October 2021: Tumble Pop (1993)

It’s October! The leaves are crunchin’, the apples are ciderin’, and the ghosts are downright hauntin’. The Boys of Yokoi wanted to pick a new game together that would be appropriate for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Since we recently relaxed our rules for game picking we all said in unison:

“Kid Dracula?!”

But it seemed like we all had a bigger question mark on the end of that than we should have, so we dilly-dallied on confirming it. Luckily, Rick V was on the scene to save the day. In his own words.
All the other Yokoi Dads were at HQ sitting around our octagon-shaped glass table discussing what Halloweenish game to pick. Now that our price range rules have changed to included games on the Nintendo 3DS store, it seemed like an easy choice. A game was decided. A game you were probably all familiar with. They thought it was a done deal.
Suddenly, I barge in through the back door, covered in brush, thorns, dirt, and a couple of centipedes in my hair.
I was running late and forgot my keys. We seldom lock the back door but I had to crawl through HQ’s overgrowing backyard where Ian insists he is putting in an herb garden. He’s been saying that for three years!
Anywho, I stumble in all disheveled as my so-called associates all flip their gaze to my mud-covered face.
“TUMBLE POP!” I exclaim as I slap my neon green Game Boy Color on that stop sign lookin’-ass table.
Their collective gaze goes from me to the Game Boy on the table. Erik is the only one brave enough to pick up my dirt-ridden Game Boy and boot it up. We all see the Tumble Pop title screen reflecting off his glasses. The boys shuffle in a bit to get a closer look. Nolen pulls out a notebook and starts scribbling frantically while muttering “Tumble Pop” under his breath.
Ian thumps himself on the forehead with his palm and joyously shouts, “Of course! Tumble Pop!”.
I use one of our many unsold Yokoi Kids T-shirts to clean myself up. I hear the “oohs” and “ahs” and occasional scaredy-cat yelps from Johnny as the four mid to late-thirties dudes hover over the tiny Game Boy screen.
“You guys think this is October’s game?” I asked knowing what the answer was going to be.
The room was quiet for long enough for me to second guess that answer.
“Hell yeah, it is!” they all collectively yelled in unison. We all laughed and high fives were given all around.
“All this positivity is really getting me pumped,” Ian said, “It makes me finally want to get started on that herb garden.”
We all laughed because we knew that was never gonna happen.

Tumble Pop is one of those weird games where Data East seemed to do something right! For some reason, they tend to knock it out of the park on the Game Boy (BurgerTime Deluxe, Lock N Chase). You control a little dude who goes pumpkin-house to pumpkin-house clearing out ghosts and monsters with your special little vacuum. It’s a screen-clearing game ala Bubble Bobble, Snow Bros, Zupapa (Go play Zupapa). Hold the baddies in your vacuum to knock out other ones and get bonus items. But be careful, hold them in your vacuum too long and they getcha! Use your bonus items like crazy because there are always dozens more.
Maybe it’s a little repetitive, but the new sprites and new music as the levels go up may keep ya going.
Well folks, that sounds fine and dandy like trick-or-treat candy to me! I love those old single-screen action arcade games. This one isn’t as expensive as Kid Dracula, but it isn’t cheap, so as always feel free to emulate or download this title onto your 3DS!

Tetris Plus Plus Plus – Nolen T.

My grandma used to play this game on her PlayStation. I had never played the Game Boy variant, but it does the arcade and PSX version justice. I started relearning 3D modeling when the country went into quarantine, so I had a lot of fun building this.–Nolen

Nolen Tabner is a game designer and Game Boy enthusiast. Check out his stuff. 

Mystical Ninja – Mamiya Mansion

An original metal song about Mystical Ninja starring Goemon, for the Game Boy! A very punishing game with a lot of varied gameplay concepts. Written, performed & produced by Josh Adams.

Josh Adams is a vocalist and musical performer. Check out their Youtube channel or Bandcamp and peep him on Twitter.

September 2021: Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (1998)

It’s September folks and that means a couple of things. First, we’re blowing through summer. Good riddance, I say! I am a cold-weather model human and I frankly think all of this sunshiney nonsense is for the birds. I’m looking forward to any inkling of cool fall days we may get here in Southern California. September also means a new game for us all to play! That’s of course why you’re here, not for my thick-blooded complaints about San Diego. We’re playing Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, the 1998 Game Boy entry in the long-running and fan-favorite Goemon series by Konami. I know nothing about it! It’s one of those game franchises you’ve almost certainly heard of if you play video games, but the releases in the west were fairly under the radar and relatively few and far between compared to the releases in its native Japan. The games cover a bit of genre territory so while they are often action games there have also been RPGs, board games, and numerous cameos in other series’. This one is a top-down action/adventure game from the looks of it and I’m pretty excited to give it a go and see what I’ve been missing. Maybe I’ll finally get around to the entries on SNES and Nintendo 64 that have been recommended to me countless times! Here’s what our pal Nolen has to say as the fella who chose this month’s game:

“I’ve only played the Mystical Ninja game on the N64 and know that this one is pretty different. I’ve heard this game gets some hate for being boring but it was either this or Battletoads and I don’t want to piss everyone off again.”

An update on game prices and emulation:

When we started this a few years ago (wow!) there were plenty of cheap and readily available Game Boy games on the market. Not just bad ones, but a lot of great ones, too! We decided that we would try to keep our monthly game choices to under twenty buck-a-roos to keep participation Yokoi Kids cheap for those who wanted to add to their collection as they played along with us. That said, we have always been okay with the use of emulators for those who can’t or just don’t want to own the physical cart. We need to reiterate this especially now as the COVID-19 pandemic has sent video game prices skyrocketing. Reasonably priced games are jumping ten, twenty, one hundred dollars in value across all systems. Unless we want to be playing the dregs of the Game Boy library from here on out, we’ll likely have to break our price rules more than a few times. This is particularly true of this month’s game which we think is worthy of checking out, but can fetch up to $300 bucks in an online auction! Who’s got that money?! In the future, as has always been, play the game however you are most comfortable. Emulate away. We are also paying attention to which of these pricier games are available on the 3DS. This seems to be a nice middle-of-the-road solution as you can still play the game on physical hardware and they only cost like three bucks! CHEEP! 

So, in closing: The average price of the chosen games may start to go up, but please feel free to play the game any way you like. We won’t tell on you. Promise.

As always, we look forward to your contributions! 


August 2021: Kirby’s Block Ball (1996)

It’s AUGUST! That means a new game for the Yokoi Kids and a birthday for me! The fellas over at Drink a Beer and Play a Game have chosen Kirby’s Block Ball and I couldn’t be happier to celebrate the month with the little pink friend. Block Ball is Breakout to the maximum. Just recently we covered Alleyway, a much more traditional take on the paddle genre, but this one throws away the rules! Players have to break all of the different blocks in the given level by bouncing Kirby off a platform and keeping him away from the spikes. There isn’t just one side of the screen to watch, though. Very quickly players will be contending with four walls of spikes, four paddles, blocks of different durability, and different power-ups for Kirby to help with the destruction. It’s a real hoot! Not only do I think the game is great, but I love the look. There’s definitely some artistry to the various level layouts. They just look fun!

Here’s what Jim from Drink a Beer and Play a Game has to say about it:

Ever since my parents took the Atari 2600 down from the attic, I have always been a sucker for Breakout style games. For whatever reason, Kirby was the king of spin-off games that crossed games genres in the early 90s. I really wish that trend kept up. Kirby’s Pinball Land is one of the best pinball games from the era, and this month’s selection (you’re all welcome) might be the best breakout clone not named Arkanoid. There’s so much to do Kirby’s Block Ball and, like usual with Kirby, there is charm for days. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Enjoy, all!–Ian

Kirby’s Block Ball isn’t the cheapest game but you can get it on the 3DS store for $3. Remember, Yokoi Kids isn’t about throwing your money at tiny video game cartridges. To paraphrase my friend Donna Ramone, “Friendship > Capitalist Collector Culture”. Play this game any way you want.