Battleship

BattleshipThe Game: Two fleets of four warships conduct long-distance naval warfare, randomly firing torpedoes (and occasionally some higher-powered ordnance) at each other, guessing at the positions of their targets. Whoever sinks the entire opposing fleet first is the victor. (Hasbro Interactive, 1999)

Memories: This game will always have a special place in my heart. Imagine, if you will, my new bride and I, laying in bed on our honeymoon, glistening candlelight reflected in our link cable, trying to blow up each other’s fleets in a two-player death match. Most couples wait a while before they try to shred each other viciously. But this is one of those advances they talk about with modern technology. Continue reading

Frogger

FroggerBuy this gameThe Game: You are a frog. Your task is simple: hop across a busy highway, dodging cars and trucks, until you get the to the edge of a river, where you must keep yourself from drowning by crossing safely to your grotto at the top of the screen by leaping across the backs of turtles and logs. But watch out for snakes and alligators! (Majesco, 1999)

Memories: Ah, the joys of Frogger. It’s still one of the simplest and most deceptively difficult arcade games Froggerever to come down the pike, and yet finding a decent port of it over the years has proven to be almost as difficult as getting the amphibious one across the road in the game’s sixth level. But ask anyone about favorite video games from the early 80s, and you’re almost certain to hear Frogger in that list. The popularity of the original Frogger is borne out by the fact that a series of licensees has attempted to turn out a modern-day descendant of Frogger, and while some of those have been fun in their own right, they’ve also barely lived up to the simple joy of the original. Continue reading

Monopoly

MonopolyThe Game: Does anyone not know this game? You and quite a few other players make a mad dash around the Monopoly board, snatching up properties, railroads, and utilities, hazarding the fickle fortunes of the Chance and Community Chest spaces, and trying to avoid taxes and jail – not to mention bankruptcy – while building an empire that will make you rich. (Majesco Sales, 1999)

Memories: This is sort of like the Game Boy editions of Pac-Man and Space Invaders – it’s an excellent reason to own one of Nintendo‘s portable powerhouses o’ fun. The Parker Brothers board game classic is faithfully reproduced despite the small screen, and the game play is engaging. In many ways, I prefer the Game Boy version of Monopoly to the PC or Playstation versions for the same reason I’d take the Game Boy version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? over the Playstation version of that game: no cutscenes, no animations you can’t bail out of (or shut down from the options menu), no bull – the Game Boy has just enough room for the game. And I like it that way. Continue reading

Galaga: Destination Earth

Galaga: Destination EarthBuy this gameThe Game: A couple of centuries after the attempted Galaga invasion of Earth in 1982, human terraformers have set their sights on a nearby world for colonization, and a massive expedition is launched – but, of course, since such an exploration is a costly venture, defense cutbacks are made, leaving Earth vulnerable to a new Galaga invasion. Of course, you’re the only surviving space fighter pilot in the outer solar system, so it’s up to you to take on the Galaga invaders single-handedly. (Hasbro Interactive, 2000)

Memories: Oof. As good as Galaga: Destination Earth turned out for the Playstation (and yes, I do realize that not everyone will agree with me on that point), the Game Boy Color port is honestly one of the weakest games I’ve seen for the portable platform. Continue reading

Marble Madness

Marble MadnessThe Game: You control the speed and direction of a marble which is racing other marbles to reach the finish line. Obstacles along the way include marble-eating creatures, treacherous cliffs and drawbridges, and the game’s own unreliable controls! (Midway, 2000)

Memories: Color me impressed. Atari‘s Marble Madness coin-op, based on the company’s System 1 architecture, was an eye-opener when it hit the arcades in 1984. And it’s still an eye-opener with Digital Eclipse’s stunning port of the game for the Game Boy Color. Marble Madness sports some of the most impressive color graphics yet seen on a Game Boy – but the same maddening and frustrating game play as its inspiration. Continue reading

Qix Adventure

Qix AdventureThe Game: A boy named Speedy ventures through a mystical land, taunted by cute animals. Somehow this quest is expressed through a series of challenges in which the player tries to claim as much of the playing field as possible by enclosing areas of it. If the ever-shifting Qix touches Speedy’s marker or an uncompleted boundary, a life is lost and the boundary must be built again. Sparx, which travel only along the edges of the playing field and along the boundaries of already-enclosed areas of the screen, can also cost Speedy a life. (Taito, 2000)

Memories: In 2000, two trends collided within this one game. Trend #1 was the fading glow of a few years’ worth of retro video gaming nostalgia, a trend that brought of lots of arcade compilations and lots of “remakes” of classic arcade games, especially on the then-ubiquitous Playstation. Trend #2 was simple and obvious: jumping on the Pokemon bandwagon. Continue reading

Dragon’s Lair

Dragon's LairBuy this gameThe Game: As valiant but clumsy knight Dirk the Daring, you’re on a hazardous quest to rescue Princess Daphne from a huge, hungry dragon. There are all kinds of dangers on the way, including Giddy Goons, the Black Knight, the Smithee, the Lizard King, and all kinds of other evil critters and contraptions. (Capcom, 2001)

See the videoMemories: In the pre-Game Boy Advance days, developers were pushing the envelope of what the 10-year-old handheld system could do. 1999’s Star Wars Racer included a brief, soundless black & white video clip in its intro sequence, and Dragon’s Lair – a holy grail of retrogaming that had only recently been done justice as an interactive DVD game – promised to pack the fully-animated arcade game of the same name into a Game Boy Color cartridge, an astounding technical feat. Continue reading

Ultima III: Exodus

Ultima IIIThe Game: Darkness has fallen anew upon Sosaria, and Lord British calls for your service again. You set out with four adventurers on a quest to gain the experience that will be necessary to survive the long voyage to a volcanic island where the source of all the evil plaguing the world is said to be. (Sven Carlberg, 2002)

Memories: Programmed as a homebrew project, this unofficial version of Ultima III ports the massive home computer RPG to the Game Boy Color. If even half of the game survives that translation intact, that’s a stupendous achievement. But how does it play? Continue reading

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