Game Boy Color Reviews K-O

Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
Grade: A-
Publisher: Nintendo (1998)
Reviewed: 2018/4/29

screenshotPeople told me if I enjoyed Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1992) then I would like Links' Awakening, and they were right! After a shipwreck Link finds himself trapped on an island, forced to collect eight musical instruments to escape. This game squeezes every bit of power out of the Game Boy Color with its sophisticated gameplay, smooth animation, battery backup, and an astonishing amount of content. When played on a Game Boy Player attached to a GameCube, you feel like you're playing an SNES title.

Your sword has excellent range which makes it fun to slash away at moblins, octoroks, and hopping skeletons. The eight dungeons are every bit as clever as a full-scale Zelda adventure, but outdoor areas feel more restricted and maze-like. New items are gradually introduced, allowing you to slowly unlock more of the island. The game is loaded with fun Nintendo elements like Shy Guys, Bow-Wows, and a Yoshi doll you can win in a claw game.

I'm not sure how to feel about the Super Mario-style side-scrolling screens; they feel a little out of place. A few of the bosses are kind of silly, like the genie clown tossing the Fruit Loops ("I'm your bad guy this time!"). The difficulty is pretty high for a portable game. It's easy to get stuck while scouring the scenery for an obscure item, and even when you know what to do (feed bombs to snakes) it can be difficult.

But my biggest complaint is the repetitive, unskippable text. Whenever you touch a rock, the game stops to display "Wow, this looks pretty heavy. You won't be able to move it with your bare hands." It wouldn't be so bad if more than four words were displayed at a time! Even when you acquire the power bracelet which allows you to lift rocks, you still need to equip it first, and since you can only equip two items at a time the juggling is constant. The game prompts you to save when you die, but an option to save in progress would have been nice too. Link's Awakening is a step down from Link to the Past, but no other portable title has ever glued me to the screen for as long as this one. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: battery
1 player 

Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, The
Grade: C+
Publisher: Nintendo (2001)
Reviewed: 2004/5/30

screenshotOracle of Ages was one of two Zelda games released simultaneously for the Gameboy Color, the other being Oracle of Seasons. Both titles do a fine job of emulating the high-caliber gameplay of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1992). Ages gets off to a slow start, with a lot of verbose exposition, much of it juvenile and corny. The background story involves an evil sorceress who kidnaps a girl who has the power to control time.

Once Oracle of Ages hits its stride however, it delivers the classic Zelda action we've grown to love. By traveling between the past and present, Link can acquire new items, gain new abilities, and solve puzzles on his quest to save the girl. The clean-looking graphics are about NES quality, but the well-orchestrated music and familiar audio effects sound as if they were lifted directly from Link to the Past. The stages are thoughtfully designed to provide constant clues and minimize backtracking.

The time-traveling aspect is a novel concept but it could have been better executed. It's hard to determine how changes to the past affect the present world, and traveling back and forth between the two ages gets old after a while. Magical rings are vital to your success, but their functions are hard to determine, and you can only change your ring when visiting the ring appraiser. In my opinion, Oracle of Ages is not one of the stronger entries in the Zelda series, but it's still a high quality mix of action and adventure. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, The
Grade: C+
Publisher: Nintendo (2001)
Reviewed: 2004/7/18


screenshotWhen starting to play Oracle of the Seasons, I was totally bummed out by how similar it was to Oracle of Ages. Yes, I know they were released at the same time as companion games, but heck, they're practically identical. They share the same graphics, gameplay, and music. Worst of all, even the storyline is similar! This time Link must rescue an oracle girl imprisoned in a tower who can control the seasons.

If you've played Oracle of Ages, the premise sounds awfully familiar. On the bright side, Oracle of Seasons does not contain the annoying time-travel mechanism of Ages, giving this one the edge in my mind. You still have to deal with the whole convoluted ring system though. Oracle of Seasons offers a few fresh ideas, but these are few and far between.

My favorite aspect of the game is its mine cart rides, which let you alter the configuration of the tracks by hitting switches. Oracle of Seasons is a respectable Zelda adventure, but if you've already played Oracle of Ages, be advised that this is just more of the same. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Midway Presents Arcade Hits: Moon Patrol / Spy Hunter
Grade: C
Publisher: Midway (1999)
Reviewed: 2021/6/22
Rating: Everyone

screenshotIt's a little hard to get excited about a repackaged pair of old arcade games, but I'll do my best. Moon Patrol (1982) and Spy Hunter (1983) were two second-tier "hits" from the golden age of arcades. Moon Patrol puts you in control of dune buggy hopping over craters while blasting UFOs overhead. In Spy Hunter you speed up a highway while neutralizing gangster cars with machine guns, oil, and smoke screens.

Moon Patrol's graphics are charmingly pixelated and bursting with color. The scenery is much richer than the original arcade game, with parallax scrolling and colorful UFOs buzzing overhead. The pacing is brisk so you'll be breezing through the lettered checkpoints in record time. The controls are terrific. Bombs approach from several angles but you can blast them right out of the sky! The audio is faithful to the original game and you can continue where you left off. This one is a winner.

Spy Hunter doesn't look too shabby either as you cruise up tree-lined roads while dodging traffic. The game seemed awfully easy at first as I methodically gunned down each car, lighting them up in flames. Then I noticed I wasn't scoring any points, and wasn't going fast enough to board the red truck that outfits new weapons. It turns out I was stuck in low gear! You toggle that via the start button, believe it or not. Once in high gear your car is totally out of control. Unable to effectively shoot or steer, the game is pretty much unplayable.

Overall this cart is tough to grade. Moon Patrol is impressive but Spy Hunter is a major disappointment. You get the best and worst of two arcade classics, so I guess it's a wash. Maybe that wasn't so hard after all! © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: Moon Patrol
Our high score: 12,555
1 player 

Montezuma's Return
Grade: B+
Publisher: Take Two (1998)
Reviewed: 2012/7/7
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI've seen many classics make the transition to the portable universe, and many arrive butchered beyond recognition. Fortunately Montezuma's Return is the exception to the rule, retaining all the qualities that made its predecessor, Montezuma's Revenge (Colecovision, 1984), such a hit. You control a little Indiana Jones exploring a pyramid composed of a huge grid of rooms jam-packed with danger. There are moving platforms, ropes, spikes, rolling skulls, and plenty of coins to collect. If you obtain a knife, you can survive one hit from a creature like a cobra, rat, or spider.

As in the original game, the controls are exceptionally crisp and responsive. Your explorer moves swiftly and can easily hop between platforms. I loved shimmying down ropes and sliding down poles. The levels incorporate all the stuff you'd expect to find in a real pyramid, like cobwebs, flaming pits, skeletons chained to the walls, and platforms that disappear at regular intervals.

The visuals are a little dark, and certain items (like the purple keys) can be a little hard to make out. Pressing the select button brings up a map, and there are 150 rooms in all! 150! Despite that, the game has a somewhat linear structure and it's pretty easy to get stuck. The soundtrack will get on your nerves, but you can shut it off via the options menu. All in all, Montezuma's Return is a heck of a lot of fun, mainly because it doesn't try to fix what's not broken. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 8,700
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, GameFAQs.com, Moby Games