With over 450 Nintendo Game Boy games released in PAL territories, there’s more than enough to be enjoying on the classic chunky handheld. But what are the greatest titles hidden amongst the wealth of grey cartridges? Get your batteries at the ready and power up to find out!
As the majority of you will be well acquainted with the likes of Tetris, Super Mario Land, Pokemon and Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, we’re hoping to shed some light on the many titles which don’t get the credit they deserve. So put down all those old classics and get ready to bless your Game Boy with a wealth of new adventures thanks to these hidden gems.
Although both the demand and value of this Sunsoft title has risen significantly over the last few years, Trip World still remains somewhat unknown to the masses. The cutesy platformer-come-metamorpher from 1992 was only released in Europe and Japan, leaving the wise American retro gamers familiar with this title on a global hunt to secure their copy.
From a first glance Trip World looks like your standard platformer, however, once you get familiar with the controls you’ll fall head over heels with this imaginative release. Taking control of Yacopu, you have to clear five stages which traverse on a steep difficulty curve. Similar to its NES counterpart, Mr Gimmick, you’ll be mad to take this cute adventure lightly.
If you were a home computer owner in the late 80s you may already be familiar with this original idea. Taking control of a ambitious ghost, it’s up to you to safely blow a lonesome bubble throughout the trials and tribulations of a haunted house.
The Game Boy port of this home computer classic completely rebrands the once spooky ghost challenge into an adorable spirit on an adventure. As usual though, you shouldn’t let the adorable visuals deceive you. Should you successfully clear the first few rooms, every pixel your bubble moves from here on will leave you panicking.
Arriving as the lighthearted side to the Castlevania series, Kid Dracula (also known as Akumajo Special: Boku Dracula-kun) saw two standout releases on both the Nintendo Famicom and Nintendo Game Boy. The playful release in 1993 incorporated all the fantastic elements of Castlevania, whilst being daring enough to try anything that wouldn’t pass under the name of its older sibling.
Although Kid Dracula held plenty of reason to invest two decades ago, very few copies today seem to be in circulation. What makes matters worse for those wanting to enjoy Konami’s treat is that this hidden gem has since become a cult classic commanding plenty of demand on eBay.
On a more serious note, Konami released three unique Castlevania games for the Nintendo Game Boy- Castlevania Advenutre, Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge, and Castlevania Legends. The later of these, however, was released very late into the handheld’s life and is one many retro gamers are yet to enjoy.
Whilst many begrudge Konami for their earlier Castlevania Game Boy efforts, Castlevania Legends is the one that got it right, albeit a little too late. The 1998 release sees the arrival of Sonia Belmont who jumps right into the action, accompanied by one of the best 8-bit Castlevania soundtracks to date. The game offers plenty of challenge, but those wanting to tackle Dracula’s castle once more will have to dig deep into their pockets for this one.
If there is one thing Capcom were known for in the 8-bit days, it was platformers. With the likes of Bionic Commando, Mega Man, and Duck Tales all under their name, what would happen if the Japanese developers combined the three? Darkwing Duck is what.
The short lived cartoon series was all the rage in 1992, a time when Capcom were made responsible for the majority of Disney’s video game output on Nintendo based systems. With several near perfect platform game engines already in their hands, Capcom took the best bits out of each and made Disney proud. Not only was Darkwing Duck equipped with Mega Man’s Mega Buster, but the climbing ability of Bionic Commando and the... well... duck-like-physique of Duck Tales’ Scrooge Mcduck.
Although many will remember Bond by his Nintendo 64 blessing, the Nintendo Game Boy outing is often unfairly overlooked. While you’d expect any game featuring the secret agent to be a gun toting battle, James Bond 007 on the Game Boy is more of an RPG adventure.
Featuring a very similar style of gameplay to that of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, James Bond 007 puts you in control of Bond who is left to solve a series of action-RPG styled puzzles from a top down perspective. The game then goes on to pay further homage to the genre and games which inspired it, by introducing sword based battles alongside Bond’s usual pistol firing antics.
If there was anything Mole Mania went on to suggest following its release in 1997 was that any puzzle game preceding it was a two-dimensional experience.
Mole Mania’s mind boggling overground and underground approach to the classic box moving puzzle Sokoban is by far one of the most impressive additions to the puzzle genre to date. This enjoyable puzzler was then taken a step further by introducing boss battles, and an adorable narrative involving an evil farmer kidnapping Muddy Mole’s family.
With such praise surrounding Mole Mania, it should come as no surprise that the mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto was behind this handheld gem.
Although we’re worried that our undying love for Sunsof is becoming too apparent, you cannot deny that the majority of their titles are all shining examples of platforming perfection. Batman: Return of the Joker is no different.
First impressions sadly though are everything, ones which without a doubt will have prevented Batman: Return of the Joker rising to fame. The rather tricky to master controls will have put off many gamers both upon release and even today, however, our advice is to stick with this title and become one with your Game Boy. Once you’re able to release your bat-grappling-hook with ease, you’ll be in retro gaming heaven.
Final Fantasy isn’t really a name you’d expect to see on a list of hidden gems, but that said Final Fantasy Adventure is quite an exception. Believe it or not, Final Fantasy Adventure is actually a rebranded and repackaged first game from the Mana series, one which is the predecessor to the Super Nintendo classic- Secret of Mana.
Despite holding the Final Fantasy name, Final Fantasy Adventure shared very little with the main series, especially where gameplay was concerned. In game battles were action based, similar to that of The Legend of Zelda, although after defeating a wealth of monsters the character would level up.
If there was ever a series to never get the attention it deserves, it’s Irem’s Hammerin’ Harry. Just about every game released in the series stemming from an arcade debut in 1990 has become an instant hit. Despite this, Hammerin’ Harry has remained more of an importer’s treat, with the few English localisations seeing very small print runs.
The pocket sized outing for Hammerin’ Harry in 1991 took everything that made the arcade game great and correctly scaled it down for the Nintendo Game Boy. This was then enhanced by the addition of ghosts and zombies, alongside the occasional few side scrolling shooting levels.
Be warned though, Hammerin’ Harry: Ghost Building Company is one of the rarest PAL Nintendo Game Boy releases out there. Should you be wanting to enjoy this classic now, you’ll need to look towards Japan and get ready to import!
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