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Swords, Pinballs, Vacuums, and Arrows

by Karlie Yeung - July 25, 2012, 6:13 pm
Total comments: 4

The four featured Game Boy titles are all about adventure.

As the quiet summer drifts by gently like a wisp of cirrus cloud, so do the Virtual Console releases for Game Boy on the Nintendo eShop. The clouds gather until they reach a critical mass, and then fall like our four following recommendations.

The Sword of Hope II brings us scattered showers of user interface shortcomings for a typical RPG of the era, yet a humorous story and delightful environment interaction. Zach thinks it's OK as an example of what was out there at the time.

Floating away to Dreamland, Neal takes on Kirby's Pinball Land and experiences pinball and Kirby in simpler times. It's a tough ride, but it's fun to see Kirby before he was all that and everyone else.

Tumble Pop might be more fun in an arcade, but Andy could work with the then-novel concept of vacuuming ghosts until the slow controls and limited mechanic brought it to a halt.

Forever a game, it's Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters drawing us to a sunny conclusion. Much improved from the original in its accessibility, it actually becomes somewhat of a walk in the park in the later stages, Zach reports.


Sword of Hope II

SystemVirtual Console - Game Boy

Cost$2.99
Players1
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedSep 1996

The Sword of Hope II could be the most basic RPG in the world - all menus, not even an overworld map that you can walk around like in Dragon Quest. Instead, environments appear onscreen once you select a direction to move in. Nothing is explained to you, names of items are shortened because of the character limit, and you'll be constantly referring to the game's virtual manual.

But once you get past a certain hump, Sword of Hope II is actually very fun, almost in spite of itself. The writing is surprisingly good (and funny), you can whack things in the environment, and because you'll be doing a lot of wandering, you'll be leveling up all the time and blowing monsters away without a second thought. I killed the second boss in two turns! However, the game's biggest drawback is the encounter rate. You'll run into a group of monsters like 80% of the time you go to a new screen, and while the combat system is usable, it's very slow. Interestingly, you can select "Auto" and watch battles play out with the game's AI. It's not a perfect game by any means, but RPG fans might get a kick out of it. This is where the genre was in 1993, folks.

Recommended for Fans

- Zachary Miller



Kirby's Pinball Land

SystemVirtual Console - Game Boy

Cost$3.99
Players1
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedNov 1993

Kirby's Pinball Land feels frozen in time, especially after playing Kirby games that followed it and Zen Studios' 3DS pinball games. It doesn't feature Kirby's token power-stealing abilities (it came out the same year as Kirby's Adventure), and its pinball mechanics are understandably dated. Still, it's a very unique and entertaining take on pinball that woefully errs on the side of frustratingly difficult.

The game is split into three distinct lands, each patrolled by a boss, such as Wispy Woods or Kracko. Each land is made of three floors, which are all their own little pinball tables. It's rewarding to discover how to traverse the tables, unlocking mini-games and traveling to the boss stage, but it can get very frustrating, too. If you fall to the bottom of the table, you hit a springboard that can rebound you back up if you time a button press. However, the button press can be extremely finicky. Also, there is no greater crushing blow than making it to the boss stage, only to plummet back down to the main table.

The 3DS version has some nice additions, though. The Suspend Point function helps remove a bit of the frustration, and the manual contains in-depth table guides. Kirby's Pinball Land might not be for everyone, but it is a novel game that fans should check out, especially if they want to see the origins of the engine that ran Pokémon Pinball.

Recommended for Fans

- Neal Ronaghan



Tumble Pop

SystemVirtual Console - Game Boy

Cost$2.99
Players1
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone
ReleasedMar 1993

Tumble Pop feels like a relic of its time: an arcade action platformer with wrap scrolling and a simple mechanic. You play as a soldier, armed with a super-powered vacuum, against various ghosts and mutants created by pollution. The game seems like an early precursor to something like Luigi's Mansion or the Ghostbusters franchise, but unfortunately doesn't deserve the acclaim of either.

The game controls much more slowly than its arcade counterpart, and the collision detection is a bit suspect. It's a fun premise, and the music is quite catchy, but it's hard to deny that fans of the arcade version likely won't find much to like here. Those who haven't even heard of Tumble Pop before will quickly grow tired of the game. It's a fun diversion for a few minutes, but doesn't hold up for long.

Recommended for Fans

- Andy Goergen



Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters

SystemVirtual Console - Game Boy

Cost$3.99
Players1
ControllersNULL
ESRB RatingEveryone 10+
ReleasedSep 1995

The best way to describe this Kid Icarus sequel is that it's Kid Icarus without the bullshit. No longer will you die from falling off the screen in vertical areas. No longer are the dungeons so long that they drive you insane. No longer are there lots of enemies that take your upgraded items (one or two show up in one stage, but are easily avoided). It is not difficult to earn enough hearts in a stage to gain a health or arrow upgrade. Eventually the game becomes incredibly easy, and you'll use your riches to buy ever more potions for your potion barrel.

Now, the downside is that the graphics are pretty bland and the music is instantly forgettable, with short tracks that loop way too quickly. However, there's no question that, of the two original Kid Icarus games, this one is far and away the superior game (and the final boss is pretty sweet).

Recommended for Everyone

- Zachary Miller


Talkback

PhilPhillip Stortzum, July 25, 2012

I tried Kirby's Pinball Land for the first time, and I absolutely sucked and blew (puns intended on both) at the game. I just don't think Phil and pinball are a good combination.

Disco StuJuly 25, 2012

One of the most surprising things about Kid Icarus 2 for me was the ability to basically grind for hearts in a way you couldn't do in the first game.  While, yes, there were kill rooms in the first one for you to load up on hearts, this game has things like those bags where the snakes will come infinitely and you could just kill, kill, kill for as long as you want right before you go into that store.


I played the Kid Icarus 1 for the first time on the 3D Classics version so I don't know if that changed this in some way, but in that game the number of enemies in each stage was static and therefore the number of hearts you can get is static.  But this ability to grind really made Of Myths and Monsters a much easier game.

C-OlimarJuly 25, 2012

I don't really understand why Tumblepop is priced as a premium game boy game - unless that's a typo?

Quote from: C-Olimar

I don't really understand why Tumblepop is priced as a premium game boy game - unless that's a typo?

It's a typo. Tumble Pop should be $2.99 and Kid Icarus should be $3.99.

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