I have been wanting to do video reviews for Shamoozal for ages, so it was fun to finally get the chance to make a video review of my own, even though it’s for Elder-Geek.com and not for here. That doesn’t mean I can’t share it with you folks though, so here it is.
What do you think? This was actually much harder to put together than I anticipated, and it unfortunately cut into the time I had planned to work on the new ROM episode. Remember that free weekend from the kids that I wrote about in the last post? Yeah, that was this past weekend and my time was dedicated to putting together this review. It was good for me though, it’s been a long time since I’ve edited a video together, and it was a great exercise in doing voice over work for this sort of thing.
Reading a review is much harder than it appears! I’m much more accustomed to recording a few lines of dialogue as a character. I put together two versions of this review, the first of which I read my written review almost word for word. It just didn’t sound very natural, so I went back last night and re-recorded my audio, instead trying to do the review as if I were having a conversation with someone about it. It’s not perfect, but maybe I’ll start to get good at these sorts of things if I keep up with them.
Anyway I’m interested to see how it gets received. I tried to put more emphasis on the mechanics of the game, and go less into what the game is about. I feel like so many reviews these days read like previews of a game with the occasional opinion thrown in for good measure. I’m more interested in talking about why I think a game works the way it does. I may not have gotten that point across in this review, but again, all part of the learning process. I almost didn’t even bring the story up, but I wanted to talk about the Skyloft characters so I felt like I needed to. Also kept all talk about graphics and audio to a minimum. I think the game looks and sounds fantastic, but the review was already running long and I wanted to focus on what I felt were the important aspects of the game.
So yeah, it was lots of work, almost my entire Sunday plus a bunch of hours Saturday and Monday night. I really under estimated the scale of something like this.
So I know it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet (we still have a few days) but since this is the only time I’m going to update the blog for a while, I figured I might as well say happy Thanksgiving… so… yeah, Happy Thanksgiving!
Since my latest post I’ve done a bit of work on the Zelda short. It’s not a crazy amount of work mind you, just some really loose roughs for two of the more complicated shots. Of course as I’m working on these shots I realize the flow of the storyboards isn’t quite right, so I have some rethinking to do on some of the scenes.
Speaking of rethinking, I also haven’t forgotten the Contra short. It still pops up in my mind from time to time and I think I’ve actually come up with a solution for it. The day I thought of the solution I almost considering jumping back onto it to wrap it up, but that would be too much bouncing around. My goal is to hopefully see this Zelda thing through. I’d LOVE to have it done by early January. I’d have to kick it into high gear (and with the holidays coming it’ll be busy!) but I might have some nights and days where I’ll really be able to give it my all. The week before Christmas I’ll have the place to myself for a few nights, so I totally plan on banging out a lot of work then. Assuming I have enough PTO at the 9 to 5, I also plan on taking off Christmas week. Sure I’ll spend some of those days with my girls, but I’ll ship them off to the baby sitter so I can really put a lot of effort into the Zelda short. I am *thinking* those few days will really make quite the difference. I’ll hopefully have most of my roughs done before those days, so it’ll be lots of clean up animation and all that good stuff.
In the meantime, the gang plans on getting together this Friday (this Black Friday) to record what could be a final episode of the Shamoozal Radio Podcast. We haven’t done one of these since the summer, and quite frankly SRP just really isn’t part of the big picture anymore. In my letting go of most things Shamoozal, SRP is pretty much part of that. I don’t want to say it’ll be gone for good, but I will say I don’t really have any intentions of doing more past this one. Things could change though.
If you like hearing me talk though, you can still catch me on the Elder-Geek Game Club, the podcast that was formerly known as the Shamoozal Game Club. It’s a biweekly show where Steve (of SRP and this site in general), and EG.com’s Randy talk about a game chosen by the audience for an extended period of time. The show has been going well in it’s transition to Elder-Geek, and I hope some of you folk had an easy time making the transition. We still like to try and talk about the games we’re playing on our very own forums, so it still has very strong ties to the Shamoozal.
I have also begun writing reviews for Elder-Geek.com. I enjoy writing game reviews, and since I’ve cut the idea from the Nerdlog, I asked Randy if it were cool to continue doing some writing over there. Thankfully he was fine with it, so I’ll be doing the occasional review over there. I don’t get a heck of a lot of new releases these days, so my reviews probably won’t be coming at a very steady pace. You can already catch my reviews for Where Is My Heart (PS3) and Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) over on the site. I’ll also be reviewing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the site, but that’s going to be a bit far out there yet. In fact, I very may likely end up doing lots of Nintendo stuff over there, so it’ll be fun!
Anyway, just wanted to fill everyone in on what’s been going on. Thanks for stopping by and reading.
I won’t lie, I’m terrible at perspective drawing. While I can visually picture almost exactly how this next Zelda short will play out, when I actually think about putting it onto paper (well, digital paper) I get a little scared. I’ve been mulling over how exactly to go about doing the perspective work on this when it popped into my head while cleaning up the girls’ megablox a few days ago that it might be a good idea to actually build a model for it. Hence this hypothetical Link versus Barney thing you’re seeing.
What you’re really looking at is a quick mock up I did of the room where Link fights the Aquamentus in the original Zelda game (that’s the first dragon like boss mind you). This is a sort of to scale model, the Link figure is perfect and the Barney was the closest thing the girls had to a dragon, not to mention the fact he’s about as large as I’d like him to be. I thought the Megablox would work perfect since the area this fight takes place in is surrounded by similar blocks. So within a few minutes I built my stage pretty close to how I imagine it.
I took a few shots that I can use as a target for where I’d like things placed. It’s interesting because I already found some issues with how this is exactly going to play out. When Link dashes from the door to the blocks, I was hoping I’d be able to pan the camera completely away from the dragon. This wasn’t exactly working as planned with this model, so there is still some work to be done, but hopefully this will help push me in the right direction.
Well I never intended to drag out this series of write ups for three weeks, but that’s what ended up happening. It would come down to “Should I do this nerdlog post or work on the short?” and working on the short won almost every time. So anyway, we’re onto the final part of the Magazine Treasure Chest.
Tucked away in the chest were a handful of old folders from when I was in grade school and high school. These were full of drawings I did when I was a kid. Some have aged better than others, most are just dreadful. I’m glad I was a bit of a pack rat even when I was a kid because I do enjoy looking back at many of these pictures. I can remember drawing most of them and it’s neat to see literally a lifetime of my work and the way I drew characters then and now. It’s funny, I’ve never stopped drawing Link, the Ninja Turtles, they’re easily some of my favorites. There’s a handful of Zoink images too, and apparently I’ve had a secret Frankenstein obsession even when I was young. Weird. I didn’t even realize that until I came across it. So anyway, here are 20 drawings I drew ranging from the fourth to eleventh grade. Enjoy.
A bunch of Zelda drawings that I’m pretty sure I copied out of the manual from A Link to the Past. These were most likely drawn when Zelda was new, so I probably drew these in 1992. I would be 10 years old.
Pretty sure I drew this in class as the above. It’s Link, and I guess he’s fighting a Gibdo as well as a dildo. It’s supposed to be those green slimes from ALTTP.
I feel like I also remember drawing this in class, but being happy enough with it to take it home so I could ink it. I probably drew this in 1993. That Slippy is so bad. So is the sideways logo, ha.
The first TMNT picture was done in 1994 while I’m certain the one below it of the Turtles assaulting a giant Krang in the Turtle Blimp was done a year or two before it.
And to show some progress, a picture of Leonardo I did when I was a Junior in High School. One of my favorite parts about drawing the Turtles (as well as Link actually) is that there are so many styles to choose from.
Buster Bunny and a Zoink that I color on poster board. Probably done around ’92 or ’93
A TERRIBLE Street Fighter 2 image I think I also did in class. There is actually a sequence of these with every fighter from the original game, even the bosses (Vega, Bison, etc). Probably done in ’92.
By comparison, some Street Fighter Alpha 2 drawings I did when I was a Junior in high school. My Ryu is terrible, but the Sakura is okay for what it is.
Drawing of a Battletoad and DK and Diddy from the first DKC done in pastels… on line paper. Yeah, that didn’t work so hot on top of not knowing how to use them. I’d guess these were done in ’94 or early ’95.
Image of Samus that I’d guess I did early on in high school. Maybe when I was a Sophomore? I don’t know for sure.
I’ve already admitted my love for Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon in the past. Considering I was in love with the show when I was in 8th grade and early in high school, I’ll assume I did this when I was a Freshmen.
Thought this was funny. Picture of Hollywood Hogan after he said he would run for President before the 2000 election. Also done when I was a Junior.
Picture of a Frankenstein character. I guess I always did like Frankenstein, there were actually a few more like this. I’ll guess maybe I did this in 5th or 6th grade, so around ’93 – ’94.
A bunch of awful Mega Man inspired (and probably ripped off) characters. Oddly enough, the main characters from Out of this World also made the cut. Probably done in ’92.
“Z-Men” a terrible X-Men parody with Zoinks. Probably done in ’91.
I always enjoyed drawing these big war scenarios, usually they’d progress through a bunch of pages. This is obviously the war against drugs. Probably ’91 or ’92.
Another Mega Man inspired character complete with stats and bad spelling!
Finally a mishmash of characters, like Link, The Punisher and an Arwing escaping the wrath of Andross. Most likely drawn in ’93.
So there we have it, a small sample of my old art. It is what it is, and I’m glad I’ve held onto it for so long.
During my sorting of the Magazine Treasure Chest I came across two game mags that actually featured my work. Oddly enough, I’m not actually named in either of these minor accomplishments, but when you’re a youngster with dreams of writing for magazines like this, it doesn’t matter how you appear in them. First up is the October 1996 issues of Nintendo Power.
Okay it’s confession time. Back when Nintendo ran the Nintendo Power Source on AOL, I took part in an interactive story that was based in Hyrule. I don’t really remember much about it to tell you the truth, I just remember the rules were that no one could write about Link and Zelda. I’m sure there are hundreds of boards that still do this sort of thing to this day, but at the time it seemed kind of unique. Anyway I pretty much sucked at writing these stories, though I’m sure they were all absolutely terrible when you get down to it. Regardless, I enjoyed taking part in the first round of this new community feature (I never took part in any stories past the first, so I don’t know how long Nintendo ran these things).
During the course of the story, users were asked to hand in drawings of their characters so they could display them on a board for people to download. Since I loved drawing so much in those days, I of course took part in drafting a shot of my characters. The problem is that actually getting your pictures into the computer was kind of complicated! In those days it wasn’t common for someone to own a scanner, and no one was taking pictures with digital cameras. I actually had to go to a friends house to use his scanner so I could submit this thing to the site. I was happy to have been able to hand in my work, but I never would have imagined it would land in the pages of Nintendo Power. I wasn’t a subscriber at the time and I had found out that I was in there from others that I hung out with on the NPS.
Of course it’s “By Giggas” and not my actual name, but like I said, that didn’t matter. All that mattered is that my drawing was in Nintendo Power. I remember running to a bunch of stores trying to buy a copy of this but I couldn’t find it. My cousin was actually nice enough to lend me his when he got it. I’m not so sure he thought I was going to keep it, but that’s kind of what ended up happening, sorry Brian. At least I took really good care of it! Ha.
Two years later more of my work would be featured in the now defunct Ultra Gameplayers Magazine.
A buddy of mine that I had met through the NPS actually collaborated together for years on lots of fun online projects. He used it as a means to teach himself web design and coding where as I mainly used it as an opportunity to crank out content. He was always good at coming up the big picture, and I was generally pretty good at giving it some substance.
One of our projects was a Nintendo 64 fansite, as if there weren’t enough of those already, but his nice designs and my desire to write about everything gaming related led to the creation of TGE Online (True Gaming Edge Online, how cool were we?). We actually weren’t running it for too long when we heard that it would be featured in Ultra Gameplayers. We were pumped and of course scrambled to try and make the site better. Since it was his baby, he decided that it should encompass all games, but since neither of us really had anything but Nintendo at the time, it was a strange idea that I disagreed with. Looking back, I had no right to disagree, it was his site that he was footing the bill for. He was a few years older than I, so I was a bit hot headed over the whole thing. He did put me in my place, and I deserved it. So the day this magazine hit news stands he updated the site to be more than the N64, we got into an argument and then that was pretty much it for TGE Online.
Still, it was cool being featured in the mag! We were only a small blurb in the back of the magazine, but for us it was enough. I’m pretty sure UGP came to an end itself not much longer. That was one of those ones that showed up during the 32-bit era and just never got to leave it.
So these two magazines will survive the great magazine purge. They’re such small little things, it’s hard to say if they were really even accomplishments, but they felt like it then. I wasn’t in any sports or anything when I was a kid, so I never got any trophies. Yes, I’ve never received a trophy in my entire life. I wasn’t an honor student either so I never got any certificates telling me how great my grades were. In my little world, these were my trophies and these were what drove me to keep doing the stuff I enjoyed doing. Insignificant in the long run, but still hold a lot of value regardless.
Also worth noting, my old Jacquo cartoons that I said I’d never show anyone again were featured in a handout that went to subscribers to EGM. Well they were sort of features on the sheet anyway. It was simply a list of links to sites they thought were worth checking out, and my Jacquo cartoons were cool enough to watch I guess! I have the paper somewhere, but that’s buried in a completely different area.
Today The Legend of Zelda turns 25 years old. That’s probably older than most of you people reading this! I won’t bore you with a history lesson because those can easily be found all over the internet today. Instead I want to go over some of my personal favorite Zelda memories.
The gold game and the title scroll
The day my brother brought home his NES he managed to borrow a bunch of games from a buddy, one of them being Zelda, which I referred to as “The gold game.” Zelda at that point didn’t really make sense to me, but I remember liking it despite walking around the world map and completely avoiding dungeons as I found them too frustrating.
What I really loved about The Legend of Zelda, and what I still love about it, is that title screen and scroll sequence. It made such a lasting impression on me that to this day I still get the same joy out of watching it that I did then. That scroll screen was a brilliant idea really, as it gave the player a hint of all of the amazing secret items that are tucked away in the game. It doesn’t tell you what they do or how to get them, but it lets you know that they’re there and ready to be discovered. It gives the player a sense of scope before even seeing the game itself. And the title screen? How cool is it that when you hit the power button you get met with that thing? Especially in this day and age where players are forced to sit through a million stupid logo and warning screens before actually getting to a title screen.
Growing up I had a love hate relationship with Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. Sometimes I’d love it, other times I’d hate it as I saw it inferior to Zelda 1 (I still sort of do think its inferior, but I still love it). Anyway, it sounds silly today because it’s been done so many times before, but the fight with Shadow Link at the end of Zelda 2 was mind blowing. We thought that we just defeated the final boss, but upon entering the next room Link stands for a moment and then his shadow breaks from him. It’s here we’re met with the true final boss. It’s a common thing to fight a “dark” or “shadow” version of yourself in a game now, but this is the first game I can think of that ever did it (I’m sure it’s not though) and the reveal was awesome. It’s actually a frustrating a brutal fight (if you don’t use the cheat spot) but it is manageable with some practice.
In another somewhat brilliant moment, we’re introduced to Shadow Link throughout the game. At the time video games never showed shadows, but in Zelda 2 you’d get glimpses of Link’s shadow like when you’d defeat an end boss. While it appeared to just be a flashy effect, they actually made use of it at the end, having it separate from Link and attack. Also, look at Nintendo doing the whole silhouette thing 20 years before it became cool in more modern titles (like Limbo and Donkey Kong Country Returns).
Breaking the Seal
A Link to the Past was a huge game. While it was much more helpful than Zelda 1 in terms of it giving the player several clues and tips, it came packaged with a Tip Book that was separate from the manual. In an attempt to make players think twice about opening it, the tip book was actually sealed with a triforce sticker. My brothers vowed to never open the tip book, that they would overcome the game on their own. As a result, I wasn’t able to open the tip book either or I’d be in serious trouble. It didn’t matter much to me because I watched them play most of the game and just applied what I knew from them when I’d get to play it. However, one day my brothers found themselves stuck. They completed every dungeon and knew that they needed to blow up the crack at the Pyramid in the Dark World but they couldn’t figure it out. What were they to do? Doing the unthinkable, they broke the seal. There, listed as it’s final tip of the six pages lie the answer to “How do I get the Super Bomb?” And such a simple answer! Just go to the bomb store where it was already available. To come so far without having to open the tip book only to find such a simple solution is truly soul crushing. Amazing that such a tiny little book was responsible for a couple of teenagers to lose their gaming dignity. It’s all because Nintendo sealed it with a sticker. Pretty brilliant move.
The Wind Fish
There is a lot to love about Link’s Awakening, but when I think back to that game the one thing I always remember is that Wind Fish. I can’t really explain why, but it’s pretty magical for whatever reason. I suppose because the whole mystery of it during the game. We’re shown the Wind Fish egg the entire duration of the game, we know that it must be opened in order to win. At the same time we’re also told throughout the game that if we open that egg all hell will break loose. He may not have popped out the way we thought he would when we finally do it, but when he finally appears, it is indeed magical (and surreal). Magical, and somber actually, as the citizens of Koholint Island were right in that awakening the fish did cause the end of the world. Their world anyway, but it was required for Link to awaken from his nightmare so that he could survive.
The Forest Temple
Ocarina of Time is probably my favorite Zelda game. I know it’s sort of cliche to list that or Link to the Past, but I’ll be damned if Ocarina of Time didn’t change my perception of what games could be. The Forest Temple, probably the best dungeon in any Zelda game, is what I believe to be the embodiment of what Zelda is. It absolutely nails the atmosphere as it’s spooky, beautiful, and mysterious. The puzzles are just right, tricky enough to where you’ll be running from one end of the dungeon to the other trying to find clues and solutions, but never to the point where you’re just flat out baffled to where it’s a game breaker. The ominous music that plays in the background is probably one of my favorite Zelda tracks too, perfectly complimenting the mood. Then the final fight against Phantom Ganon is just the icing on the cake. I’ve actually started new games in this just to play up to this dungeon. It’s fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s so good the rest of the dungeons in Ocarina don’t feel quite as awesome. Though that desert temple one is cool, if not a slight pain in the ass.
Anju and Kafei
I’m glad the internet has come around to this fantastic sequence from Majora’s Mask. Majora’s Mask probably wasn’t as celebrated as it should have been thanks to it’s release timing. Coming out only months before the launch of the Playstation 2 and during the Dreamcast’s semi-decent first year run, the N64 was just an old hat, and considering Majora didn’t look much different than Ocarina, it sort of got the shaft. It is indeed one of the finest Zelda games ever created and the quest of Anju and Kafei is proof of that.
Link is tasked with reuniting a separated couple during the three day span of the game. Anju and Kafei were set to be married, but Skull Kid turned Kafei into a child causing him to go into hiding. During the three days Link works his ass off to get the couple to reunite so that they can be married. There’s even a fantastic sequence where the player controls Kafei, the first time where the player controls anyone but Link in a Zelda game, where the two work together to get a mask from a bandit. When the couple reunites, they know that they’re facing the end of the world. With time running out, the two marry despite Kafei’s appearance and await their impending doom together. Of course Link resets time, but in this version of the story, the couple dies together. It’s the most touching moment in a Zelda game, and the lengthy side quest makes amazing use of the three day time span showing off absolutely fantastic game design in the process.
Conducting for the first time & the secret sequel
I wasn’t really sold on the baton when reading about it before The Wind Waker was released. I wasn’t ready to let my Ocarina go, but the first time you’re asked to conduct in The Wind Waker changed my mind immediately. I’ll admit that I was seriously confused by it. I sort of just starred at the screen not really understanding what it wanted from me, but I had fun just screwing around, listening to all of the sounds and getting a grasp on the timing. When I finally composed the song, I realized this was something special.
Before leaving Wind Waker, another great moment was how it was a secret follow up to Ocarina of Time, with the big reveal of Hyrule underwater and tales of the Hero of Time. One of the first times a Zelda game directly referenced the efforts of a previous Link. What a cool moment.
Final Battles of Twilight Princess
I’m probably one of the few that really, really loves Twilight Princess. I personally feel its the pinnacle of 3D Zelda games (though I admittedly have more of a soft spot for Ocarina). I’m not sure how someone could like Ocarina or Wind Waker and not love Twilight Princess, but that isn’t what this is about. Anyway, Twilight Princess easily wins the “best final boss” contest when it comes to Zelda games. There are no less than four different battles, all testing Link’s different strengths. It starts with the usual reflect magic battles made famous in A Link to the Past, but then it quickly changes into much more dramatic affair. Remember that goat herding from the first hour of Twilight Princess? Who would have thought Link would use those skills to fight Ganon’s pig form so much later? And then there’s a great horseback sequence, and if that wasn’t enough you finally go sword to sword with Ganon himself. I mean, this is the sort of fan service stuff that was teased all the way back in the Gamecube’s original Zelda demo reel. And although sword swings are just simple waggle gestures in Twilight Princess, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t seriously swinging that remote around like my life depended on it. For those few minutes, I finally felt like Link fighting Ganon.
So those are just a few of my favorite Zelda memories scattered across almost all the mainline Zelda games. I of course have plenty of others, but those are all the first ones I usually associate with those games when I reflect on them. It’s crazy that I’ve been playing Zelda games nearly my entire life and how they’ve never really gotten old (with the exception of Phantom Hourglass, probably the only Zelda I don’t like). While Nintendo isn’t officially celebrating Zelda’s 25th at the moment, it’s a great year to be a Zelda fan. With both Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time 3D, and Link’s Awakening DS for 3DS download, there is no shortage of great Zelda content coming this year.
I recently sat down with Justin from the Radio Free Gamer podcast to talk about Read Only Memory. I’ve included a portion of the interview that goes into how the series came about, what old video game cartoons inspired me from the past and why I sort of still like the Zelda cartoon. If you click on over to the rest of the show, we dive more into how the NES era has affected an entire generation. My interview takes place around the 42 minute mark, but be sure to enjoy all the sweet game music that helps make Radio Free Gamer the show that it is!
Enjoy the interview and be sure to check out the show. I’m in the latest episode titled World 2 Level 20.
If you often frequent video game websites, you’re probably well aware that the Gameboy turned 20 earlier this month. I’m not going to go into the history of the little portable that could, because chances are all you already know how awesome it was, how Tetris did this and that, and how Pokemon literally pulled Gameboy out of a coma in the late 90s. Instead, I’m going to go the more personal route and run over a handful of the games that I felt really defined my experience with the Gameboy.
Super Mario Land Series
An easy way to get people to buy a Gameboy was to make a Mario game that played on it. Enter the original Super Mario Land, likely one of the top two reasons to buy a Gameboy at launch. This somewhat oddball Mario title, complete with shooter-like stages, was the first game I personally ever played on Gameboy and needless to say, it was love at first sight. Although Super Mario Land may have been the first true Gameboy experience for many people, mine was actually Super Mario Land 2.
I actually didn’t have a Gameboy for the first few years it was out. I would always beg for one, but it was more money than my family could afford at the time. When Mario Land 2 was released it killed me I couldn’t play it. I wanted to know who this Wario guy was, and I wanted to explore more Mario worlds, especially being hot off Super Mario World. Thankfully, that Christmas I was blessed with my big beautiful Gameboy along with Super Mario Land 2. Being that this was the first game I was really able to sit down and play on the Gameboy (and not bumming it off a friend for a few minutes to get my fix) Mario Land 2 will always be the first game I think of when thinking back to the Gameboy. I seriously remember playing it Christmas day huddled under a light at around 4 in the morning until god knows when… great memories right there.
Super Mario Land 2 is still a rather fun game these days, and again, shares some of the strange quirks that made the original Land feel slightly alien. Eventually, the series morphed into what we now know as the Wario Land games. In fact, the first Wario Land game was called Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, heck of a subtitle, I know. The game shared a lot of similar visual design ideas from previous Wario games, but added the unique Wario flavor of being the “bad guy” and going around bashing through enemies with Wario’s trademark dash. It was an interesting twist on the Mario formula that was successful enough to launch Wario into a career of his own. I played my fair share of Wario Land as well, and to this day, it’s still the only Wario title I’ve played through.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Proof that a Zelda game on the small screen could be just as good as it’s big 16-bit brother, Link’s Awakening is in many ways the perfect Zelda game. Sure it’s not quite as long as some of his other adventures, but the brevity of the title is what helped make it such a great portable adventure. One thing I personally loved about Link’s Awakening were the mini-bosses of each dungeon, now a Zelda standard, but here they acted as a means to open up a warp gate at the start of the dungeons. Not only did this make it easier to jump back into dungeons when you only had a few minutes to spare, but it also made for twice the amount of boss battles through out the game. Can never have too many clever Zelda boss battles now can we? I also liked the side scrolling segments that made use of Link’s new jumping ability. Several fun cameos, like goombas, King Wart, and an evil Kirby character, were also fun touches that were not really seen in previous Zelda games.
Speaking of Kirby, how can we talk about Gameboy and not mention him? I remember a friend of mine got the first Kirby game for his birthday and we were able to blow through it in a single sitting. Sure the game was a piece of cake, but it sure was a good time. The unfortunate thing with a Kirby game is that if you played one, you kind of played them all. It is hard to say if it’s actually worth going back and revisiting the original if you played the countless follow ups, but there is no denying the little guys charm.
Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge
Before the Castlevania found its true home on portables in the form of various high quality GBA and DS games, the first few outings on the Gameboy weren’t exactly the greatest. Castlevania Adventure, the first of three portable titles, is likely the worst Castlevania in the history of the franchise (well, maybe aside from Judgement). It’s a slow paced, slow moving, and frustrating game.
Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge on the other hand, while still a little slow moving, was like a small masterpiece compared to the original. Belmont’s Revenge felt like a true Casltevania game with a more balanced difficulty, and better level design. It’s also the only Casltevania game with a Mega Man like stage select from the outset. The variety of different castles was welcomed, and the music is freaking fantastic. It’s a bummer that Castlevania Legends, the third and final of the original Gameboy Castlevania games, was such a let down. So while Belmont’s Revenge isn’t the best Castlevania game, it’s still decent enough in it’s own right. Did I mention the music is awesome?
Donkey Kong ’94
I have sung the praises of Donkey Kong ’94 somewhat recently, and I still believe it’s possibly the greatest Gameboy game ever created. It relaunched the Donkey Kong character, the pacing is perfect for a portable game, the game plays flawlessly and the whole package is polished like nearly nothing else on the platform. If there is a game on this list worth playing to this day, then this is the one.
Metroid II is another game I’ve sung praises about before here on the Shamoozal, so I won’t dedicate much space to it. Still, it’s the only game on the Gameboy that I think I’d classify as a piece of art. Don’t listen to what anyone says, R&D1 did the most they could with the hardware, crafting a game that actually worked around the Gameboy’s weaknesses. The fact that they were able to create an eerie atmosphere on the Gameboy should prove that these guys knew what they were doing. Not only did the team best what they did on the NES, but they made one of the few Gameboy games worth revisiting today. Also worth noting is that R&D1 included a secret “color” mode in the game that wouldn’t be discovered until the debut of the Gameboy Color.
Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters
Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, is actually a bit of a let down. The NES original is one of my favorite games, even if it does have some flaws. The Gameboy version feels like a cheap soulless version of its big brother, with bad music (the dungeon music is catchy though), somewhat sloppy control, and lacking anything that makes it feel genuinely new. I figured it was worth a nod since there are a ton of people out there clamoring for a new Kid Icarus, yet chances are they probably never played this follow up that went largely unnoticed. For people curious enough, it’s worth looking into it just to see it (and can easily be blown through in an afternoon), but beyond that it lacks the magic of the first game.
This is all just a small fraction of the games that really defined this system for me. I could go on and on about games like TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan, Bubble Ghost, Final Fantasy Adventure, and Operation C, but I’ve rattled on long enough. The Gameboy may have been built on some of the oldest technology at the time, but it sure did make the most of it. I’ll always love the little guy.
Feel free to share some of your Gameboy memories in the comments section.