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Top Ten Tuesday 07
My Top Ten Gameboy
There are many top ten lists, but this one is mine. If you think a game is
missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I
just hate you.
my first Gameboy in the Summer of 1991. My older brother had won the system as
a door prize during his After Prom party. He bequeathed it to me, probably
thinking video games were more for kids, and I worshiped him for it. Up to that
point I had only played a few games on his old Colecovision like Frogger,
Donkey Kong, and Q-Bert.
only came with one game - tetris, but that was enough to keep me glued to the
little black and white and greenish screen. Over the next decade new home
consoles came and went as well as new evolutions of my beloved Gameboy - the
slim and sexy Pocket in 1996 and the fancy upgraded Color in 1998. For the
purposes of this list, I'm lumping both Gameboy and Gameboy Color games
together, as the first major system upgrade wasn't until the 32-bit Advance was
released in 2001. While many Gameboy games were simple ports of NES
games, the system soon had a vast and impressive library in its own right.
Top Ten Gameboy Games
10) Kirby's Dreamland
debut was on the tiny screen as a black and white cream puff. Despite the cutesy
character and easier gameplay, Kirby was a hell of a lot of fun. For starters,
instead of jumping on his enemies he simply devoured them, and navigating the
world was a breeze when you could fly without the need for powerups. Like most
of Nintendo's platformers the controls were rock solid and the gameplay was
incredibly entertaining. It wasn't until I saw Kirby later advertised in
magazines that I realized he was actually pink, which somehow just made him all
the more endearing.
was one of my favorite NES games, and its small screen brother was essentially
the same game. The smaller screen made many of the aspects of the game much
more difficult than need be, but the fact that I could play one of my favorite
games on the go was enough to cement it on this list.
was essentially a Tetris clone using Nintendo characters (Mario villains,
mostly), the player controlled the stacks on the bottom rather than the falling
blocks. Switching the stacks so that identical monsters touched and disappeared
or getting big points by sticking monsters in between a top and bottom egg
shell caused the whole stack to vanish for huge points. Sure the gameplay was
repetitive and luck based, but it scratched that Tetris puzzle itch nicely and
I loved the Mario theming.
7) Final Fantasy Legend III
gamer history is somewhat hazy, I'm pretty sure this little gem was my first
Final Fantasy game. I knew I had stumbled upon something special when the box
contained a fold out map. The gameplay was your typical 8-bit or 16-bit JRPG
with a party of characters, turn based battles with menus and a huge world to
explore. Instead of choosing among various classes, however, a character could
eat the meat of defeated foes, or install robotic parts to evolve. Eating meat
would turn a character into a beast, while robot parts would create a cyborg.
These classes would afford them new abilities based on the meat/parts that were
used. Further more you could go deeper into the class and eventually evolve
into full on monsters or robots, which would be much more powerful but
completely uncontrollable by the player. It was an awesome system that I've yet
to see reproduced. The story involved time travel and the classic final fantasy
airship and provided a ton of gameplay for such a small cartridge.
6) Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden
Super Mario Land was a bizarre game. The series served as the primary Mario
series for the Gameboy - the equivalent of the NES' Super Mario Bros - but the
gameplay involved some bizarre powerups and weird gameplay segments including
side scrolling shooters with Mario in a vehicle.
however, was a proper return to form as Six Golden Coins took after SMB3's
overworld map and awesome gameplay. Basically this was the closest thing to
SMB3 you could get on the Gameboy, and it was not to be missed. Most
importantly, it introduced a new villain into the Mario universe, a villain
that would become popular enough to warrant his own game...
5) Warioland: Super Mario Land 3
Wario retained many of his nemeses platforming abilities, he was anything but a
derivative clone. Wario was much more physical in his fighting, with the
ability to pick up and throw enemies and smash into bricks. The traditional
Mario gameplay also evolved as many of Wario's levels involved puzzles that
used the enemies in unique ways rather than simply as obstacles. Warioland was
the first game featuring the titular villain, and the plot was simply to amass
as much money as possible while kicking everyone's ass.
4) Dragon Warrior Monsters
huge success of Pokemon in the late 90s, the concept of training and battle
monsters appeared in a ton of games with varying degrees of success. Dragon
Warrior Monsters was one of the first to capitalize on that gameplay by
utilizing the world and monsters of the Dragon Quest series that was incredibly
popular in Japan. While the game lacked the linear progression and exploring of
the Pokemon games, it added randomized dungeons and multiple monster battles.
importantly you had the ability to breed your monsters together, creating a new
monster with abilities from both parents. A huge meta game evolved with
strategies on how to get the best possible stats and monsters by breeding all
the various crazy monster types together, from Dragons to Plants to Undead to
Slimes, there was no shortage of monsters you could tame or breed.
Unfortunately after breeding the parents would leave and the new creature
would start at level 1, and the game's grind became apparent very quickly.
Still the myriad of possibilities and the fun combat system provided dozens of
hours of entertainment.
3) The Legend of Zelda: Link's
grade I took a class field trip to Washington D.C. and New York City. It turned
out to be a great experience, and not just because I got to go to the top of
the World Trade Center. While exploring the awesomely huge FAO Shwatrz in NYC,
I went straight to the video game section. My little Gameboy had been getting
quite the workout on this trip with all the bus rides and late night gaming,
and I was hungry for something more. I had remembered seeing some friends play
The Legend of Zelda games back on the NES and SNES, and I saw Link's Awakening
there at the store. I pulled the trigger, using some of the precious money my
folks had sent me with, and never looked back.
was my first real Zelda game I ever played, and even then I played it years
after it was released. The story was an odd little side adventure that brought
Link to an entirely new world without Zelda or the Triforce, but all of the
same classic Zelda gameplay that I experienced for the first time. The puzzle-filled
dungeons, the world exploring, the classic items; everything was cherished, and
it's kind of sad and kind of special that it's one of my most vivid memories of
the trip. Had Link's Awakening simply been another Zelda game that I happened
to play on the Gameboy, it would still be on this list
because it was that good. But because it was my first Zelda game, it remains
something special, even if the whole damn plot was really a dream.
have thought a Russian block puzzle game would become one of the greatest and
most recognizable video games of all time? After Mario, there's tetris. Bundled
with the original Gameboy System, the addictive game of falling blocks with its
multiple difficulties, modes, and crazy catchy music quickly became a gaming
phenomenon, and I was certainly one of the faithful. Throughout the years of
great role playing games, platformers, and side scrollers I always found time
to plug that Tetris cartridge in, and pray for that *** long piece.
1) Pokemon Red/Blue
It takes a
real man to admit he likes Pokemon. Or something. Pokemon Red and Blue were
released just as I was entering High School, and I was way above this kids
stuff. Or, well, but the gameplay looked great, the TV show was stupid fun, the
marketing was so damn effective. GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL! My first Pokemon game,
Red, was love at first sight. Training and customizing my little pocket
monsters, figuring out my favorites, learning the strengths and weaknesses of
each type, it was nerd heaven. Beneath Pokemon's kiddy atmosphere beats the
heart of a solid RPG - battling to get stronger, getting the best out of your
group, defeating bosses, and of course the addictiveness of completing that
Pokedex. Pokemon was the first game I bothered to use the cable that attached
two Gameboys together, and I used it quite a bit to battle and trade with
friends. Later generation games Gold and Silver were also awesome, but Red and
Blue were my first foray into being a Pokemon Master and that will always make
it my favorite Gameboy Game.
That Gameboy I was given in the Summer of '91 was the first
game system I could call my own (I got an NES that Christmas), and it'll always
have a special place among my gaming pantheon. Likewise many of the games
listed here are tied with special memories and unique times in my childhood.
The original slab of brick with the green tinted screen served me well throughout
the years, even shouldering the dorky accessories like the magnifying screen
with a quiet dignity. It was as much a gaming console for me as any of its big
brother home systems, and though I do a lot less bus rides and family vacations
these days, I still find myself whipping out a portable game system on those
nice outdoor evenings.
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