Tagged: portable games

Need for Speed Carbon on the Game Boy Advance: Time to Own the City!

There are many things that I’m always fascinated by, and one of them is portable versions of big console games. It’s surprising to see studios small and large try to squeeze as much power out of handhelds and hopefully make a good game out of it. I collect these on a rare occasion, and thought I’d dig one out of mothballs I bought awhile back and give it a spin.

As opposed to what, Own the Parking Lot?

Let’s hop in a ride and drive the mean streets, because we’re checking out Need for Speed: Carbon – Own the City for the Game Boy Advance. I mentioned buying this in an old “I Bought Stuff!” post from a year ago, and I wanted to see what a racing game looks on the ol’ GBA.

This is an EA Canada product, and came out on the GBA, PSP, and DS as the spinoff portable title alongside the main game on the bigger consoles. Usually the portable version is different in some ways than its console brethren, so let’s check it out.

The story’s fairly silly: You were in a race alongside your brother Mick, and a multi-car pile up by some unknown assailant caused the death of your brother and caused amnesia in you. What follows is a typical revenge plot as you work with Sara and Carter, Mick’s former crew members, as you climb your way back to the top and dominate districts and “Own the City,” as it were.

So let’s take a look at how this looks on the Game Boy Advance…

If you think it looks bad on a screenshot, imagine this in motion!

Oh. Oh dear. I’m not a graphics snob by any means, but this game looks pretty bad, even by GBA standards. Screenshots really do not do this justice, it looks like a blocky mess of a world on a platform that shouldn’t be running stuff like this. Feel the thrill of going 100 mph while feeling like you’re going half that speed!

Now I know the Game Boy Advance is not a 3D powerhouse, but something is really wrong when even playing it at top speed feels like a casual drive through a city than an actual racing game.

It doesn’t help that I can barely see anything. It’s very hard to see what’s ahead of you, and most of the roads are made of 90 degree angles that make it difficult to make good turns with slamming into the buildings. It doesn’t help that this perspective also makes swerving past traffic and opponent racers difficult.

Playing one of the Hunter races. One of the few modes where being in first isn’t guaranteed a win.

But enough about how it looks, here’s how it plays. A accelerates, B brakes, L activates Nitrous – provided you’ve unlocked it, and R is handbrake. There are four race types: Circuit, Sprint, Elimination, and Hunter. Circuit and Sprint are your standard races. Elimination removes the last place driver at each lap. Hunter is a strange one: Every skill or trick you do fills up a health bar, but hitting anything or stopping loses health. It’s less about finishing first and more about finishing with style.

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This! Is! JEOPARDY! On handhelds!

One idea I had during my game show research was to cover most of the notable adaptations of game show games, such as Jeopardy! There’s one problem, though:

jeopardygames

That’s… a lot of Jeopardy.

There are a lot of Jeopardy! games. I mean a lot of them. MobyGames doesn’t even list all of them. Plus for a game as simple as Jeopardy!, there isn’t much to say about each one. So I decided to go smaller. Much smaller.

I kinda loved that starburst GameTek logo more than the more famous blocky logo.

Today, I’m gonna talk about Jeopardy! on the Game Boy. Jeopardy! was one of the few game show games that made it to Nintendo’s greenscale handheld in 1991, alongside Wheel of Fortune. Naturally GameTek published this outing, and it boasted “Over 1,500 new questions!” on the box. Though considering the show they should’ve boasted “1,500 new answers,” but I’m not gonna get too nitpicky here.

They need to bring back that Jeopardy! logo with the needlessly long exclamation point. I think it looks neat.

I remember getting both Jeopardy! and Wheel in a combo pack at Target for about $10 each. This was the mid-90s, and Target was chock full of excess copies, so selling one to a young budding game show/video game nut like me was a treat.

These games got a lot of action during vacation trips, such as the one time I went to a resort cabin with my family and was happily having fun with this, and occasionally Pokemon Red. I mean, before everybody had the internet in their pockets, what else could you do?

But enough reminiscing. This is Jeopardy! on the Game Boy.

We’re off to a rough start where it shows these three options: Play against the computer, go head to head, or use a link cable to go head to head. The problem with the last one is that it’s ultimately pointless. Jeopardy! is not an intense head-to-head game like Tetris or Dr. Mario, and you already have a two players on one system option already in place. It just seems like a feature they slapped onto the box just to say they had it.

Notice that so far I’ve mentioned only two players. Well, here’s why.

No Alex Trebek? Disappointing.

As opposed to allowing three players, like every other Jeopardy! game in existence, this game is two players only. This is baffling, considering it probably wouldn’t be hard to support three players on the handheld. Oh well, let’s move on.

Sadly no Alex Trebek in this version. Nintendo Power once described the host as “Guy Smiley” from Sesame Street, but I’d say he more resembles Mr. Game Show‘s dorkier brother. Also, our intrepid not-Trebek is not at a podium, magically reading all the clues from a single question card, and occasionally teleporting to the board when a Daily Double is chosen. This host certainly has some voodoo magic, and we should be afraid of him at all costs.

Jeopardy (U) [BF]_14

As Trebek would say, “pay attention to the quotes.” This is fairly easy even for a $100 clue.

It handles pretty closely to the TV show, having 30 clues separated between six categories, 1-2 Daily Doubles depending on the round, and Final Jeopardy! is in there mostly intact. Though, I can tell the clues aren’t nearly as refined or polished as the TV show’s. Guess they didn’t want to take material from old episodes for reference, which considering there would’ve been six years of shows to go from would’ve been just fine to me. Continue reading…

Hoyle Casino on the Game Boy Color: Gambling on the Go.

For a long while, I was fascinated by casino video games. Maybe since I was too young to actually play at a casino, I figured casino video games would simulate the casino experience without losing loads of money in the process. It’s a shame that nowadays casinos are inundated with digital slots and video poker machines, with maybe a blackjack and craps table here and there. It’s just not the same.

During my teenage years, I was playing one of these casino games, back when I had just gotten the fancy new Game Boy Advance. Though, it was a Game Boy Color game…

Probably the best quality picture I could find. If my box wasn't crushed to hell, I'd just scan mine in.

Probably the best quality picture I could find. If my box wasn’t crushed to hell, I’d just scan mine in.

Hoyle Casino is a game sponsored by the Hoyle game company, which primarily is a playing card company, though these days they’ve also branched out to publishing digital games based on TV shows like Ice Road Truckers. This game is also unique because it was one of the few games Sierra published for the GBC, with the others being sister title Hoyle Card Games and a version of 3D Ultra Pinball: ThrillrideHoyle Casino came to other systems, but today I’m looking at the portable release.

Pulsar Interactive worked on this, and they were mostly known for Game Boy games like Barbie Fashion Pack, as well as assisting in Quest for Glory V and Blood & Magic, as well as IBM’s Manage This!, which is not a video game but they were more than proud to feature it on their website.

I figured I played this a bunch because of the aforementioned fascination with casino games. Plus since it was on a portable and this was before everybody had smartphones, it was a great time waster when you had nothing to do, which was fairly common in my high school years.

Now, my gold standard for casino games is Nintendo’s Vegas Stakes – both the original SNES version and it’s Game Boy counterpart – so let’s see if Hoyle Casino is good enough to dethrone the king of casino video games.

Hoyle Casino is a proud sponsor of VICE. I’m more of a MisterCard person, personally.

We’re introduced to this screen where you create your character, complete with portrait. It’s merely cosmetic, but I decide to go for the classy gentleman portrait for this one.

This game boasts "hundreds of variations." I'm not seeing hundreds, here.

This game boasts “hundreds of game variations.” I’m not seeing hundreds, here.

Hoyle Casino has seven base games in it: Blackjack, Slot Machines, Craps, Roulette, Pai-Gow Poker, Video Poker and just “Poker.” Considering Hoyle is best known for playing cards, I’m not surprised how much poker games are in that.

As I select the Poker option, suddenly I am given a deluge of various choices.

More poker than you need. Not like these variants matter considering everybody just plays Texas Hold’em these days…

Holy crap, that’s a lot of poker games. They got most of the common ones, including Seven Card Stud that I remember playing in Vegas Stakes, as well as the now-iconic Texas Hold ‘Em, the one type of Poker everyone knows because it was on TV for a long while.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the Game Boy Color: Let’s do some portable Benihanas.

Over the years, I have bought a fair share of games more out of curiosity rather than actually wanting them. Often times these are portable games, which I don’t think get talked about all that much beyond the more notable titles. Today, I’m gonna tackle one of those portable games I got on a whim, and it’s based on a rather iconic extreme sports star. (Plus it’s been a while since I wrote something about a game.)

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. An awesome skateboarding game that was fun, even if you were bad on a real skateboard. A long-standing franchise with an impressive series of games that eventually got the common Activision treatment of “pump these games out until they stop making us money.” Nowadays, the franchise lies dormant, mostly remembered through nostalgic memories of the early games in the series with an occasional new installment that’s often hit or miss. The less we talk about Tony Hawk Ride, the better.

Of course, a series had to start somewhere, and looking back at the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, it was clear the game had some good ideas that just needed some refinement. Naturally, the game came out on every platform imaginable for the time period, like the Dreamcast, Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. But to go back to talking about portable games, I forgot this franchise appeared on a system that I wasn’t expecting.

The closest you will get to an 8-bit Tony Hawk.

Yes. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was on the Game Boy Color. Naturally Nintendo’s handheld was still modestly successful — albeit mostly buoyed by Pokemon — and while the Game Boy Color wasn’t nearly as big as the monochrome original by this point, it did bring us a lot of unexpected games on the system, including this one.

This is a long long way from Harvest Moon…

This game was made by Natsume, publisher of the Harvest Moon franchise. I can’t think of a weirder choice for a developer of a portable Tony Hawk game. Honestly, I didn’t even know they made games beside Harvest Moon until I had played this. They’ve probably been games for a long time, and I probably played a couple of them, so please refrain from sending me corrections.

I don’t even remember how I got this game, honestly. I think a neighbor had it years ago and just gave it to me since they didn’t have a GBC. The only other thing I remember about this game is that I wrote a scathing user review of this on GameSpot. You can probably find it if you check the game page for it, but I’d rather not link it, it’s like a lot of my past writing where it’s… a bit rough.

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