A fabulous portable cartoon platformer, Tiny Toon Adventures: Babs' Big Break is another example of a fine licenced game with excellent audio and solid visuals on the Game Boy. The charm of Tiny Toons might be the thing that grabs your attention, but the gameplay is remarkably good and Konami once again demonstrates why we’re so sad they don’t really make video games any more. Looney, indeed.
A Game Boy version of the SNES original, this was developed by Factor 5, the studio behind the Super Turrican games on the Super Nintendo and the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series. The levels and overall structure were altered and a password system was added but it still manages to deliver a serviceable game of Contra on a system with the processing power of a modern day toaster.
The Game Boy port of Taito’s arcade platformer Bubble Bobble was developed in-house and it’s a great rendition of the original game that loses little in its transition to the portable’s little green screen. Bub the Bubble Dragon uses – you guessed it – bubbles to defeat enemies and work his way though 100 levels as he searches for Moon Water for his brother, Bob. It’s a classic and the GB port is an excellent way to play.
Kirby’s Dream Land was and remains an exceptionally charming platformer, although you might find that the pink puff’s debut Game Boy adventure feels a bit too elementary these days. Many years' worth of nostalgia gives us huge affection for Kirby, but looking over the top of those rose-tinted glasses for a moment reveals a slightly pedestrian title that was outpaced by its descendants in virtually every way. Kirby’s genesis is strong, especially considering the hardware, but the irresistible puffball has done better since. Naturally.
36. Catrap (GB)
Something of hidden gem in the Game Boy catalogue, Catrap is a platform puzzler credited with being the first game to have a ‘rewind’ feature. You’re tasked with defeating monsters in order to escape 100 levels of ladders, blocks and other objects. Stages get more and more devious, of course, and a level editor enables you to create your own. If it looks a little basic from the outside, the game has a giant amount of content and could keep you busy for weeks. It was arguably overlooked back in the day, but it’s an innovative puzzler that deserves a bit of attention.
Going by that instruction book story, the idea that this game would prove Donkey Kong Country was more than just a pretty face is demonstrated rather nicely. Whilst visually it can't come close to the SNES title, by Game Boy standards these are definitely “fancy graphics”, and that doesn't really matter as fans can rejoice in what is basically an extra 34 levels of DKC. Tight controls and a variety of locations and enemies make for an enjoyable platformer. Add in the challenge of finding everything and Donkey Kong Land is a fun game that will keep players occupied for some time.
The first of the SaGa RPG series (rebranded in the west with the hot-ticket 'Final Fantasy' label), its two sequels would improve upon the template laid down here, but RPG traditionalists will still find much to like in the original game. Although it was designed to be a shorter experience more suited to a portable machine, it’s a tough little game and still worth a look all these years later.
Nominally an update of Rareware’s original NES game, Super R.C. Pro-Am did an excellent job of scaling down the isometric perspective racing onto the Game Boy’s monochrome display. Sure, the blur and size of that screen made racing a little more challenging, and the gameplay could quickly get repetitive, but it still delivered some nail-biting multiplayer contests with up to three friends and link cables.
32. Parodius (GB)
Originally an arcade parody of the company’s Gradius series, Parodius showcases Konami’s lighter side by taking the former’s shooting gameplay and mixing in characters from across Konami’s catalogue with remixes of public domain (mostly classical) music. Although this was supposedly down to an impossible-to-meet developmental deadline, it contributed greatly to the joyful absurdity of the game and the Game Boy version captures that spirit very well.
Only the second in the series of life-sim farming games following the debut game on Super Nintendo, Harvest Moon sees you visited by an apparition of your dead grandpa who tasks you with taking up the mantle of Ranch Master and managing the family farm. Cue sowing seeds, harvesting crops and selling them to buy more gear enabling you to reap more and build a farm that dear old gramps would have been proud of – if your efforts don’t meet with his ghostly approval it’s Game Over, so look lively! It’s certainly simple by modern standards, but the Game Boy edition still has plenty of charm.