Game Boy Essentials: Mario Tennis

With the latest installment in the Mario Tennis series coming soon to Nintendo Switch at the time of writing, I thought it would be a good opportunity to revisit one of my favourite versions.

It’s not often that a handheld version of a game can honestly claim to be superior to its counterpart on TV-based consoles — and this was something that occurred even less frequently back in the days where the 8-bit Game Boy Color and the 64-bit Nintendo 64 coexisted happily alongside one another. But 2000’s Mario Tennis pulled it off with a spectacularly ambitious, interesting and ballsy handheld version that, for solo play at least, ran rings around its big brother.

It achieved this primarily by not even attempting to be a “port” of the rather multiplayer-centric N64 version — not that this would have been possible given the disparity in technological capabilities between the two platforms — but instead providing a unique, solo-focused experience. One that is still worth playing today — and which Mario Tennis Aces’ single-player Adventure Mode has undoubtedly taken some inspiration from.

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Game Boy Essentials: Game Boy Gallery

Nintendo has always been good at handheld games — even long before its Game Boy and subsequent platforms were a thing.

Those of you as old as me will doubtless remember the Game & Watch series, a range of 60 handheld electronic LCD games created by Nintendo and released between 1980 and 1991. These dinky little devices perfectly encapsulated what makes a “good handheld game” — something that is easy to learn but tough to master, and which you can either while away a few minutes with or engross yourself in for several hours thanks to their inherently addictive, rewarding quality.

The Game & Watch series was designed by Gunpei Yokoi, who later went on to design 1989’s astronomically popular Game Boy. It’s only appropriate, then, that a number of the games that really kickstarted Nintendo’s efforts in the handheld space went on to get their own adaptations on that platform, beginning with the Europe-only release of Game Boy Gallery in 1995.

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MoeGamerTV: MoeGamer on YouTube!

Did you know MoeGamer has a YouTube channel? You can find it (and subscribe) here!

Over on the channel, you’ll find video versions of many MoeGamer articles, Let’s Plays of games — including some I haven’t written about here yet — as well as the MoeGamer Podcast.

If you have a moment to support the channel, please drop by, watch a few videos and leave some likes and comments. And if you’d like to stay up to date with my work on YouTube, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel.

Hit the jump for some recent videos.

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Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Jumping Generations

An interesting aspect of the Shantae series is how its presentation and execution has evolved over time.

While the first game, being released in the twilight years of the 8-bit Game Boy Color, represented the diminutive handheld being pushed to its absolute limits, the two subsequent installments in particular made a specific effort to be “modern retro” titles — games that emulated experiences from systems of the past while providing modern-day conveniences.

Risky’s Revenge, which we’re concerned with today, very much has its sights set on the 16-bit era. And it explores this concept with a clear knowledge and understanding of not only the classic 16-bit consoles, but also the earlier 16-bit home computers.

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Waifu Wednesday: Risky Boots

The Shantae series is effortlessly and consistently sexy.

We’ve already talked about how the titular protagonist of the series exemplifies this perfectly, but the same is also true of a number of other characters throughout — most notably primary antagonist Risky Boots. Hell, even that name is kinda hot.

Risky is also a great example of how the Shantae series as a whole populates its world with interestingly flawed characters rather than one-dimensional heroes and villains — and as such elevates herself from simply “sexy villain” to “beloved character” in her own right.

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Mega Drive Essentials: ToeJam and Earl

Ah, the ’90s. The era of attitude. Or, more specifically, the era of everyone spontaneously and inexplicably wishing they were Californian.

Video games certainly weren’t exempt from this trend at all, though various different titles from the era took their attitude towards, uh, “‘tude” more seriously than others.

One noteworthy game from the early ’90s that simultaneously acknowledged the popularity of California-style attitude as well as poking fun at the inherent absurdity of it all — particularly the disconnect between your stereotypical video game nerd and what one would think of as a “cool dude” — was Johnson Voorsanger Productions’ ToeJam & Earl, published by Sega for the Mega Drive in 1991.

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Puzzler Essentials: Columns

A lot of games that really stand the test of time are based on a very simple idea.

This is particularly apparent in the puzzle game genre, which typically involves little more than matching shapes and colours in one form or another. And indeed said genre is home to some absolutely timeless classics that are still getting rereleases and reimaginings today.

One puzzler from the early days of gaming that often seems to get forgotten, however, is Sega’s Columns — and that’s a bit of a shame, because it’s an interesting twist on the usual falling block puzzle format.

Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Columns

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