Retrograding Advance 06.16.03

Yeah, I know. I thought I’d be writing only once a week as well. Who knew? Well, everyone but me apparently. But seriously, I’m weekends only. This is just to make up for the time I was gone.

As a lot of you may know, instead of getting a fee game with your Game Cube, you can instead get the GB player. This little add on to your Game Cube allows you to play Game Boy games on a TV screen and with your Game Cube system. It’s an interesting idea not seen since the super Nintendo, although Pokemon stadium let you play your GB games through the N64. Back in the day the Super Game Boy allowed you all sorts of games to finally be played on a screen that didn’t involve a contrast button or that ate 4 AA batteries for 20 hours of play. You could play Gargoyle’s Quest, Kid Icarus, Metroid 2, the Castlevania games and so much more on your TV. And life was good. Sure, it wasn’t handheld anymore, but the pre Pocket Game Boy sucked so much, it didn’t really matter. Besides it wasn’t like you couldn’t still use the games on the go.

And Nintendo being Nintendo, decided to try a little blast from the past to get some interest in the console. Of course the Smash Pack didn’t help the Dreamcast any, but the Game Boy player is selling decently here and in Japan (I don’t have UK sales figures. In fact I don’t believe it’s out there yet). Yet it’s the strangest audience that is hating the Game Boy player with a passion. It’s the fanatical hardcore gamers that seem to have a problem with playing handheld games on the big screen. And guess what? I am NOT one of them.

Before I get into why I like the GB player, I’m going to give you a link to an Atari web page column denouncing the GB player.

Atari is angry!

You’ll notice in Atari’s own forum no one agrees with him. But I know a lot of hardcore gamers that hate it, including my friend (and potential 411’er) Liquidcross. He feels hand held games should only be played on hand helds and he hates ports, even though he’s a Retrogamer as well.

The thing is, a lot of Retrogamers hate ports or re-releases because we were crazy enough to save our old systems, take care of the old games with loving care and basically scare women away when they saw our collection. They invested money and time and love into their consoles and carts and get miffed when old and great games are re-released. So it’s a jealousy thing. It’s also an annoyance thing. Like when people claim Ogre Tactics wants to be FFT when ogre came first. Or miss how much of their beloved FF7’s plot is stolen from other games. Or how much EA totally sucks.

Then there is the complaint that old games should stay on old systems. But I find that to be crap as well. Old games that were truly great should be played by all. Shadowrun! Shining Force! Super Metroid! Super Mario 3! These are works of art people. And these same people are the ones that you know would run out and buy copies of Blazing Rangers or Panzer Dragoon Saga if they were re-released for the Xbox or PS2. Because they’re 100$+ games! The outlook is different if they re-release a 100$ game instead of 10$ Super Mario 2 which you can still pick up at Pawn Shops. So that excuse is right out.

The one that bothered me most was the actual complaint of retrogames being released onto the GBA. How can anyone truly have a problem with that. I wouldn’t care if EVERY game on the damn system was a port. They’re 16 and 32 bit classics. 3 Phantasy Star games for 30$! How can that be bad??? Zelda: Link to the Past + 4 Swords! Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was a fighting game that didn’t suck on the GBA! Defender of the Crown for god’s sake! These are all games that we should be happy are out. Go look on ebgames. There are tons of games that aren’t ports. Sports games! Licensed games! Sequels like Mega Man & Bass that never came out in the US before! The GBA is a bonanza of games casual or newcomers to the video game scene have never played before. If Shining Force, Popful Mail or Vay came out for the GBA, I’d buy them in a second! And so would a lot of people! When Square gave us FF Chronicle and Origins, no one had a problem with that. How is releasing old NES and SNES games onto the PS1 any different from me getting Balloon Fight for my GBA?

Then we have the complaint that ports prevent new games for coming out for the GBA. That it’s a dumping ground. I say: Robotech. Pokemon. Metroid Fusion. 2 Castlevanias. Iron Man. Advance Wars. Wario Ware. Golden Sun. Shining Soul. Two Hamtaro games! All original games. All f*cking awesome. And all original games. And there’s more. There’s a new Tomb Raider. 2 New Sonic Games. A Muppets game that my fiancée probably adores. And on and on. Are some sequels? Yes? But are people really complaining that Mario and Luigi for the GBA is a sequel to Paper Mario/Mario RPG? Or about New Castlevania games? Again, this is total crap. There are tons of new and original games for the GBA. It’s not just a place where old 16 bit games go to be reborn.

The thing that pisses me off most is people that just outright have the nutty conspiracy theory that Nintendo released this because games are too hard to play on the GBA. I’m not even going to touch the absurdity of THAT one.

I’ll be honest. The heart of the VG industry is gone replaced by a wad of dollar bills. The companies know they don’t need to be original. That yet another Mario game will sell. That another shitty Tomb raider or Army men game can be cranked out and people will buy them. That 83 baseball games with only new statistics will sell like hot cakes, even if the engine hasn’t changed a bit. That’s America. Hell, that’s Capitalism. That’s life. Eventually the majority of people care only about the bottom dollar. Companies like treasure and Atlus are rare. Even Sega and Capcom have gone into the constant sequel release program instead of making their sequels different and stand alone from the originals. Remember when you finally could play as the 4 Bosses in Street Fighter? Tell me that wasn’t a rush. And that was the ONLY thing that truly changed about the game. Same Engine 99% the same graphics. It was still Street Fighter. But that was a big deal. Now compare SF3. How many people truly give a rat’s ass about that game?

So maybe I’m being naive when I’m actually happy these companies are port old classic games to the GBA. It reminds me of a time when games were games and not half assed chew toys meant to make a buck. Where the creators loved making the games as much as we loved playing them. And even if they are old or ports, that love and skill still shines through the game. I’d rather have a copy of River City Ransom any day over GTA: Vice City. And soon I will thanks to Atlus porting it to the GBA. Again, maybe I’m being foolish, but I’d like to think even casual games can look past flashy graphics and see how damn good a game is. That when they play these GBA games that they it shows them there was a time when companies thought about more than profit. And that eventually it will make gamers demand that same level of commitment from the companies currently creating Mega Man 856 or T&A: now with larger pixels. Maybe the real problem is people aren’t actually upset that companies are putting out old games for the GBA, but that they just can’t make games like they used to and they aren’t even bothering to hide that fact anymore.

Embrace the GBA player those of you that can’t stand the small screen or tiny buttons. Embrace it those who want 16 bit Zelda on the Bog Screen again or to watch Rick Hunter kick some Zentradi ass on a screen bigger than your palm. Embrace the fact that you even have the option to do so. And that truly is what’s most important. It doesn’t matter if Nintendo made it because they were scared or because they actually thought people would want to play GB games on the Game Cube. It matters that they gave you the option. That you have a choice and you can take it. It’s not a bundle. It’s not Microsoft Windows built onto your PC. It’s an add-on. And I know I’m taking advantage of it, if only because my Fiancée can’t deal with the small screen for long before her eyes hurt and because I want to sit with my friends and play some Shining Soul on a big screen TV.

The bottom line people: if you don’t like something don’t sit on a message board and whine. Write and complain where it will matter most: To the companies themselves. Getting together with friends and bitching doesn’t change things: Action does. You don’t like the GB player? Don’t buy it? You really hate Microsoft? Don’t buy their products? You despise Big Tobacco? Don’t buy products made by the same people who own the cigarette companies. Boycotting and writing to companies en masse actually works people. It’s how we got Ikaruga over here. How we got At least 1 part of Shining Force Three on the Saturn and how we prevent sequels to really crappy games from being made.

Right. I’m done getting pissed because people take a hobby and something that is supposed to be fun way too seriously. I’m gonna let Alex Williams do a review on an ORIGINAL NON PORT GBA game. See you on Saturday.

Review: Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ (GBA)
By: Alex Williams
Tagline: 200 minigames + 5 second time limit = most addictive
cartridge ever manufactured. No, really.

Game: Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$
System: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Compilation (Best category I could think of.)
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 5/22/03

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been in the middle of
several games at once, but never found the time to finish them all? I
know I have. At the moment, I’m in the middle of about 4 or 5 RPGs
alone. (It used to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 or 9).
Unfortunately, with a somewhat short attention span, I can’t stay
with a single game for too long. I gotta play another, then go back
to the first one, find a third one, ignore the second one for a
while, and so on, and so on…

Thankfully, there’s a game like Wario Ware that caters to those with
short attention spans. Over 200 minigames that take only 5 seconds
each to play is perfect for someone like me. But is it perfect for
someone like YOU? Read on…

GAMEPLAY

Backstory: Wario is sitting on his rear watching the TV, bored out of
his skull, when all of the sudden, he catches a news report on the
financial success of the (fictional) GBA game “Pyoro”. Wario then
thinks to himself that if others can make big bucks in the gaming
industry, why can’t he? So he goes out and buys a computer in order
to program games. He lasts about five minutes before falling asleep.
So, he gathers a bunch of his friends to help him out. And thus, the
game…er…games begin.

You start out playing against Wario and his set of “interesting”
games. These range from Catching a sliding mug, to jumping over odd
vehicles, to avoiding cars on a highway, and other interesting ideas
for games. But you better be quick about it, because game is over in
five seconds. Yep, you have five minutes to complete each objective,
and you won’t even know the objectives until each game starts! (They
are chosen randomly.) After each attempt, you move on to the next one
immediately. If you fail, you lose a life. Lose four lives, game
over.

Assuming you progress, the games will speed up. Yes, I said speed up.
Everything moves faster, and you’ll have LESS time to complete each
game. After a set number of stages, (In this case, 10. In others,
much more) you’ll be able to play a “Boss Stage”. A Boss Stage is a
mini-game that lasts longer, and is usually tougher than the games
preceding it. Beat the boss, beat the stage. After you beat a stage,
you can go back into it and see how many games you can go through
before you lose. You’ll need to do this to get all of the games for
each stage, considering that you WON’T play them all the first time
around.

There are 11 stages total set up like this, each with a different
character, and a different theme. Themes range from Sports, to
Realistic, to Science Fiction, to IQ, and even “Strange” games.
(Trust me, nearly EVERY game here is strange.) These games are very
diverse, ranging from putting eye drops in someone’s eyes, to
trapping aliens in boxes, to matching shapes, to insulting yourself
and others, to squirting ketchup on various food items, to weighing
turtles, to jumping rope, to running hurdles, to…well, you get the
idea. LOTS of diversity. For you Nintendo buffs out there, there’s
even a set of mini games based on past Nintendo games. Yes, you’ll
have 5 seconds to stomp the Goombas, blow up Mother Brain, and grab
onto the giant bird. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you
will.

Controls are hard to call here. Each mini-game has it’s own controls,
but all of them use the D-pad and the A button only. With each game
given a different control scheme, it’s hard to rate. I can say,
however, that the controls are very responsive 90% of the time. Each
one of the games is easy to pick-up and play once you figure out how
to control them.

GRAPHICS

Here’s another area of the game that’s hard to call. Each game has a
different style of graphics. Some are stick figures, some are
outlandish sprites, some are in black & white, some are completely 8-
bit, and there are lots of other styles. Some games look incredibly
beautiful, and some look incredibly ugly. I believe it was the
intention of the developers to give each game (all 200+ of them)
their own distinct feel. The fact that they succeeded in this task
makes the game that much more enjoyable.

The game also has its share of cut scenes before and after each of
the main stages. Each of the cut scenes is done in the same fashion,
and are done very well. Those are some of the best graphics I’ve seen
on a BA game yet. You’ll also be able to view the Epilogues for each
character in the Options menu in case you missed something before.
Good stuff.

SOUND

Sound effect wise, each game has it’s own specific sounds. Some games
share their effects, though, which isn’t too uncommon. What is common
is that in each stage, you’ll hear the voices of either Wario or the
character the stage belongs to. They’re similar to the voices in
Wario Land 4, which means they could get very annoying, very quick.
Musically, the game shines. With so many games, there are plenty of
tunes (and tune snippets) to listen to, including some Japanese vocal
tracks. (I find it impressive for that fact alone.)

FUN FACTOR

This game has the most replay value of any GBA cart in recent memory.
Where do I begin…Well, for starters, you’ll be able to play EVERY
game you unlocked individually. Each game has three difficulty
settings to cycle through. Once you complete the three, the game will
speed up slightly. This progresses until you loose four lives. Also,
each game will have a medal to earn. If you pass a certain number of
stages (different for each game), you’ll earn a medal. Earn enough
medals, and you’ll unlock secret full-version mini-games. They’re
expanded versions of certain previous mini-games you’ve played.

Also, if you meet certain requirements in the Main Game stages,
you’ll unlock other classic games that are modified with Wario
sprites. There’s Dr. Wario, Wario Sheriff, and a hidden mini-game
from Mario Paint.

Plus, as you play, you are bound to have flashbacks to other games
you’ve played during the course of your gaming career (and not just
the Nintendo games). There’s so much variety here, and so much this
cart blatantly rips off, that you will feel nostalgic at some point.
And while most games seem to lose their novelty after a while, you
WILL find the certain bunch of games that you are good at, and will
like to play.

Gameplay – 9.5
Graphics – 9.5
Sound – 8.0
Fun Factor – 10

THE 411

This game is addiction in its purest form. Random games that come out
one after the other are bound to keep you hooked. You’ll be playing
this cart for days mastering every single game, stage, and full-
version game there is. And there’s enough here to keep you in your
happy place for weeks on end. If you haven’t bought this game
already, BUY IT NOW!

FINAL SCORE – 9.5