Tag Archives: Game Boy

SG88 WWF Attitude Header

WWF Attitude (Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, Dreamcast & Game Boy Colour)

Developer(s) – Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Sports

PEGI – 12

Released following the success on WWF War Zone, and being the last WWE game overseen by Acclaim Sorts ending a 10-year association with the company, WWF Attitude was released to further commercial and critical acclaim, expanding on the ideas perpetuated by War Zone to ridiculous levels. I mentioned in my review of War Zone that I had a strong sense of nostalgia for that game and that it still holds up to this day; but as this game was a decisive improvement on War Zone in every way, and that I was at an age to appreciate it fully, this title hold even more nostalgic value to me, and holds up even better than War Zone. 

 

Graphics – 8.5/10

One of the most notable improvements in the game is in the technical aspect of the graphics, as the textures are infinitely more detailed than in War Zone and that this was done for a far bigger roster of WWE wrestlers; each wrestler’s own entrance sequence is also extended greatly, giving the game a far greater sense of variety than in the former. It also excels above War Zone in terms of conceptual design, as there are more types of the arena to choose from relative to different WWE Pay Per View events; they, along with wrestlers, can even be customized in terms of the color of the ropes, ring and even the designs of the metal frames either side of the titan tron. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The biggest improvement this game has on its predecessor, however, is in terms of gameplay. The game modes that were present in War Zone return, including an all-new career mode, which is structured far better, as well the additions of there now being a First Blood match and an I Quit Match option. As I said before, the main roster is also expanded largely compared to the limited amount of comparatively limited characters there were in War zone, but there are also a whole host of unlockable characters to obtain such as Chyna and Shawn Michaels.

 

Controls – 9/10

As the game most likely made on the same engine, the same control scheme applies to WWF Attitude as what it does in War Zone. In the cage matches, I still had the same trouble trying to climb out of cages, so the only disappointment I had with the controls scheme is that they didn’t address that issue. However, if born with, it doesn’t remain too much of a problem. On the other hand, however, the individual movesets and commands for which had been somewhat refined for Attitude and in that respect were yet another decisive improvement over War Zone. 

 

Lifespan – 8/10

Of course, that there are far more characters and far more game modes added to this game, it can inevitably be made to far a far longer amount of the time than its predecessor. The sheer amount of customization, gameplay options made available at the time made this one of the most, if not the most, expansive WWE experiences at the time, and consequently, it still holds up as a game that both fans of WWE and non-fans alike can spend hours upon hours investing in. 

 

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

The case with WWF Attitude remains the same as what it was with War Zone. Wrestling fans will inevitably be enthralled in this game faster and to a greater extent than those who don’t follow, or never have followed wrestling, but overall, familiarity with the WWE universe; is not needed to enjoy it. The commentary, however, is this time provided not by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, but by Jerry Lawler and Shane McMahon, who unanimously make for a more comedic duo than the former. 

 

Originality – 7/10

At this juncture, where the WWE video game franchise was concerned, there had always been limitations with games prior to this; most notably in the character rosters, as only a few characters were even chosen for each game compared to what they had on their rosters at the time. But this game did exceptionally well to blow every other WWE game out of the water at the time by expanding on the entire concept until it was splitting at the seams with ideas. It stands out among every other WWE game because it gave WWE fans at the time everything bigger than before, better than before, and all at once. There would be better WWE games released after this, but this game was instrumental in setting many standards that every other WWE game would adhere to from thereon. 

 

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Overall WWF Attitude is one of my favorite fifth-generation wrestling games of all time, as well as it is one of my favorite Nintendo 64 games of all time. It gave wrestling fans everything they wanted and added a few welcome additions in the process, and still remains a load of fun to play to this day. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Toy Story Header

Toy Story (PC, Super Nintendo, Game Boy & Mega Drive)

Developer(s) – Traveller’s Tales, Psygnosis & Tiertex Design Studios

Publisher(s) – Disney Interactive, Sega, Nintendo Australia, Capcom & Black Pearl Software

Producer(s) – Craig Annis & Steve Riding

Designer(s) – John burton & Andy Ingram

ELSPA – All Ages

 

Released to coincide with the hit Disney film of the same name, Toy Story was developed for several different systems and was released to critical and commercial success despite having been at the back end of the fourth generation with the transition into the fifth generation looming around the corner. To me, this game is another one of the more impressive licensed titles released before they were further popularized during the seventh generation and still holds up as one of the most varied 2D side scrollers of the era. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

The graphical style is extremely similar to that of Donkey Kong Country, implementing 2.5 graphical sprites provided to Traveller’s Tales by Disney themselves (albeit Traveller’s Tales has their own sprites on standby in the event of time constraints), portraying all the central characters in the film, as well as several minor ones, and featuring a massively varied range of level designs; some of which add to locations found in the original movie. The game’s soundtrack also features a collection of pretty catchy soundtracks that sound like they would’ve fit flawlessly if they were again included in the film as well. As far as fourth-generation games go, this is one of the best-looking titles of that era in my opinion; the visuals are both colorfully vibrant and wonderfully dark wherever needed, and the character sprites are wonderfully animated in addition. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

For what is primarily a 2D side scroller, the gameplay in Toy Story is surprisingly varied for a game from this era. Not only does it feature side-scrolling sequences, but it also features light puzzle elements, car driving sequences, and even a first-person sequence very similar to Doom. But to experience all of these different styles of play, I would recommend playing the Mega Drive/Genesis version; as this version was dubbed the lead version by Disney, it is the only port to feature all 18 levels created for it; the Super NES version is missing the first RC sequence towards the end and the PC version only has 10 of the original 18 levels. The game also features situations that are unique to the franchise and that don’t appear in the actual film, such as Woody navigating his way through the interior of the claw machine, whereas in the film, he and Buzz simply slip in among the toy aliens instantly. The designers of this game made something very unique to the original film, and it really shows in every respect. 

 

Controls – 10/10

Regardless of having cramped in a huge amount of different play styles, I was amazed to find that there were no problems with the controls after replaying Toy Story. I had to go over it again, as although I’d spent a great deal of time playing this when I was a kid, I realized that I’d forgotten just how good a game this was going into it again with a much more subjective viewpoint. The only minor issue I have with the controls is that during the first-person sequence inside the claw machine, turning can be a bit wooden, but that’s just semantics, as it’s only for one level. It may have posed more of a problem if there were more sequences like it, but besides which, there are no other issues with the controls at all. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

To complete the game will take about the average lifespan for a game of this kind, which is around an hour. I found myself not being able to give the game too much flack in this respect because it was after all perpetuating the source material of an 80-minute film; in fact, if the player explores enough, they can potentially make the game last slightly longer than the film. My initial thought was that if the game could incorporate so many different play styles that the developers may have been able to make it last a lot longer than what it does, but there are too many different factors to consider for me to criticize it too much in this respect, such as the time frame they would have needed to work to in order to get it out at the same period as the film. Regardless, for a game of its generation, it lasts a fair amount of time. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The game is simply a retelling of the events of the film; two anthropomorphic action figures, the cowboy Woody and space ranger Buzz Lightyear, become separated from their owner Andy and must find a way back before the family is due to move house. The game does well enough to portray these events in its own way without much of the classic dialogue of the film and the soundtrack does particularly well to add to the game’s atmosphere further aiding in the portrayal of the story; especially in unique sequences not present in the original film.

 

Originality – 7/10

Especially as 2D side-scrolling was the most prevalent genre within the industry at the game, this game does extremely well to stand out among a vast majority of others with the sheer amount of different play styles it incorporates throughout. It was rare for a game of this genre within the fourth generation to offer so much variety in gameplay and especially for a licensed game, which back then was much more of a niche interested among gamers than what it is now, is particularly impressive indeed. 

 

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Overall, Toy Story, to me, frankly remains one of the better 2D side scrollers of the fourth generation of gaming; certainly among the best of early Disney games. It offers players an unprecedented amount of variety for the time that it lasts and portrays the film in a very satisfying way, not only using the license but celebrating it in an appropriate manner. 

Score

46/60

7.5/10 (Good)

SG88 Tetris 2 Header

Tetris 2 (Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System & Super Nintendo)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1, TOSE & Nintendo

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

PEGI – 3

 

First published and brought to consoles in 1993 by Nintendo following the immense success of the 1989 classic designed by Dr. Alexei Pajitnov, Tetris 2 was met with an equal amount of acclaim by critics, with Electronic Gaming Monthly going on record to say that any fans of the first game will surely be satisfied with the sequel as well. Personally, I have a much more dim view of the second game than many others, which may seem like semantics when first thought about, since it’s easy to assume that the second would simply play out more or less identically to the first, but it doesn’t, and there are some key reasons why I think much less of this than the original game.

 

Graphics – 6/10

Whilst judging the game on its visuals, it highly depends on which port is being played. The Game Boy version consists of very little in terms of presentation and has a much less catchy soundtrack than its predecessor. Though games like this are not primarily played for their graphics, the original game did have a few different pieces of scenery reminiscent of the country that it came from, but there’s nothing like that in the second. The NES version of course has color to it, since the Game Boy is a monochromatic system, but there is, unfortunately, the same lack of additional conceptual design.

 

Gameplay – 6/10

Nintendo decided to not only port the game to their consoles, but re-invent it as well; in my opinion, resulting in a very underwhelming final product. The objective of the second game is to eliminate blocks pre-emptively fixed on the game board by matching them up with blocks of the same color or pattern using the falling tetromino shapes. I found it simply to be dull and unsatisfying compared to the first game, which was designed by a man who understood the very concept of addiction, having studied it for a long time.

 

Controls – 6/10

Because the tetromino shapes are structured much differently to those of the first game, yet with the game itself functioning on largely the same control scheme, to me, it doesn’t work anywhere near as well as in the first game. It simply highlights how overly hard the developers tried to fix something that wasn’t broken and complicated something that did not need to be complicated at all.

 

Originality – 6/10

Although I can commend Nintendo to a certain extent for trying something new with an overwhelmingly popular gameplay formula, something which by default would have been extremely difficult to even begin to undertake, let alone top, it tuned out to be the wrong decision, and it made for a game that fell well short of the quality of its predecessor in my opinion. The idea was passable when it was implemented in Dr. Mario since it was much more simplistic having the player use two colors at a time, but if Gunpei Yokoi was involved in any way, shape, or form with the second Tetris game, it wouldn’t stand out as being among his best works the way I see it.

 

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To summarize, Tetris 2 is just about playable, but nowhere near as fun or as addictive as what the concept had been before that, or what it would be following it. The formula would be vastly improved on with the release of Tetris Plus, but the direct sequel to the biggest one-hit wonder in gaming history certainly failed to live up to the set standards in my opinion.

Score

24/40

6/10 (Average)

SG88 Fall of the Foot Clan Header

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (Game Boy)

Developer(s) – Konami

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Designer – Naoki Matsui

PEGI – 12

 

Based on the hit cartoon TV series of 1987, of which I and my brother were pretty big fans of, Fall of the Foot Clan focuses on another one of the Turtle’s efforts to save their damsel in distress April O’Neil from Krang, Shredder, and their lackeys and Foot Soldiers. And in my opinion, this game makes for quite possibly their most exciting adventure yet.

 

Graphics – 10/10

To me, Fall of the Foot Clan represents the very pinnacle of what the Game Boy was capable of producing in terms of both conceptual and graphical design. There’s diversity is not only level design, but that of the enemies and bosses. There’s also a very stable balance of both sprite size and level size; an issue seen in other Game Boy games such as Metroid II: Return of Samus. Not to mention, Fall of the Foot Clan easily has one of the most stellar 8-bit soundtracks I have ever heard; if not, the most stellar. Besides all this, I’ve yet to encounter a single glitch in the game, playing it on and off for almost 20 years. To achieve all this on a monochromatic system, in particular, was a fairly hard feat to achieve, but with this title, I think Konami hit the nail on the head in terms of visual presentation.

 

Gameplay – 9.5/10

I also believe Konami hit the nail on the head in terms of gameplay too. To play this game is to feel excited and exhilarated, as well as feeling challenged. Another thing I like about Fall of the Foot Clan is that it is a challenging game, but without being too hard, like many other 2D side scrollers around at the time. Although there aren’t many side quests, having only two bonus stages to undertake throughout the game, there is still a great deal of satisfaction to be had whilst playing this game for a game of its kind; as much as the likes of Super Mario Land or Duck Tales.

 

Controls – 10/10

I’m also happy to be able to say that there are no issues with the control scheme at all, which I believe has a lot to do with why it plays out better than most other challenging 2D side-scrollers, such as Castlevania or Mega Man. A lot of the time with games like that, the controls tend to be pretty sketchy, and it takes away a great portion of any legitimate challenge the way I see it. But in Fall of the Foot Clan, I think Konami got the balance between challenge and controls right.

 

Lifespan – 3/10

The game’s lifespan, to me, is where it drastically falls short of what it could have potentially been. It’s the same reason why I was partially disappointed with Super Mario Land when I played it for the first time. Though there is enough in the game to make players want to play it on multiple occasions, I have always wished that the level structure could have a bit more attuned to resemble a Mario game, whereby there are multiple levels making up multiple worlds. I think adopting an idea like that would have brought much more to the table.

 

Storyline – 6.5/10

As I outlined before, Fall of the Foot Clan follows the four turtles, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello in another attempt to save April O’Neil from Krang and Shredder from captivity. I think it’s about as imaginative as most games were at that time in regards to the story, and there’s nothing overwhelmingly special about it. Although some developers tried to put more emphasis on the story at around that time, like what Nintendo tried with EarthBound, this was a time before video games were accepted in the mainstream as a viable art form. And consequently, all Fall of the Foot Clan’s story does is do a half-decent enough job of adding to the overall atmosphere of the game.

 

Originality – 7/10

Although the game plays out like most games of that era, indeed the 2D side-scrolling genre was the dominant of the third, fourth and fifth generations of gaming, this game to me stands out as being one of the best for a few reasons; because of how exciting, challenging and intense it is, and since it also does a very good job of presenting a pre-existing license through the medium of video games. Especially in a time closer to the video game crash of 1983, that was inevitably going to be a much harder feat to accomplish, and since, there have been few games to do this.

 

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Overall, I think anyone who owns a Game Boy should own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan. It’s a very entertaining title, and although it does have its flaws, it is certainly worth far more than merely one playthrough. This game came out back in 1990, and it still very much holds p to this very day, in my opinion.

Score

46/60

7.5/10 (Good)

SG88 Super Mario Land 2 Header

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Hiroji Kiyotake & Takehiko Hosokawa

Producer – Gunpei Yokoi

PEGI – 3

 

As another Game Boy Game developed under the watchful eye of the late great Gunpei Yokoi at Nintendo R&D1, Super Mario Land 2 is, in many ways, a massive improvement on the original Super Mario Land, introducing a new world in the Mario series, as well as a new objective. It was also the first time gamers were introduced to the character of Wario, giving the Mario universe a new and more stable villain than Tatanga from the previous Mario Land game. After having first played this game only very recently, I can say it is definitely a must-have for anyone with a Game Boy, or a 3DS since it is on the Virtual Console.

 

Graphics – 9.5/10

One of the most noticeable improvements is most definitely in the visuals. Whilst settings and character sprites may take up more of the screen than they did in the original game, that sacrifice is most definitely worth it, since not only does everything in the game look in far more detail, but unlike in Metroid 2, there is a very even balance between graphical detail, and how much of the screen is taken up by this, not causing as much of a hindrance as many people have cited about the second outing of Samus Aran for the Game Boy. Also, whilst the game’s soundtrack may not be as stellar as the original Super Mario Land, one noteworthy thing is that Kazumi Totaka composed it, and the fabled Totaka’s Song Easter egg can indeed be found within the game. On the game over screen, wait for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, and it will play.

 

Gameplay – 9.5/10

Although the visuals have been drastically improved, and the adequate level of variety in setting design has been very much adhered to, the most significant improvement to me, is the gameplay. Playing out less like the classic Super Mario Bros game, and offering a gameplay experience more akin to Super Mario World, it offers greater variety in gameplay as well as the ability to finish it in any order the player so desires. Indeed, 6 Golden Coins was actually one of the largest games ever developed on the Game Boy at a whopping 4 megabits. It may seem like a very small amount by today’s standards, but at the time that was a big deal; especially for a handheld monochromatic system. As well as that, the same amount of stern challenge is also present as it was in the original game.

 

Controls – 10/10

The only gripe I had with the control scheme in the original Super Mario Land was that the controls could be somewhat unresponsive at times and that it could cause a bit of pretty unnecessary frustration. Thankfully, however, the developers didn’t repeat the same mistake with this title, and there are fortunately no issues to address.

 

Lifespan – 5/10

Another improvement made was to the lifespan. The original Super Mario Land could be completed in a time of merely half an hour, but the second game can be to last closer to 2 hours. Whilst that isn’t really that significant an improvement, especially compared to Super Mario World itself, the thing to bear in mind is that a Game Boy cartridge could only hold so much memory, and it would still be a fair few years before advancement in cartridge technology would allow for significantly bigger open worlds and even more gameplay, like that which would be seen in the Pokémon games.

 

Storyline – 7/10

Aside from the gameplay being an improvement, there is also a slight positive deviation from the regular story of Mario having to travel a land to save a princess in the form of something quite different. In this title, Mario must retake his castle, which has been stolen by a new villain named Wario. To do this, he must travel the land in order to find the 6 golden coins needed to regain access to the castle, and thereby entering to defeat Wario.

 

Originality – 7.5/10

With a new world, a new villain, and even a couple of new power-ups thrown in for good measure, I’d say that the second Super Mario Land game keeps the series a fraction fresher than the original game did. The difference being is that more things that were introduced to the franchise in the second game would go on to become staples of the series, which was good in the way that that, in itself, would lead to Nintendo taking the character to greater heights of success in the future, with the likes of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy.

 

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In summation, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is a thoroughly enjoyable Mario game, and I would recommend it to anyone else that may not have played it yet, or have been sitting on the fence about trying it out. It may be a considerably aged game, especially compared to the many Mario games that have come out on other handhelds since, but it plays out just as well; if not better.

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Super Mario Land Header

Super Mario Land (Game Boy)

Developer – Nintendo R&D 1

Publisher – Nintendo

Director – Satoru Okada

Producer – Gunpei Yokoi

PEGI – 3

 

Super Mario Land is one of the most outstanding Game Boy games for me for a number of reasons. Developed by Nintendo R&D 1 and produced by the late great Gunpei Yokoi. Super Mario Land for me, definitely earns its place as one of the more fairly memorable installments in the illustrious Super Mario franchise.

 

Graphics – 9/10

Carrying on from Super Mario 3, Super Mario Land presents players with a pretty decent level of variety in level design, with courses ranging from being influenced by Egyptian and Chinese cultures, as well as other courses having the more classic Super Mario feel to them. The variety in level design compensates for the initial lack of color on the Game Boy’s screen nicely. But what I absolutely love about this game and the biggest source of childhood memory for me personally, is its stellar soundtrack. Composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, the theme for the first level, in particular, has had a huge nostalgic impact on the gaming community, and does a flawless job of setting the happy-go-lucky tone of the entire game.

 

Gameplay – 9/10

Whilst Super Mario Land pretty much plays out like any other typical Mario game before it, and other future Mario games afterward, what stands out about Super Mario Land for me is its surprising level of challenge compared to that of previous installments in the series. Though Super Mario Land is short, many levels do require a bit of lateral thinking to get through I find. Even after over 20 years, there were parts of the game that I struggled with when I played it to finalize my review. Another standout feature that came with Super Mario Land, which had never been seen before in any other Mario game before, and few since, is the rail-shooting aspect of gameplay. Inspired by Gunpei Yokoi’s Kid Icarus series, Super Mario Land presents players with the challenge of guiding Mario through the level on either a place or in a submarine, with guns attached to them to shoot enemies along the way, which made for a very nice change of direction in terms of gameplay; one of many examples of Yokoi’s philosophy of lateral thinking with withered technology.

 

Controls – 9.5/10

Compared to other installments in the series, prior, Super Mario Land’s controls seem a little bit unresponsive. Mario sometimes may not jump when the appropriate button is pressed, which can cause some mild frustration. But otherwise, the entire formula works as it was intended, which, as it had been long since perfected in the video games industry, was to be expected.

 

Lifespan – 3/10

For me, this is the aspect whereby the game falls short of the most, as it can be completed inside half an hour. Whilst the game is extremely enjoyable to play, like most titles in the franchise’s history, it still feels like far too fleeting an experience, given how short a time it can be made to last. Beginners will spend quite some time losing lives, but for experienced players, it can be completed in less than twenty minutes, which even for a Mario game at the game, was just far too short.

 

Storyline – 6.5/10

The story of Super Mario Land follows Mario’s adventure to rescue a character new to the franchise at the time, Princess Daisy, from the mysterious alien Tatanga, who plans to force her into marriage. Whilst the basic premise is identical to any typical Super Mario game, it is fractionally different from other prior entries in the series, and did introduce a few new characters who would later become much more stable in years to come, and incorporates a new villain to the Mario series as opposed to simply bringing back Bowser again. But overall, the game’s story is not exactly what one would call a blockbuster; especially as this game was designed in a time before video games were officially considered to be a valid form of artistic expression.

 

Originality – 7/10

Although Super Mario Land does ultimately play out like most other Super Mario installments, it was kept fresh enough with the introduction of new gameplay elements as well as new characters and scenery to go with it. I think it’s pretty regrettable that the rail-shooting aspect of gameplay has appeared in no other mainstream Super Mario title since, as it was a good idea, and it kept gameplay intense as well as challenging.

 

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In summation, Super Mario Land is a must-have for old and new fans of the series. For me personally, it doesn’t get any more nostalgic than this and will keep newcomers to the series for the short time it lasts, and present them with a fairly stern challenge along the way.

Score

44/60

7/10 (Fair)

Shantae (Game Boy Colour & DS)

Developer(s) – Way Forward Technologies

Publisher(s) – Capcom

Director – Matt Bozon

Producer – John Beck

PEGI – 7

 

An early indie game five years in the making and going through a number of developmental ideas before release, Shantae is a traditional 2D platformer, but with elements of the Metroidvania genre thrown in for good measure. I was actually quite surprised to find out how good a game Shantae is, and would recommend it to anyone who may have a Game Boy or DS and looking for a hidden gem.

 

Graphics – 9/10

For the time of its launch and platform, it initially appeared on, the game could easily be considered revolutionary in terms of visuals. Aside from being extremely colorful, the universe of Shantae is extremely detailed and varied; featuring a conceptual design inspired by not only Middle-Eastern culture but also by pirate culture. It’s a very interesting blend, that has gone on to be a constant throughout the rest of the series, and works astonishingly well.

 

Gameplay – 7/10

Having elements of the Metroidvania genre attached to it, there’s quite a fair bit to play for in the game, and quite a bit of satisfaction to be had out of it for the time it lasts. Aside from the encouragement of exploration and challenging enemies, there is also a series of mini-games present, involving activities such as racing and belly dancing to gain more in-game money. The belly dancing, in particular, can be quite a satisfying challenge if the player is able to complete the higher-ranked dancing sequences. But regardless, it presents a fair enough level of challenge without it being far too inaccessible.

 

Controls – 8/10

For the most part, the control scheme of the game is pretty straightforward. Moving and combat are easy to get to grips with, and how the in-city exploration was handled is pretty unique. The biggest problem with it, however, is that it has an open world, but no map system. I think that this is actually not only the biggest flaw in the game in terms of controls but the biggest flaw in the game in general. It was something that was made complicated, but didn’t need to be so.

 

Lifespan – 6/10

Though it is on the Game Boy Colour, and that it could be argued that memory usage would have factored into it, 4 hours still seems to me as particularly underwhelming for a Metroidvania game. I can’t help but with perhaps a few more mini-games, or some side quests attached to it, it could have been made to last a fair bit longer. It was at around this time that open-world 2D platformers were being made to last longer than many others in the past, such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, so where this game may have been ahead of the time from a graphical standpoint, it was lagging behind in terms of lifespan.

 

Storyline – 6/10

Although the general atmosphere and visual style of the game were different from many others, the story wasn’t anywhere near as much so. It follows Shantae, a half-human half-genie hybrid, who is charged with protecting a small town called Scuttle Town. One day, the town is attacked by the pirate Risky Boots, who steals a prototype steam engine for her diabolical plan. And so Shantae resolves to get it back from her. For a video game story it is pretty typical; only kept somewhat interesting by small elements of humor here and there.

 

Originality – 6/10

Though it may have been particularly advanced for the time in terms of graphics, especially on a handheld system, I think it did want for uniqueness somewhat in terms of gameplay. It did have some standout mechanics for the time, such as the ability to transform into various animals to get around, but ultimately, the most standout thing was indeed not only the graphical marvel of the visuals but also the game’s conceptual influences.

 

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Overall, despite the absence of a map system and a prolonged lifespan, Shantae is still a fairly enjoyable game, and worthy of the attention of anyone who may own a Game Boy. It isn’t the best platformer to have ever been released, but it indeed has its charms.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

Scouse Gamer 88 Duck Tales Header

Duck Tales (Nintendo Entertainment System & Game Boy)

Developer(s) – Capcom

Publisher(s) – Capcom & Disney Interactive Studios

Designer – Yoshinori Takenaka

Producer – Takuro Fujiwara

PEGI – 7

 

Released back in 1989, and has many key personnel from the team behind Mega Man, including the franchise’s creator Keiji Inafune taking charge of character design, Duck Tales went on to become a critical and commercial success on the back of the immensely popular Disney cartoon series. It’s regarded by many as one of the best, and indeed most challenging, Game Boy games ever developed, and I found that whilst it is challenging, it was developed in such a way that didn’t make it inaccessible to me, unlike Mega Man, and I ended up spending a lot of time on this game when I was a kid as a result.

 

Graphics – 8/10

Though the NES version had a massive assortment of colorful environments, despite the console’s limited color palette, what the original Game Boy lacked in color variety and technological advancement developers had to make up for in conceptual design; Duck Tales is a classic example of this. Set in a variety of 5 different locations, including The Himalayas, The Amazon River, and even the Moon, it, in turn, allowed for a wide assortment of enemy designs and different types of scenery to accompany each stage. The soundtrack is also arguably one of the best 8-BIT music arrangements in gaming, which tracks for the Amazon and The Moon standing out to a majority of players.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Like Mega Man, Duck Tales is also a non-linear 2D platformer, with players being given the facility to complete the game in any order they desire. There are also unlockable areas within each of the five different levels, giving players cause to revisit levels multiple times, adding to the game’s longevity. It was also one of the first video games to include multiple endings since there is a good ending and a bad ending to unlock dependent on how much money the player accumulates.

 

Controls – 10/10

Though the 2D platforming game formula had been well and truly mastered at this time, Duck Tales introduced one in a particular mechanic that made things pretty interesting; the pogo stick jump. Scrooge can use his cane as a pogo stick to attack enemies as well as traverse dangerous platforms in order to reach otherwise impassable or secret areas hidden throughout the game. It would have been particularly difficult for developers to introduce new ideas into a formula that had arguable been definitively perfected by Nintendo with the advent of Super Mario Bros, but Capcom managed to keep it fresh with their plethora of Mega Man game as well as Duck Tales.

 

Lifespan – 6/10

Clocking in at around an hour and a half, it lasts around the average of what a game was expected to last at that time. Less experienced players will spend some more time on it since it can take a while to master the control mechanics to effectively get past each individual challenge the game throws at them, but there had been a select few games on the NES that lasted a great deal longer than this, and so the game wasn’t able to stand out in this respect at least.

 

Storyline – 5.5/10

The game also marginally stands out in terms of story. It simply revolves around the same concept of the cartoon series, in which Scrooge McDuck, along with his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and his friend Launchpad McQuack are on an adventure to increase Scrooge’s fame ahead of his closest rival, Flintheart Glomgold. It’s only slightly more unique than most video game plots at that time since it doesn’t revolve around a white knight having to save the damsel in distress, but although most people didn’t play games for the story at this time, there is indeed a lack of it in this title.

 

Originality – 7/10

As I alluded to, it was extremely difficult to make a winning 2D side-scrolling game in the time when Nintendo had pioneered the industry standards with the original Super Mario Bros, but Capcom managed to accomplish that with Duck Tales by introducing the additional control mechanics, as well as a non-linear progression along with hidden secret areas. It was one of many licensed Disney games that Capcom went on to develop that sticks out in the minds of gamers everywhere, and helped to establish them as powerhouses within the industry.

 

Happii

Happii

In all, Duck Tales is indeed one of the best platformers on the Game Boy, as well as the NES, and a gaming experience that still very much holds up to this day. Though it conformed to many of the story limitations synonymous with gaming at the time, it excelled in the aspect that truly matters; the gameplay.

Score

44.5/60

7/10 (Fair)