Retro on the Go!
Traveling as a kid I can remember how miserable long family car trips could be. My mom tried to make it as bearable as possible, but there is only so much that you can do when stuck in the car for hours on end. My Game Boy became my best friend on those long car rides. I remember my first play-through of Pokémon (Blue is best) came on a trip down to Florida from Maryland. My Game Boy Pocket and a bag of AAA batteries kept both me and my mom from going insane on those long rides.
This past weekend, my Grandfather’s 90th birthday celebration was was held in the middle of nowhere Appalachia at a cabin they had rented for the weekend. (Deep in the Smoky Mountains, where cell phone towers dare not tread…) In order to attend his birthday weekend, we had to pack up the car and chug along for ten or so hours (no cruise control by the way). Rather than go the traditional route by giving my daughter, Mae, a tablet to keep her occupied, I stuck a Game Boy in her hands loaded with a few games and set out on our trip.
The games I have on the Game Boy for Mae are Tasmanian Devil: Munching Madness and Yogi Bear’s Gold Rush. We also have Pokémon Blue which I played while my wife was driving. The drive was long but being able to entertain our four year old made for a much smoother trip. With the dimly lit screen, I can easily see why so many 3rd party peripherals were created to make the Game Boy more user-friendly. The Game Boy experience was pretty great as long as we had direct sunlight, as soon as the clouds set in the screen became harder to see and required special angling in order to use. I will be on the look out for a Light Boy, some extra light and magnification would be very beneficial in getting a rambunctious four year old to sit down and try out a few games.
Tasmanian Devil: Munching Madness is a top down platformer that allows you to control, you guessed it, the Tasmanian Devil. As one might expect, the game is fast paced and sort of all over the place, but it sure has a catchy soundtrack. Taz was able to keep Mae occupied in between those long stretches between pit stops. We have these big obnoxious headphones which kept the 8-bit tunes pumping and provided a constant source of laughter for my wife and I considering they are roughly the same size as Mae’s head.
Something I wanted to mention about the music in this game, It’s just great. the music from the first stage is so catchy that I actually went searching for a way to download it onto my iPod.
I could only find the GBC version of the song which is basically the same.
Our final destination was a log cabin tucked away in the mountains so I thought it might be a good idea to bring along something that would get Mae thinking about the great outdoors, you know..for education and such. Well that was a bust, but I did find Yogi Bear’s Gold Rush…which is about bears…bears live in the mountains, so I guess I was on the right track?
Yogi Bear is a pretty basic platformer that plays a little like a Super Mario clone. You run through the forests and caves collecting picnic baskets and jumping on mushrooms. Although she didn’t make very much progress, she still enjoyed the game and played it for a while on the car ride and while waiting for everyone to wake up on Saturday morning. She told me that she actually preferred making Yogi Bear stand still because he starts dancing if you leave him alone for a while.
Overall, the Game Boy is a great way to introduce your little one to retro gaming while still allowing you to keep your sanity on the trip. The Game Boy was also helpful in keeping her occupied during those lulls between family events. I think it is funny that 20+ years ago I was using my Game Boy in the same way that Mae is using hers now… to avoid uncomfortable interactions with distant relatives. A few accessories and this bad boy will be able to provide enjoyment for our whole family for a long time to come.