Handheld Games

Game played on some of our favorite handheld systems from the Gameboy to the Gamegear and everything in-between.

The Mummy

The main thing that works about The Mummy is that it never feels that strongly tied to the movie. Instead it feels more linked to a game like Solomon’s Key – in spirit at least. This is a good thing. It has you tackling self-contained stages, with the main task to collect a set amount of relics as you venture deeper into the tomb. The most interesting element of the game is that there are three characters to play as, and you’ll have to utilise each of their unique abilities to reach the end. Evelyn has the largest jump, Rick is good in combat, and Jonathan handles the explosives. [...]

NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant

B allows you to swap your player, and A lets you swipe to attempt to regain the ball. Doing this at the correct time is crucial, and thanks to the game’s clear graphics it’s easier to do than you’d expect. So the game’s well designed and fun to play, but it’s elevated even further by its excellent presentation. An example are the sound effects that you hear during games, such as when you dispossess someone of the ball, manage to score, or lose the ball yourself. They all sound like SFX from an Atari 2600 shoot-em-up, and are therefore brilliant. It helps stops the game from feeling too serious too. [...]

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus

Upgrades are another thing you’ll find in Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, you can upgrade your accessories for upgrades (like extra health or defence) and every weapon can be upgraded to do more damage ala God of War. Upgrades, health potions and accessories are all available for purchase from in game shops and strangely enough statues of blacksmiths. You buy upgrades with the yellow orbs you collect from killing enemies. It has a familar economic feel just like other action games, and it works well, and there’s just that much more incentive to go out and kill some more baddies. [...]

Austin Powers: Oh, Behave

One offers incredible basic version of computer programs. A word processor is dubbed ‘Austin’s Pad’, there’s an ‘internet’ program which allows you to look through descriptions of the film’s characters, and finally a calculator (or, as it is deemed here, a shagulator). Alas, these will only maintain your interest for mere minutes (even with Gameboy printer support for the word processor), and you’ll probably end up looking into the games folder for some proper fun. Sadly, the games on offer are incredibly basic. [...]

Escape Plan

This is a puzzle game so story is pretty bare bones… You play as two different characters, Lil and Laarg, two strange ink people who are for some reason imprisoned by a guy named Bakugan. Considering that no one ever speaks in this game (although you do hear Bakugan getting upset once and a while), there’s no personification to speak of, and it’s sort of not the point, like in any puzzle game that isn’t Portal, the Story isn’t the focal point. [...]

The 3rd Birthday

The RPG elements are limited to upgrading your weapons and your DNA, you get new DNA pieces by diving into enemies through the overdrive mechanic. Upgrading your weapons are a must, starting out with only 180 bullets in your assault rifle puts your in a tough place, and eventually I ended up with being able to hold 900 at a time. The DNA upgrades were always a bit of a mystery for me though, the game doesn’t do a good job at teaching you what you need to do to take proper advantage. [...]

James Bond 007

One example is early on in the game, where you have to sneak past a guard in a bar. To do so you need to shoot out the light so he can’t see you. There’s even a quip – “I left him in the dark” – to enjoy once you’ve complete this task. [...]

Robo-Squash

About half-way between the two in the middle of the screen is an assortment of bricks and a few other bits and pieces. The winner of the round is the first to score three ‘goals’ past his or her opponent or, less often, a quicker victory can be achieved if you manage to hit the elusive ‘mechanical spider’. There are several things that can make the process of winning a round a bit more complicated though. [...]

TxK

For starters, this is no ordinary update on Dave Theurer’s original arcade smash hit Tempest, or Jeff’s own Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar. TxK brings Tempest well and truly into the 21st century. This tube shooter captures your attention and gobbles up a lot of your free time, not just the PS Vitabattery. Words like mesmerising, sublime, frantic, nail-biting and intense come to mind when describing TxK. [...]

Super Monkey Ball Jr.

After all, Monkey Ball has never been a series that’s relied upon its looks – sure, everything apart from the mazes are flat 2D cutouts, but that doesn’t detract much from your enjoyment. But that’s the one sad thing about the game – when it was released it was held up as a mini technical marvel, much like other 3D titles on the GBA (Star X anyone?), and therefore may have been treated better by reviewers as a result. [...]

The Castlevania Adventure

It was pretty much the same deal as the original game on NES with a few differences. Like the absence of sub-weapons, and hearts actually restored your life which finally makes sense. You could upgrade your whip, but every hit of damage would drop the power so it was kind of a double negative there. [...]

Lucky Luke

Based on a Franco-Belgium comic character, Lucky Luke is set in the Wild West, and therefore has towns to fight through, gunfights to survive and horses to ride off into the sunset. The game mainly works because of its setting. Not many titles, especially not back in 1999 when Lucky Luke was released, centered around the Wild West, so to have a cowboy as a star was interesting in itself. [...]

Mega Man V (Gameboy)

Mega Man V is so stuffed full of awesome, that even the standard Mega Buster is pretty much the coolest it’s ever been, before or since. In every other Mega Man game (from 4 on NES onward) you could charge the Mega Buster to build up and release one big, powerful blast. Well in Mega Man V for Game Boy, Dr. Light, Mega Man’s creator, upgrades the Mega Buster weapon to create the Mega Arm, which instead of charging and firing a huge shot, you fire a huge Mega Man fist at enemies. [...]

FIFA Soccer 96 (Game Boy)

Back in the era of the classic Gameboy we had our fair share of horrible sport titles. It was a very difficult task to make a sport game playable on such a small screen. With the usual yearly titles though, someone had to eventually get it right. FIFA 96 came out to be a game of greatness that no other title was able to live up to in the portable world. The game is quite fascinating as it contains one of the best responsive controls ever for a portable game of its time. [...]

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Sometimes deaths feel cheap. The actual action-oriented combat works well; certainly better than I expected. My biggest complaint from this department though was the camera. Sometimes I just could not get it into a good position, especially in narrow spaces. Also, the combat was a bit predictable in terms of how it was triggered. In earlier games, most combat occurred at random while walking. In later Final Fantasy games you are on an active field with enemies you can engage or try to avoid. Here? It’s things like intersecting hallways that trigger the usually-random group of monsters you fight. You find yourself hugging the walls awkwardly, battling the camera angles if you’re in an area where you don’t want to fight. It’s not all bad though. [...]

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

To do this you can’t just walk up to them and get the prints though, oh no – you have to take them down with weapons you pick up throughout the stages. There’s nothing too violent in terms of you arsenal though – just plunger torpedos, slippery jam (?) and the like. Levels are therefore structured a little more expansively than in most platformers, and you have to check out both the higher and lower reaches of every level to find all the pesky felines. [...]

Castlevania II: Dracula Densetsu II

My only complaint is I wish Christopher would move a little faster, he seems to be going pretty slow at times especially when you are trying to make a bigger jump or avoid an enemy. Other than that it’s a really fun game! It looks really good for a game boy game and the music has been done very well. I haven’t completed the game yet, but if I discover anything else I will let you know. [...]

Dark Arena

Perhaps the most forgotten of the whole flock of GBA FPS – apart from perhaps the too late for the party Ice Nine – this is was actually the first FPS announced for the handheld. It’s also the only GBA FPS that isn’t a port or continuation of an existing shooter series, or without any conceivable tie to a movie (Ice Nine was based on the film The Recruit but the licensing fell through). This fact probably didn’t help Dark Arena reach a wider audience, but it’s hard to feel too sorry for it, due to the fact it’s a rather turgid effort all round. [...]

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2

The graphics of the game are quite good. Things look how they are supposed to look and you won’t run into objects you think are part of the background. Even people with vision problems like myself were able to detect the scenery quite successfully. Even the enemies look how they are supposed to look and that’s a very well done task by the developers. I do have to mention that the big headed bird Tweety was made bigger than its size but that’s understandable as you are playing a portable game and won’t recognize him if you see him [...]

Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword

You play as Lara Croft (i’m sure you knew that) and have been attacked in a friend’s museum and seen a rare artefact (I think it was a sword – the title would suggest so anyway), and have to get it back. Irritatingly, you start off with no weapons, meaning you can be blocked off by bad guys who just stand in your way ominously, and hit you if you get too close. Those guys are real lazy – you can be jumping around, collecting keys, and they just don’t even move. [...]

Iridion 2

The gameplay is very enjoyable nonetheless. You are able to pick up power ups and shoot down your enemies. You can also pick up other items along the way and recover your energy. You’ll have a lot of fun dodging the rain of bullets coming your way and just like any games of this genre, you have to keep your button on the trigger in order to defeat the massive bosses you come across. [...]

One Piece: Treasure Wars 2

What did get me excited though, was that the cartridge itself has little red and green lights that flash while your playing. I couldn’t believe this at first, and I don’t think any other Wonderswan games in my collection do this. Why this cart does this, I do not know. It’s very cool though. Perhaps the fact that this is my most memorable part of the game says it all. Avoid, unless you’re a One Piece fan – who also happens to speak/read Japanese. [...]

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX

The gameplay is sensational. You have the A and B buttons to equip whichever combinations of items you feel more comfortable with. Of course, you have to know when to use certain items because you can only get so far with a shield and sword. With an array of weapons, challenging dungeons, and comical situations this Zelda game is as enjoyable as the day it was released. The freedom Link has in this game is nothing but great. You’ll feel as if you can do almost anything! Exploring and discover is also a huge plus in Zelda games! Be sure to find all the heart pieces and don’t forget to knock against certain trees. There is a lot to love indeed. [...]

Hydra

I can kind of get what the developer was trying to do – up to tip the boat back to slow down – but in reality it doesn’t really work, especially with a d-pad as rubbishy as the one the Lynx possesses. It’s very difficult to accelerate and have a decent level of control at the same time. The driving bit of the game itself is simple though, or so it seems. You clip along the river at a decent pace, shooting bad guys and collecting weird sparkly orbs. Suddenly, you find yourself running out of gas. Where are the gas pick ups? [...]

Super Mario Land 2

The gameplay is wonderful! It’s a joy to play such an awesome game! You couldn’t expect anything less from Nintendo. As sidescrollers were the shit back then, every other would end up mimicking the Mario titles. Of course, very few were successful in doing so which is why Nintendo and Mario were always on top. Mario has a whole new arsenal of power ups including the bunny ears which works like the leaf from Super Mario Bros 3. Be sure to play through this game till the final showdown against a now famous Nintendo character Wario. [...]

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium

The gameplay looks excellent. Sure we’re let down by 2 colour characters, but this is more a limitation of the Neo Geo Pocket than it is the game itself. The attention to details is amazing. Rivalries are all covered at the start of battles. Each Capcom character has an SNK rival & of course you have the original rivalries of Ken vs Ryu, Kyo vs Iori, Terry vs Geese (oops, did I just give away a hidden character??). They all interact & say things that highlight that maybe these 2 characters have a history. If the characters aren’t rivals then you get your generic statement & away you go. [...]

Special Forces

CT Special Forces almost gets it right, but sadly falls a little short of being considered a notable Metal Slug clone. It definitely looks the part though, with rather attractive hand drawn graphics and a nice varied bunch of levels. A good range of weapons are grenades are also on show. The controls are also quite good, with the shoulder buttons used for throwing grenades and swapping weapons. [...]

Checkered Flag

You also run the risk of making contact with a piece of off track scenery if you don’t take a corner well enough, and this results in the same major sap of speed. Collisions are given a Space Invaders-esque explosion sound effect though. That’s quite cool. As is your wing mirror getting cracked when you crash too much. [...]

Sonic The Hedgehog Triple Trouble

First is that the water in the game is very odd, with weird flickering dots appearing on top of it. Not particularly easy on the eyes. The other is that no matter how many rings you hold, when you get hit you only drop around 5, meaning that the difficulty is a little higher than a Mega-Drive Sonic title. It also robs you of seeing the rings cascading in every direction – personally one of my favourite little touches of the series. [...]

Duke Nukem

I think that’s a shame, as this is an enjoyable enough outing for Mr Nukem. And considering most of the trademark gore, babes and swears of the series are absent here, that’s no mean feat. The graphics are colourful and pleasingly chunky, with Duke paticularly well animated. He’s agile too – able to grab ledges, duck and shoot from ladders, little frustration arises from the controls. Alas, what the game gives it in equal measure takes away. Controls may be solid but avoiding your enemies’ range of attacks is still tough, and you’ll find yourself taking a lot of unavoidable damage throughout the game. [...]

California Games

Surfing – my personal favorite of all the events. Surfing was changed on this version to riding the wave from ‘right to left’ – this actually breathed a new life to this event, as I was never crazy about surfing on the console versions. You earn points by staying ahead of the wave and getting airborne to perform (multiple) spins. Yes, I can do quadruple spins – that is a 1440! Oh yeah you must land the board on the wave at an angle that won’t see you diving into the surf. [...]

Xevious

The graphics have no retro wow factor either – patches of grass look like they were sketched by a five-year old in a more restrictive version of Mario Paint – it makes you wish for a simple but effective black space background. I’ve not managed to get very far in the game (the screenshot above is of a level that I will probably never get the chance to play through) but I still think most of these criticisms still stand. So don’t bother with Xevious. Just let it quietly pass away, and hopefully the game’s developers will do the same. [...]

Electrocop

t’s certainly quite an unusual game. It’s set in 2089 and casts you in the titular role which I guess makes you a robot and we all know what temperamental oafs they can be. This one will need his (or its?) wits about him, however, as he’s up against the formidable (and somewhat conspicuous-sounding) Criminal Brain. This is presumably also a robot, or perhaps a computer-based artificial intelligence like Skynet. Hmmm, well, whatever form it takes, it apparently has influence over the physical world as it’s kidnapped the President’s daughter [...]

Lights Out

5 Mins- I learn that the game was orignally a electronic game, and a fairly simple one at that. The Game Com was the only console to have the honor to gain a Tiger ‘conversion’ original. Regarding how the game actually works, it’s something to do with making all the blobs of light on the 5×5 grid unlit or something. Do you really care? I start up the console for another attempt. [...]

Kirby Tilt and Tumble

A s for the game, it’s well suited to the Gameboy and really did deserve to reach a worldwide audience. It has small, manageable maze levels that are suited to quick bursts of play, and is simple enough to be grasped by most players. Stabs of annoyance can occasionally be inflicted through the game’s controls, such as having to flick your gameboy to jump, which temporarily snatches any view you may of the actual screen. Fortunately, foibles such as these aren’t enough to boil over into out and out frustration. [...]

Gex: Enter The Gecko (GBC)

Most noticeable is that the game uses ‘B’ to progress through menus and jump, which goes against the unwritten rule that ‘A’ is the main button. The fact that this is one of the most noticeable elements of the game does not bode well. Actually, the controls are generally rubbish (walk more than a few consecutive steps and the green one breaks into a run) and level design is of a labyrinth rather than linear nature, which helps brew up a sense of confusion after playing only for a few minutes. A lack of map doesn’t help either. [...]

Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop

The first thing I noticed was that is a very well presented game, with looks that shout scream retro appeal and a rather cool sounding backing tune. Controls wise it also feels solid, but a few minutes in and you realise exactly why Dirty Larry has been long since forgotten. First off, enemies emerge very quickly from either side of the screen and it can prove very difficult to avoid their attacks without taking damage. Like many games of this type you can creep slowly to the right and play it safe, but that just isn’t fun – which is surely the whole point of the game. [...]

Pengo

Here’s my problem: The blobs don’t move like the slow-asses I’ve seen in the movies. Matter of fact, it seems like they’re actually faster than me. They melt-through my ice-block weapons on the way to me, and I can’t tell you how many times I was waiting behind a block to shove and they started melting it before I had a chance to use it. I was literally spending all my time running for my life, and just tossing ice randomly. I haven’t panicked this much in a game since the first night of Left 4 Dead. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have “mastered” the game, but holy shit, it was tough for me. The controls just seemed a bit off, which added to the frustration. [...]

Primal Rage: Gameboy

Here comes one of the more decent fighters for the forgotten portable handheld. Primal Rage brings you dino-busting action to the palm of your hand and even though our handhelds nowadays do this with ease, this was a tough task back in the golden age of gameboy. Lots of other fighters were introduced and failed misserably and although not that playable, they still manage to give you an experience to their console predecessors. Primal Rage is one of them. While not offering much, this little cartridge offers more than enough to keep you entertain for a good amount of time, the time of course is your choice. Like many of the old titles of the original gameboy, this game is as simple to pick up and play. [...]

Super Mario Land

The gameplay is quite good. Just think of Super Mario in a portable handheld and that should say enough. You jump, you get power ups and of course you stomp on bad guys. It’s sort of odd that when you jump on a koopa he turns into a bomb….totally odd indeed! Also, what’s with the flower power giving you one ball of fire that bounces all over the screen. I’m guessing they did it on purpose to help keep the gameplay from slowing down. Oh well, good nonetheless. With only four worlds the game is quite fun to come back to. There are secrets hidden everywhere so you can always accomplish your goals in different ways. The game itself is fun overall! A 2 player race mode would’ve made it supreme and increased its replay value in masses! [...]

Sigma Star

The gameplay is quite enjoyable. The main idea of the game is to fly with your ship and shoot down other ships. In the process, you gain experience and eventually level up. This is very important as you will make your ship more powerful as you level up. The game works as an RPG since you walk around exploring different areas when you are suddenly summoned to your ship in order to battle a swarm of enemies. Once you defeated all of them, you are sent back to where you were in your mission. The game develops quite well and keeps you interested in a story involving a soldier betrayed by his own people only to join forces with the enemy. There is a lot more to it that I don’t want to spoil as usual. [...]

The Castlevania Adventure

Be ready to get used to slow gameplay though. Also, be careful with letting your vampire hunter fall because he will fall like a brick. The usual monsters are in this one, bats, big eyes, and more bats. I recommend this for anyone who wants something similar to the NES and needs a blast from the past. For others, I don’t because it could disappoint you more than make you enjoy it. Luckily, it’s a very affordable title so don’t you worry, your pockets will still be filled with monah. [...]

Lady Sia

There’s actually a very long and detailed story that unfolds throughout play, but I don’t want to give anything away. What I will say is this is a realitivly short game, with just a handful of main levels, and a few smaller levels within. Sia is armed with just a sword and an “energy blast”, and each level’s mission has her recovering a stolen family item; from a better sword to magic rings. These items will help her defeat the 4 bosses and the main one at the end. The 32-bit, cartoony animation is neat, and the fluidity of her movements are top-notch for the little system. Little touches like using her sword to grab a ledge to pull herself up were nice additions. Sweet background music and sound-effects, as well. [...]

Battletoads

Overall, you will get a game that challenges you and keeps you coming for more! You have the great music that keeps you on your feet and well the monsters which you beat up in the most hilarious ways. It’s ok if you haven’t played a toads game before because this would make a great introduction to the series even though there aren’t that many toads games to begin with…..To this day I asked why weren’t there more toads games….I could sure use them right about now….then again that Battletoads phone call prank wouldn’t be that funny because yes they would have Battletoads on stock… [...]

Castlevania 2 Belmont’s Revenge

There are lots of things to like about this Castlevania. First of all, you can start the game from four different levels so the game won’t feel very linear for once. The gameplay is your usual kinky wiping and jumping procedures and the enemies will be more familiar if you played the first gameboy Castlevania. The game does bring out an enjoyable enough experience so that you will have the will to come back for more. The game is not that easy so it’s suggested for moderate players that won’t get mad and throw the gameboy against the wall when they get their asses handed to them. [...]

Sword of Mana

So here we go in a new grand adventure, you will probably feel at home with the beat em up style gameplay it brings as well as Mana cards you can use to summon your magical powers. Sadly, this game doesn’t bring a link cable gameplay option which would have made it an incredible experience(Some of you may remember Secret of Mana on the SNES, three players!). You can still connect two GBAs with the games but only for trading purposes, this isn’t Pokemon you know! [...]

Mega Man

The game is a compilation of Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5 bosses and battles. That’s not bad at all since they had some interesting robot masters to begin with although everyone else felt they were already running out of ideas (Mega Man 9 and 10 proved you wrong suckers!) The game does feel at times that it was changed to try to make it into a different Mega Man game but did that to no avail. The game just feels like a shattered down NES Mega Man title and that’s all there is to it. [...]