And now on Robotman’s blog, it’s time we put away our fancy, expensive home consoles and television sets and pick up a handheld system. Put on those pea-soup coloured glasses too, because it’s time to revisit the original Game Boy.
Our specs are lowered again for this post. Not only are we going back to 8-bit from 16-bit, but we’re ditching all those many colours fora palette of just four. I didn’t actually realize something when I reviewed golf games for the Game Boy, but many people missed out on the original greenish-yellowish screen that the original hardware displayed. By the time the Game Boy Pocket was released, the screen had been upgraded to four shades of lush, vibrant grey.
But my screenshots will simulate the glorious pea-soup version, even though the excellent BGB Emulator can display any damn colours I tell it to.
Wave Race (1992)
I’ve heard people say that “Wave Race” is one of their favourite racers. They’re not talking about this version, but of the Nintendo 64 version. This one is the original.
I was surprised to learn that there is no Super Nintendo version of this game.
As you can see, I am very clever when it comes to entering a four-letter name.
It looks like there are two types of race in this game – Circuit and Slalom. I didn’t find this game terribly appealing, so I didn’t stick around to find out much more. The graphics are quite well done for a Game Boy game though.
Stats about the race are shown before you begin. The between-race music is standard for Game Boy. It’s catchy but unremarkable.
And starting positions are randomized.
When the race starts, racers are counted in. The B button accelerates your jet ski, and the A button acts as a turbo boost. Steering is handled by the age-old “left is always left and right is always right” method for top-down racers that trips some people up.
There are arrows laid down upon the shimmering seabed by Atlanteans passed. They somehow knew we would race in their jet ski tracks. There are also happy faces that pop in and out of those black squares, and there are power-ups along the tracks. I really don’t understand the ins and outs of this game because, like I said, it’s not for me.
I like to think this word is yelled out by an overexcited Brazilian football announcer.
I did my usual best in these reviews. In other words – terrible. My racer is even crying. Fuck is a fucking pussy.
Rankings are shown after each race, just so I could check to see if I am still at the bottom.
The Slalom type race is handled much the same as the Circuit race, except you must race through sets of flags as you go.
This is where the Game Boy version of “Wave Race” reminds me a lot of the N64 version. I can’t tell where the hell I’m supposed to go, especially if the other racers are off the screen. I would have to memorize each track to really play this game, and with so many better racers out there… why bother?
I may be slow, but at least I’m making it through all the flags.
What? No points? I went through all those fucking flags! Even my racer is scratching his head!
Fuck you Wave Race for the Game Boy. Your pretty graphics can’t hide your bad gameplay. Maybe one of these days I’ll see if you can redeem yourself when I try the GameCube version.
I will part with this quote from the Dead Milkmen:
“Went out swimmin’ got hit by a jet ski. Everybody’s got nice stuff but me.”
Motocross Maniacs (1989)
This is a side-view racer from early in the Game Boy’s life.
I didn’t expect much from this game when I started it up, but looks can be deceiving. There are three modes of play. You can race by yourself, or against an opponent – either the computer or a second player.
The game has eight unique courses and three levels of difficulty.
You have a time limit to race, so don’t dawdle.
I thought this was going to be an “Excitebike” clone when I started playing. It has a few things in common with that game, but it’s really its own beast. The music is fantastic. Even though it’s 8-bit Game Boy tunage, it’s epic and propulsive. It’s very well done.
The A button accelerates your bike and the B button uses one of your nitro boosts. You can collect power-ups of nitro (N), more time (T), speed boosts (S) and special tires (R).
It took me a long time to figure out how to control the bike properly, because my usual instinct with racing games is to hammer on that accelerator and see what comes my way. But in “Motocross Mania”, you have to release the accelerator and use up and down on the direction pad to control your bike after you jump each ramp.
It’s very tricky to get the hang of at first, but once you get a feel for it, this game is a fucking blast.
On this example round, I ran out of time on the easiest course on the easiest setting…
… and as usual I blame having to take my hand off the controller to take screenshots…
…but I also blame my new little friends, a couple of three-month-old kittens. Celia says:
They like to bite controller cords.
Playing full tilt is kind of hard on one’s thumbs, because there’s a lot of button pressing involved, but it’s just all kinds of riotous fun to lead your little biker through these courses just to see how they’ve been designed. For such a simple premise, a lot of care and attention went into designing these courses, and it pays off.
Here’s a glimpse of the “VS. COMPUTER” mode. The computer player is in silhouette. Don’t worry, he falls off his bike sometimes too.
This is a great, fun little racing game if you need something to plug into your original Game Boy. I think it’s worth checking out for the awesome music alone. Don’t pass this one over.
Micro Machines 2 – Turbo Tournament (1994)
If you grew up in the 80s, then you remember Micro Machines. They’re dinky cars, but the motherfucking Ferraris of dinky cars.
And like all great and well-known products, Micro Machines just had to have video games made eventually. There are two of these for the Game Boy, and the sequel is the better of them.
A few styles of gameplay are available. I played the single-player mode…
You get to choose one of about a dozen characters in this game. This is the default character, a man with a cowlick who only got as far as putting shaving cream on his face this morning. But he has sunglasses on, so you know he’s cool.
You can also choose to change the name, but his Momma named him “Spider”, so who am I to question that?
The first stage of the Challenge is “ATV Training Camp”. Remember that you are supposed to be racing toy cars around, so your surroundings are things like furniture and books and other household items.
Before each race, you get to see your opponents. I’m racing against a man of few words, a goth chick, and a paralegal.
And here we are being counted in. My vehicle is the lighter-outlined one on the top left.
This first course is way easy. I’m not sure exactly where the setting is supposed to be for this, but it’s an enclosed course, so you can bounce off the edges and you stay inside the track. It’s also kind of slow, especially compared to the course after it.
A accelerates, B reverses and can be used to brake. Left is always left and right is always right.
That was easy.
Me and my shaving cream face qualified in first place. And Svelee (Suelee? Soufflé? How do you pronounce that?) is happy that she doesn’t have to cut herself. Lisa’s pissed, and she will take it out on everyone at the office on Monday. Dwayne is a fucking idiot. He doesn’t even know what day it is.
Here we go with race number 2.
It’s me vs three different characters.
This race takes place on a workbench with a bunch of tools and stuff all around. And the difficulty has been ramped way up on this one.
That’s the end of a drill bit sticking out of a drill. That always seems to trip me up.
This course is not enclosed like the last one. I just went off the edge of the table.
I did it again.
And again. That poof of dust is my car hitting the floor.
And again, off the table. At least the parallax effects are nice.
Well, the difficulty curve from course one to course two is pretty fucking steep. I’m going to have to practice this one some more. Cherry looks stunned that she finished in third place, but how does she think I feel? I slathered shaving cream all over the bottom half of my face for nothing! Now I have to wipe it all off! And it’s probably dried up and sticky by now!
You do get more “continues” with this game, but I decided to call it a review at this point. I will be coming back to this one in the future. Even though I’m not as big of a fan of top-down racers as I am of third-person or first-person racers, this one is very well made and it has a bit of a novelty factor too.
“Micro Machines 2 – Turbo Tournament” also gets a recommendation from me. If you have an oldschool Game Boy, see if you can get a cartridge somewhere. If you want to try this one on your PC, then I suggest the awesome BGB emulator again.