Thursday, 4 April 2013

Classic Console - Nintendo Game Boy


Whilst growing up I was lucky enough to own all 3 popular hand held consoles at one point or another. I remember playing Sonic The Hedgehog, Wonder Boy, and GG Shinobi on the Game Gear's bright colour screen. I can picture sitting on the living room floor of our old family home, tucked behind a sofa so I could be near to the power socket, playing Batman Returns and California Games on Atari's behemoth, the Lynx. But most of all I remember Nintendo's monochrome legend, the Game Boy. Like every other kid on the planet I owned one – even having a ridiculous carry case for it, complete with shoulder strap – and it went everywhere with me. It was like an extension of my own body, much like the way people seem to treat mobile phones today, except this was strictly for gaming only. And boy, what games they were. While the other two handholds had some great games, the Game Boy was my weapon of choice. I would play Super Mario Land and Revenge of The 'Gator religiously, and God forbid anyone should try to prize my cherished console from my hands while in the middle of a game.

Tetris - The game everybody on the planet will recognise

While the Atari Lynx was an impressive beast, with 16-bit power and the best graphics of all the handholds, I found the selection of games pretty lacklustre and the fact it was so enormous and drained batteries like crazy made it only worth playing while near a pocket socket (defeating the point of a portable console somewhat). Sega's Game Gear was wonderful, what with it essentially being a portable Master System, and I loved playing the classic Sega arcade games on the move. But again, it was slightly too large for its own good, and the screen was quite blurry. So it is no surprise that Nintendo's machine won the hand held war of the 90's.

Super Mario Land is a fantastic spin-off series to the 
main home console Mario games

Over the period I owned one I amassed a huge library of games. Some great (Super Mario Land series, Gargoyle's Quest, Revenge of the Gator, Duck Tales). Some bad (Spiderman, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and any other movie license). But overall it was one of the greatest machines I owned. I was even duped into buying many of the ludicrous accessories that you could purchase at the time. Nonsense such as strap-on lights and magnifying screen attachments that made the poor machine resemble something from a cheap Sci-Fi B-movie, and never worked as well as they promised on the adverts or box. Nintendo released the Game Boy Pocket in 1996 which improved the screen, both in quality of the image and size (but still no back-light), but by this stage I had moved on to other games machines such as the Sony Playstation and Nintendo 64.

NES classics such as Duck Tales (above) and 
Mega Man 2 (below) were ported to the hand held

My interest in portable gaming as a whole had diminished, as I never bothered with the Game Boy's successors, the Game Boy Colour (1998) or the Game Boy Advance (2001). I didn't even get around to getting a Nintendo DSi and Sony PSP until 2011. So, for me, my memories of portable gaming is confined to the first 3 major players, as well as the handful of Game & Watch and various cheap imitation LCD games that were purchased for me by my father to keep me entertained on trips abroad.

Nintendo's wonderful Zelda series debuted on the 
system with the epic, Link's Awakening

More portable RPG-lite action in Capcom's Gargoyle's Quest 
- a spin-off from their Ghosts 'N Goblins series


Now that I have a taste for Game Boy gaming again – playing them via emulation on my Nintendo Dsi XL - I will be looking at some of the games that hold the fondest memories for me, as well as ones I missed first time around that I would like to bring to your attention. Starting with Amazing Penguin, which you can read about here.