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November 2022: Dexterity (2022)

Gobble gobble, turkeys! It’s November and it’s time for a new game! It’s late, I know, but we were busy recovering from our Halloween candy comas. It’s Dexterity! Published by SNK!

None of us seem to have a lot of experience with this one. It’s a top-down action puzzler that at least *seems* to have some similarities to the eternally slept-on NES gem, Mendel Palace. Are we right about this? Wrong? I guess we’ll find out this month. 

The release date is vague, but it appears to have come out in the summer of 1990. It’s the only game published by SNK for the Game Boy, at least in the US, as their other miniaturized games were published here by Takara. Trivia tidbit!

Ok, folks. Get out there and do whatever it is Dexterity wants you to do!

-IF

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October 2022: Bubble Ghost (1990)

BOO!

It’s October, folks! A swell time to be alive. The air is crisp, hoodies are back in season, spooky movies are in vogue, and everyone’s favorite flavor is back on the menu! 

That’s right, maple!

What were you expecting?

The boys in the back room wanted a Halloweeny title and we settled on Bubble Ghost! In all honesty I kinda demanded it. It’s been on the short list before, but never chosen.I love this little game and think it fits the Game Boy nicely. It’s a port of a 1987 computer game in which you help a ghost blow a bubble through various halls of a castle. Why is our little buddy doing this? Boredom? Plans got cancelled? No matter, just help them avoid walls, candles, fans, and other traps that could pop the bubble. It’s a little tricky getting used to moving them around with the D-pad, but once you get the hang of it I hope you’ll find it to be the charming little time waster I’ve always enjoyed. Happy Halloween! Stay safe! -IF

Dexter’s Imagination – Rick V.


If you read the Dexterity manual it says something about how the entire game is made up from Dexter Doolittle’s imagination. Why would this kid put himself and these cute little creatures through so many punishing puzzles? Dexter has issues.

Rick V. helps keep Yokoi Kids afloat and does punk thing. itsmerickv.com

Double Bubble – Shayne Warden

Shayne here, and this time, with something completely different!

This month – and for Halloween – I decided to try my hand at carving a picture into a pumpkin for the first time. Just like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, I thought, “How perfect would it be to carve Bubble Ghost onto a pumpkin…so long as I don’t goof it up!?” and so, here it is, my first pumpkin picture:

I took the photo in the game room ’cause it was far too windy outside tonight. 

I feel like Halloween is a season, a season I wish were longer. Doesn’t it just feel right to play Rondo of Blood in October? @JazzyJazzerton

You’re a Ghost with Bubbles. That’s it. That’s the Game. – D’Arcy Briggs

It’s weird how collectible games for the Switch feel (hang on, we’re getting to Bubble Ghost). I’ve never been a big collector of current-gen platforms. Heck, the PS3 is the ‘newest’ console I collect for and that’s partly because of how dirt cheap most of the games are. The Switch is different. Sure, the games are all priced like current gen and many are reliant on a lot of things we’ve grown to hate like patches and memory space, but I love these little carts. This is largely the same way I feel about Game Boy games: the shape, the tiny art, and the promise of adventure and excitement. All in all, Nintendo may have been looking at what made their handhelds so special when carrying over that same magic to the Switch. For me, Bubble Ghost is a GB title that really sums this all up. It’s a simple concept with fantastic execution and delivers on the promise of fun for all, anywhere and anytime.

The original computer versions of Bubble Ghost are terrifying. It’s a combination of the available graphics and general aesthetics of the time. The Gameboy on the other hand, well, that got a Nintendo coat of paint. Now we have a cute Kirby-esque character interacting with a charming environment with single-screen puzzles. Get your bubble from point A to point B… because? I only have this game as a cart, so maybe the manual fills you in more.

The controls aren’t the best, but certainly serviceable and allow you to do most any maneuver you want. The music, while not varied, is really fun and adds to the excitement as well. I think what drives this game home is the simple yet enjoyable concept, and a style that feels like the team really pushed to make it unique and charming on the platform.

Looking for some tips? Pause right at the start of each level. You might not notice a burning candle or a fan in operation right when you start to explore. Pause, take your time, and plan out how you want to approach each room. Also, you will fail. A lot. It’s just gonna happen, but a generous life and continue count keep that from getting to be too much.

It’s one of those ‘just one more’ games. You will fail fairly consistently early on while you get used to the controls and obstacles, but you never feel like it wasn’t your fault. It’s the kind of thing that just fits what the GB was about, and I think why the Switch has seen some of the success it has. Bubble Ghost is, like many reviewed with Yokoi Kids, a ‘perfect’ Game Boy game.

D’Arcy is an educator and gamer from BC, Canada. He’s been gaming his entire life and enjoys both new and retro games. His consoles of choice are Game Boy, PS3, and Switch.You can follow his gaming online @darcyska_gaming

We Shoulda Stayed in the Sewers – Rick V.

Origin of The Last Ronin?

(The comic is a sequel to the comic I did for Fall of the Foot Clan four years ago.)

I refused to play Back From the Sewers because I hated how the turtle sprites looked. I especially hated how they stared at you on the player select screen. And the weird tippy toe way they walk threw me off too. But when I decided to finally look past the artwork (funfact: I refused to read The Watchmen for years because I hated the artwork. I was a fool), I figured how bad could it be?

Well, it’s not terrible. The animation is nice and the music is not annoying. I like how the Foot Clan soldiers look like scarecrows. Hell! The second level you are riding on a skateboard! I owed the game an apology for treating it like ugly little sibling of the first Game Boy game.

The game decided to get back at me by ramping up the difficulty toward the end of the second level. The bosses in this game are so hard. They move way too fast for your slow moving little turtle. I eventually figured out the patterns and with the helpful rewind button (Thanks, Cowabunga Collection) , I was able to get a little further.

The underground level with the big-ass spikes coming out of the ground is infuriating and from this point on, the game is no longer fun. Just a horrible chore. There are some obstacles where a one of the big-ass spikes comes up while a Foot soldier if shooting a missiles at you. There is a only a very slim chance you aren’t going to take damage on this part. The Cowabunga Collection features a little guide on how to get past these parts but it’s tricky to get it right.

And speaking of the Cowabunga Collection guide, there is a video you can watch to properly beat the giant Robo Cop to rescue one of your “captured” turtles. I tried it and failed multiple times. It’s pretty dang hard and I would just let that mechanical man kill me so I could just get to the next level.

Mousers and little flying robots re-spawn like crazy and are hard to avoid. On some stages Foot Soldiers race right at you causing unavoidable damage. And the lasers in the Technodrome make you want to throw your Switch/Game Boy/Eddie’s Emulator across the room. The wildest bit about this game is that The Shredder is extremely easy to beat and avoid, and the last boss, Krang can be beat without getting a scratch. Maybe that was on purpose?

Anywho, I’m glad I played it but never plan on playing it every again…this week.
–Rick V.

Rick V. doodles comics and does punk things. itsmerickv.com

Simply Ambitious – Shayne Warden

Wow! Killer Instinct on the Game Boy! What an ambitious port! The graphical hurdles alone would have had me thinking the powers that be were looney tunes, but having to also drop four buttons compared to the SNES game…geez!
Admittedly, I’m not a fan of this game as a game. Playing it as the August game of the month for Yokoi Kids was my first exposure to this version of Killer Instinct, and I found it a frustrating experience to try and combo; the real meat-and-potatoes of KI (could be more a ‘me problem’ and less the game, but I promise I’m good at the SNES game…promise!).
That said…
I really have to applaud this game for its graphical chops and its faithful recreation of the characters (also, those character portraits are awesome!) and to a lesser degree, its backgrounds. Beyond that, the music is equal parts fantastic and impressive; more than once, I’d get thoroughly trounced, sit at the start screen and let the audio loop. In the end, Ken Lobb and company did an impressive job bringing a game that I never thought could make a competent transition to the Game Boy a reality!–Shayne Warden

Summer’s winding down, but ‘bbq + beach = awesome’ is still very much early days here on the island! @JazzyJazzerton

September 2022: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From the Sewers (1991)

Hiya folks, it’s me Rick and I’m here to cover for Ian this month. Not just because he’s busy, but because like most of you folks pushing forty, I really like antics of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I love most of the comic runs, the original line of toys, the extremely solid first movie (the second and fourth movies are enjoyable in a pinch), and of course, the video games. The only thing I truly despise that is TMNT related is the original cartoon series. Sure, I loved it when I was a tiny boy. But have you laid eyes on it since you were ten? The animation sucks, most of the voices are obnoxious, and it’s not funny. Of course it was the gateway to reading the original run of the comics. Which makes me baffled why they chose to turn April into a reporter who gets kidnapped all the time and Baxter Stockman into a nerdy little white guy. And okay, fine! Baxter the Fly is pretty cool. But why are dudes in my age group so matter-a-fact that the cartoon is sacred and shouldn’t be messed with? I don’t get it!

Anywho, we covered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan a couple of years ago and it’s a game we at Yokoi Kids HQ fully endorse. Which brings us to this months game- Fall of the Foot Clan’s inferior sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From the Sewers!

Looks folks, there is a very little talk about this game that I can find on the internet. It’s a forgotten sequel that nobody seems to care about. And why should they? It’s ugly, it’s too hard, and the turtles stare at you. But from what I’ve played so far, it has some merits. The animations on it are pretty damn good (except for that horrendous walk animation), the voice samples are good, and you have some level variation that’s a bit different from the first. It’s worth playing for at least the month of September, eh? And hell, that Cowabunga Collection just came out and this game is on it! So when your done playing all the good games on that collection, play this one. Give it a shot and tell us all about it. –RV

Killer Instinct: Probably Good? –Peter P.

I have to admit that I was disappointed in this month’s game selection as the voting process did not go the way I was hoping (Battle Arena Toshinden). The truth is that I suck at Killer Instinct. I always have. Arcade, SNES, didn’t matter. I sucked. Other fighters, no problem. Some of them I’m legitimately good at. But for some reason, KI has been a puzzle that I can’t solve.

I had never played it on Game Boy, however, so I went into this month hopeful that narrowing down to two buttons would make the game a bit more accessible to me.

It legitimately took a full week of playing to win a single match and I only won a second match twice in the past two weeks.

Bearing that in mind, I will try and describe what I think of the game. First, the positive: the gameplay is smooth and really feels like playing Killer Instinct, which is the most important part of being a Gameboy port, though it can get button-mashy trying to find combinations since there are only two buttons. The negative is that the graphics leave something to be desired, particularly the player sprites. I understand it’s GB so it is not going to be as good as the SNES, but there are times where I legitimately could not make out the player sprites in action, particularly having a hard time distinguishing them from the background. That said, the artwork is terrific when colorized through a GBC or Super GB (though the sprites are still difficult to distinguish from the background). As for the sound, the music absolutely rocks, especially the title screen, though the sound effects are weak.

So, in sum, this is probably a good game but I just suck so badly at it that I can’t say for sure! –Peter P. (@dmachetto on Twitter)

August 2022: Killer Instinct (1995)

It’s August, my friends, and Killer Instinct is our new game of the month! We here in the Yokoi Kids Backroom didn’t have any game submissions lined up so we fancied a Twitter poll might be a good way to pick something. We decided to do a fighting game and the options were:

Raging Fighter

Battle Arena Toshinden

and

Killer Instinct

Voting was fierce and furious with BAT taking an early lead, only to have KI come from behind and win by a few percentage points! BAT is a sleeper hit for the Game Boy that’s been steadily going up in price over the years so it makes sense that the winner for our little group here was the cheapy. It actually seems to get decent reviews all around so I’m pretty excited to get into it and see how the mechanics transfer over to the little fella. Once was a time when I was really into the arcade game when it was new. I even went to Walden Books and bought an unauthorized guide to the game! It was full of errors! That’s what I get.

Enjoy!

-IF