Anyone who owns, or is even familiar with, the 3DS will know that within the Nintendo eShop are a ton of original Game Boy titles available for download via Virtual Console. Some people are a bit put off by paying out for an old monochrome game, so we thought we’d round up some of them for you to help you sort the crusty old cack from the stone cold classics. Here’s some of the best – and the worst – to get you started.
Let’s start off with a game that everyone knows and loves! Pac-Man has been a household name ever since his arcade debut in 1980, and it’s hard to think of a system that he hasn’t appeared on in some shape or form. Namco themselves released this Game Boy version in 1991 and, although it’s a conversion of the original coin-op, it does have quite a few little differences for the small screen. Obviously the ghosts can’t be differentiated by colour anymore but that is not the biggest change: to accommodate the small screen you now have a scrolling maze! This seems weird at first but you soon get used to it and it doesn’t really hinder the gameplay. This version of the game also has a two-player mode where you alternate turns to try and get the highest score. GB Pac-Man is classic dot munching fun, just as it should be, but I found it a bit strange that both this version and the superior NES version are included in the eShop, making this product a little bit redundant. So unless you are a huge fan of Pac-Man or have particular nostalgia for this version of the game you are probably better off grabbing the full colour NES iteration.
Another arcade classic that can be found in the eShop is Data East’s hugely popular 1982 platform game BurgerTime. In this case we don’t just get a port of the original arcade game, oh no: we get a swanky deluxe version! The basic gameplay is exactly the same as the original game, you play as chef Peter Pepper who must make his way around the screen trying to build the burgers. You do this by walking over the different parts (bun, meat, lettuce etc.) until they all drop to the bottom. But trying to stop you are Mr. Egg, Mr. Pickle and Mr. Hot Dog; one touch from these guys and you lose a life. Thankfully Peter is armed with a very limited amount of pepper spray that stuns them for a short time allowing you get past. The deluxe edition of BurgerTime basically adds loads of new levels that make this already brilliant game better than ever before. The difficulty is pitched just right and the gameplay is as addictive as crack. I would actually argue that this is the best Game Boy game to appear on Virtual Console as I go back to it time after time for just one more go. So if you are a 3DS owner then this title should be top of your shopping list.
When my brother got a Game Boy for Xmas back in 1991 I bought him Tennis as a present. It wasn’t because it was a game he wanted or anything; it was just the only cartridge I could afford in our local games store! As one of the very first games released for the classic handheld it stands up incredibly well to this day. It’s pretty simple affair with no player selection or fancy court types, just a straightforward game of tennis – with Mario as the umpire. There are a limited selection of shot types: just your usual volley, backhand and smash really operated by the use of the d-pad and the A button. However there are four difficulty modes to work through with the highest offering a very stern challenge! Despite being monochrome, the action is easy to make out and you can even follow the shadow of the ball. The cheery music adds to the action nicely but can be turned off if you prefer. All in all GB Tennis may be a pretty simple affair but it’s still an incredibly fun one that is more enjoyable than many modern and more complicated tennis games.
Alleyway was one of the launch games for the Game Boy way back in 1989, being nothing more than a clone of the classic Atari arcade game Breakout (that was famously designed by Apple founders Jobs and Wozniak). In fact, the only real difference between this game and the Atari classic is that Alleyway features slightly more interesting wall designs, – a bit more akin to Taito’s take on the genre, Arkanoid, though it doesn’t add any of the extra features found in Arkanoid like the weapons. This makes the game seem extremely dated, even for 1989 as by that time there were hundreds of superior bat and ball games on the market on other machines – and indeed many better ones ended up being released on the Game Boy too. The most interesting thing about this game is the small cameo from Mario himself. Graphics and sound are nothing more than functional, even for an original Game Boy game. Overall Alleyway is bland, boring and very forgettable. It hasn’t stood the test of time at all and is definitely a game that is best skipped over when browsing the Virtual Console line-up.
There is no doubting that Double Dragon is one of the most iconic arcade games of all time. When it was first released in 1987 it revolutionised the beat ‘em up genre and inspired hundreds of clones. It also received a huge amount of home conversions, most of which totally failed to do the arcade game justice. The Game Boy version was one of those that bucked the trend and managed to be very good indeed, so its appearance on the 3DS Virtual Console is very welcome. Technos converted the game themselves but chose to make a number of small changes to the game that differentiates it from the arcade original. First of all, the level layouts have been changed, although they still follow the same themes – the city, woods, palace etc. There have also been some slight changes made to the enemies and the way they attack you. Despite the few changes, Double Dragon fans certainly won’t feel disappointed; it still very much retains the look and feel of the original game. The monochrome graphics also look great and the recreation of the already outstanding soundtrack is simply terrific. There is no doubting that this game should purchased immediately.
Let us know your must-have Game Boy virtual console games by commenting below. Stay tuned to GameSpew for Part 2 of our Game Boy round up coming soon!
Cover image by William Warby via Flickr