Gameboy / Gameboy Color

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Kininkou Maroku Oni was recently translated by aishasha and Stardust Crusaders with help from Spot Translations.  It’s a 1990 Gameboy RPG from Winkysoft and published by Banpresto.  The Oni series was highly popular, and the read me file for the translation mentions about nine games.  However, this game definitely has some rough edges.

The hero chats with a small child.

The hero exploring the first town.

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Legend is a 1991 Gameboy RPG, published by Quest.  There’s barely any discussion of the game that I can find, and it sounds like it’s pretty obscure.  As games go, it’s got some odd flaws, and definitely seems pretty generic.

This is the starting area of Legend, with the hero on the left at the bottom of the screen. This feels a lot like Twin or a dozen other RPGs, doesn't it?

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If people don’t use interpretation, or reading between the lines, or trying to find fun in a game, they tend to love games that I only like, and they tend to hate games that I’ve been able to enjoy.  By interpretation, I think I mostly mean something akin to the concept of “active reading.”  In literary criticism, this often means looking at a work both as the text on the page, and looking for the work as what the text could be interpreted to mean.  So, for example, you might take Freud and say that he’s saying A, but he means B, and B is a lot more interesting than A.  If someone’s just looking at what the game does, they may like a game with a stronger theme to the plot (but may ignore the clunky ways that the theme is set out.)  If they can’t look past a bad translation, they may ignore what the plot is trying to say in favor for how poorly the plot is saying it.  I think it might help to discuss specific games to try to explain what I mean.

A cutscene shows bats fluttering up and away from the fortress with a large moon in the background. This plays when you approach Magus' fortress.

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I really think SaGa is largely not a crowd pleasing series, but one that is interesting from a theoretical standpoint.  It’s a pity, since people focus on more glitzy unusual RPG systems, like Chrono Cross, instead of the SaGa series.  Then again, the first three SaGa games are Gameboy games, followed up by three SNES games (of which, only one is translated and one has been remade and translated.)  The next game in the series was SaGa Frontier, which was translated, along with the sequel.  Finally, there was Unlimited Saga, which is a trainwreck of a game with fascinating ideas.  Since the SNES games were really where the SaGa series flowered and showed a lot of interesting potential, it feels like the heart of the series was never offered to US players.  For another person’s overview, please try Rorshacma’s article at Hardcore Gaming 101.

The first world map in Final Fantasy Legend is small. Still, you can get lost as you try to find your way around the world.

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Metal Walker is a Gameboy Color RPG.  It came out in 1999 in Japan, and in 2001 in the US.  It reminds me a lot of Pokemon.  The gameplay of the game, much like Pokemon, encourages a “collect all enemies” viewpoint, and has a fairly high encounter rate.

This early cutscene features the father on the right, and the hero on the left. The father is yelling that the "Metal Busters are coming!"

As a game goes, the plot is pretty simple.  On a ruined island, people search for interesting scraps of metal left behind after a failed attempt to study cores (basically, they allow machines to ‘evolve’.)  Your hero is the son of a famous scientist, and was separated from him when you were attacked by dangerous robots.  Now, you have to find cores, to try to find your father, and explore the land.

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Many Pokémon clones copy the elemental weaknesses of the original game.  This is sort of a rock/paper/scissor like system where you have element X who is strong to Y, but weak to Z.  Finding the perfect X attacker adds individuality to your party, and there’s a basic strategy in picking a balanced party to handle the AI opponents.

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Most tie in games aren’t very good.  Anime tie in games, for example, tend to have fancy production values, short game time, and a odd tendency to include some sort of healing point in dungeons.  Often, they’re too easy, or have odd difficulty curves.  SD Gundam Gaiden: Lacroan’s Heroes came out in 1990 from Bandai.  SD Gundam is a long running series, and includes some NES games.

The heroes in a dungeon, preparing to escape.

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Dragon Quest III came out for the NES in 1988 in Japan (1992 US), and for the Gameboy in 2000 (2001 US.)  There’s also a SNES remake in 1996.  When people discuss Dragon Quest games, Dragon Quest III or IV are the ones most similar to later games in the series.  Dragon Quest III has a class change system at the Temple of Dharma, and Dragon Quest VI and VII both have a class change system at the Temple of Dharma.  Dragon Quest III has gambling elements versus the more simplistic lottery system in Dragon Quest II.  Gambling appears in Dragon Quest IV, V, VI, VII, VII, and presumably IX.  The idea of the classic casino, however, does not appear until Dragon Quest IV.

Four poison toads confront the characters.

A battle against toads.

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Twin came out in 1992 for the Gameboy and was published by Athena.  Athena are the same guys that published Lutter for the FDS.  As games go, Twin has some interesting gimmicks.

A king, a guardsman, and the hero.

There's several characters in the castle who differ by meer pixels from the hero.

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