The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
We felt cheated when Nintendo’s deluxe version of Link’s Awakening DX appeared. After all, it was essentially a five year-old Game Boy game (albeit with one brand new dungeon, Game Boy Printer support and full colour graphics). Nevertheless Link’s Awakening remains as captivating as ever, and once you get drawn back into its beautifully crafted game world you’ll never look back. Link’s quest to wake the Wind Fish is filled with memorable characters, well-designed dungeons and the sort of magical gameplay that Nintendo seems able to create with its eyes shut. A great RPG that will please Zelda fans the world over.
The GBC’s first two Pokémon titles not only gave you gloriously coloured critters to battle with, they also brought several excellent new gameplay mechanics to the table – the most ingenious being a real-time clock. Pokémon and certain events now appear at specific times of the day, giving Gold and Silver a ‘real life’ quality missing from previous Pokémon titles. Another handy new feature was the addition of the cellphone that made it easier to keep in touch with key characters. You were even able to breed Pokémon, although sadly it was impossible to create mutant offshoots. The end result is a sprawling adventure that no RPG or Pokémon fan should be without.
Super Mario Bros DX
Super Mario Bros DX is yet another great example of Nintendo taking a game from its impressive back catalogue and revitalising it for a brand new generation of gamers.
Not only did you receive a perfect port of Mario’s first real adventure, Nintendo also included extras to ensure that it deserved its ‘deluxe’ tag. Challenge mode required you to complete all of the levels, collecting five red coins and a Yoshi egg within a time limit, while Versus mode was a race against Luigi that made full use of the GBC’s link-up cable. Unmissable.
Metal Gear Solid
Despite abandoning the single-screen cell-based design of previous 2D instalments, Metal Gear Solid (aka: Ghost Babel) is regarded by most as one of the GBC’s finest releases. It takes the best elements from previous games, and adapts them to work within the GBC’s limitations. There are now individual connected stages, which eliminates backtracking and allows shorter bursts of play. Plenty of well-implemented stealth sections, a bountiful roster of gadgets and weapons, an assortment of wonderfully depraved bosses, plus the expected storyline of betrayal and moral ambiguity, make for the perfect handheld adventure!
You seriously have to hand it to Nintendo, it certainly knows how to get people to part with their hard-earned cash. Tetris was already owned by practically everybody that had access to a Game Boy (it was originally given away free with the machine) but people still went crazy when Tetris DX was eventually released. Not only could you now play the game in fantastic colour, but Nintendo had also included a variety of new gameplay modes that made the popular puzzler even more hellishly addictive than it already was. You would be doing yourself a mis-service if you let this one pass you by.
Shoot-’em-up fans got real value for money with R-Type DX as it came equipped with five variations of Irem’s hit blaster. You get both the colour and black-and-white versions of R-Types I and II, and Bits created the all-new R-Type DX, an amalgamation of the first two games with spruced up graphics, some nifty parallax scrolling and a new level to fight your way through. Of course, R-Type DX wasn’t without its problems (the GBC’s small screen meant that certain parts of the game were particularly tricky to navigate), but there’s no denying that it remains one of the greatest shooters available for Nintendo’s portable system.
Wario Land 3
Now more famous for his WarioWare franchise, Nintendo’s anti-hero has starred in a superb selection of platformers. Wario’s third Game Boy outing is widely considered his best. The graphics feature huge, well-drawn sprites complete with fantastic animation. Wario now has several new transformation skills and there are plenty of new gameplay touches such as levels that switch between night and day after they are completed. Wario doesn’t start out with as many skills as in previous titles, but Nintendo gradually allows him to reclaim them as the game progresses. A solid and amusing platformer.
The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle Of Seasons/Ages
Released simultaneously, Oracle Of Seasons/Ages featured detailed visuals, memorable music and plenty of new items that enhanced the already rich gameplay.
Both were similar in design, but they were centred on certain gameplay aspects of the Zelda universe. Seasons featured a strong emphasis on fighting, while Ages often required you to solve devious puzzles. They could also be started with a code that enabled you to begin either title with items and abilities gained from the previous game.
Resident Evil Gaiden
Many gamers were disappointed with Resident Evil Gaiden as it shared little in common with its PlayStation brethren. No more spooky camera angles, no more carrying a certain amount of items and no more scares. Don’t be disappointed, though; Gaiden remains a superb actioner with a gripping storyline, plenty of recognisable characters and a brand new way of destroying zombies. When you meet said zombies, the game switches to first-person and shows them approaching. A power bar appears at the bottom of the screen and careful hits stop your foes and allow you to continue exploring. An underrated classic.
Anyone who has played the DS sequel Lost In Blue will know exactly what to expect from this cult hit that combined the best elements of Zelda and Monkey Island to great effect. As a virtual castaway, you must learn to survive the dangerous environment of a desert island and find a means to escape using only the materials you find lying around and the help of a native chimp. Whether exploring the island, building tools and weapons or discovering the secrets of fire, Stranded Kids rewards thoughtful experimentation as well as resourcefulness to create an enchanting adventure that you’ll play until the batteries run dry.
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