The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

The GBA Donkey Kong Country Games

I figure I might as well talk ’bout this, too, e’en though I only truly played the 1st 1 when I was young.

The Donkey Kong Country remakes get particular flak, not all undeserved; however, they’re much better than the Super Mario Advance remakes. In particular, I remember how excited young me was when I realized Donkey Kong Country Advance had a photo album like Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, after being disappointed by their absence in Super Mario Advance.

The Donkey Kong Country remakes also have mo’ creative minigames than the same Mario Bros. remake included in every Super Mario Advance game — as well as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, bizarrely ’nough.

Also, as I mentioned in the Super Mario Advance article, I felt like the Donkey Kong Country Advance games had better controls & physics. For the most part, they seem to be the same, whereas Super Mario Advance’s felt wiggly. I remember how bewildered I was that I kept dying in “Valley of Bowser 4” in Super Mario Advance 2 till I tried it in the SNES Super Mario World & beat it easily. I’m not sure if ’twas the controls or the bigger camera, but something ’bout the SNES version was much easier. Meanwhile, I can easily beat Donkey Kong Country Advance on Hero Mode — a hard mode that makes one play as only Diddy with just 1 hit & no checkpoints, unlocked after 101% the main game.

Indeed, the Donkey Kong Country Advance games have so many fun additions that their downsides always irk me — a common problem with remakes. How I wish someone could combine the best elements o’ these games into 1 perfect version. I e’en remember I once tried to hack the original Donkey Kong Country to make it act as “Hero Mode”, only to find out how precarious editing levels in that game is. I used to have a video o’ 1 o’ the outcomes o’ the seemingly innocent deletion o’ a midway barrel in “Stop & Go Station” that I hope I still have.

As expected, the aesthetics were the prime victim o’ these remakes. The music is softer & tinnier, which is particularly problematic for Donkey Kong Country’s darker, mo’ atmospheric music. I’ve heard some people online say the Game Boy renditions were better; & I can’t say I entirely disagree.

The 3rd Donkey Kong Country game e’en had a new soundtrack made by the main composer for the 1st 2 games, David Wise, which has a mixed competition with the original. Some are better, most are less good. I actually prefer the GBA “Jungle Jitters”, “Water World”, & bonus music. & the 2 boss themes are better than the boss themes in the SNES version . The GBA version o’ “Stilt Village”, “Mill Fever”, “Nuts & Bolts”, “Pokey Pipes”, & “Rockface Rumble” are good in their own right, albeit not better. But the GBA versions o’ “Treetop Tumble” & “Frosty Frolic”… Ugh. ’Specially “Treetop Tumble”: the SNES version is my favorite forest theme o’ all time. It’s just jarring to play a level like “Ripsaw Rage” with that silly GBA version. Seriously: compare them — there’s no contest.

In general, the GBA versions are poppier & mo’ upbeat. Like with the graphics, this works when the levels are bright, colorful places like the underwater stages or the “stilt” stages, but falls apart in the darker levels, like the forest levels.

That said, one could praise the GBA versions for a’least being something new. Think o’ the alternative: if they’d just reused the SNES versions in the GBA’s inferior sound capabilities, we’d still be bitching ’bout how shitty it sounds, much like with the 1st 2 remakes. It’s like criticizing an NES game for not having music as good as the SNES DKC games; it’s technologically impossible. There was literally nothing they could do. The fact that I can say the 3rd remake has some songs that are better than the SNES’s puts it @ the top, since I couldn’t say that for a second for any song from the other 2 remakes.

Unsurprising, the graphics are e’en mo’ butchered, e’en mo’ washed out, & simplified. We have the same supernova curse from which the Super Mario Advance games suffered, which, ’gain, is e’en mo’ worse for these games with their darker tone. They also seem to have simplified graphics, probably to better fit them on the smaller screen, since Donkey Kong Country’s graphics were rather big e’en for a TV screen.

We also have added sound effects, though they’re not as bad as Super Mario Advance’s. ( To be fair, the original Donkey Kong Country games had some voices, too, so it’s much less jarring. ) To be honest, I’m kind o’ amused by Donkey Kong’s “wuuuuugh..”. when he falls in a hole, though it ruins the amusing solemnity that the original game had by simply making a balloon pop. I don’t know what they were thinking when they decided to make Rambi hopping make a high-pitched “¡BOING!” sound, though.

Also, for some reason, somebody decided that the game became better if it stopped you to have Cranky gab on for minutes after every boss & that the game needed long cutscenes to ’splain the game’s plot, since it’s like Ulysses in its complexity. I prefer the simplicity o’ the original games wherein you could just go into DK’s banana hoard & see for yourself that it’s been stolen or get a quick note in a room on K. Rool’s ship that he took DK. But it wouldn’t be a modern game without wasting people’s time.

In general, the tone & atmosphere o’ these games is utterly butchered. As I mentioned in an earlier article ’bout the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, the 1st game had a comic seriousness to it. The Game Boy Advance version with its washed out, brightened colors; tinny music, & high pitched noises ruins that completely.

On the other hand, the remakes have a tone & feel all their own, & are sometimes better, gameplay-wise. ’Specially the 3rd game, which looks much less washed-out ( strangely, the Zingers look darker than the SNES version ) . While some levels are still too bright, such as “Murky Mill”, which is s’posedly so dark that shitty elephant Ellie can’t see the rats not under the lamps. But the levels that are s’posed to look bright, like “Tidal Trouble”, still look gorgeous.

They also have extra collectible requirements for perfect completion. The 1st GBA game now requires you to get all the KONG letters in every level, which none o’ the SNES versions did, & some have extra collectibles, such as Donkey Kong Country 2’s Espresso feathers. While I feel the KONG letter change was probably for the better, since it actually made them relevant in a series in which getting tons o’ lives was e’en easy in the original & in which getting only a life for collecting 4 items oft out o’ the way was usually not worth the trouble ( ’specially when there are oft lives just floating round as single items ); however, the Espresso feathers felt unnecessary: Donkey Kong Country 2 already had a single item per level, the hero coin. & as mentioned, the 1st GBA Donkey Kong Country game has a scrapbook, as does DKC2. Sadly, DKC3 doesn’t.

What it does have is much better: in addition to the new music I mentioned, it has a new world, “Pacifica”, with some rather creative & nice-looking levels. Included are a stormy “stilt” level that most o’ the way gives you the choice o’ a dry upper path & a watery lower path, an underwater forest level where you swim ’tween tree holes, a barrel-cannon canyon level reminiscent o’ “Bramble Blast” from Diddy’s Kong Quest, & a windy underwater level.

Ironically, if these levels have any flaw, it’s 1 that’s opposite o’ the flaw that the other Dixie’s Double Trouble level usually fell into: while the original levels fell into the trap o’ tying themselves too tightly to level gimmicks, leading levels to sometimes feel repetitive, these levels feel like they have too many elements thrown in, making them seem to lack focus. Still, ’cept for the last 1, “Surf’s Up”, they’re probably some o’ the best Dixie’s Double Trouble levels.

While I feel like the 1st 2 remakes play ’bout the same as the originals, DKC3 Advance feels mo’ mixed. I actually found the normal controls & Squawks felt tighter than in the SNES version; but Ellie controls like absolute shit, & tracker barrels in “Tracker Barrel Trek” shoot you all o’er the place. Both feel way too wiggly. Ellie also has ridiculous hit detection. In the 1st bonus o’ “Tracker Barrel Trek” I was laughing ’bout how I could shoot straight up through the bottom o’ a beetle & not lose, but falling off a cliff onto 1 did cause me to somehow get hurt. & don’t get me started on “Squirt’s Showdown”. I have no idea how you’re s’posed to survive the final pattern other than to exploit the bugginess o’ its water’s effect on Ellie & hope for the best. ( In the original, if you got sprayed by water, you were likely dead, as it’d just push you straight out; in this version, you can somehow glitch through it & survive being sprayed by it for quite a while sometimes. )

That was the shittiest DKC boss e’er programmed.

There are other li’l additions I could mention, but none o’ them truly impact these games much. The 1st remake makes Queen B., Really Gnawty, & Dumb Drum mo’ interesting — ’specially Queen B., who was actually quite fun. The 2nd remake adds a boss, Kerozene, who’s all right, but kind o’ slow. Also, the 2nd remake has this dumb thing where it makes you pay ’bout 10 banana coins to refight a boss, just to try beating an ol’ record & earning a few measly lives.

As for the extra minigames I mentioned, they have mixed quality. The 1st game had OK, albeit unoriginal games: there’s 1 where you have to catch ’nough o’ a certain type o’ fish before time runs out & there’s a rudimentary rhythm game with Candy. They can get a bit repetitive, — ’specially the Candy 1 — & you have to beat all o’ them to 101% the game, but they’re tolerable ’nough.

However, the minigames for the 2nd & 3rd remake blew:

Diddy’s Kong Quest had some Espresso race with characters so big they almost took up the whole screen & crowded it out, causing you to bump into every other character & be slowed to a crawl while they speed onward. The hit detection was also terrible: you have no idea how many times it looked like I stepped o’er speed arrows only for them not to register. Also, spending minutes slowly taking up time to show each contestant’s stats @ the start was not needed.

Its 2nd minigame was one where you fly round in a gyrocopter avoiding obstacles & walls & completing some banal tasks, which varied by level. The graphics also look like somebody puked all o’er them, complemented with Mighty No. 9 style pizza explosions.

Meanwhile, DKC3 has some Game-&-Watch-like dojo game with Cranky wherein you have to block bouncing Spinies by holding in various directions as they near Cranky & some cheap knock-off o’ the bonus stage from Sonic 2, but with uglier, blurry pseudo-3D graphics that the Game Boy Advance was just great @. Thankfully, they only expect you to beat these games once to get the pointless Banana Bird, & then you ne’er have to touch them ’gain.

What’s worse ’bout the minigames in the 3rd remake is that they replace the much better 1 in the original: Cranky’s ball-throwing game. It may not’ve given you anything but extra lives & bananas, but it a’least trained you for Bleak. Plus, him sputtering taunts while crakily throwing colored balls in a carnaval fit him better than being black belt @ a god damn dojo. ¿What the hell were they thinking when they came up with that?

While the 1st game’s minigames felt simple & approachable, the 2nd 2 games’ felt clunky & awkward. The reason I couldn’t say much ’bout them, honestly, was ’cause I couldn’t be bothered to play them that much.

I may actually prefer the 1st remake to its original SNES version, despite the inferior aesthetics; but the 2 other remakes are definitely worse. The 3rd remake is a bit mo’ competitive thanks to “Pacifica”, but is hurt by its general bugginess & generally worse aesthetics.

’Nother thing made worse: the 1st remake’s game o’er screen is less hilariously grim without the empty dark void o’ death.

Then ’gain, that background makes me think DK Jungle has been invaded by toxic clouds, so perhaps it’s e’en mo’ grim.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

The Crash Bandicoot GBA Games

My experience with Crash Bandicoot is opposite to Spyro’s in 1 strange way: while I hardly played the GBA Spyro games, — ’cause just look @ them — I hardly e’er played the PlayStation Crash Bandicoot games, ’cept for faint memories o’ playing Crash Bash when I was li’l & rather recently trying the 3rd. Unsurprisingly, my short experience told me that the PlayStation games were probably superior to the GBA games ( as well as probably any other Crash games ), much as I’m certain the PlayStation Spyro games are superior to… well, any other Spyro games.

But this is a GBA tribute, not a PlayStation tribute, & it’s the month for the ugly cousins to shine, so let’s look @ the GBA games. I actually almost forgot ’bout this & ne’er would’ve come close to writing ’bout it if not for my bizarre decision to talk ’bout the… less grandiose games for the GBA.

The Huge Adventure ( XS in Europe ) & N-Tranced

Truthfully, these games aren’t too bad. They stay as true to Crash as the Game Boy Mario games stayed true to Mario: they play somewhat like Crash, just a li’l worse & much less advanced in aesthetics or gameplay. They’re OK Crash games, much like the Super Mario Land1 games were just OK Mario games — nobody in their right mind would e’er say they’re better than Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World.

My lack o’ experience with Crash Bandicoot isn’t any deterrence from it, but simply a lack o’ thinking ’bout it. It’s too bad, since after trying it out, I’ve become quite fond o’ how simple, & yet how clever & fun, the crate system is: to 100% a level, you need to destroy all the crates. This requires some strategy, as some crates require other crates to reach them; destroy the necessary crate without reaching the other crate & you’re hosed. There’s also different types o’ crates: crates that take multiple bounces to break, crates that must be spun into to destroy.

There are also dangerous TNT & Nitro crates. TNT crates hurt you if they explode near you, & explode in your face if you try breaking them with a spin attack or belly flop. You have to jump on them to start a downward timer to blow them up, as well as any surrounding crates. However, crates with power-ups & extra lives that are blown up with TNT don’t give their presents if you blow them up this way, adding a risk-&-reward treatment to TNT. Lastly, Nitro blocks hurt you if you touch them @ all & require hitting a green metal box with an ! — usually located @ the end o’ the level — to destroy them all.

The 1 annoying thing is that the 1st game oft requires you to have an ability you learn later to 100% a level, forcing you to go back & complete it as a form o’ cheap elongation. That this game has the Yoshi’s Island style o’ making you get everything in 1 go, rather than the Donkey Kong Country style o’ letting you get collectibles in as many or few trips as possible without having to beat the level on each grab, makes it e’en mo’ annoying.

I’m also not so fond o’ some o’ the gimmick levels, ’specially in N-Tranced. While the shoot-out with the blimps in the 1st game are rather cool, most o’ the gimmick levels in N-Tranced are pointless & slow @ best. @ worst, they’re an abomination: the autoscrolling races where you’re running from a polar bear / shark on a smaller bear / jet skis are borderline trial-&-error, since you hardly have time to see anything before it hits you. ¿What idiot thought making you head toward the screen was a good idea?

N-Tranced also has some Super Monkey Ball levels where you have to roll round an isometric area in a gerbil ball, running o’er crates, dodging other crates, & trying not to fall off the platforms till you make it to the end. These aren’t too bad, ’cept that the controls & physics are so wonky that you’re pretty much forced to go slowly & that some o’ the barrels on the 2nd 1 are hard to see thanks to the perspective. But the worst part is simply that the levels go on for way to long & get repetitive. N-Tranced also has some dumb level where you’re Coco racing from the sun. It’s basically a lazier version o’ the blimp shooter levels from The Huge Adventure, but stupidly easy.

Also, Coco’s icon is amazing:

Nice square chin & neck combination.

Despite this, I’d say N-Tranced is definitely better than The Huge Adventure. It’s less plagued by The Huge Adventure’s problem o’ not letting you 100% a level till later & generally feels mo’ refined. Its level themes are also much mo’ interesting: I’d much rather hop round Arabian carpets & space stations than the same jungle, water, & pyramid levels that The Huge Adventure is filled with.

That said, both have finicky controls & physics & have questionable level design. Sometimes they expect you to fall into seemingly bottomless holes to find crates, & the double jump takes a while to get used to, as it has a much shorter period after your 1st jump for how long you’re able to make a 2nd jump than any other game I’ve played.

Part o’ the problem is the graphics, which aren’t good. They’re pixelated CGI, but without the quality or heart o’ e’en the GBA Donkey Kong Country games, which is proof that Rare employed mo’ artistry in those games’ graphics than people give them credit. While the Donkey Kong Country games had gorgeously colorful backgrounds rich in detail, Crash’s graphics are just dirty & tacky. It’s hard to ’splain, but they just look… off. & not in an interesting way. They’re just so ugly — just look @ them. Worse, ’cause they’re pseudo-3-D, it can be hard to determine collision, making it easy to miss crates & fall into a hole.

The cutscenes also look terrible, but that’s mo’ comical than frustrating.

The bosses blow. They fall into “Rareware Boss Syndrome” worse than Rare themselves. Literally every boss I’ve fought so far is, “Dodge boss’s attacks, wait for boss to hurt themselves in the stupidest way possible or just turn off their barrier for no reason, hit them”. The 1 exception I found was gainst Fake Crash in N-Tranced, which is a broken mess. Trying to pass Fake Crash without getting hurt is finicky, & bullshit. ¿Why do I get hurt by him but he doesn’t get hurt by me? — we’re fucking clones for fuck’s sake. Also, shit falls from the ceiling @ random & is pretty much impossible to dodge in the split second you have to realize it’s happening ’bove you, while trying to pay attention to both you & your clone, without running into some other hazard. It’s like a bunch o’ obnoxious children poking me with dozens o’ fingers, & it’s annoying. Augh, fuck off.

Thinking on it, I’m surprised by how much nostalgia has waned for this game. Though I don’t remember if I e’en played N-Tranced, I do remember having nostalgia for The Huge Adventure. I remember young me beating the game ( probably with save states ) & using the run move you get after beating the game to try beating the time scores on each level. Now it just feels kind o’ ho-hum. They’re all right games in limited doses. After a while they get tiring, though.

Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto’s Rampage

I have e’en less experience for Crash & Spyro’s bizarre crosso’er pair, Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto’s Rampage & Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy. I only remember that ’twas a bunch o’ minigames.

Though the time when I did play it before, I mainly played the Spyro 1, since I always preferred Spyro, since this article’s focusing on Crash, I tried that 1 this time.

& I must say, it’s better than I remember the Spyro version being. Some o’ the minigames are e’en quite fun. Surprisingly, the funnest is a 2-D version o’ those awful levels from the other GBA games where you’re stuck going constantly forward on a polar bear; ’cept here you can actually see what’s ’head o’ you, so it’s not just luck-based bullshit.

Some are mo’ middling, but harmless. There’s a game where you have to blow sheep to ashes with a rocket launcher to keep them from touching some nitro crates… I guess. It’s amusing @ 1st, but it can go on for a bit & so far I had to play it 2 times in 3 worlds. The tank minigames have clunky controls — for some reason you can’t steer & move forward @ the same time — & you move way too slowly. There was 1 minigame that’s basically an earlier version o’ the rocket barrel levels from Donkey Kong Country Returns, but much easier & much mo’ padded out — & thus less fun. Most o’ these minigames go on too long & could be quite fun if they were just shortened.

Then there’s the bullshit minigames. I didn’t find too many; but the game forces you to beat every minigame to pass each world, so you still have to deal with them. The 1st world had a clunky game where you have to shoot a bunch o’ minitanks falling from the sky from touching some crystal ball @ the bottom. You also have to avoid being shot, which is basically luck, since the tanks that shoot you are right in front o’ your face, making it impossible to see a bullet ’fore it hits you. You can move to the bottom & lift the crystal ball thing, but if it comes to that, you’re pretty much screwed, anyway. The tanks fall so quickly that you’d ne’er have time to drop the ball ’gain & resume shooting; & ’ventually a tank’s going to shoot you with no way to defend yourself while holding the ball.

In general, this minigame tried to do too many things & didn’t think them out all the way. Would’ve been better had they just kept it to shooting the tanks to prevent them from reaching the crystal ball. Also would’ve been better without the cheap shots.

The other awful minigame is 1 they did in all 3 worlds: you have to move some inflatable raft through water while avoiding whirlpools, spike bombs, & other dangers. The whirlpools suck you toward them & kill you instantly if you hit their heart.

While the 1st game was OK, — but, ’gain, went on too long — the others are obnoxious. The 2nd had these torpedoes out o’ nowhere that are underwater, & thus seem like they’re harmless @ 1st. Trying to dodge them in the narrow corridor in which they appear is, as far as I know, impossible: you move with tank controls, so you can’t move horizontally without turning & then moving straight, & then turning back forward ’gain, ’cause you’re too big while sideways to avoid getting hit by any torpedoes on any side. The only way I knew how to pass without getting hit was to just wait till they randomly stopped spawning. What crap.

The game has collectible cards, which you can find hid in places or can be bought by that smarmy bastard bear, Moneybags. They’re cool, I guess.

The story is hilariously awful. The pre-rendered slideshow cutscene graphics are e’en worse. I’ll just show the greatest hits:

Wrong way, Aku.

The main advantage Spyro Orange had o’er this was that you ne’er had to see these things.

Half o’ Spyro’s poses — which aren’t copypasted @ all — look less like he’s got Attitude™ & mo’ like he’s having eye problems.

¡AHH! ¡The other half is worse! You have no idea how sudden this transformation was in the actual game.

Definitely not copypasted.

I’m quite impressed by their ability to make pre-rendered CGI look like a real human in a bad costume.

Just keep feeding Coco’s drug habit.


In fact, the graphics in general are as crappy as the other GBA Crash games — which makes sense, since it’s obvious they outright reused resources from those games.

Like the other GBA Crash games, I’d say Crash Purple is all right. In fact, I’d say ’twas mo’ fun than them.

That said, let’s be honest: we’d probably all be better off playing the original PlayStation games.


The only song worth listening to is the main theme from The Huge Adventure, which is super good, since it’s just based on a popular song from Warped. The rest is forgettable.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

Garfield: Search for Pooky

Pictured: a smug fuck.

Also pictured: JPEG artifacts in a GBA game.

That’s right, bitches & kitchens: I’ve officially dedicated April to the… um… less pristine classics o’ the Game Boy Advance as a tail-end to my GBA tribute that’s lasted o’er a year1. ¿Why April? ’Cause like my main gangster T. S. Eliot told me on the streets o’ Peach Creek, “April, man — that shit’s the cruelest, yo”.

& we’re starting with a grand 1. ¿Remember how I praised Ed, Edd ’n Eddy: Jawbreakers! for doing a good job o’ emulating its cartoon’s graphics? Well, Search for Pooky doesn’t. It looks like shit, sounds like shit, plays like shit. It’s shit with no additives, no filler. It’s pure shit, like your great grandpa ate during the war. You don’t fuck with this shit.

& unlike Jawbreakers! the plot makes no sense. Some rats kidnap Garfield’s teddy bear. ¿Why? ’Cause they’re assholes, I guess. In the comic, Garfield & the rats had an indifferent opinion o’ each other. In fact, their lack o’ animosity toward each other was kind o’ the whole joke: a cat so lazy, he can’t e’en be bothered to hate rats.

That’s OK, ’cause the game’s plot doesn’t focus much on that, anyway, but meanders all o’er the place. Garfield wanders the neighborhood, & then some random warehouse, only for Jon to force Garfield to go with him to his farm.

The 1 good thing you could say ’bout this game is that it’s so bad, it’s laughable. It’s so bad, you know they had to not care.

Look @ this fire animation:

1st, ¿why is the grass on fire outside? ¿’Cause somebody somehow dumped an entire bucket o’ castor oil o’er the grass? That has an interesting story ’hind it, I’m sure. ¿Is nobody alarmed by that? Just a regular day in Jon’s neighborhood, I guess.

But, seriously, that shit looks like an animated GIF from some totally-rad late-90s website. ¿Why does the oily grass suddenly break off into black void ’hind the fire? ’Cause they couldn’t be bothered to copy the fire graphic & paste it onto a copy o’ the sidewalk graphic, that’s why. Only apathy could ’splain how the developers could look @ this & say, “Yes, this is sufficient”.

This game’s so repetitive & boring, I couldn’t tell if I were playing levels multiple times — ’specially in the warehouse world. It’s so tedious, I didn’t e’en bother playing this game for this article, but simply took the screenshots I took for an article I made years ago & am basing this off my memory o’ that dark time. It’s so boring, I’d intentionally fall into holes & die just to save time traversing through levels. This is ’specially the case in the farm levels, where they added the brilliant gimmick o’ making you collect chickens & bring them back to a cage — which basically just means you have to traverse the level multiple times.

The camera’s so bad, just ’bout every jump is a blind jump. Jumping off the ground causes the camera to move so high that you can’t see the ground till you land — presumably into a hole you couldn’t see before.

But the best part is some minigame on the trip to the farm — a piece o’ absurdist art that’d give The Square Root o’ Garfield Minus Garfield & Lasagna Cat a run. Apparently, Garfield’ll starve to death if he goes a single car trip without constantly stuffing his face — e’en though he went through the levels themselves fine without eating. The only way he can eat is by snatching food from covered plates being carried round the highway by a bunch o’ Liz the Veterinary clones. That’s odd by itself, but it gets better: you have to watch out, ’cause sometimes these plates turn out to have bombs in them, which hurt Garfield if he stupidly tries to eat them. None o’ the drivers are perturbed that there are a bunch o’ clones walking ’long the highway with bombs — presumably to commit some acts o’ terrorism.

Other greatest hits

Pooky is not just a teddy bear, but also a quantum device that prevents temporal malfunctions.

The game’s nice ’nough to tell you that pressing A makes Garfield jump after every level — in case you happen to fall on your head ’tween levels & develop amnesia.

This… mutant creature.

Trash cans that float in the air.

This generic yellow cat attacks you but jumping into the air with its claws out & slowly floating toward you.

Jon, after the lobotomy.

Also, Garfield can float or has super long legs in this scene.

Also, love those cheap GIF dots all o’er the colors. WarioWare showed that the GBA was capable o’ doing photographs rather well, but these guys couldn’t get the color right on flat cartoons.

Grandma smiles as Garfield claws up her furniture. Also, somebody dumped honey all o’er the floor. No reason is given.

¿& what’s with those clouds in the window? ¡How do you fuck up drawing clouds? ¡They’re just white circles! ¡*!&( #@*%^@*%^!

Garfield shows he’s hip with the slang syrup, chocobo.

( Laughs ) . No, this is not some hastily-edited screenshot for a cheap laugh. This is an unaltered screenshot.

Garfield speaking to whoever’s playing this game, straight from the blue void.

Pictured on the left: the expression permanently painted on the developers’ faces.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy: Jawbreakers!

I wanted to end my GBA Tribute with Mario vs. Donkey Kong on March 21, exactly 1 year after I started it. But then I remembered I absentmindedly forgot this pillar o’ gaming & knew I had to continue.

Also, I ne’er did Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. But that’s later. We have, ahem, a masterpiece to discuss.

Jawbreakers! actually has a nifty game mechanic: it essentially copies The Lost Vikings, allowing you to switch ’tween “the Eds”, as the gamesters down in Peach Creek call them. Each character has different abilities: Eddy Gizzard can double jump & is generally the most agile, making him the most fun to play. He can also collect a jetpack & fly round in later stages. Double-Dogg-Dare-You can collect wrenches & slingshots & use them to fuck up deadly chihuahuas, chickens, & fire hydrants, but is a pussy & won’t walk o’er cement. Finally, Gravy Train can carry the others o’er dangerous terrain with a wheelbarrow & can collect a helmet to bash things with his head. However, he’s the least agile lump o’ fuck. Also, if he gets too close to a chicken, he starts chasing it, making you lose all control o’ him & forcing you to make Double-Draw-Bridge murder the sneak with his slingshot.

The game also takes a page from everyone’s favorite DK game, Donkey Kong 64, & gives them all their own… uh… ¿quarters? ¿Colored pogs? ¿Who cares? Collect 100 & you get an extra life.

The goal, as one can imagine, is to get all o’ the Eds to the end o’ the level. Unlike The Lost Vikings, if a character dies, you’re not stuck in an unwinnable situation & forced to just restart, but just makes you lose a life & sends that Ed back to the last checkpoint. On the other scale, I’m pretty sure The Lost Vikings didn’t have lives @ all & just let you retry levels an infinite ’mount o’ times, which, ’specially for an SNES game, was mo’ forward thinking than this GBA game made in the 2000s.

That said, this game does have autosave, which is nice.

You wouldn’t expect it, but the time can be rather frustrating, as these levels go on fore’er, every character but Eddy Blizzard is slow as sludge, & physics can be finicky.

This game’s biggest problem, I think, is that it’s not sure if it wants to be a fast-paced action platformer or a slow, exploratory puzzle platformer. The levels can be quite linear, despite their large size, & expect you to make many tiny, tight jumps ’cross moving platforms, & give you a time limit; but the characters move sluggishly, & 2 o’ the characters have immensely weak jumps. Having to traverse the whole level essentially 3 times can drag on. While I’d defend this in Donkey Kong 64, in this game the levels are a bit too linear & too similar ’tween characters, & the characters just move so slowly. Yes, sometimes characters have to take different routes ’cause o’ their different abilities; but mostly, the game just makes you wait for different characters to get to where your current character is so you can break whatever obstacle’s in the way with whatever ability key the other character has.

The interaction ’tween the camera & the level design is a bit wonky, too, leading to cheap deaths. It’s not uncommon to end up in a place where you’re forced to make a blind jump, with the high risk that you’ll fall on a rabid chihuahua & die.

The controls can be a bit wonky, too — ’specially with Double-Dutch-Fudge-Packer having B be both the run button & the stop-&-shoot button.

Speaking o’ shooting, the game’s not terribly out-front ’bout how the aiming works, so it’s quite easy to miss targets. The problem is, in many cases in levels you have to kill certain enemies for certain characters to pass, & there’s only a limited ’mount o’ ammo in a level, making it quite easy to end up in unwinnable situations.

The levels are cool, though. They’re based on settings from the show; & I don’t know if you e’er watched the show, but the art style o’ that show was great. It had an abstract style that was bizarre, but rather subtle in its bizarreness, & used subtly off colors, such as having purple tree trunks & yellow skies. Thankfully, this game keeps that art style, e’en if its in low-res GBA pixel-vision. Hell, they e’en kept the weird wiggly outlines on the characters from the show, which is impressive. Honestly, ’hind only the SNES & Genesis Capcom Disney games, this may be 1 o’ the best-looking 2-D pixellated game that tries to emulate cartoon graphics.

The level themes are also creative & refreshing: you go from hopping ’long window sills & trash cans in suburban neighborhoods to hopping ’long tire swings in a playground to climbing spider-web ladders in some dark woods to roaming wooden skeletons o’ houses in a construction site to climbing broken cars & ladders made o’ radiators in a junkyard to walking ’long clothes lines in a trailer park. 1 thing ’bout this game: you can’t say they weren’t creative.

The bosses are also rather creative, though not particularly complex. The levels are much harder. After the playground, Rolfe challenges Double-Duplex-Plex to a slingshot duel; after the woods, you have to complete some mirror-movement puzzle to make Nazz & Butter Toast Ghost come together so he can give her her communistic black book; after the construction site, Sarah pounds the ground like Donkey Kong, causing wrenches to inexplicably fall from the sky, forcing you to hastily switch ’tween the Eds to move them out o’ the way o&rsquo such deathly dirtiness; after the junkyard, Kevin… revs his bike in a corner, causing dirt to fling all o’er, forcing you to move Eddy Splinters out o’ the way; & after the trailer park, you have to solve some quick puzzle platform level to knock out the lead Kanker with that ubiquitous red wheel barrow glazed with rain water, rescue Double-Trouble-Barney-Rubble, & get the dodge out o’ hell.

What I like most ’bout these boss battles is that the challenge comes purely from slight mistakes you might make. I don’t think I e’er lost to 1 & didn’t know the reason, & didn’t know a way I could avoid it on ’nother try. Mo’ importantly, they’re quick-paced & don’t make you wait through long invincibility periods ’tween hits, like the average Rareware boss.

I think there’s something wrong in the world when I have to compare Ed, Edd ’n Eddy: Jawbreakers! favorably to Donkey Kong Country.

Granted, some o’ the later bosses don’t make much sense. Why the Eds stand round for a while dodging screwdrivers ’stead o’ just leaving for the Sarah boss is ne’er ’splained, nor why Kevin decides to give you a ticket ’cause he fails to get Eddy Tincture dirty.

E’en stranger, the final boss is probably the easiest in the game. You expect it to be some big showdown; but you just have to dodge some flying kisses to grab an item, & then ram 1 o’ the Kankers with a wheel barrow. After that, you’re pretty much guaranteed success.

I have mixed views ’bout the sounds o’ this game. The game uses voice clips from the show, kind o’ like Simpsons games oft do, which is nice. The music, however: though it fits the show’s themes, they can become repetitive & headache-inducing, amplified by the length o’ this game’s levels. You have no idea what a breath o’ fresh air ’twas to finally beat the playground world & not have to listen to that bloody twang music.

As for the writing o’ the cutscenes ’tween worlds & bosses, it’s quite bad. It’s like a bad knock off o’ actual scripts from the show. Part o’ the problem is that the text boxes make it feel sluggish, which is awkward compared to the rather fast pace o’ the actual show’s dialogue & action. O well: it’s not too bad, & a’least the main plot fits the subject matter.

Also, the characters’ dialogue portraits don’t change to reflect what’s being said, leading to absurd situations where someone’s grinning stupidly while their dialogue is obviously unhappy.

1 cool thing ’bout this game is that it has a level-select code hidden in it, which not only lets you skip to any level, but also to any cutscene & boss battle — which I definitely didn’t use to get most o’ these screenshots after I became too tired from the slog that is the playground world to finish the woods world. I should point out that I do faintly remember beating this game a long time ago when I was young, but can’t remember much ’bout the actual experience.

E’en the credits matched the show’s credits, which was a nice touch.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is ’nother game I neglected to write ’bout.

It’s based on the Game Boy Donkey Kong, — or “Donkey Kong ’94”, as we say in Rogueport — which was amazing & underrated: it’s a puzzle platformer wherein each level is split into 2 parts: in the 1st, you need to grab a key & bring it to the locked door, as in “Donkey Kong ’94”. In the next, you need to grab the toy Mario. ’Long the way there are a red, blue, & yellow present; collecting them all gives one a bonus that allows one to get extra lives & bonus points. Beating the level score nets one a star, which can unlock new levels.

Its story is Nobel-Prize worthy, told through the advanced art o’ slideshows o’ prerendered CGI screenshots in pixelated glory. DK, while sitting @ home watching TV, sees a commercial for Mario toys & decides to bust into Mario’s factory, fill burlap sacks with them, & flee, only for Mario to chase right ’hind. That this plot is essentially the reversal o’ Donkey Kong Country’s plot is a clever quirk on DK’s character that the developers probably hadn’t considered. Why Mario owns his own factory is ne’er ’splained, any mo’ than Mario’s occupation as a referee or a cake-factory worker.

I love puzzle platformers, & this game is full o’ clever puzzles with fun mechanics, such as the red, blue, & yellow switch blocks, which permeates levels throughout all the worlds, & yet ne’er feels tired, e’en by the end. I also like how the theme o’ red, blue, & yellow seeps throughout so much o’ the game.

The level themes are rather clever: the 1st world isn’t a bland grassland, which isn’t in this game @ all, but a toy factory; the final world, meanwhile, isn’t some fiery world, but a cool, night-time city. E’en the volcano theme is made mo’ interesting by putting it midway through the game, rather than the end, while the forest world is the penultimate, both somewhat like Donkey Kong Country 2.

The graphics fill me with nostalgia, e’en if they’re hilariously tacky in their attempt to emulate 3D graphics on a 2D system, ’specially with the clunky voice clips they just loved to use on the Game Boy Advance. In general, Mario vs. Donkey Kong’s aesthetics scream early-2000s Game Boy Advance, which makes it fitting for the final game I’m examining in my GBA tribute.

The game’s also full o’ levels — ’gain, without feeling like it has padding. In addition to the 6 worlds o’ 6 levels, plus a Mini Mario stage & boss, there are 6 extra worlds & 12 “expert” levels that can be unlocked by earning stars in each level through beating the high score & getting all the presents.

A minor problem with this game is that the controls & physics are somewhat clumsy, unpredictable, & choppy. Mario sometimes can’t decide whether he wants to stop on a dime ’pon letting go o’ a direction button or continuing to slip off the platform into a garden o’ spikes. Sometimes he decides not to jump when I press A. Sometimes he can’t manage to jump o’er a single block. He’s also finicky ’bout picking up keys or moving on conveyor belts, & in 1 level, ’twas inconsistent on whether he could throw a key up through conveyor platforms, so much that I @ 1st thought you couldn’t till I tried half a dozen times. Also, Mario can only seem to throw keys upward if he’s not moving horizontally @ all, regardless o’ whether you’re holding up — & that’s the most consistent, & thus least terrible part. In ’nother level, Mario would always grab a vine or monkey tail just by jumping into it, ’cept for 1 time I tried while jumping toward 1 o’er spikes.

Worse is the fact that this game can be anal ’bout the high scores in some levels needed to get 100% ( though other levels aren’t ) . Both these combined lead to hours o’ frustration & cursing Mario to the rashy bowels o’ the hellblizzards.

Also, while the puzzles are clever, sometimes the levels are designed to waste time, which can lead to tedious waiting if you have to redo a level. 3-1 makes you wait a while after getting to the key for the platform to slowly return to you, after rising & falling a few times ’long the way. I’ve ne’er been able to figure out a way to skip the wait. Half o’ 3-6 is just waiting for the lava to slowly fall so you can reach the bottom, only to quickly hop up minutes before the lava would e’er come close to climbing back up to you. I’m not sure what they were thinking with that level: it’s mind-numbingly easy & just makes you wait a long time. ¿What’s the point? 4-5 has an awful Thwomp that it seems like you can pass under him @ 1st; but the right corner o’ him will just smash you if you try. However, you can, if you’re daring & impatient, super somersault ( back flip jump & jump ’gain just after landing ) o’er him while he’s on the ground; though I’m not sure if that actually saves time, & can be finicky to time.

In general, I’m mixed on the involvement o’ the Mario toys in this game. While I like the aesthetics o’ them & the toy factory, & the story is refreshing compared to “villain kidnaps woman, Mario must rescue her”, they don’t have a good effect on gameplay. Mixing the key-&-door mechanic from the Game Boy Donkey Kong & the mechanic o’ just grabbing the toy in 2 half-levels spliced together feels forced, ’specially since the 2 half-levels rarely have anything to do with each other; & the key-&-door mechanic was much mo’ interesting. I’d prefer it if this game kept Game Boy Donkey Kong’s method o’ just 1 level per level, get the key to the door, & collect the 3 items on the way.

Interestingly, the extra levels combine them in a way: there’s a Mini Mario with a key that you have to lead with you to the locked door. But that has the following problem:

That problem would be escort missions, which you have to do before every boss & during the extra levels. The 1s before the boss have you lead 6 o’ the toy Marios to the toy box, collecting the letters that spell out “TOY” ’long the way. The problem is the same o’ every escort mission: they’re e’en mo’ finicky ’bout following my lead than Mario himself, & their “Hey, Mariooo” makes me want to destroy them. Why developers continue to put in such an obnoxious mechanic that, as far as I know, nobody likes, is beyond comprehension. Why DK wants these annoying toys is a mystery, as well.

Worse, you have to do this escort mission perfectly ’gain if you get hit e’en once gainst the boss1, if you want the high score. Each hit gets you points, & you can only get all the hits if you beat the escort mission beforehand.

As for music, while TV Tropes claims its music is great… Well, they say all music is great, so that’s meaningless. I ne’er found any o’ it memorable. Certainly none o’ it comes close to the amazing music in the Game Boy Donkey Kong.

¿Apparently the ghost house songs are particularly good? I kind o’ liked the 3rd theme. It’s no “Fight Against a Stronger Monster”, — or e’en a “Showdown at the Tower” — but it’s all right.

’Cause o’ its superior controls, physics, music, & mo’ refined gameplay, I’ll have to judge the Game Boy Donkey Kong to be superior to Mario vs. Donkey Kong. That said, e’en if you’ve already played the Game Boy Donkey Kong, I’d still recommend this game.

Also, our heroes are assholes.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak

I can’t believe I forgot to write ’bout Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak for my GBA tribute. Now’s the perfect time.

Long before that there My Li’l Pony: Friendship is Fatalities1 & those there bronies, Hamtaro was the emasculating franchise for a younger me2, who was ne’er that masculine, anyway. Back when everyone else was bitching ’bout Hamtaro ruining Toonami, I was complaining ’bout Tonami ruining Hamtaro—& I still stand by it.

Anyway, Nintendo—yes, Nintendo themselves, with Shigeru Miyamoto himself acting as director3—created 2 rather good Hamtaro games for the Game Boy Color & Game Boy Advance. The 1st was Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite! & was quite underrated. But this is a GBA tribute, & Valentine’s Day, so I’m not going to write ’bout it. ’Stead, let’s talk ’bout the mo’ popular sequel.

Both games had similar gameplay mechanics: they were both essentially adventure games, but with less emphasis on collecting & mixing items, & mo’ on collecting & using “Ham Chat.” “Ham Chat” was a special hamster language added onto English—or whatever language one was playing the game on. Pressing A on characters or things caused a prompt with a certain list o’ words to pop up. Selecting different words would cause different things to happen. However, if you didn’t know the word, it’d be just ?s, & you couldn’t select it. You learn words by hearing other characters use them. Thus, the way this mechanic worked was you went round learning words so you could learn mo’ words & advance the plot further.

In both games, you start with 4 main words which are the default: “Hamha,” which is just the basic “hello” & is used to start conversations with other characters; “Tack-Q,” which allows you to tackle forward; “Hif-Hif,” which allows you to sniff things, & is usually used for picking up items; & “Dig-Dug,” which was used for digging in dirt, & usually used for finding items in conspicuous dirt clumps or digging in warp holes.

One may ask why Hamtaro needs to learn the language a 2nd time after the 1st game. The sequel answers that: klutzy Hamtaro trips & falls into water, ruining his dictionary. ’Cause he has the memory o’ a trout, he has to relearn everything.

The main difference ’tween the 2 games is the plot: the 1st game had a simple plot wherein you just had to find all o’ the other “Ham-Hams” & convince them to return to Boss’s clubhouse for some surprise he wants to show off. It wasn’t much o’ a story, but it did give the player some control o’er what order to collect the Ham-Hams.

The 2nd game has a mo’ involved plot, albeit not one that’d e’er win a Nobel Prize: a hamster dressed up in a black devil costume named Spat hates love for no given reason & so tries to stir up trouble & break up relations. This is done through either subtle manipulation or good ol’ outright assassination attempts. Spat gets his name for his love to say “pfpth.” He also likes to laugh a lot, has the best music in the game, & is oft compared to Final Fantasy VI’s Kefka. He’s also the best character in the game.

’Nother difference ’tween Heartbreak & its predecessor is that you have 2 protagonists in this game, which are sometimes used for tag-team Ham-Chat moves, like “Hamlift,” wherein 1 lifts the other up to reach greater heights. The 2nd protagonist is Bijou, a character embroiled in 1 o’ Hamtaro’s many love triangles: the stoic brute with the heart o’ gold, Boss, is in love with her, but she’s in love with Hamtaro, who is the stock idiot hero too dumb to understand love. Like I said, Hamtaro’s not exactly Hemingway—& sadly was too early for the My Little Pony faux-intellectualist thematic analyses4 that litter the internet by those kinds o’ adults who strangely indulge in kids media while also being embarrassed by it, & rather than either getting o’er whatever preconceived notions they have or not watching the media, try to pretend the material is something it’s not.

While Heartbreak had a mo’ linear level progression, its level themes were a bit mo’ interesting: while Unite had mo’ domestic areas, like a school, a shop, a park, with a sky garden as the most exotic level, Heartbreak had a haunted manor, an amusement park, a jungle, & Spat’s very own tower, which made the story progression mo’ memorable. Then ’gain, I have a bit o’ nostalgia for the mo’ laid-back levels in the 1st game, too. Both had boring grasslands as the 1st level, too, but that’s by the Queen’s law, section 21 o’ the “Boring Beginning Act.”

Heartbreak also had mo’ minigames & 2 bosses, though the bosses weren’t much, & the minigames were oft annoying or filler. The bosses were mainly just timing a certain Ham-Chat technique @ the right time & in the right place, while avoiding things for the final boss. Meanwhile, you can make dances out o’ Ham-Chat words, find songs for said dances, & collect rocks so you can rub them into jewelry, which can be used to get accessories to wear on the title screen.

There’s also a dance competition that requires you to use some arcane combination o’ words to 100% complete the game. I think the only “hint” one could get for which words is that they’re some o’ the last words you learn, forcing this to be the last thing you unlock in the game.


Spat’s Theme

It’s so good, it deserves to be mentioned twice.


Catchy, but repetitive. Good thing you’ll only be on the map screen for a couple seconds @ a time.


A hum-dum theme that fits the hum-dum tone o’ the clubhouse. Somewhat repetitive, too, though you may spend a li’l mo’ time here.

Sandy Bay

A catchy surf rock song for a surf-themed beach.

My subconscious tells me this song is a bit plagiaristic, but I can’t think o’ what it might be copying.

Boo Manor

Catchy for a slow, haunted theme. I ‘specially like the soft, sputtering percussions.


Not sure if I should give them credit for copying a song from Beethoven. Not a bad rendition, though.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

Kirby & the Amazing Mirror

While everyone always lists Kirby’s Adventure or Kirby Super Star or Kirby’s Air Ride as their vote for the best Kirby game, my favorite is Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. Granted, I can understand why a lot o’ people may not be so fond o’ it, since what I most like ’bout it is a quality a lot o’ people seem to not like in games: deep, labyrinthine worlds full o’ hidden collectibles. A witness to this is the fact that despite Kirby Super Star’s reputation, its subgame, “The Great Cave Offensive,” which is somewhat similar to Amazing Mirror—though much mo’ linear & with treasures that lean mo’ toward the aesthetic than the technical—is oft derided as tedious, whereas I consider it my favorite.

Amazing Mirror is a “Metroidvania,” & probably the best, though largely due to a special quirk o’ Kirby games. It has some o’ the most open-ended exploration o’ any Metroidvania: after a quick intro section & the 1st boss, you can pretty much go everywhere ‘cept the final zone. You can explore the “areas”—which are mo’ loose groupings o’ rooms, since one moves ‘tween “areas” through the same simple doors one uses to move ‘tween rooms within a “area”—in any order, beat all bosses but the 1st in any order. Rather than having to collect powerups in 1 section to reach the next, & so on, all puzzles are based on what ability Kirby has, which can be found in many places. For instance, the 2nd area has a route that leads directly to the 9th & final area—in fact, the only way to reach that area. It’s mo’ a giant world than separate areas.

The reason this works so well is ’cause Kirby games are so easy that the 9th area is hardly any harder than the 2nd area. That’s the downside to open-ended games: they make difficulty curves harder to carve—& those unfortunate greenhorns who’ve stumbled wrongly through the 1st Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy II have learned the importance o’ well-wrought difficulty curves.

That said, transport through these areas are made mo’ convenient & less repetitive by unlocking hub rooms, which lead back to the main hub where you start each game session.

As mentioned, the treasures in Amazing Mirror aren’t as interesting as getting seasonal hearts or a lucky cat or the bucket Wario drops on Mario & his friends’ heads, but they are actually useful to gameplay… sometimes. Sometimes they’re just spray cans that allow you to paint all o’er Kirby or tracks to the sound test; but some are hearts that give extra health points or maps for each area so one knows where one’s going.

Amazing Mirror also has my favorite ability o’ any game: the Smash ability, based on Kirby’s moveset from Super Smash Bros. Melee & won by beating & eating a Master Hand miniboss, which allows Kirby to do an upper cutter that can release a blade wave quite a distance forward & reach quite high up, a side hammer swipe that can break strong blocks to the side, & a downward stone ability that allows one to break strong blocks downward. The only ability mo’ robust for solving puzzles is Meta Knight’s sword, gotten after beating the game; & there is only 1 or 2 puzzles in the entire game that can’t be solved with Smash.

Amazing Mirror also had great aesthetics. The backgrounds are painterly beautiful (‘specially “Carrot Castle”’s & “Candy Constellation”’s & the sprites are fluidly cartoony without being crude.

Its music is some o’ my favorite Kirby music, with the following highlights:

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

Game & Watch Gallery 4

Or as it’s called in Europe, Game & Watch Gallery Advance.

Before 4 e’en came out I enjoyed the 1st 3 for the Game Boy & Game Boy Color, & have fond memories o’ playing 3 while sick with the flu when very young.

I’ll admit I ne’er liked the classic versions o’ the games. It’s not just the fact that the music is just constant beeps & the graphics were pure black & white: the classic versions were so sparse to the point o’ making gameplay worse. Slow & jerky animation does not fit fast-paced action games well. Here it oft led to uncertainty o’er whether or not an action would be disastrous. “Helmet”’s a perfect example: when the raining junk falls in showers, one has no choice but to slip past some junk when its @ the bottom, which is risky, since due to the animation delay, one has no way to tell when that piece o’ junk will fall the next step & clock your character or won’t. Also, the shadows that signified other frames not used could be quite distracting & could be hard to tell from the filled-in frames. The modern versions also add li’l breaks & gameplay changes, such as bonuses one can get for playing well, that help break up the monotony o’ trying to get 1000 points in 1 playthrough. Said bonuses also make the points come mo’ quickly, which makes things less tedious as well.

That said, aesthetics are something worth mentioning. The graphics aren’t exactly stellar—though I found 4’s graphics to be rather colorful—but the music is quite catchy & underrated. I’d recommend trying some o’ them—’specially “Mario Bros.”, “Donkey Kong”, & “Rain Shower.”

Then ‘gain, admittedly, the modern versions oft strayed from the subject in which the game was named. “Mario’s Cement Factory” actually becomes a cookie factory; in “Fire Attack” you’re not being attacked by fire thrown by stereotypical depictions o’ Native Americans but by Bob-Ombs & Bullet Bills; & rain’s not the problem in “Rain Shower,” but paint balls being tossed by Bowser, who just loves to fuck round with everyone else for no reason, kingly responsibilities be damned. On the flip, though, I usually found these changes funner. ¿Who wouldn’t rather bake cookies that fill cement? ¿Who wouldn’t rather have colorful paint—with the different colors acting as helpful determiners for where they’re being thrown, too—o’er plain rain?

Game & Watch Gallery 4 rehashed a lot o’ modern games from the 1st 3—the most memorable, like “Fire,” “Mario Bros.,” “Chef,” “Donkey Kong,” & “Donkey Kong Jr.” The graphics & music were mostly the same—just higher quality. That said, 4 a’least rehashed the best, while leaving ‘hind most o’ the less memorable. It also had ’bout twice as many modern games, & probably mo’ than double the classic games, since it has an unlockable museum full o’ e’en mo’ classic games. Its new recreations are also better than 2 & 3’s, with “Rain Shower,” “Mario’s Cement Factory,” & “Boxing” being particular favorites. I’d like to think o’ 4 as the greatest hits o’ the series—which is fitting, since ’twas the last (no, I don’t count those sad ‘scuses, Game & Watch Collection 1 & 2 for the DS).

The Games


This is the 1st I e’er played when truly young, on the 1st Game & Watch Gallery, & is the 1st I think o’ when I think o’ Game & Watch games.

Move Mario & Luigi holding the safety net left & right with the control pad or A & B to keep the infinite crowd o’ Toads, Yoshis, & DK Jrs. falling out o’ the burning castle from smashing into the ground, bouncing them ‘long the way to the carriage, which apparently has an unlimited capacity. Toads are the lightest, & thus spend the most time up in the air ‘tween landings; DK Jrs. are the heaviest, & thus fall back down mo’ frequently.

Despite the simplicity o’ this game, I think it may be 1 o’ the hardest: there are just so many that bounce round, forcing you to go back & forth to ensure you’re there when each character’s heading for the ground. It can also be hard to eyeball which o’ the many simultaneously-falling characters will hit the ground 1st; many times I move to save 1 character only for 1 character to hit the ground before. & sometimes characters will hit the ground @ the same time, forcing you to shift from 1 spot to ‘nother in 1 instant. Requires lightning reflexes.


This 1, on the other hand, is stupidly easy to get 1000 points thanks to the AI’s sluggish movement. Just aim Luigi’s fists with the control pad & press A to punch your enemy’s face or stomach, aiming round their blocking fists while positioning one’s own fists to block one’s enemy’s attacks.

1st one fights Wiggler, then Big Boo, then Waluigi, & then it cycles back round. Beat 5 cycles to get all 5 stars—remarkably short compared to the 1000 points required in all the other games. I guess the fact that 1 loss causes automatic game o’er makes it a li’l harder—but consider how much harder it is to die in this game than every other, this is still unquestionably the easiest in the game.

Boxing’s hard mode is replaced by a 2-player mode, which means that if you’re playing the Virtual Console version or don’t have the means to play this 2-player, you’re screwed out o’ those 5 stars. However, if you can play 2-player, getting those 5 stars is easier than anything else in this game: just play 5 rounds. You don’t e’en have to win.

This is a new modern version, though the classic version appears in the 1st Game & Watch Gallery as an unlockable.

Rain Shower

Move the characters sitting on swings to avoid getting them splashed by the paint balls Bowser flings round. Colors indicate the position each ball will fall: green is nearest to the center, purple 2nd, black 3rd, & then blue 4th. As the game goes on, mo’ characters join swings to make things harder.

Like with many o’ these games, the main challenge comes from keeping track o’ so many things @ once while things are going quickly: you can only move lines on which characters are sitting left & right, & 2 lines stack ‘bove each other, as well as there being 2 sides for a sum o’ 4. One has to time shifting lines so that paint balls fall in holes ‘tween characters on both sides, which can be hard to keep track o’ & time when Bowser flings paint o’ varying positions all o’er, forcing one to jump all round. Not as hard as “Fire,” but close.

After every 100 points, the season changes & Mario can hit a switch to turn all paint balls being thrown into coins for quite a lot o’ points—as well as a breather.

‘Nother new modern version, though its classic version appears as an unlockable in 2.

Mario’s Cement Factory

Move Mario ‘long rising & falling elevators to reach switches to move batter ‘long 2 sets o’ pumps down to Toad or Yoshi without falling off an elevator (or letting it bump Mario’s head on the ceiling) or letting any pump fill up with mo’ than 3 batter piles. Complicating things are the boos that sneak into pumps out o’ nowhere, taking up batter space.

Despite all that, this 1 isn’t that hard, e’en with the limited mobility caused by the uncontrollable elevators. E’en @ its hardest, things move rather slowly, usually giving you plenty o’ time to react. Actually, the most problems probably come from trying to rush too much & o’ershooting elevators rather than from letting pumps get too full.

‘Nother new modern version, though the classic version appears in the 1st Game & Watch Gallery as an unlockable.

Donkey Kong Jr.

If you’re familiar with Donkey Kong Jr. for the arcade or NES, this is somewhat similar: move up each area & reach DK’s cage 4 times to free him & move on to the next level, while dodging (or landing on) the Goombas, Koopas, & Bullet Bills. Like in the original, you’ll sometimes have to move ‘long vines, which work similar to how they did in the original.

There are 3 levels: cave & grassland, sunset cliff full o’ vines, & starry cloud area. It then cycles from there.

This modern version 1st appeared in 3.

Donkey Kong 3

As Mario you must shoot bubbles in 3 rows to push the fireballs & boos toward DK while he does the same. In the meantime, you also have to take the time to keep your water pump full o’ water to have ammo. To win a round, have DK get hit by a fireball or boo, & gain a bunch o’ points; however, if you get hit, you lose a round. Lose 3 rounds & game o’er. The fireballs usually stay in place, while the boos will slowly float toward the player they’re nearest & sometimes block bubbles.

For some reason I remember this game being hard to do well in; but ‘pon recently trying it I found I was able to climb up into the 1500s without e’en trying. I think the trick is to just spurt bubbles as much as possible to get as much general pushback as possible & not to think too hard ’bout things & possibly miss falling ammo or chances to shoot. Though it seems that strategy is queen here, it’s actually mo’ reflexes. For instance, I found that grabbing every water drop & shooting straight in the middle every instant I can wins ’bout 4/5 times.

“Donkey Kong 3”’s B mode is & has always been 1 o’ the easiest in which to get 5 stars… if you have 2-player capability (sorry Virtual Console users).

Not only is this a new modern version, the classic version hadn’t e’en appeared in the series till 4.

Unlockable Games

You start with the 1st 5 games available, but have to unlock the other 5 by collecting stars.


As Peach, catch the sunny-side eggs, fish, steak, lobster, & peppers that Mario & Luigi lazily just fling ‘hind them on her frying pan to heat them &, when they’re golden brown, let it fall where Yoshi’s standing so he eats it to get points. You get mo’ points if it’s golden brown, less points if you don’t cook it ‘nough or if it’s cooked so much that it’s burnt. Letting food hit the floor makes you lose a life.

Every 200 points the background switches back & forth from the initial kitchen to the courtyard.

Unlocked by getting 5 stars from any games.

This modern version 1st appeared in 2.

Mario Bros.

Move Mario up & down with the control pad & Luigi up & down with A & B to catch the cakes as they go up—or down if Bowser, the worst supervisor in the world, flips the switch just to be a dick—the conveyor belt. If they reach the truck Wario’s driving, you get a lot o’ points, while if they fall off, you lose a life.

I’d put this @ medium-level difficulty. I’ve gotten 5 stars in this on easy before, & mo’ than half in hard, but it’s not always guaranteed for me, like with “Mario’s Cement Factory,” & is much easier than “Fire” or “Donkey Kong 3.”

Unlocked by getting 20 stars from any games.

This modern version 1st appeared in 3.

Donkey Kong

Like “Donkey Kong Jr.,” this is similar to the original arcade game, but simplified: reach the top to save Peach without getting hit by barrels or other enemies.

A safer, but mo’ tedious, way to get points in this game is simply to wait @ the start & keep jumping o’er the barrels, since unlike the classic version or the original arcade game, there’s no fire-spurting oil can @ the start.

Unlocked by getting 35 stars from any games.

The modern version o’ this 1st appeared in 2.


Move down the rope & ‘long the ground toward the treasure chest to grab money while dodging the octopus’s tentacles. The mo’ money you grab, the mo’ points you get ‘pon returning to the boat @ the top, where greedy but lazy Peach awaits; however, the mo’ money you have, the mo’ your movements are slowed.

Don’t wait too long in the safe boat, by the way: Peach is an asshole & pushes you out if you wait too long—e’en if a tentacle is right @ the start o’ the rope.

A rather difficult game, ‘specially if one’s impatient. What’s worse, there’s a luck factor to the octopus’s tentacle movement. I’m quite certain it’s possible to get boxed in right next to the chest with no way to ‘scape being grabbed.

Unlocked by getting 50 stars from any games.

This modern version 1st appeared in 1.

Fire Attack

As Wario, guard the 4 corners o’ your house from Bob-Ombs & Bullet Bills while eating tomatoes for extra points. 1 o’ the easiest, which makes me wonder why it’s the last to be unlocked.

Unlocked by getting 65 stars from any games.

New modern version; but the classic version appeared in 1.

As you collect stars, you also unlock a museum & games in that. 1st you can only unlock games to look @; but later you unlock the ability to play the classic version. ‘Course, they’re not as fun as any o’ the modern games; but the last 1 you unlock, The Legend of Zelda, does have to be the best ‘mong all the classic Game & Watch games. If only they made a modern version o’ it… Maybe if Haley’s comet hits a lottery winner & Nintendo gets round to making Game & Watch Gallery 5—&, ‘gain, not that waste o’ cartridge space that is those Game & Watch Collection games.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! (& Twisted!)

While there are some games—like Earthbound &, rather recently, Wario Land 3—from my childhood for which there seem to be many who share my oddly high sentiments, this doesn’t seem to be the case for WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!. While everyone else seems to chuck it off as a mindless game to play during brief breaks1, I remember it blowing my mind, artistically, when I 1st played it.

This is probably ’cause it reminded me so much o’ the aforementioned coffee can that changed my destiny fore’er. There was just so much ’bout WarioWare that felt creative & surreal, but would feel like such a loss if missing. ‘Twas as if each microgame were an isolated game piece thrown with a bunch o’ other, unrelated game piece.

& the art styles would vary wildly: a black & white lineart game wheerin you aim a finger into some disembodied nose would be followed by a photorealistic game wherein you crush an apple with an uncanny-valley real-life Wario hand, & then followed by a game wherein you lead a lightning bolt from a cartoon fish through a maze in a black void to a flat, abstract city, & then followed by 8 seconds o’ Balloon Fight. The 8 second ditties that acted as music were similarly varied, & full o’ strange noises. (I have a collection o’ minigfs files for all o’ Mega Microgame$‘s ditties in a folder that I like to play on shuffle sometimes). WarioWare just felt like 1 o’ those games that was hard to experience fully: there was always some strange detail lurking in some obscure corner. For instance, ¿you e’er notice how when you highlight Kat & Ana’s story mode level that sometimes—only sometimes—it’ll play this weird whispering sound? ¿What was up with that?

I think WarioWare: Twisted! is probably best o’ the series, since its gimmick seemed to have the fewest bugs—save a few times when the gyro sensor would get misaligned—& had the most content, with a ton o’ souvenirs that are probably the closest a game could e’er get to the game-pieces-in-the-coffee-can experience I had before. ¿Who wouldn’t enjoy being able to spin one’s Game Boy Advance to slice carrots, cakes, & cars into shreds on a grater? It’s too bad Twisted! was ne’er released in Europe, nor has it yet been released on the Virtual Console—which is especially a shame, since it should work perfectly with the screen controller.

That said, Mega Microgame$! was the 1st I played & thus had the greatest impact on me. This was especially the case since, like many o’ these Game Boy Advance games, I 1st played a Japanese rom before it came out in the US, & thus had the added confusion o’ not e’en knowing what the action commands meant. It’s important to note that when I 1st started playing it, I wasn’t e’en sure what the game was. I remember that beforetime I only read some brief mention o’ it having minigames on TMK2 without e’en seeing a single screenshot yet.

The only downside is that once one has gone through the experience o’ 1st discovering each microgame, one can ne’er experience it ‘gain. I s’pose that applies to every game; but this one seemed to exemplify that mo’ to me than any other.


[1] Perhaps this was ’cause, in fairness, WarioWare sold quite well & was well known, whereas Wario Land 3 was mostly forgotten & Earthbound famously bombed. The latter 2 needed bones to be thrown.

[2] Holy shit, ¿can you believe that site’s already 19 years ol’ & still running?

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games

Wario Land 4

Wario Land 4 is 1 o’ those games I’ll admit I love mo’ for its atmosphere than its gameplay, though its gameplay is certainly great—albeit, the game is rather short @ only 18 levels. It had a dark, urban strangeness that reminds me o’ a less heartfelt Earthbound. I think the fact that I 1st witnesses it @ round 4 AM influenced my association, for I don’t think any game captures that feeling I may have only made up myself o’ a groggy early waking in the late after-midnight1.

In fact, I consider its soundtrack full o’ samples o’ strange voices shouting, “¡HURRY UP!” traffic noises, cat meows, & childish laughs to be more o’ a spiritual successor o’ Earthbound‘s than Mother 3′s, & to be probably the best o’ all the GBA soundtracks. Like Earthbound‘s music, these songs seem to be full o’ so many strange details that it’s impossible to keep track o’ them all, lending it a mysterious feel.

The map theme demonstrates this the most. It’s such a long & complicated song for a song that’ll only play ‘tween choosing levels. A mash o’ low grungy music & rather high-pitched spacey sounds, this song isn’t e’en consistent on whether it wants to have a catchy melody or being a jarring cacophony o’ strange noises that makes it e’en mo’ disjointed than consistent cacophony.

Crescent Moon Village” I love for being the best representation o’ urban nights, mixing the high-pitched weal o’ nighttime wind with the heavy bass rock you’d faintly hear from a passing car.

Toy Block Tower”: Much like Earthbound, Wario Land 4 balanced its soundtrack’s dark songs with very chipper songs, & this is the most chipper ‘mong Wario Land 4‘s, fitting the most chipper o’ levels. This level & its music are like walking out o’ the hushed night into a brightly-lit 24-hour store that ne’er seemed to tire.

“Hotel Horror” is a jazzy song on the surface; but like most WL4 songs, it has those strange sound effects that make it eerier—in this case, mainly the noises from what can only be described as a windy drum, starting as an elongated blow that sounds somewhat like an airplane passing by, & then becoming chopped up into mo’ forceful beats.

Soft Shell” is soothing mall music that plays in soothing bonus areas. I change what I said ’bout “Toy Block Tower”: this is the brightly-lit 24-hour shop.

But we can’t talk ’bout Wario Land 4‘s soundtrack without mentioning the “sound test,” unlocked song-by-song by collecting CDs from each level. Those who have read much o’ this blog (I’m sorry) would probably guess that I’d love such a disarray o’ irrelevant sound experiments—visualized through a neon-backdropped screen flashing ‘tween random images, such as the Game & Watch guy with headphones, a photorealistic strawberry zooming in & out, & some real human cosplaying as Wario. Some o’ them are actually songs, such as the aforementioned “Soft Shell,” & “Mr. Ether & Planetaria”; but most are just collections o’ noises, such as 1 which is just a buzzing fly that is finally smitten, a sleeping guy snoring, heavy mechanical heartbeats, hushed whispers, &, my favorite, an epic o’ some guy waking up to go out & walk to the store to buy something, & then walking back home, all depicted through speechless noises.

The graphics were similarly strange, though mo’ in a cartoony grotesque way than in a “¿What the hell is this?” way. Zombie Wario wasn’t just a stereotypical dark blue version o’ himself with tattered clothes & dark eyes, but was made up o’ neon rainbow goop that splashed all o’er. Puffy Wario had mo’ exaggerated cheeks than in the previous entries. The animation was also quite smooth.

How level progress was measured was also rather creative: rather than a simple goal @ the end, one’s goal was to collect various objects, hit a switch, & then race back to the start before time (& then one’s coins) ran out. The key ghost named Keyzer was needed to unlock the next level & all 4 corners o’ the gem is needed for all 4 levels per zone were needed to unlock that zone’s boss. It’s interesting ’cause most games have levels wherein “beating” it is plain, black & white; but here it’s messier. Obviously we can’t say that just hitting the switch & returning to the beginning warp “beats” the level, ’cause it creates no progress: you’re right back where you started. ¿But is getting the Keyzer sufficient? It is for the 1st few levels; but if one wants to fight the boss—& therefore progress to the end o’ the game—one must collect all o’ the gem corners. Since it’s required to beat the game—rather than the CD, which is just useful for hearing the aforementioned weird-ass music in the “sound test,” or any money—one could argue that the level’s not truly beaten—as opposed to completed, which would require the CD & collecting 10,000 coins for the golden crown—’less the gems are collected, too.

Wario Land 4 also lets one try all o’ the zones but the last in any order one wants, including going back & forth ‘mong zones. This is hardly the 1st game to do something like this; but it’s still a plus, nonetheless.

That said, though its music, graphics, & general atmosphere are better than its predecessors, it’s gameplay is inferior to Wario Land 3‘s. It’s much shorter & its levels are much less complex than 3’s, which had a much funner goal system derived from 4 different colored pairs o’ keys & chests per level, which unlock items that unlock other chests & so on.


[1] WarioWare, inc.: Mega Microgame$!, which I shall discuss soon & I 1st discovered @ a similar time o’ day & in Japanese, as well as having a similar soundtrack (some songs & sound effects are flat-out taken from this game, & the whole soundtrack’s done by the same guy), comes to a close 2nd.

Posted in GBA Tribute, Video Games