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2, Issue 2
November 17, 1999
Full o' Love:
there! Welcome to Pocket Full of Love. This column is a direct
result of our Put a Little Love
in Your Pocket cover story from Volume
1. In that article, I looked at all the different forms of
handheld gaming, and had a total blast doing it. The article was
so popular, and I enjoyed it so much, that we here at loonygames
decided we needed more on pocket gaming...so here we are.
these days with handheld gaming, despite their overwhelming popularity,
is separating the crap from the really good games (and believe
it or not there are lots of great games available). Handheld games
don't take too much effort to create if you don't care about the
quality...so there's a ton of really bad games out there. Also,
believe it or not, there is more to handheld gaming than just
the GameBoy and GameBoy Color. In this week's column I'll be focusing
entirely on the GBC, but next time I'll talk exclusively about
the NeoGeo Pocket Color, the latest and greatest pocket system
out there. In the weeks to come, I'll look at some older systems,
including a whole bunch of forgotten gems out there for the Atari
Lynx and Game Gear (and I'll even tell you how to get one for
week we're going to talk about the GameBoy Color. The GBC is basically
a color version of the original GameBoy. It's backwards compatible
with all the old black and white (or rather, green) games, and
has some cool, if underused features like the IR port that are
exclusive to the new system. There are GameBoy Color exclusive
titles, but for the most part, the entire GameBoy library works
on every GameBoy system. That includes the original system released
a decade ago (yes, it's really been that long), the newer GameBoy
Pocket, and the Super GameBoy (the adapter for the SNES that allowed
you to play games on your TV. A must have for GameBoy fanatics).
own an older GameBoy, and are wondering if it's worth upgrading
to the new edition, it's ultimately your call. Obviously, the
difference between the two is the color, but also, the GameBoy
Color has a remarkably long battery-life (I haven't changed mine
in six months, and that's with fairly heavy playing).
real issue is the games, and that's what this column's for. I
play a lot of different games, and I'll be reporting on several
of them per issue...so let's look at a few, shall we?
of all, there are a number of games out there that say "GameBoy
Color" on the side bar of their box - try not to be fooled
by this. That does not mean the game won't run on your legacy
system! It's just a way of letting people know that it's enhanced
for the GBC. The enhancements usually mean a native color mode,
although some games, like R-Type DX have other features
as well. I've noticed that several games (Pokemon Pinball
being the most surprising) actually work just fine on my Super
GameBoy despite having the "only for GameBoy Color"
stamp on the box.
DX is interesting though. When you pop R-Type into
a legacy GameBoy, you're given the option to play either R-Type
1 or R-Type 2. If you play it on your GBC, you have
the option of playing either of those, but also you can play R-Type
DX, a special version that takes both games and melds them
DX is a good
game, but it suffers from the same problem it did in every previous
incarnation - it's way too hard. And I mean way too hard. I've
come to the conclusion that bringing it with me on airplanes is
just a bad idea...I don't need to get that frustrated when I'm
trying to relax (a serious issue for me when I'm up in the air).
The game, if you've never seen it, is a side-scrolling space shooter.
And like all side-scrolling shooters you go through the game shooting
lots of little enemies, and picking up power-up after power-up,
making your weapons bigger and bigger as you go. But R-Type
distinguishes itself by its "power pod".
pod" is a power up, but it's more than that. What it does
is follow alongside you ship, and when you fire, you fire from
both your ship and the pod simultaneously. You can call the pod
back to your ship, and it will dock onto the front or rear depending
on where you catch it. When you do this, you'll double your firepower,
but there's also another advantage - the pod is invincible, so
you can plow through enemies (so long as they don't touch you
anywhere but the front...it can be very difficult to do that).
your disposal is the ability to charge up your shot by holding
down the fire button before firing. If the enemies are weak enough,
you can kill a whole line of them simultaneously with a sufficiently
it's beautiful, and has some of the best looking images you're
likely to find on the GameBoy Color (particularly the cool looking
bosses at the end of each level), and it's definitely worth a
checking out, but be warned. It's a serious bitch to play.
the other hand, is fun, easily accessible, and pretty much a staple
of mine on airplanes these days. The game has gotten a lot of
press for its rumble pack feature, but don't let that be a factor
in your purchasing it - you'll probably turn it off really quickly.
Also, the rumble feature only works on the GameBoy Color, although
the game itself can be played on any of the GB systems.
is a strange mix of Pokemon style gameplay and traditional
tabletop pinball. The idea is weird, and it works fairly well.
You play pinball like you always would, but every now and then
you enter "capture mode" where you have a certain amount
of time to catch a specific Pokemon. Also, once you've got the
creature, you can evolve it later by hitting the right parts of
feature is built into the cartridge itself (and requires its own
batteries) and it'll shake every time you hit the ball. This part
is pretty good, and if all it did was that, I probably would have
left it turned on...but the problem is Pikachu. Yeah, Pikachu,
that ultra-cute Pokemon that all the kids are crazy about. He's
very prominently featured in the game, and he can catch your ball
if it rolls off the side (assuming you're quick enough to get
him there). When he gets your ball, everything stops, and there's
a digitized, "Piiikaa!" (which is scratchy in that way
that only GameBoy speech can be) and throws the ball back with
an electrical charge. And the rumble pack goes nuts. I mean nuts.
You can hear it going off from the opposite side of the room,
so even if you're minding your own business with headphones, everyone
around you is going to hear this thing. But fortunately it can
be turned off, although it does jack up the price of the cartridge
by a few extra bucks, meaning you're paying for a feature you
probably won't use...but it's not that much extra (only about
five dollars or so) and the game is really fun, so it's worth
game of choice these days is Chessmaster. Yes, Chessmaster.
There isn't much to say about this game - it's chess. But, it
is a fairly decent chess simulator. You can play multiplayer with
two GameBoys via the link cable (an IR feature would have been
great, but it's not an option) or by having both people share
the same GameBoy. This would seem to be the more practical way
to play it, since it is chess...it's turn based, people! It's
not exactly exciting real-time gaming here.
And of course, then there's the single player game, which is good,
although if you suck at chess like I do, you'll find it very challenging
even on the easiest setting. There's a training mode, which teaches
you the rules of chess, and you can also tell the CPU to solve
it for checkmate if you're curious at any point in the game how
a real chess player would handle things.
runs on every GameBoy system, and is pretty cheap, even for a
GameBoy game (it's almost always under $20). As games for the
system go, this is one of my favorites, and I'm guessing that
it would make for a nice introduction to chess for someone who's
never played it before. Since the game has a ton of difficulty
settings, you can always make it harder as you get better (I've
been playing the game for a month now, and I'm still on the easiest...guess
I'm just a dolt) so it's definitely worth checking out.
that's it for this week...check back next week, when I'll take
a look at some games for the new NeoGeo Pocket Color system!
Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here
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