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Obscure GameBoy Imports

One of the more interesting aspects of video games that sets it apart from other hobbies is the frequent need for importing titles that did not see a domestic release. As the vast majority of video game hardware and software companies originate in Japan, there is a not-so-insignificant expense attached to localizing a game for sale in North America, or any other regional market. Sadly this results in many great and interesting titles being lost in the shuffle, doomed to never be appreciated outside of their home territory.

Since at least the NES era, there has been a small number of avid gamers who would pony up the extra expense and time to import quality titles from afar. That number has grown substantially in the past decade, mostly due to the barriers of communication around the world being lowered substantially by the Internet. It is now possible for any gamer to know what games they are missing and pick them up through any of several online import shops. It is easy to learn how to mod most current, mainstream consoles to play games not available in your home region, and is usually as simple as soldering a few wires to a chip.

While nearly every hardware vendor frowns on this practice on their home consoles, hand-held systems have generally been region-free, allowing playback of any official software regardless of what region it is marketed for. Nintendo’s GameBoy is no exception. Chris Covell has pointed out 10 obscure, but excellent, GB and GBC games that should be looked in to:

Trip WorldHere is a fabulously cute and gloriously-designed action game by the masters of NES graphics and sound, Sunsoft. Trip world plays just like a scaled-down mini-version of their earlier production, Gimmick!, with a cute main character, large, slightly linear maps to explore (but with secret passages and divergent paths), and fluffy enemies that let you stand on their heads without being injured… until you decide to boot them out of existence.

Trip World’s difficulty is quite low, but with graphics and music (Sunsoft’s trademark) as good as these, you don’t want to pass it up! I had a blast going through the varied levels and spotting all the unique and adorable creatures along the way.

This game suffered the fate of many of Sunsoft’s fantastic games in the 1990s like Hebereke and Gimmick!, namely being withheld from release in North America, and being released in low numbers in Japan. I suppose Sunsoft took a long hard look at the series of mistakes that brought down former powerhouses Konami and Capcom and decided that proliferation was the road to ruin in the videogame world.

Read the rest of the list here.

  • Oh … my … Those monochromatic pixellations are the cat’s pajamas! Superhyperpolygonal video games may be state of the art, but too often they leave me cold. I own a Wii and the games I play on it more than any other are two NES titles for the Virtual Console, Kirby’s Adventure and Wario’s Woods. Of course, a game like Super Mario Galaxy is polygons done right, but nostalgia usually trumps all else and stare at my various Mii’s and shake my head.

  • While the modern generation of games and polygonal style are impressive, I believe that more powerful, memorable art was created when there were real limitations on what could be expressed. The Super Mario Brothers level music is iconic in pop culture, yet the musician only had three or four channels of sound to work with. I can’t think of much music from modern games that are as identifiable or embedded in pop culture, despite the modern capability of being able to use a full orchestra. The sprite artists at Squaresoft had a limited number of colors and significant sprite size constraints to work with, but needed to find a way to express emotion and humanity in the characters – and anyone who has played Final Fantasy 6 will tell you that Squaresoft succeeded. Not to say that modern gaming isn’t powerful art – it certainly is! – but just to say that limitations in the medium can sometimes produce something more powerful than if you have unlimited means.

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