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volume 1, issue 41

Today in loonygames:

loonygames is on hiatus for the remainder of the summer. We'll see you in the fall with Volume 2!

Put a Little Love in Your Pocket!: Our look at the world of handheld gaming, including a special look at all the failed competitors to the GameBoy.

From the Mouth of Madness: What happened to Penny Arcade? And a look at the TNT movie, Pirates of Silicon Valley.

Community Profile: We chat with Jim Downs, the Buddy Holly lookalike from the AllGames Network!

The MailBag: Our weekly collection of insanity.

User Friendly: Updated daily!

Related Links:

Game Boy for President: Nick F's love for the Game Boy.

Game Programming in the 21st Century: James Hague's look at the future of the industry, and how the GameBoy will affect it.

Commerce:

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Artwork: Hey, dig the artwork on loonygames? We're selling some of the original art.

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Put a Little Love in Your Pocket!

By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

 

here's a revolution going on in the gaming industry. Those in on the secret get giddy with each new title's release. The games pale graphically when compared to today's top PC or console games, but for those in the know…they're something special. The games are for handheld systems. Specifically the GameBoy Color system, and those of us who play them can't stop raving. What's going on here? Nothing short of the next wave in gaming. The systems themselves might be small, but the games are big. Really big. Really, really, really big in some cases.

See, there's a growing trend of affordable games. Just as budget-PCs are all the rage right now in computers, budget-games are taking off in the console industry. Look at the numbers here: a new PlayStation will set you back about $120 (less if you hunt around), and after that you're looking at games priced from $30 to $50 a pop. With the GameBoy, you can either buy a GameBoy Pocket for an affordable $50, or spring for a lavish GameBoy Color for about $20 more. But after that, you've got an enormous library of over 450 games, ranging in price from $10 to $30. And what a variety! Did I mention that the system's portable, too? And multiplayer! Know someone with a GameBoy? Link up, and play some Tetris deathmatch. You won't regret it.

Check out these screenshots from Conker's Pocket Tales (5 images).

But you know what's really fueling the pocket revolution? The need to get back to basics. All of these new 3D games are boring to some people…and for those of us looking for something different, well, you simply can't get any better than the GameBoy Color. See, because there's so little space on the cartridge, and so many limitations imposed by the hardware, developers have had to come up with new ways to push the system. And developers are having a blast. Take a look at some of the new titles coming out for the GameBoy, and you'll see some pretty impressive names on there. Resident Evil, Rainbow Six, Conker's Pocket Tales, and others are all ports of existing titles (except for Conker's, which is actually shipping before its Nintendo 64 counterpart) and all of them manage to squeeze in the same experience into a cartridge that's so small compared to a CD-Rom it's not even funny.

How do they do it? Well, in some cases, the developers decided to write an original game using an established brand. That was the case for Acclaim's Turok 2, and GT's Oddworld Adventures. Turok 2, instead of being a first person shooter, is played from a 2D perspective, and is more of a platform game. The end result isn't quite up to the standards of its big brother, but it does make for a decent way to spend a few hours. Oddworld, on the other hand, is an original game, but it still manages to maintain the spirit and fun of its CD counterpart. Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee was a side scroller to begin with, so the Saffire (the title's developers) didn't have to worry about loosing too much technologically. But, the PlayStation (and PC) version did have a major emphasis on communication, using a system called "gamespeak" Since the GameBoy only has two buttons (as compared to the eight on the PlayStation, or the nine on the Nintendo 64) this simply wasn't possible. So instead the developers had to make their levels clever enough to recapture the intelligence required to survive in Oddworld. And go fig…they actually managed to do it. The game isn't perfect by any means, but they did do an admirable job of recreating the experience.

(Continued on next page)

 

Credits: Illustration © 1999 Michael Krahulik. This article is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't try it, or I'll sick my Pikachu on your ass.