Tag Archives: Game Boy

REVIEW: RetroBoy V1

Ah, that new console smell!— coming from a faux mobile device invented purely for the sake of shoving yet another XBLIG ‘classics collection’ down our throats, of course, but I digress. Yes, your fancy new RetroBoy V1 ($1.00) system is in fact a Game Boy brother by another mother, and yes, that means you’ll get your interactive fix in two or three splendid shades of puke-covered green. Assuming you dig your games in that color of not-so-awesome sauce.

RetroBoy V1 - Screen

RetroBoy V1 comes in one of six assorted flavors for you to try, including such ‘classics’ as Pong, Snake, and Flappy Bird1. Here, all of them play exactly as you remember, with no new twists or changes of any kind. That kind of renders the whole thing moot from the start, but it does serve as a convenient gathering of games in one place, should you be of the 1% of the gaming population that hasn’t played a version of these ‘classics’ at some point in your life.

While the requisite ‘brick breaker’ and Space Invaders types still have their easy-going, arcade-ish gameplay to fall back on, the rest of the titles somewhat show their age in comparison. Pong is drab-looking and boring against the simpleton AI, while Snake‘s antiquated dot-eater mechanic pales up against the slicker, present-day stuff like qrth-phyl.  Sucking the color out of everything to fit RetroBoy V1‘s forced aesthetic certainly doesn’t help the presentation.

RetroBoy V1 - Screen2

The odd man out in this collection is Adventure, a pseudo-RPG, pseudo-Zelda button-masher that sees you blazing through fights and leveling-up in order to face off against the four ‘bosses’ of each land (don’t get excited; the entire game is three screens long). The look of it is certainly ‘retro’, though the gameplay itself is frenetic and forgettable. You can mow through it in about five minutes.

It’s hard to fathom who the audience for this collection would be. It comes down to basic sense: I’ve played these games before, you’ve played these games before. Hundreds of times. For anyone that hasn’t2, you can find a free flash version of these titles nearly anywhere on the internet. As such, there’s little or no point in even downloading RetroBoy V1. Skip.

  1. Flappy Bird‘s status as a verified ‘classic’ is debatable, but I don’t write the news, kids, I just report it. 
  2. Get out from under your rock; the world can be an exciting place. 

REVIEW: Star Runner

Forget witty sayings and fancy marketspeak; sometimes, Less is just… Less. Releasing a shockingly-standard ‘endless runner’ more or… less, narrows down the definition your game can achieve to a few sentences. Looking like a leftover Game Boy project is one of… well, really the only thing, that Star Runner ($1.00) can claim as interesting.

It’s one-button basic, with you using jumps to stay ahead of the scrolling screen and dodge the zombie horde, all the while throwing children and old folks into their path to facilitate your own escape. Yeah, chivalry is dead, and you‘re quite literally stomping on its head, as that is the objective. A poorly-done one at that, too, as the timing for your pedestrian jumps (successful hits also add to your score) never manages to feel quite right, even after you’ve been at it for an hour or better.

True to form, the puke-colored assets don’t allow much visual creativity, but there is a decent amount of level variety that sees you running through yards, across moving airplanes, cavorting with ninjas, smashing through windows, etc. This too, is another potential benefit partially offset by careless design, as early on (say, stage 1-3), you’re tripped up by barriers and hazards that don’t look like barriers and hazards, or by enemies that show no immediately-clear path around them. Repetition sets in quickly, forcing restart after restart until you learn the proper route through frustration, rather than any clever layout or use of skill.

Star Runner - Screen

Later levels may ditch the ‘following threat’ of zombies, but only accentuate these mechanical troubles, adding projectile-tossing baddies (groooaannnn) and even more timing-based obstacles to hurtle over or through, finishing off what‘s left of your patience.

So, in the end, less is just less. Humor and best intentions aside, Star Runner trips and falls flat on its green face. There’s far too many marks to tally against its already simplistic ideas, and the Game Boy aesthetics can’t do enough to make a nostalgic difference.


Review on Indie Gamer Chick

REVIEW: Rad Raygun

Remember hauling around that grey brick of Nintendo’s, squinting at the same few shades of green while playing the dime-a-dozen platformers (most of them average) the system was known for? Not a warm fuzzy vibe, is it? Why anyone would be nostalgic for that is beyond me, though if Rad Raygun (80 MSP) had its way, it would return you to those puke green memories of when the Game Boy was the pinnacle of mobile entertainment, indefinitely.

The gist of Rad Raygun is you’re a robotic superhero, at the height of Cold War tensions between Russia and the U.S., facing off against a rival, naturally communist, robotic powerhouse that’s threatening to derail world peace. You’ll jump and fire, and… jump and fire some more, over five different stages and boss fights that take you on a worldwide tour full of 80s references. Sounds totally tubular, and it is, in the way that ‘tubular’ is 80s slang for ‘cool’, not that the game is a series of tubes. It is not.

Of course, realize that by doing so reverts the gameplay back to old school, 80s design, as well; an occasionally uneven difficulty, sliding game screens leading to invisible hazards, and an unbridled enthusiasm for cheap hits / deaths (hey, you had to extend the game time somehow). Normally I’d call a title out for this, but here it’s intentional. The joke (and humor plays a large role in Rad Raygun and its cutscenes) of being unable to hit enemies just a few pixels above or below you is carried for only a stage however, as a powerup soon after will grant you the (albeit ‘limited’) ability to fire diagonally at foes.

Other powerups, including a backwards roll and jetpack, follow after, along with a handful of boosts to your maximum health (you start with roughly three hits to a life) and damage output, hidden away in nooks or behind a few enemies. These stat boosts in particular turn out to be vital countermeasures against the occasional leap-of-faith jumps and enemy placement (baddies respawn whenever you leave a room or move off-screen; there’s even a joke for it).

Rad Raygun - Screen

Something about this seems very familiar.

There’s no save file for progress, though all the stages are accessible in the menu. Consider yourself forewarned; trying to skip ahead without collecting powerups and health / damage upgrades is pointless. You need them. And with no ‘New Game+’ or additional modes awarded upon completion, the game is best appreciated in one sitting anyway. You’ll rescue the President, tear down the Berlin Wall, play a (sloppy) game of Tetris for prizes, and pay a visit to a radiated Chernobyl on your way into Moscow, everything set to a thumping chiptune soundtrack. Very few games can promise that and deliver in a way that doesn’t feel tacky.

Rad Raygun runs a little shorter than you might expect (about an hour), though the game moves at a quick pace with no filler or artificial extensions, mixing its backgrounds and cityscapes and navigational tricks liberally, so that you shouldn’t (well, conceivably) encounter a dull moment. Worth it for a look into gaming’s past, fun while you’re there, though be grateful we live in its present.


Review on The Indie Ocean