The original Game Boy's library offers a surprisingly diverse range of games, going beyond conventional approaches and exploring some unusual directions within each genre. Unfortunately, these unique titles often go unnoticed due to their non-conformity to standard norms or just purely by being ahead of their time. Here are seven hidden gems on the original Game Boy that gamers should definitely experience.
Best game boy hidden gems
7. Jimmy Connors Pro Tennis Tour
It is a surprise that Jimmy Connors Pro Tennis Tour on the original Game Boy is not receiving reverence from the gaming audience. This tennis game is one of the best on the platform, and even compared to those that appeared on home consoles. It has gameplay mechanics that are significant influences on titles like Virtua Tennis and TopSpin.
The "wind-up" feature for hitting and directing the ball, set a precedent in the genre. With a variety of shots, including topspin, slice, lob, and dropshot, the game offers strategic depth. The serving mechanics are well-executed, allowing players to control the power and accuracy of their serves. While the graphics may not be outstanding, the gameplay compensates for it.
There are multiple gameplay modes, including Exhibition and a Tour career mode, where players can experience the game as Jimmy Connors. Although it lacks graphical polish, Jimmy Connors Pro Tennis Tour's gameplay mechanics remain unmatched even after decades after its release.
6. Kingdom Crusade
There are only a few strategy games on Nintendo's iconic video game handheld. Kingdom Crusade, an often overlooked game from an overlooked genre, is a unique and enjoyable Game Boy game that offers a blend of strategy and action. Reminiscent of Solaris for the Atari 2600, the game employs a medieval setting with knights, wizards, and more. Despite its generic name and relative obscurity, the game surprises players with its engaging gameplay.
The game starts on a map screen, divided into quadrants with the player's characters on one side and enemies on the other. The objective is to defeat all foes or take over their castles by simply walking through them. On the playing field, players are to collect items and encounter enemies to engage in combat. Graphics are detailed, with distinguishable backgrounds and animated characters, while the music and sound effects create a fitting medieval atmosphere. The game offers various difficulty options, enhancing the AI, map size, and enemy count.
5. Bomb Jack
Bomb Jack for Game Boy is a delightful port of the beloved arcade game developed by Bit Managers. First-time players and series veterans have nothing but reverence for its core gameplay. The simple yet addictive concept of defusing bombs while evading enemies keeps players engaged and eager to achieve higher scores.
Mastering the unique controls, particularly the titular Jack's impressive jumping ability, adds an exciting layer of skill and precision to the gameplay. Although the game features a limited number of levels and enemy types, it never ceases to challenge players. The graphics, while simple, effectively capture the essence of the game, and the varied backgrounds provide a pleasant visual experience. The sound effects are fitting, and while the music can be repetitive, it still manages to create an upbeat and energetic atmosphere.
4. Little Master: Raikuban no Densetsu
This game never had a Western release. However, there are full translations of the game. There is no reason anymore not to dab into this unique original Game Boy strategy game.
Each mission in Little Master presents its own unique gimmick, making the stages interesting and engaging. From random tornadoes displacing units to protecting a forest from an invisible enemy, the game keeps on throwing challenges to players. Every stage has a boss that needs to be defeated, regardless of the remaining enemies on the map.
In battle, the perspective shifts from an overworld view to a battle screen similar to games like Shining Force or Fire Emblem. The combat follows a turn-based system, with the initiator attacking first and the defender counterattacking.
Throughout the maps, there are villages to encounter and gather hints and even recruit additional units to join the player's army. The game features a variety of cute and diverse characters, including sheepmen, batmen, mousemen, magicians, giants, cyclops, and dragons. Reminiscent of Monster Rancher, players can also fuse existing units to create new ones.
3. Tom and Jerry Frantic Antics
The fourth generation of video game consoles had a deluge of licensed video games. It is mostly dominated by Disney’s properties like Lion King, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, and Mickey’s Safari in Letterland. It is easy to look past other licensed games but players just cannot with Tom and Jerry Frantic Antics on the original Game Boy.
This Tom and Jerry action platform game offers a mix of platforming and puzzle-solving elements. It improves upon its predecessor by having the cat and mouse work together instead of fighting each other. The game consists of ten levels, ranging from easy to difficult. Level five, in particular, poses a challenge that requires precise timing and strategic decision-making. Skilled players can complete the game in two to three hours, depending on their dedication and skill level.
2. Crayon Shin-Chan 4: Ora no Itazura Dai Henshin
The fourth game of this Game Boy series is the best of the bunch. Crayon Shin-Chan is this manga series featuring a five-year-old boy who is adoringly hilarious. Crayon Shin-Chan 4: Ora no Itazura Dai Henshin's gameplay is a surprisingly fitting take on Super Mario, with Shin Chan jumping between platforms and collecting drinks.
Shin-Chan borrows Super Mario's transformation mechanic to overcome hazards while retaining the property's patented hilarity is a great experience. Shin-Chan can take advantage of animal suits with unique powers. For example, the chicken suit allows him to throw sliding eggs as a projectile, while the Action Mask costume grants invulnerability and a powerful attack, the bug suit allows for an extended melee attack, while the flying squirrel one allows for gliding and projectile attacks. There are also uproarious mini-games every now and then including a four-bowling lane-like shooting gallery where Shin-Chan is to stop what appears to be a crawling man from reaching him.
1. Cave Noire
Cave Noire is an obscure Game Boy game that never received a Western release, which is unfortunate because it stands out as a unique and enjoyable experience. The game draws inspiration from rogue-likes but modifies the formula to make it less frustrating and suitable for portable gaming.
Instead of one long quest, it is divided into four separate quests with ten levels each, offering different objectives. The levels start easy and gradually become more challenging, providing a fair learning curve. Unlike traditional rogue-likes, each level is independent and has no impact on the next, allowing for shorter gameplay sessions and reducing frustration. The absence of a hunger system eliminates the need to worry about starvation, but it also means HP is not restored by walking, emphasizing the importance of avoiding unnecessary combat.
The game features various monsters with unique movement patterns, and items play a crucial role in enhancing stats and aiding in combat avoidance. Dungeon layouts are randomly generated, ensuring each playthrough feels different.