The Mummy

[youtube id=”63HozLo8eME” width=”633″ height=”356″]

The Mummy

The Mummy is good. No you, read that correctly.

The Mummy - Gameboy Color

Although it had no right to be anything but absolute codswallop, this licensed title is actually a rather lovable NES style puzzle platformer.

It’s nothing spectacular, but it keeps thing relatively straightforward and is all the better for it.

Perhaps it’s no surprise when you consider Konami were involved though.

The Mummy - Gameboy Color

Or, more accurately, Konami Compute Entertainment Nagoya – a now dissolved subsidiary of the huge Japanese Developer and Publisher.

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 Mummy - Gameboy Color

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.

Most stages just involve pushing crates, jumping over pits and detonating explosives to open up walls, but it’s suitably enjoyable in a firmly old-school way.

The Mummy - Gameboy Color

There’s a fair bit of trial and error involved though, and sometimes you can mess up completing a level with one vital mis-step in the latter stages. A rewind feature would have been a welcome feature in such occasions.

Fortunately there’s a password system – finishing the game in one sitting would have been an impossible task.

Still, if you treat the game as an old-fashioned experience you won’t be disappointed – the dinky graphics and solid controls do feel like they’re from another era, but it’s largely an era you’ll be happy to revisit.

Just make sure you don’t pick up the woeful The Mummy Returns by mistake.

Austin Powers: Oh, Behave

[youtube id=”l9NvIMYAhjY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Austin Powers: Oh, Behave

Classed as an oddity when it was released, time has made Austin Powers: Oh, Behave an even bigger curio.

Coming out alongside a Doctor Evil edition – subtitled Welcome To My Underground Lair! – it attempts to be a computer in a cart.

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

If that sounds like a ridiculous concept – that’s because it is.

Unfortunately the developer seemed to have spent most of its time thinking up the game’s concept – and forgot to actually make it fun.

The game opens with a main menu set-up like a PC desktop, with three folders on the far left of the screen. To access them you move your cursor onto them and click them with B (A would have surely been a better choice?).

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

Each folder contains three programs, with one allowing you to alter the sounds, cursors and Color Scheme. This folder is incorrectly labelled as ‘groovy stuff.’

The other two folders are more interesting, if only by default.

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).

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

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.

You get a Rock, Paper, Scissors game which allows you to face various enemies from the first film, a dull Pac-Man inspired title called Mojo Maze (see screenshot above), and a simple board game titled Domination (otherwise known as Othello).

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

That really is it, and ultimately there’s little contained in the cart that could be described as fun.

The only thing it has going for it is its original concept – and even that isn’t that much of a plus point.

Austin Powers Oh Behave - gameboy color

It goes too far in wanting to be a pocket PC, with an example being that you have to actually tell the cart to shut down before you turn your Gameboy off. If you don’t the cart pretends to do a virus search when you play it again. Bizarre.

Overall, this ‘game’ is only worth playing today if you really have a desire to see how far a brave experiment can go horribly wrong.

Lucky Luke

[youtube id=”FCNicAnco6w” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Admittedly, Luke isn’t the most intimidating of cowboys though. Firefights are played for laughs for the most part, an example of this being when enemies’s pants fall down when they’re hit with one bullet.~Simon Reed

Lucky Luke

While pondering which game to revisit today I was leant a hand by my mother, of all people.

lucky luke gameboy color

Rambling on about the rather dull GBC card title Cool Hand (which will inevitably get a revisit sooner rather than later), she unveiled her annoying habit of calling it ‘Cool Hand Luke.’

lucky luke gameboy color

This immediately made me think of the colourful platformer/shooter Lucky Luke on the GBC. I’ll be honest though – the game doesn’t rank highly on my ‘memorable games’ list.

lucky luke gameboy color

Hence only remembering it after having my memory jogged by my Solitaire loving parent.

lucky luke gameboy color

This is probably down to the fact that it’s yet another 2D platformer by developer Infogrames on the GBC however.

lucky luke gameboy color

Although many of their platformers were solid enough, and there were notable variations between each of them, you can tell which platformers are by Infogrames straight off the bat.

lucky luke gameboy color

The almost pastel shaded colour schemes, the heart based life meter, one off chase stages, bloodless combat (in that it lacks heft, not blood) – all signs Infogrames are involved.

lucky luke gameboy color

Lucky Luke isn’t a bad game though. In fact, it’s a well presented little title.

lucky luke gameboy color

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.

lucky luke gameboy color

The game mainly works becuase 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.

lucky luke gameboy color

Admittedly, Luke isn’t the most intimidating of cowboys though. Firefights are played for laughs for the most part, an example of this being when enemies’s pants fall down when they’re hit with one bullet.

lucky luke gameboy color

Aside from the gunplay, the platforming levels usually involve pushing objects around to reach higher areas or getting tools to allow you to do so. One example is when you have to make a makeshift see-saw to catapault your way onto a roof.

lucky luke gameboy color

It’s all done in the most simplistic way possible to appeal to the younger crowd, but it’s decent stuff all the same.

Set piece levels round off the package, with the best one I played involving riding on a stagecoach and surviving the attacks of vultures and angry native Americans. The music in this section was ace to boot.

lucky luke gameboy color

So overall, Lucky Luke is hardly a spectacular game – especially by today’s standards – but is worth looking into if you have a thing for 2D platformers on the GBC.

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

Format- GBC

Genre- 2D Platformer

With this and Sylvester & Tweety: Breakfast On The Run (GBC), as well as Tweety & The Magic Gems (GBA), the little yellow bird has a portable trilogy of sorts. Shame that all three games are of the bland and unmemorable variety.

This is probably the most traditional of all three though, or so it would seem at first. Solely focused on 2D platforming, you explore many stereotypical (yet nice looking), levels as Tweety, the annoying bird.

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

Instead of being a typical A to B adventure though, you have to collect paw prints from eight cats in each level.

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.

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

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.

Controls are solid enough, with jumping allocated to A and using weapons (which you can cycle through with select) set to the B button.

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

As you’re a bird however, your jump is a little higher than most, and you can stay in mid-air by mashing the button frantically.

The open level structure of the game is both a blessing and a curse though.

On the plus side, it’s slightly different to the swathes of identikit platformers on the GBC, and could be called a refreshing change of pace to the norm…

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

…if it wasn’t so clunky and dull. Unfortunately, levels settle into a very repetitive rut very quickly, despite the developers best efforts to conjure up a variety of different looking landscapes.

The lack of any punishment for dying also doesn’t help matters. Taking three hits simply sends you back to the last checkpoint you touched, and you don’t lose any of the paw prints at all.

Sure, this cuts down on frustration, but it also blunts any significant risk element the game may have had.

What you’re left with is a rather nice looking 2D collectathon, but nothing that’ll have you surging with unadulterated adrenaline.

Resident Evil Gaiden

Resident Evil -Gaiden
While Capcom canned the Gameboy Color remake of the the original game, that didn’t stop them from developing on the system completely. They made a “kiddie” version of Resident Evil for the GBC near the end of it’s lifespan.
Resident Evil -Gaiden
The game starred Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 2, and Barry Burton who was a side character in RE1 and RE3.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

The game was pretty true to the series in a couple of ways. The trademark ammo was there.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

So was your healing items.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

And of course your arsenal.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

The plot of the game had you stuck on a cruise ship full of zombies. Someone has got to fire that travel agent who books things like that. What’s next? Snakes on an airline flight?

Resident Evil -Gaiden

So the rest of the game was kinda like Metal Gear on NES.

Resident Evil -Gaiden

Except battles went first person once you encountered a zombie. Except crow-bar equipped zombies with ketchup on them doesn’t scare me much.

Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

Format- Gameboy Color

Genre- 2D platforming adventure

I recall the two Tomb Raider games on GBC getting a good reception by most game critics – I think the original even got 100% from one magazine, incredulously.

I never picked one up though, until now. And I can kind of see the appeal, even if age has tarnished its best feature.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

This is the second entry in the GBC Tomb Raider series, and it starts off in a fairly low budget fashion.

The opening cutscenes are all blurry still images, with some dodgy music in the background. After a few though, it’s straight into the game.

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.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

So to start with, you’re merely climbing around, trying to find a way through the museum.

Instantly, you can tell a lot of effort has gone into the animation of Lara. For a GBC game the running, climbing and jumping is very fluid and quite impressive.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

It’s a game that has a similar style to Flashback and Prince of Persia though, in that your control of your character is very rigid. You can only move in set distances, and have to line up vertical jumps perfectly in order to get anywhere.

I personally find this style of game restrictive and not much fun, but I suppose it works for more considered platformers such as this.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

Eventually, after jumping and climbing your way through a few rooms you’ll get a gun. It won’t surprise you to find that using it is incredibly clunky, and firefights usually involve both sides taking unhealthy chunks of damage.

Fortunately health packs are everywhere, even though you do have to lean down to pick them up for some reason. You don’t even use them when you pick them up either – they’re stored on an inventory screen – so why you have to use a button to pick them up is rather odd.

Tomb Raider- Curse of the Sword

Save points, which are indicated by little diamonds, are also fairly frequent, meaning the game doesn’t get too frustrating.

Generally then, Curse of the Sword is a solid game, but hardly an incredible one. Many of its deficiencies are masked by the rather top notch graphics, but with age that advantage has faded. Worth a low priced punt, but not much else.

One Piece: Treasure Wars 2

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

Format- Wonderswan Colour

Genre- Board game

Oh man, oh man, oh man. I have no idea what they’re saying. I have no idea what they’re doing. I have not got a clue what that’s supposed to represent – and that thing? Not even an inkling of an idea.

So goes an average session with One Piece: Treasure Wars 2 (full subtitle: Buggyland e Youkoso), when you don’t speak Japanese.

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

You might think this means that I can’t really say much about the game from an accurate critical viewpoint. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make generalised, largely unhelpful comments. So here we go…

As soon as you start, the game has clearly been given some love in the presentation department. A cool musical beat thumps away in the background, and although it may be repetitive, it helps keep me slightly entertained.

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

And that’s just as well too, seeing as the opening cutscenes are lengthy and jam packed with incomprehensible dialogue.

Not even the dinky character model animations, which are detailed and quite expressive, can help me understand what exactly is going on.

The menu options, once you get there, are thankfully largely in English though, and you can make your way to the main game mode with little fuss.

You choose a character from the many available (I chose a smug looking guy in a suit), and begin the game proper.

One Piece- Treasure Wars 2

It’s kind of disappointing then, that this seems to be little more than a boardgame style effort.

You wait for the CPU characters to roll the dice and move around the board (you can’t seem to skip this either), and then when it’s your go you do the same.

The main aim seems to be to collect items and the like, and then use them against the other characters on the board. You get a mini cutscene every time you use an item, which play out a little like the battle scenes in Advance Wars.

For some reason the CPU opponents seemed to have a grudge against me specifically, and handed me my ass on a plate. I simply started the board from the start once I had been bashed enough, so i’m not quite clear on how you win the game.

Despite the clear language barrier, I still don’t think the game is particularly exciting. It’s slow paced, and there’s little action to get the gamer with less cerebral tastes even slightly excited.

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

Zelda DX brings you an adventure like no other. Lets take a look!
the-legend-of-zelda--link's-awakening-dx
I decided to pick the DX version mainly because of the added features such as an extra dungeon, photographs to print with your Gameboy printer and of course, color. All of these make an already amazing game even greater! As usual, lets take a look at the game in the different categories.
the-legend-of-zelda--link's-awakening-dx
If there is something more memorable about the Zelda games is the music and this one is no different. The music of this game is splendid! I fell in love with every soundtrack especially the mountain track. I should have that one as a ring tone! Anyways, you will find a lot of memorable tunes and only wonder how much amazing the music would sound if this game were ever to get a remake on lets say the 3DS? Totally fantastic!
the-legend-of-zelda--link's-awakening-dx

The game looks and used the best the gameboy had to offer. Not only that, but the game looked more beautiful in color. You can’t get anything better than Zelda DX graphically wise. If you think about it, the graphics were really advanced for the year it was released. This little handheld was sure able to do a lot more than anyone ever though. No wonder it was never taken down by its competition.

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.

the-legend-of-zelda--link's-awakening-dx
This game is one that you can play over and over and never get bored that’s for sure. I have probably played through this game over ten times and still find it amazingly fun. Why? Because it’s an enjoyable experience that not once makes you want to put it away. Be sure to try to beat the entire game in one sitting for the special ending ^_^
the-legend-of-zelda--link's-awakening-dx

So to conclude, I’m pretty sure I don’t have to mention this twice but I’ll say it again. This game is an absolute masterpiece. You have to play through it at least once in your lifetime. If you are new to Zelda, then this is a great way to step back into Link’s past. You will also not have to spend a fortune on the game as you’ll find it for really cheap (I got mine for 2 dollars). So that’s about it, glad to be bringing this series back to life! Lets keep order and until next week!

Oracle of Seasons

[youtube id=”fSb8J3sghxo” width=”633″ height=”356″]

The great thing about playing on the 3DS is that you can save anywhere and load back instantly. This will help you in some instances where you have to perform a few tasks to get an item or power-up. ~J.A. Laraque

Oracle of Seasons

As someone who loved the top down versions of the Zelda world getting a chance to play Oracle of Seasons on my 3DS was a real treat since I never got to play the Gameboy Color version. Now Oracle of Ages, which I will discuss in a follow-up article deals more so with the puzzle elements of classic Zelda games you would find on the NES, SNES and Gameboy. Seasons deals with the action element and much like, A Link to the Past, the game tosses you right into it. In fact, I would say that if you never played any of the top down Zelda adventures before it may seem a bit tough at first, but the learning curve is not hard at all and soon you are slashing down enemies and defeating dungeons.

Oracle of Seasons

Now as far as the story you kind of have to think of this as Link’s Adventures as it is not about saving Zelda or the Triforce except for the fact that it is the Triforce the directs you to the town of Holodrum. Once you arrive you meet Din and soon she is kidnapped by the evil Onox because she is the Oracle of Seasons. Because of this the lands weather is thrown into chaos which does add a cool element to the game since the weather changes periodically and that can decide where you can and cannot go and what items you will need to advance.

Oracle of Seasons

Most of what you need to do is told to you by the Maku Tree, but if you are used to the top down Zelda games the point is to get specific items that allow you to advance to even more places and defeat enemies in and out of dungeons. The great thing about playing on the 3DS is that you can save anywhere and load back instantly. This will help you in some instances where you have to perform a few tasks to get an item or power-up. For instance, in one area you have to dance to get an item. Now the dance is not hard, but if you are struggling then you can do a move correctly, save and then continue and if you mess up you can start from where you saved not having to begin the dance all over.

Oracle of Seasons

Now let’s pause for a moment to say that you should get both Oracle of Ages and Seasons as you can link them and when you beat one game you get a code that can be entered in the other game. I played Seasons first, but went back and played Ages and then Season and when you do you change the story a bit. I won’t spoil anything, but some of the changes are small and others are huge like a different final boss fight.

Oracle of Seasons

Now the zones in the game are pretty interesting. Remember going to the dark world in Link to the Past, well, while the changes are not that drastic there are four different versions of every screen you are on when in the outside world. This is because of the four seasons. As I said, the seasons changing can help you get somewhere you could not normally. For instance, a lake in the summer is frozen so you can walk over it in the winter.

Oracle of Seasons

In the game you will receive the Rod of Seasons which you will need to power up in the underground town of Subrosia. With the rod you can change the weather on command which is key to get to certain places. You will not get all the seasons at once, you start off with winter and eventually get them all.

Oracle of Seasons

Besides the rod you get many of the normal items you would expect including the boomerang, torch and bombs. You can select one of the items and assign it to your secondary button with your primary being your sword attack. You can also collect rings which add different abilities or augments existing ones. It is important to upgrade your items and weapons as the boss fights are harder than you might remember from previous Zelda games. The final fight with Onox is especially hard if you do not upgrade. Now if you are a Zelda vet you can do it, but then again if you are a Zelda vet then you want to explore, collect and upgrade via side quests.

Overall, Oracle of Seasons is a great addition to the portable Zelda series. The game is more action oriented than some of the other Zelda games, but that is not a bad thing.  The story is good enough and the graphics and changing seasons are a nice touch. I would recommend however, getting Oracle of Ages to go along with Seasons and if you do play Ages first.

GameBoy Color 23 in 1 Cartridge

The front of the cart says 23 in 1 but really it’s 7 games in 1. The games included in this cart are…

GameBoy Color 23

Bonk’s Adventure
Ninja Boy
Tennis
Klax
Minesweeper
Bomb Jack
Battle City

GameBoy Color 23

GameBoy Color 23 in 1 Cartridge

I’m not going into great details of each game, but I will say Bonk’s Adventure and Bomb Jack are my favorites of the bunch, and my least favorite game would really have to be Minesweeper. I thought I would never have to see that game again, I was wrong. Ninja Boy is an interesting adventure game and Klax is great for those of you who love Tetris type of games. Stack things up in a row to get rid of them and repeat. The tennis game aint half bad either. Of course Battle City is a classic and everyone should give that a try. It’s even funner on 2 player.

Bonk’s Adventure

Bonk’s Adventure

Ninja Boy

Ninja Boy

Tennis

Tennis

Klax

Klax

The dreaded Minesweeper

Minesweeper

Bomb Jack

Bomb Jack

Battle City

Battle City

Duke Nukem

duke nukem

Format- Gameboy Color

Genre- 2D platformer/shooter

Your average Duke enthusiast undoubtedly knows that the blonde haired alien killing machine started his trade in 2D platformers on the PC. They were solid titles, but were pretty much forgotten when Duke Nukem 3D arrived on the scene.

It didn’t signal the end of Duke’s side on escapades though. Duke Nukem on GBC may have been released three years after the 3D Duke, but it admirably still went about reviving much of the ideas and enemies from its 2D ancestors.

duke nukem

Not many seemed to care though, and Duke’s first outing on a Nintendo portable pretty much disappeared without trace, consigned to a mere footnote in history.

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 colorful and pleasingly chunky, with Duke particularly well animated. He’s agile too – able to grab ledges, duck and shoot from ladders, little frustration arises from the controls.

duke nukem

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.

Health packs are plentiful though, meaning most players should be able to make it to the end of the game just by remaining persistent. Skill isn’t a necessary requirement here.

Incentive to progress is helped by side missions (such as a satisfyingly destructive tank level) and the cut-scenes – which have a nice relaxed humor about them.

For Duke completists then, I think this is a must have. Unfortunately the game is somewhat scarce, but copies thankfully aren’t too expensive when they do turn up. If I may paraphrase the great man  – ‘go get some.’

Kirby Tilt and Tumble

Format- Gameboy Color

Genre- Tilty maze-fest

Bit of a curio this one – especially for Europeans such as myself, who never saw it gain an official release on our shores.

That was undoubtedly something to do the accelerometer housed inside the lurid pink cartridge. With this and Warioware Twisted both sadly confined to the US and Japan, the mercury used for the tilty tech clearly doesn’t agree with some European law. Even though I know none of the details I can easily say that law, whatever it is, is complete and utter tosh. Or perhaps i’m just being bitter.

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.

Kirby Tilt and Tumble

Kirby TAT is not a classic by any means – and any novelty it may have once had is also long gone due to the iPhone et al and their many effortless accelerometer based titles – but it’s still a refreshingly simple and interesting experiment.

It’s like most Kirby titles really, in that it shows pleasing sparkles on invention, but makes sure it gets the gameplay basics down pat first. Kirby’s Air Ride the obvious exception.

I managed to bag a cartridge for £8 online, seeing as a box was relatively unnecessary for such a simple title. Especially as this being well out of my or any sane persons price range – see the link below.

The game is just about worth that I think, especially for those curious to see Nintendo’s first foray into tilt based technology.

Or you could wait and pray for a release on the upcoming 3DS store. With the 3D portable possessing an accelerometer it surely wouldn’t be to difficult to port across.

Gex: Enter The Gecko (GBC)

[youtube id=”GP6ZoJNqGfA” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Gex: Enter The Gecko

Yep, there’s a reason why you don’t see ol’ Gexy around anymore. Smart ass characters can work if the game’s any cop – but if not, a title has usually got one step in the forgotten gaming crypt before it has even been played. Gex: Enter The Gecko on GBC is an example of one of those, even though the titular hero has thankfully little opportunity to get his annoying personality across very well in this portable outing. The gameplay does more than enough to annoy you as it is. Expectations shouldn’t be set too high for a handheld version of a home console game that was pretty poor to begin with, but even so the game does little to make any kind of impression.

Gex - Enter The Gecko

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.

Gex - Enter The Gecko

Overall, this is a poorly designed game – the fact it’s a retro title is no excuse. This title signaled the end of Gex and his tail whipping antics, and I very much doubt many will be saddened by that fact. Gex, and this game, are best left forgotten.

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 1

Bubble Bobble (1986)
By: Taito Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 180,180
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, Saturn, PlayStation, X68000, NES, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, FM Towns Marty, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple II, MSX, PC

What more can be said about this all-time great? Whilst perhaps not as well known as Mario or Sonic, the cute dinosaurs of Bubble Bobble are just as iconic to many gamers, myself included, and have now appeared in a lot of games on nearly every system ever created, in one guise or another. My first encounter with the bubble-blowing twins was in ‘Kwiki Meals’, the cafe near my college. It was here that I ventured every lunchtime to play Bubble Bobble (and eat a burger), and I was often late back to class! It was the game that first brought the great Taito to my attention and they’ve been one of my favourite companies since. Sadly, both Kwiki Meals and the arcade masterpiece it once housed are now long gone but I’ve had a regular fix of Bubble Bobble ever since.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 2

Most of you will know the drill by now – Bub and Bob have been turned into dragons by the evil Super Drunk who has also kidnapped their girlfriends! In order to get them back and be restored to Human form, they must battle their way through a hundred rounds of multi-platformed, monster-infested caves until they can face, and hopefully defeat, Super Drunk. Bub and Bob, who start each round in the bottom left and bottom right corners of the screen respectively, must clear each single-screen round of baddies in order to proceed to the next. To do this you must trap them in bubbles which both Bub and Bob can blow at will. The bubbles fly forward quickly, before floating up the screen being carried by the air currents in the caverns. Freshly-blown bubbles are surrounded by a shiny orange aura until they are a certain distance away and it is only during this brief period that enemies can be trapped in them.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 3

Once an enemy is trapped in a bubble, it must be popped quickly to kill it, either by touching it with the spines on Bub and Bob’s head and back, by jumping on it, or by pushing it into a wall. If you fail to pop it quickly enough, it will pop by itself, and the re-released enemy will be angry and much faster. It’s also possible to bounce off bubbles instead of popping them when you jump on one or fall on one from above. This is an essential skill to learn as sometimes it’s the only way to escape from part of a level or reach some high platforms. Bubbles also stick together if they touch each other, whether they contain enemies or not, so if you time it right you can cause a mega-pon chain reaction meaning mega-points! There are eight different types of standard enemy altogether and each has his own movement patern. Learning these are obviously the key to success here, but don’t take too long – if you stay on one stage too long, the undefeatable Baron Von Blubba will appear and stalk you until there’s nowhere left to hide!

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 4

One of this game’s many memorable points is that it jointly holds the record with its own sequel as one of the most fruit laden game ever (this is a good thing)! Items are spilled on a platform somewhere in the level every time an enemy is vanquished and other items appear seemingly out of nowhere now and then. There is an enormous amount of them to be found, some of which are very useful, particularly the umbrella which skips several levels, and there are power-ups and various kinds of screen-clearing smart bombs too. Some other items are even available in different colours, varying their effect. Also appearing liberally are lots of different fruits, gems and foods which can be seized for bonus points. Additional bubbles sometimes get ‘blown’ onto the screen by the air currents running through the caverns, and included amongst these are ‘special’ bubbles which, when popped, unleash special powers. These include fire bubbles, which spill fire which scorches enemy’s, lightning bubbles which sends a enemy-killing lightning bolt across the screen, and water bubbles, which send a torrent of water cascading down the platforms killing all enemies in its path. The last kind of bubbles to be found contain letters. Collecting them will gradually spell out E-X-T-E-N-D down the side of the screen. Complete the word to clear the round and get an extra life!

There are many more little intricacies and nuances to this game and to be honest, I could go on all day about them, but discovering them for yourself is one of the things that makes Bubble Bobble as great as it is. Despite initially seeming random, almost everything you do has some sort of affect on the game, from how quickly you finish a round right down to a particular digit of your score when you reach a certain point. Many games have been called classics over the years. Whether they truly are or not depends on your definition of the term I suppose, but few are as genuinely timeless as Bubble Bobble.

The cute, colourful graphics which are full of character, that music by Zuntata which could just be the catchiest tune of all-time, the flawlessly structured gameplay, the fiendish stage design, the fantastic fun of jumping around the platforms trying to time an attack to perfection, playing the game with a friend, it goes on and on. It’s regularly sited as one of the greatest games of all-time, and it’s hard to argue. Bubble Bobble isn’t just a single screen platform game, for many it’s the single screen platform game! It’s certainly true that it’s among the most enduring platform games of all-time and that kind of lasting adulation can only be for one reason…

RKS Score: 10/10

Tyrannosaurus Tex

Tyrannosaurus Tex - Gameboy Color - Gameplay Screenshot

Tyrannosaurus Tex

Back in the year 2000, Slitherine Software announced the release of what was to be the first first-person shooter for a handheld. Tyrannosaurus Tex followed the story of a maverick cowboy through 28 levels with six different types of guns and ten different types of enemies. While the game was actually 2D, because of the first-person perspective, it would have played and looked a bit like a 3D game.

The game was to come out in late 2000 and then late 2001. Originally, Eidos was to publish the game, but they dropped out and when TT missed showing up at E3 the rumors were that the game was dead before arrival. However, IGN was able to take a look at the game and stated that it had fast paced action and a smooth animation to it.

Tyrannosaurus Tex - Gameboy Color Box

The game itself was to start off with a training level where you were taught how to play the game and blue text would appear on screen to give you hints and tips on what to do. Since we are talking the early Gameboy color here it is no surprise the world of Tyrannosaurus Tex was mainly halls and corridors kind of like the first Wolfenstein. All the object in the game are drawn spites and the enemies were drawn at different sizes to emulate the close and far effect.

The enemies themselves also looked a bit plain with not much detail. Most enemies only had a few colors at most and when you killed them, they exploded into tiles. From what we can gather, the idea was to have violence without making it to gory or maybe it was just the system limitations. You could pick up different weapons and hit the select button to choose one and by hitting start, you could view the world map.

In the end, the game was never released and sources claim Slitherine wanted to release a ROM of the game, but the rights went back to Eidos. Personally, I would not have played this game, but the reviews did claim it was a pretty good game considering. Unfortunately, we will never know.

UPDATE 2016: The rights to the game were acquired by Piko Interactive and the game was finally released. To find out more visit here: https://pikointeractive.com/blog/its-official-tyrannosaur-tex-gbc-is-ours/

 

Commercial Wars: War of the Sword and Shield

zelda sword and shield
zelda sword and shield

In the age of World of Warcraft the sword and shield still dominates when it comes to roleplaying. Even when you look at a game like Final Fantasy that takes advantage of both modern technology and magic, the sword and shield are still present in one form or another. From my old pen and paper D&D days to playing games like Neverwinter Nights and Dungeon Siege there is something about those type of games that keeps the fans playing.

As anyone knows there are tons of video games that feature not only the sword and shield, but magic, the bow and arrow and a medieval theme that makes us want to load up Lord of the Rings for a 15-hour marathon session. Let’s take a look at some commercials that try to capture that theme to draw you into the game world and hopefully make a sale.

Crystalis: Nintendo

This is classic adventure production at its finest.  You can breakdown the commercial and see how it was done using the technology they had at the time. First you have the hero which you want to look right as far as the costume and weapons. Second you have a basic forest-like landscape, but you blur the backgrounds to give it some mystery and pipe in some shots of what the hero is after. Then you add the destination in the far distance and a shot of the hero approaching the enemy.

Sure, the monster looks cheesy now, but at the time that was pretty good. The special effects were very nice for the time and overall made for a good commercial.

Zelda: Gameboy Color

This is animated but it is done very well for a short spot starting with the pan around and then into the Gameboy screen with the snow falling into the background leading to a shot of Link rushing in on his horse. Believe me, thirty second spots are hard because you have a little less than that to capture the audience and let them know what you are offering.

In this case you kind of expect people to know of Zelda, but still the challenge is there. You get a scene of what the game deals with. Link is searching for something and there will be challenges along the way. This may be simple compared to what we see today, but it was well put together and executed into a fun to watch commercial.

Golden Axe 2: Japanese

<

Short and sweet, what is cooler than a Japanese guy dressed in armor wielding a giant sword? Well, alright, ninja’s and pirates, but still this was pretty cool. Honestly, the costume looks good, the sword looked real and we saw just enough before the in-game video to appreciate it without going overboard.

We get to see some cool shots from the actual game and then boom we have our warrior cleaving us in two with that sword again before the Sega logo.

Dragonfire: Atari 2600


Okay, so he does not have a sword or a shield, but when you have a talking dragon (especially with a voice like his) you have to profile it. Now while I do not understand why a medieval dragon is in some futuristic looking room caressing a game cartridge, I do think it is funny that the prince sneaks in like a thief to snatch it.

Not only does the costume of the dragon look plastic, but even the prince looks like he is wearing the princesses sleep suit. You do have to give them credit for zooming in on the stickman graphic of the game though.

Time for Ale

Alight, so we got a look at a few video game commercials featuring the sword and shield. Now you vote which did it best.

[poll id=”14″]