I recently saw a Gameboy game that caught my eye. I remember vaguely hearing about the game franchise in question, but I thought it was a game from at least the Playstation. "How could they cram such a post-SNES game into a pre-color Gameboy cartridge?", I wondered. Anyway, it sounded like a perfect train-wreck candidate, so I ponied up the cash and brought home...
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a port of one of those late-'90s tributes to the arcade's Dragon's Lair and Space Ace -- all showy graphics and one-hit-kill dangers, mixed with horrible play control.
...granted, that genre of graphics-over-playability had moved beyond the arcade's "press a button at the right time or die" mechanic*.
*: though I understand they've brought this mechanic back to console game's cut scenes in recent years, for reasons I can't even begin to understand.
However, like other games of this type (notably the SNES's Out of This World, and to a lesser extent, Prince of Persia or Nosferatu) they take a revered game genre, hollow out all sense of play control, and use all the extra space for overpowered graphics.
Then I started thinking, why would you port a game whose only selling point was graphics to the 4-color Gameboy?
Well, there must have been some reason, because it seems like EVERYONE wanted to get in on the act. For example, here's ANOTHER game that got digitized, spindled, mutilated and mono-chromed into a gray cacophony of pixelated goofiness!
Gray Goofiness 1: Mortal Kombat
Here's a game that pioneered (or at least popularized) the use of...
- characters as digitized pictures of people
- flip-books of ridiculously violent deaths as the reward for a match well-fought (assuming you've studied a cheat-guide of nonsensical button-presses at the end)
- palette-swaps = new characters!
You might worry that, cramming all those 3 things into a teensy-weensy Gameboy screen would cause troubles...
But you'd be WRONG!
Well, except about being able to fit everyone - they had to drop Johnny Cage.
Oh yeah, and you'd think that the whole "palette swap" thing would be trouble, given that everyone was one of 2 shades of gray...but you'd be wrong there, too!
Yes, they managed to keep the palette-swapped ninjas! They didn't even both to have one suit "gray with black highlights" and the other's suit "black with gray highlights"...no, they did it all with BODY LANGUAGE!
As you can see here, this worked perfectly!
(Well, until the match starts, that is).
But to be fair, the game has so much lag, you might as well stop paying attention during the fights and just pound on buttons.
Tune in next time for something else...
Though at some point in the future, I may revisit this theme; there's certainly plenty of overly-ambitious cramming of too many megabytes of data into gray-green goo!
But until then, take comfort in the fact that...
YOU WON! OR LOST! YOU DON'T KNOW!