May! Warm weather! The end of hoodie times. A sad moment for some of us, a long-awaited moment of joy for sun-loving weirdos. You know what everyone loves, though? Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins.
This is another “boys in the back room” special and another easy crowd-pleaser. This was one of the first games I recall playing that really made me realize that video games were only going to get better and it was going to happen at a faster pace than I realized at a young age. It sounds silly, but it was the comparison of the graphics from Super Mario Land and its sequel that had me convinced. We went from something more rudimentary than the original Super Mario Bros. to big, cartoony sprites, world maps, and clever power-ups. Other than being in black & white this wasn’t some scaled-down version of its console counterparts: It felt like a real full-fledged console game, just smaller.
Anyway, maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic. That doesn’t happen often, but this game definitely accesses specific memories about when I found video games really exciting.
Play it! -IF
I’m stoked to replay Super Mario Land 2 for probably the first time since childhood. My younger brother had a copy but I definitely “borrowed” it often. I remember really liking the music for the spooky zone and figuring out you can do a weird double jump in the space zone by holding down the jump button as you leave a platform.
All the bosses are fun and Wario puts up a good fight. Gunpei Yokoi even produced this one instead of Miyamoto! This one is also available on the Switch Online service, so I hope people give it a go! -NT
I got really into this game about ten years ago and I got to Wario’s castle with like eighty lives. I used like forty of those lives and got really frustrated and decided it was time to take a break. When I came back to the game an hour or so later, it was gone! My game was deleted. Do I blame a twenty year old battery or myself, for trusting a twenty year old battery. Anywho, stoked to play this on the Switch and save me that suffering again. -RV
It’s April, baby, and that’s no foolin’! It’s been a little while since the boys in the backroom have had to decide on a game, but it came together pretty easily this time. We’re doing Kirby’s Dream Land 2! It’s going to be a real hoot! I’m a huge Kirby fan and I haven’t revisited this one in a while. It’s a stellar entry! Kirby’s second outing on the Game Boy comes after the series solidified its identity on the NES. That means ol’ Kirbs can swallow certain enemies to absorb their powers. This makes the game a whole lot more interesting and is what became the hallmark of the series. This one also introduces animal pals that Kirby can ride, each of who have different abilities that are useful on certain terrain. Kine the fish, for instance, allows Kirby to breathe underwater.
If you have a switch and an online subscription you can play this month’s game right on there! That’s another reason we chose Kirb2 this month. Hopefully, many of you will already have a way to play this, so get involved! –IF
February’s tricky ass is over (twenty eight days?! HOOEY) and March has arrived. “In like a Lion! Out like a Lamb!” the folks say. I’ve barely begun playing Metroid II, but hey, I’m really diggin’ it. This month’s game is picked by Shayne and it’s one I’ve always kept an eye out for! Battle Bull by SeTa!
One evening (a couple of years ago), I stumbled across the first season of Starcade online – the 80s game show where contestants competed in playing arcade games (never thought I’d see that again) – and saw the game Pengo, an old ‘push blocks into enemies’ Sega cab from ’82 that looked like my kind of game.
Now, I didn’t have a Game Boy growing up, but I’ve always been enamored with the hand held and the library (what little I knew of it anyway) so the last few years has seen me pursue righting that wrong. When going through the library online and in Jeremy Parish’s ‘Game Boy Works’ books to try to get a sense of what I’d want to track down, I came across Battle Bull and didn’t give it much thought until I watched a video and was like, “Hey that kind of reminds me of Pengo but with a mining rig!” So I went to work finding myself a nice complete copy and when it arrived, found the game to be charming. It’s also challenging! I like the idea of adding an upgrade mechanic to your mining rig (speed, strength, etc.)…particularly speed in the early stages, because your little vehicle starts off sloooow and putting together the in game cash for upgrades becomes crucial to success while upgrading your plow later changes the block-pushing mechanic.
What it all boils down to is that Battle Bull is a fun and challenging little game that stays in my regular rotation for trips or while waiting for an appointment, and I hope you all enjoy it too!
Well, thank you for that info, Shayne! I knew this was a block-pushing game, but I guess I wasn’t aware it’s basically Pengo. I love Pengo! The upgrades sound neat, too. Hope everyone enjoys! –IF
It’s February! Are you all sticking to any resolutions? My initial resolution, to read more frequently, was interrupted by my attention span. However, I’ve actually been using my synthesizers a lot! I consider it an even trade. I’m going to try another resolution, a February resolution – I’m resolving to play this month’s game! I love Metroid and despite my considerate amount of Game Boy playing I’ve just never gotten around to playing Metroid II! That changes this month!
Peter is our contributor this month and it’s his second time! He’s got a whole lot to say so I’m just going to shut up now and go toast a bagel. ———- “Peter II: The Return of Metroid II: The Return of Samus
First, thanks to Rick for allowing me to choose this month’s game, my second selection since becoming a member of this fine community. Just as with my last selection (Motocross Maniacs), I wanted to choose a game with which I had actual experience as a child. Unlike Motocross Maniacs, I did not own Metroid II. I borrowed it from my friend Tim. Tim’s family (or maybe just his father) made somewhat frequent trips to Hong Kong and so he always had a bunch of cool stuff and was always kind enough to share.
Its funny the things that you can remember from your childhood and the varying levels of detail around those memories. Metroid II is one of those funny things for me. I first played it while at my friend Tim’s house for his birthday party. It stands out in my head despite being a relatively non-descript party. I remember that I was late, though I cannot remember why. I remember when I got there I had Domino’s Pizza for the first time (which I am still surprised about because I’m from Staten Island and you just don’t eat Domino’s here). Tim showed me his Gameboy 400 in 1 cart that he had gotten from Hong Kong. There was a little rubber button on the back you would push to switch games. It was cool, but something else had caught my eye – Metroid II: Return of Samus.
I loved Metroid for the NES. I had made my own maps and would explore that game for hours and hours looking for new hidden items or new pathways to make the game easier/more difficult to explore. I had to try Metroid II. I fired it up and was hooked. Tim was kind enough to let me borrow it. I remember struggling with the final boss until I beat it one morning on the car ride to church. I returned the game to Tim. Since then, I have only played it 1.5 other times.
Tim’s family used to live near the coastline. When Sandy hit in 2012, I went down to help with the cleanup efforts. I went to his block and started cleaning up around his house when Tim came up to also help by his old home. I hadn’t spoken to him in at least 10 years, but it was good to see my old friend. It made me think of this game (among others) and I played through it one more time, the only other time I had played through the game. I say I had played it 1.5 times because I did also play the (very good, IMO) 3DS remake.
Enough strolling down memory lane. Let’s talk about the game itself. Much like the first Metroid, you start off with no real direction; you just go places you can reach until you encounter your first Metroid… except it’s not like a regular Metroid. It comes out of a Metroid shell and is attacking you rather than trying to suck out your energy. A few missiles and boom, it’s gone and the little Metroid counter on your screen goes down by one. And just like that, you know what the goal of the game is: kill all of the Metroids. You reach certain parts where you cannot go lower because of lava until you kill a certain number of Metroids. Then there is an earthquake and the lava level lowers allowing you to progress. The Metroids themselves also become more difficult until you reach the final boss, which is one of my favorite boss fights in all of Metroid. You then encounter the last Metroid in one of the best storytelling moments of any game in the series, all without any words. Just an absolute masterpiece of a game, one of my favorites from the entire series.
Given the hardware constraints, it’s unsurprisingly the most linear of any entry in the Metroid series (but not too far behind Fusion), though you can still find yourself getting turned around a fair bit if you are not careful. The sound effects are good, though the music is a bit disappointing. Not only does it lack that true banger that most Metroid games have (sometimes more than one), there are long periods of silence and other periods of just noise. The graphics are among the best that the console has to offer. The sprites are a good size and well detailed, especially Samus, most notably with the Varia suit. The story and pacing are excellent. Controls are tight, though sometimes maintaining the Space Jump is difficult. The new weapons created new styles of puzzles that didn’t exist in the original and many of the items and innovations in this game were carried forward into future entries in the series.
The game has a special color palette built into the GBC hardware. I’ve never played it in color before so for my third full play through, I will be taking advantage of that color palette. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.” ——–
It was cinnamon raisin with cream cheese and maple veggie sausage. –IF
Happy New Year! I’m eating a bagel sandwich and resolving to eat more of them in 2023. We’re back to member submissions and this month we’ve got Jeep Jamboree picked by D’arcy Briggs! They wrote up a bit about it so tell you what… I’m going to extend my holiday vacation and let them take over:
“I’m a big fan of racing games, but rarely am I any good at them. Mario Kart 8Deluxe is the racing game that I’ve sunk a sizable amount of time into, but otherwise my most played racers are likely Horizon Chase Turbo and Episode I Racer. You may notice, these racers are all from the mid-90s forward. The 8-bit generation of consoles aren’t known for their racing games, and the pool of above average to excellent ones shrinks even more when we move over to the monochromatic Game Boy. Let’s shrink the pool even more and get official licensing in the mix.
Jeep Jamboree: Off Road Adventure is a 1992 release from Gremlin Interactive. The game is… incredibly average. The graphics are totally acceptable, but the frame-rate is about what you would expect for a 1st-person racer on the handheld (though it’s certainly not the worst frame-rate for this style of game). The controls are a little wonky, but there’s also a good number of things to like about the game.
The races themselves are pretty short, perfect for racing on the go. There’s also a decent amount of variations and options in the game itself, from full seasons with a variety of difficulties to practices and 2 player sessions.
To some degree, these sorts of games are perfect for Yokoi Kids. There’s plenty of hidden gems and plenty of garbage, but the Game Boy thrives on those games that made up our collection as kids- those games that were completely fine, but we kept playing because they were what we had. Aside from birthdays or gifts of the holiday season, we needed to cling to the games that made up our small collections.”
Thanks D’arcy! I’m looking forward to this. I like simple racing games a lot. For instance, I genuinely enjoy F-1 Race on the Game Boy as well. OK folks! ZOOM ZOOM IN THE NEW YEAR. -IF
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!
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
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:
Battle Arena Toshinden
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.
VROOOOOOOM, SUCKAS! We’re out here in June just dreading the upcoming heat which turns your boy into something resembling a red, bumpy fruit. The heat is not for me! If the sun and heat aren’t your pals either then this is an exceptionally good time to pick up that Game Boy (or whatever you use to play) and get on Motocross Maniacs (picked by Peter P.), our game for June! I’ve only played this briefly, but it’s sort of similar to the auto-scrolling levels found in another of Konami’s Game Boy entries from the time, Skate or Die: Bad n’ Rad, mixed with the Nintendo classic Excitebike. Trial and error will be key here, but I certainly don’t mind a bit of that. It can be very rewarding to learn your way through a course or level in many games. With a month dedicated to it I wonder how many of us will be able to beat it? It’s only eight levels!
This one isn’t available on the 3DS Virtual Console (which is closing soon anyway), but a physical copy should be really reasonable. Or emulate! Have fun! ::::SCREEEEEEEE::::
Haha, April Fool’s, right? NO! This month we’re playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game for Game Boy! Here’s Yokoi Kids’ own Johnny Ketchum to tell us why:
“When I was a young Johnson Ketchum I loved Pokémon. I loved it so much I consumed every medium I could. So what I’m saying is I was a regular-ass grade school child with an obsession. I was walking around K-Mart with my mom and immediately ran to the electronics section to look at vidiya gamez, and there it was. A new Pokémon game?! Indeed it was, a Game Boy game based on the hit trading card game Pokémon. So yeah, I’m choosing this because I remember really enjoying this game, and it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat with a Game Boy game.”
I didn’t play this one as a kid, but got really into it in my mid-twenties. It’s a great snapshot of the card game in it’s earliest form and you can have all the fun without emptying your bank account on booster packs! I really hope people take the time to get into this one this month and enjoy it. The best part is, this cartridge seems pretty unphased by all the skyrocketing prices and only just recently crept up to twenty bucks. This means with a little hunting most should still be able to get this for around $15, our first affordable cart in a while. It’s also available on the eShop, so if you want it that way get it quick!–IF