By the way, these reviews are a little more... spirited than usual. If you were wondering about the change in tone, you can thank Mike and his hard lemonade for that.
|That thing on the top of the screen|
is a seagull. I think.
Anyway, Fish Dude is NOT the Shark! Shark! revival it appeared to be in those advertisements, but a lame aquatic take on Pac-Man, where you have to chase tiny fish and hammer the fire button to chew them. While you're hunting for dinner, larger, balloon-shaped fish will be hunting for you, and have a disconcerting habit of catching you while you're attempting to digest minnows. Forget about turning the tables on these apex predators, because you won't grow in size no matter how many fish you eat. You will get bored in a hurry, and you will want to throw your GameBoy into a river when you hear the tiresome jingle that plays each time you're given a new life, or start a new stage, or the game catches you scratching your nose. To quote Alex Winter in Freaked, "Boo, dude!"
EDIT: I learned (from a VGJunk review I hadn't even realized I read!) that your fish dude DOES grow in size after about three stages. You have to eat 45 fish to get that far, while in Shark! Shark!, your fish started growing after munching three or four of them. It will take the patience of Job and the willpower of mighty Hercules to stay interested in Fish Dude long enough for the lead character to get any larger.
|Nothing can kill the ghost.|
EVERYTHING can kill the bubble.
Well, life no longer makes sense, but at least I can take solace in Bubble Ghost, a fun puzzle game that's like nothing else on the Game Boy. You're a small spirit who's acquired Patrick Swayze powers, and can move corporeal objects around with sheer force of will. Usually that means blowing a bubble through tight corridors filled with sharp objects, but you can also blow out candles and scare serpents into submission by blowing into trumpets. The take home is that if Kirby sucks, the star of Bubble Ghost blows. The physics in the game are a little suspect- blowing on the bubble immediately changes its direction, which is not how things would work in real life- but the game is perfectly playable despite this. Also, be warned... that ridiculously catchy theme music is gonna bore its way into your brain and never leave. Tell Rick Astley to make some room.
KID ICARUS: OF MYTHS AND MONSTERS
|Still not sure what that black stuff|
is supposed to be.
You could knock me over with a wax-coated feather when I played Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters and DIDN'T hate the experience. It's similar to the old NES game, but more merciful, thanks to a more handheld-friendly design but also because the developers learned some important lessons from the extremely flawed original. The action is a bit slower this time, and enemies aren't quite as numerous or aggressive, letting you power through each stage with a minimum of profanity and torn out clumps of hair. The game still strikes me as weirdly cryptic (what on earth are those hammers for, anyway?), but I'd rather play this than the NES game, with or without color.
OUT OF GAS
|Out of Gas bears a weird resemblance to another|
unappreciated game, Fun House for the NES.
This game would have been easy to miss back in the day, but it's surprisingly entertaining in 2015, with smooth animation and surefooted control. There's even a bit of humor in the opener, with a futuristic cartoon character trying to score with his girlfriend... and failing miserably. Sorry, George Jetson... your rocket is going to have to stay in the launch bay.
|I don't know how cacti can live that close|
to ice, but okay!
Anyway, Astro Rabby is best described as an overhead view Super Mario Bros, or a caveman ancestor of the underrated Playstation launch title Jumping Flash. You're a robot rabbit, and it's your mission to recover the ten power-up parts stolen by the Dortoise Army. (Yeah, they've got a tortoise and hare thing going on in this game. Whatever greases the wheels of the plot, I guess!) You'll find the parts by stomping on question blocks scattered through a series of vertically scrolling levels. As a bunny, Rabby's got one hell of a jump, but falling into pits or colliding with Dortoise soldiers instantly spells his doom. You've also got a time limit, so if you don't find the part before time runs out, you can kiss your cotton tail goodbye.
Astro Rabby is a pretty decent game... nothing memorable, but competently designed and plenty original. What stands out the most is the bonus game, where Rabby must match pairs of blocks by stomping on them and listening to their audio cues. Expect to lose this one a lot unless you're fast and musically inclined.
More to come!