Virtual Boy Reviews K-Q

Mario Clash
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/7/17

screenshotThis game is a true showcase of Virtual Boy's 3D technology. Not only is Mario Clash loads of fun, but its unique gameplay really couldn't be duplicated on any other system. This addictive platform title plays like a 3D version of Mario Brothers. We're talking about the original Mario Bros. here - the 1983 arcade game where Mario and Luigi kick turtles and crabs off platforms.

Clash has a set of platforms in the foreground and background. The goal of each stage is to eliminate all the creatures on the platforms using turtle shells. Mario not only can move between both sets of platforms via pipes, but can even throw shells between the two to knock off targets in the distance.

Once you get a feel for it, Mario Clash is a satisfying mix of strategy and arcade action. The early levels are fairly straightforward, but the advanced levels require some thought. The controls are responsive, and the crisp graphics make it easy to tell on what plane objects are located. With 99 levels in all, this is a must-have for Virtual Boy owners. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 41510
1 player 

Mario Tennis
Grade: B+
Publisher: Nintendo (1995)
Reviewed: 2003/7/17


screenshotMario Tennis served as the "pack-in game" for the Virtual Boy system, and it's a good one. With its close-up perspective and simple mechanics, Mario Tennis nicely shows off the Virtual Boy's 3D technology. When this was released in 1995, it was easily the best tennis game on the market. The gameplay is similar to the excellent Nintendo 64 version that was released years later.

Viewing the action from behind your player, the court conveys amazing depth. The black background makes it look like you're playing at night, although you can see some scenery in the background. The ball is large and easy to follow, and you simply press A for normal shots and B for lobs. Overhead smashes are executed automatically when the ball is returned soft and high near the net.

Many of your favorite Nintendo characters are playable, including Mario, Luigi, Koopa, Toad, Donkey Kong Jr., Yoshi, and Princess Toadstool. You can play single matches, tournaments, and even doubles! The only drawback to doubles is how you can't always see what your partner is doing due to the close camera angle, but it's still a nice option to have.

To excel at Mario Tennis, you really need to learn how to play the net, since overhead smashes and drop shots are key to beating the game on the hard level. Mario Tennis is a quality title that sets the standard quite high for Virtual Boy games. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Nester's Funky Bowling
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (1996)
Reviewed: 2004/3/23

screenshotI wouldn't necessarily call it "funky" per se, but Nester's Funky Bowling is a heck of a lot of fun. Unlike other Virtual Boy games that emphasize elaborate 3D effects, Nester's Bowling is so basic that you'll barely even notice the graphics. That's okay, because its fast pace, simple control scheme, and addictive gameplay will have you hooked from the start.

After lining up your bowler, you engage simple spin and power meters to initiate your roll, and together they provide a remarkable degree of control. Like most bowling games, your initial point of view is from behind your player, but after the ball is thrown you get a close-up of the pins. The pins look decidedly flat but at least they ricochet around realistically - making it possible to pick up some tough splits.

Nester's soundtrack is very good, and there are some amusing animations when you throw a split, spare, or strike. In addition to normal bowling, there's also an addictive "challenge" mode that presents you with various pin combinations to knock down. Nester's Funky Bowling is a pleasant surprise, and quite possibly the most entertaining bowling game I've ever played. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 177
1 or 2 players 

Panic Bomber
Grade: C
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1995)
Reviewed: 2009/3/29

screenshotPanic Bomber is a Tetris-style puzzle game with a Bomberman theme. As with Tetris, this game really has no business being on the Virtual Boy. Its 3D effects are meager at best and have zero bearing on the gameplay. Oh well, at least Panic Bomber has a nice pick-up-and-play quality that V-Tetris lacks.

The playing field is split in half as you go head-to-head against a series of animated opponents. The object is to manipulate falling groups of shapes, lining up three or more identical shapes to make them disappear. These shapes assume a lot of cute forms including cat faces, Bomberman heads, and dancing Hershey Kisses.

Unlike V-Tetris, the shapes are large and quickly fill the playing field. So what's the twist? Well, bombs are created whenever you eliminate a set of shapes. You can either detonate these bombs with other falling bombs, or let them accumulate. It's a cool risk-reward dynamic, daring you to let your side stack up to dangerous heights.

The rounds are relatively short and passwords are provided on a regular basis. I enjoyed Panic Bomber's soundtrack, which borrows a number of rollicking, catchy tunes from its parent Bomberman series. Panic Bomber would probably be more fun on a television set, but it's hard to dislike a game like this. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 2695
Save mechanism: password
1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Planet Virtual Boy