opens a chest containing magic stones, and they escape when they are given the chance. The stones run off to a floating castle, and the flying castle becomes grounded by the stones. Gravity has now gone haywire, and Wendy must now retrieve the stones so everything can become normal again.

Graphics

Once again, Wayforward stretched their muscles showing off their talent of producing excellent looking games on the lowly GBC hardware.

Wendy is quite a strikingly good sprite and animates with the cartoon fluidity that only Wayforward could pull off. The game really pushes what it means to be 8-bit.

The game employs parallax scrolling, the color schemes used are spot on, and every enemy is clearly visible and distinctive.

Audio

Unfortunately, the audio is pure old fashioned gameboy crap. Most of the tracks just sound bad and are completely forgettable. The game does use some voice samples for Wendy, which sound clear, but are equally annoying.

Gameplay

The main attraction to Wendy is the ability to control gravity and walk on the ceiling or floor at will. This makes it a lot like Metal Storm on the NES, but even better as the jumping mechanics and pathways are cleverly thought out.

Placed throughout each stage are several stars which when collected, boost the power of Wendy’s magical attack. The more stars Wendy gains the more powerful the attack she gains. The stars are also tied to her health meter, so every time she gets hit, she looses one star and becomes less powerful.

Some enemies can only be harmed by changing gravity which is a really cool gimmick and gives the game a great unique charm.

After every three stages, you’ll play a really dumbed down horizontal auto scrolling shooter. This mode places Wendy on a broomstick, with the ability to fire and dodge, but it’s not very flushed out at all, nor any challenge. After only a few minutes fighting through the same two or three enemies, you’ll be glad it’s over and back to the sidescrolling action. This mode feels rather rushed compared to the rest of the game.

Frustration

Very minimal, surprisingly enough. There are spiked walls, ceilings and floors, but you’ll almost always know where they are even with the limited viewing space of the GBC. There are no bottomless pits or anything that will kill you in one hit. You’ll probably never die even once playing this completely though from start to finish.

The game offers a few more difficult stages if you play on a GBA, but even these exclusive stages are still nothing that will enrage you.

System Availability and Price

Wendy is a GBC exclusive, but best played on a GBA SP or Gameboy Player to access the exclusive stages. It’s rare, so it’ll go for $25+ online. I was hyper lucky to find my copy recently.

History

Unfortunately, there’s very little dirt I can dig up for Wendy: Every Witch Way. It’s  not tied to any cartoon or comic release at the time, its not very well known, even as far as Wayforward games go. I’d love to be able to say the creative team based it heavily on the NES cult classic Metal Storm, but I can’t even find any info to substantiate that claim. If you know any dirt on Wendy, please drop a comment and I’ll be sure to amend this section later.

Overall

Good

-Yet another beautiful game using Wayforward’s legendary engine.

-Colorful, bright, enjoyable to look at.

-Gravity control gameplay is a ton of fun.

-Password save with only four characters.

Bad

-Extremely short, even by platforming standards. You can beat it in less than an hour.

-Extremely easy.

-Very little verity.

-No battery save, but then again, it’s so short its understandable.

Conclusion

Wendy: Every Witch Way is extremely fun, extremely short, and for whatever reason, extremely rare. If you should ever come across this game, pick it up. You won’t be disappointed. It is only surpassed by the truly excellent Shantae which came out a year later.

Data

Platform: Gameboy Color

Genre: Action Platformer

Release Date: Mid 2001

Developer: WayForward Technologies

Publisher: TDK Mediactive, Inc.

Also from the developer: Shantae, Xtreme Sports

ESRB: E

Buy or skip: Buy