Here’s one I played recently.
With the exception of the sublime Hatris and other such loving rip-offs, Tetris is one of those games I never felt the need to try different versions of. It was the first game I played on the original Game Boy and it was perfect: the blocks, the music, the lack of colour, I loved it all. I would later play a couple of phone versions of the game but they would be very similar to the original.
Why does this game even exist?
Just look at that title screen, how ugly it is.
But that’s not even the point: Oddworld Adventures is, in fact, a good game… on the PS1, where it was known as Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. Why did Nintendo agree to adapt that particular game to their clearly not advanced enough Game Boy? Because it did well with its inventive gameplay style, cool graphics and involving storyline.
All of which are barely present on the Game Boy, incidentally.
The plot sees an alien (or “Mudokon,” to be precise) discover that the factory he works for as a slave is planning to release a new food product made out of his peers’ bodies. Which is pretty dark and disturbing. Add to that the weirdly comical way in which he first finds out about this, through looking at posters advertising the company’s old and new products.
As delicious as those Scrab Cakes look to Abe, he’s not too big on becoming “something new ‘n’ tasty” after he overhears a board meeting where all is revealed to him.
By the way, I only understand this plot through the Playstation version of the game because the Game Boy port could honestly be about anything. The plot is reduced to a vague cloud of vague vaguery and before you can take a second to figure it out, the game just starts.
Here’s a couple of questions: who am I and what’s a “Bigface”?
Is that blurry grey thing a Bigface?
Ok that kinda makes sense but I’m unclear as to what “Paramites” and “Scrabs” actually are, not to mention what the Bigface has to do with any of this.
To translate: Scrabs and Paramites are things used for food you’ll probably encounter along the way and the Bigface saves your life for some reason.
As to why this all rhymes somehow, I’m not quite sure.
I think the Bigface is actually a Yoda-style character who guides you throughout the game but it really feels like the Game Boy version is starting you off on like the 3rd level or something. There’s big plot chunks missing, which is a shame since the game’s story is interesting and is meant to hook you in right away.
I mean, Oddworld isn’t Batman, a franchise as old as time with a premise so famous little kids and 80 year-olds alike probably know it. This deserved a little more clarity/effort.
I also mean “clarity” literally, look at this screenshot:
I think I’m looking at Abe but, really, it could be anything.
Whatever it is, it’s freakin’ terrifying.
Anyway, the game itself is a platformer in which good old Abe walks and jumps around a factory, interacting with other characters with the ultimate goal of liberating all the slaves who work there before they are turned into yoghurt. And when I say “interacting” I mean interacting! The cool thing about this game is the “Gamespeak” which enables you to chant to other characters and get them to pull levers for you and such through some form of telepathy.
It’s not just some heroic rescue mission, the factory workers all work together to escape which makes releasing each of them quite rewarding. The Game Boy port only really includes one level from the main game, however, which is a bit rubbish and means you don’t get the full experience as it was intended.
Abe can also throw items including rocks, meat, even grenades but the problem with him is that everything kills him: jumping too high, holding a grenade for too long, being attacked or simply being touched by something unfriendly. Basically, just make sure you get good at this Gamespeak thing quick and write down those passwords.
One of the four Gamespeak functions you’re left with after the Game Boy transfer, by the way, is farting.
So, to recap, we’ve got no colour, no story, no levels but we’ve got farting.
On the plus side, the animation on the characters is not bad for the portable console. Not bad for a PS1-to-Game Boy adaptation, anyway. You jump a little like you do in Prince Of Persia and other such games where you grab onto the edge of a ledge and pull yourself up.
It may sound like I’m trashing this game but, make no mistake, I do genuinely like the original version and this lesser port, while infuriatingly restricted, is still very much playable. You can still tell there’s something pretty cool in there somewhere.
The Playstation offers a fuller game but this one can be enjoyed on a more basic level, as a simple platformer which just happens to have an eccentric, experimental feel to it. Abe’s not just a telepathic messiah, a bizarre-looking demi-god who literally farts wisdom from his rear, he’s also a video game character and, as such, he is doomed to avoid randomly falling objects while jumping on inconvenient platforms:
And because, in video games, no floor is without gaps, Abe is also often required to activate something in order to proceed with his journey.
There are annoying tasks to perform, tasks that if someone asked you nicely to take care of and even paid you to do you’d still laugh in their face.
Of course, no matter what you do, you never get recognition. All that happens is everything that exists wants to kill you and doesn’t stop trying to do just that, even oversized irises from a giant’s eyeball!
Or… whatever that’s actually meant to be.
Point being: this may not be the Oddworld game you want to play but, as a game, it still just about works. It’s really not the type of thing that works on the original Game Boy, a system that’s at its best when it keeps things simple (see Tetris), so I do recommend checking it out on the PS1 where you can also find decent spin-offs and sequels.
Oddworld is definitely a franchise to look into.
Even if the games are the type that send you passive aggressive mixed messages right at the end.
Did I actually do a great job or are you just saying that so I don’t throw my Game Boy into a cat right now?
‘Cause I’ll do it!
That’s what I thought.
Retro Platforms: Atari 2600
Platform Reviewed: Atari 2600
Perhaps one of the less remembered fables is the classic Three Little Pigs, a story that has the apparent moral of being prepared for the deadliest of situations. The plot is simple: three sibling pigs are sent out into the wild in order to amass riches, with their first steps naturally being to construct homes for shelter. One pig builds his house out of straw, another one creates his home out of sticks, and only the third pig is logical enough to make his shelter out of bricks. As a result of this, the first two pigs tragically have their homes blown down by a wolf before being eaten; the third pig doesn’t suffer this fate, and instead manages to trap and eat the wolf! Oink! tells the tale somewhat differently and attempts to make the story interactive, but is its gameplay entertaining? And how elaborate can the game’s presentation be on a simple system like the Atari 2600?
With Avengers: Age Of Ultron currently killing it in cinemas, I thought I’d take a look at the NES port of Captain America and The Avengers since it is pretty darn different than the Genesis version, which was the very first review I wrote for 1MoreCastle, funnily enough.
Ah the memories…
Console controllers and gamepads can make or break a system for me. This week I took a look at all the console controllers that have been part of my life and did a mini-review of each.
Here’s part 1 of the review, which looks at controllers from the NES to the Gamecube. Which is your favourite?
Retro Platforms: Mac, PC
Platform Reviewed: PC
Humongous Entertainment is arguably one of the strongest developers when it comes to edutainment, having many popular gaming franchises that typically involve the adventure genre, all while also teaching themes with stories that can even appeal to some older audiences too. Pajama Sam’s first gaming entry presented a dream-like story that culminated in conquering one’s fears about darkness, Spy Fox had tension with trying to solve detective-like mysteries, Freddi Fish was a mystery series that explored aquatic settings, and Fatty Bear… well, actually, that series never really took off. One series that I used to play a lot was Putt-Putt, which involved the zany adventures of an anthropomorphic car and his overly energetic puppy: these journeys included setting up a parade, getting launched to the moon, saving animals at a zoo, and even joining a race! But I wanted to play something that was new to me, so for today’s review, I’m analyzing Putt-Putt and Fatty Bear’s Activity Pack.
Nintendo vs. Sega, time travel vs. hyperstones, Turtle vs. Turtle. This week I played TMNT IV: Turtles in Time and TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist so I could review and compare them to find out which Turtles game reigns supreme.
I first played Faxanadu as a kid, likely during the first year it was released, so in 1989 or 1990. One of my aunts had rented it when I came over to visit. I immediately loved the game, despite the fact that it is impossible to kill the first enemy in the game. That might not sound like a big deal, but I probably died twice trying to kill that slow-moving spike-covered bastard, figuring there’s no way a video game would throw you in front of an enemy you can’t kill as soon as it starts. Right? RIGHT?! I’m starting to think I might have a thing for games that are a dick to the player: (e.g., Zelda II, Simon Quest).
Tentacles and meteors and hamsters, oh my!
For Review A Great Game Day I looked at one of the original classic graphic adventures – Maniac Mansion. This Lucasfilm game is smart, funny, irreverent, and influenced a generation of point-and-click adventure games. As the first adventure game I ever played, this one will always hold a special place in my heart and be something I consider one of the greats.
Many classic video games have a certain level of charm to them; a particular sort of whimsy, or an extravagant splurge on emotive flourishes. When developers go the extra mile to put these heart-plucking extra bits of details into their releases, gamers notice. Players care. It is no coincidence that such distinctive, unique, zany, rich, full-of-character games like Earthbound and Maniac Mansion have attained a legendary status.
Review A Great Game Day is back!
Which is why today I’ll be looking at one of my favourite games: the original Tomb Raider.
No bows and arrows, no crisp, cinematic graphics, no fancy movie-length cut-scenes, just handguns, good old pixels and pointy-looking people with rectangular hands.
The way it should be.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary? That’s for suckers.