Don't tell anyone I'm posting this, but

For a really dopey reason (see #4 below), I went and got a GameBoy Advance. Don’t tell anyone, because I already feel silly enough making a living writing about computer games. The last thing I need is people knowing that I’m spending hours hunched over a kid size Nintendo with my tongue sticking out of the corner of my mouth, doing body English with something that looks like a tricorder. I wouldn’t be caught dead in public playing the stupid little thing, but I really am enjoying it for a couple of reasons:

  1. Ogre Tactics – Hey, it’s an RPG without quests, puzzles, and filler like that. You just go from combat to combat and develop your characters (like Front Mission 3, which I shouldn’t have been so hard on). I wouldn’t have liked it so much if it wasn’t such a keen little tactical system with some nice surprises in terms of character development (I don’t mean this is the literary sense, of course). It’s vaguely disturbing that the characters all look like little pixies. They remind me of these dolls my ex-girlfriend used to have. I just wish the game would, in the words of Denzel Washington’s character from Training Day, “man the fuck up”.

  2. Pinball of the Dead – Pinball! And the physics aren’t at all bad, at least as far as I can tell on this little thing. And zombies. And me trying to beat my high score. And me recognizing bosses and soundbites from Typing of the Dead. And pinball. Three tables of it. Pinball. Zombies. Pinball! Genius! Pure genius!

  3. Castelvania – It reminds me of when I first got a regular Gameboy way back when and played some Gargoyle’s Adventure thing. I was having a great time with Castlevania, but now I’m stuck on a boss and the game has ground to a screeching halt. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

  4. Okay, I got the Gameboy Advance because I was looking for a hand-held CCG (that stands for “collectible card game” for those of you who don’t know, but considering there’s an entire thread – that makes no sense to me, BTW – about the Top Five Science Fiction Books of All Time, I can’t imagine anyone on this board isn’t enough of a geek to know what CCG stands for). I got this Yu-Gi-Oh thing, which is a nice CCG system, fluidly played on the Gameboy. But the card sorting makes it im-FUCKING-possible to build decks, which is half the point of a goddamn CCG. So I email Dave Long, who knows about all things console, to ask for his advice. But before he can reply, I get impatient and figure, fuck it, I’m going to try the other Gameboy CCG.

When I go to get it, there’s a bunch of kids in front of the Gameboy section. They’re, I dunno, twelve years old or so. They’re cutting up and making fun of the different Gameboy games, mainly stuff like this Mary Kate and Ashley game and Legos stuff. There’s three of them. They’re loud and boisterous and I have to get by them to get my game. Will they make fun of it? I’m not sure. I go for it.

“'Scuse me, dudes,” I say, careful not to enunciate too much because I want to sound cool. I reach in front of them and grab the Dragon Ball Z CCG for the GameBoy Advance.

“What’s that?” one of them asks.

I pussy out. “Oh, it’s not for me. It’s for my little brother. Do you know if it’s any good?”

They laugh and cut up and talk about how Dragon Ball Z is for little kids. Which shows how much they know. I still can’t figure it out and I turn 36 next month. I found out it’s based on an actual paper CCG, but it’s such a faithful port that it features all sorts of inscrutable rules, byzantine mechanics, and cramped artwork, all so it can be true to the paper version. You’re screwed if you haven’t played it before. Not only that, but the game moves so S-L-O-W-L-Y that it takes for-GODDMAN-ever to finish a game. At least the deck building is fairly simple.

  1. No, nevermind the numbers, I’m done with them. My question to anyone who’s actually read this far, which they must have done because they own a GameBoy Advance, is this: Are there any other games I should get? Don’t tell me about Advance Wars, I already know about it; I’m over Panzer General, so I’m not really interested in a sci-fi version. Although it does have a skirmish mode, doesn’t it? Should I get it for that?

Is there anything else an old jaded guy like me would be interested in? I’d hate to think I would have missed Pinball of the Dead because it’s on a GameBoy. Are there any other gems like that out there?

Oh, and I’ve already got my Afterburner kit ordered.


P.S. Remember, don’t tell anyone about all this.

P.P.S. Sorry to Murph for all the cussing.

Advance Wars isn’t really science fiction. It uses more conventional weapons. It’s just not a historical wargame. It’s an anime wargame.

I don’t have any advice on what to play, but more or less perfect GBA emulators and the ROMS for pretty much every game are readily available on this very Internet. That way, when somebody else gives you some recommendations, you can try before you buy. Allright, I do have some advice: whatever the newest Wario game is called is pretty awesome.

Also, the best handheld CCG is Card Fighters Clash for the neo geo pocket. Also available in the emulated non-pocket size.

  1. The RPG Golden Sun is supposed to be fantatsic
  2. I really really really enjoy Namco Museum for the GBA (Galaga of course)
  3. Sue me, but the version of Crash Bandicoot for the GBA is fun as well.

I’v found the best place to play is (drum roll) on the toilet. The light is perfect. However, the leg cramps might kill you.


Well, Mega Man Battle Network 2 is sort of an RPG with CCG overtones, in that you collect “battle chips” to use when fighting viruses on the Internet. Think of an anime wrapper around the Tron concept, with CCG attack programs at your disposal. Fun, but a lot of tedious RPG backtracking to get things done.

  • Balut

I really enjoyed Golden Sun, but I’m lousy at explaining what I like in RPG’s so I don’t really know if it’s your type of thing. For reference, I like Final Fantasy III, X, Phantasy Star IV, Chrono Trigger, and no other RPG Japan has ever released (in the strict RPG stereotype).

I found Tony Hawk (2, haven’t tried 3) to be quite worth my time, but I’m a bit of a sucker for all things Tony Hawk. To many I’m sure it’s just a kinda neat tech demo of the kinda-3D the GBA can pull off; the controls can be daunting.

Advance Wars Advance Wars Advance Wars. I know you don’t want it, but I can’t not recommend it. Sorry.

I’ve also got the Mario Advances (Mario 2 and Super Mario World) because I never owned a NES or SNES. If you did, you probably don’t really care about these games.

The same thing goes for Super Mario Kart. It’s a lot of fun, but not terribly different from the SNES version. Linked play is nice if you happen to have buddies with GBA’s and the game, but it’s hard to imagine a setting where four men huddled around connected tricorders is acceptable. If you’ve got four people around who want to play games, you’ve probably got more practical options on the big consoles. Maybe if it was wireless I could get away with it in class…

Oh, and Chu-Chu Rocket. I liked it on the Dreamcast, and I like it in my pants.

I’v found the best place to play is (drum roll) on the toilet. The light is perfect. However, the leg cramps might kill you.

It’s not the cramps that get you, it’s toppling over when you stand up because BOTH LEGS have fallen asleep! I cut off so much leg circulation playing the Advance Wars campaign, I thought I was going to do permanent damage to my muscles. :?

Oh, BTW: If you’re looking for another CCG to play on your GBA, the Pokémon CCG for the Game Boy Color isn’t bad. I had a lot of fun with it, and of course, it still runs on the GBA, even if the cartridge does stick out of the top of the unit. :)

Tom, get Advance Wars. The Panzer General connection is overstated by PC game fans trying to get their buddies to try it. The only real similaries are that they’re both turn-based and include tanks. Trust me, it’s a blast.

Mario Tennis for the GBC is pretty schweet,if you like games like that.I don’t think you’re a big fan of the old arcade stuff,Tom,but I second the recommendation of Namco Museum with Galaga-not because of Galaga,but because it also has Dig-Dug(and Ms. Pac-Man,if you like that).

I think Super Mario World is great,but I didn’t really play it on the SNES…

  1. Pinball of the Dead is awesome because it has “of the Dead” in the title, and because a pinball game with zombies is just so over the top in a MonsterVision kind of way. But as a actuall pinball game… eh. It’s kinda mediocre.

Speaking of “of the dead”. That reminds me. Multiplayer PC Typing Of The Dead: Best. Multiplayer. Experience. Ever. Shame on Bauman for not even bringing it up in his review. I’m taking away that gold star I had next to his name for the Black and White review.

We were laughing so hard we could barely type. It’s kinda hard to describe, but they put a lot of effort into making the multiplayer work, and it’s sublime. I can guarantee you’ve never played anything quite like it.

  1. Buy Advance Wars or I’ll have Jeff Lackey’s kids come over to your house and kick your ass.

P.P.S. Sorry to Murph for all the cussing.

What? I’m one of Shoot Club’s biggest fans! Why on earth would you think…I mean…What?

'Cause, you know…Nobody else cusses around here.

Newsflash: My wife cusses. I’m not offended.

I just don’t get that but…whatever. After Wumpus’s poll, you really think a few bad words are going to bother me? :)

Super Shouls and Ghosts R is highly recommended. Not only does it contain the original SNES Super Ghouls and Ghosts minus the slowdown, it has an Arranged mode with several all new levels, branchine routes, and remixed level layouts and bosses.

It’s also incredibly hard. It’s back from the days when people didn’t worry about the firing stance of a Navy SEAL as he discharges his superlight SK-47 - no sir, a tiny knight could chuck an infinite supply of lances while wearing underwear and all was right in the world.

Other GBA titles I recommend: Mario Kart Super Circuit (super fruity, but horribly addictive), and Advance Wars. AW is only vaguely like Panzer General excepting a few basic mechanical similarities - it’s very much a great portable time-waster.

Golden Sun sucks. It’s pretty and has great music, but the puzzles suck and the plot is as dull as humanly imaginable. Get a GBC copy of Dragon Warrior 3 and enjoy some truly old-school RPG goodness. Get the two recent GB Zelda titles (Orace of Seasons and Oracle of Ages), too.

Above post written by me; can’t be buggered to log in. Arrrr.

Erik would want you to get the GBA Final Fight, which is a damn fine port. Super Street Fighter 2 Revival’s not bad, either, although it has a nasty bug.

Our nation has gone awry in game design. :(

One of the joys of the GBA is the old SNES ports. I’m saying this because I was a Genesis man myself, so I missed them the first time around and I’m starting to think of that era as a real “golden age of gaming”. MarioWorld 2, MarioKart are great fun. I wish some of the others would come out more quickly. The Genesis ports don’t fare as well, imo, particularly Earthworm Jim and, imo, Sonic. Both are missing frames and the darkness at the edges of the screen result in crouching enemies/hidden death. Well, ok, I couldn’t actually tell if they were crouching but the death was hidden.

Then again I could be biased against the Genesis ports because I have a Sega Nomad with which to play those…

Personally I don’t understand why people play RPGs on the GBA. But that’s a personal aversion to spending hours playing something in-depth in a crouched light-seeking position with my hands in the shape of claws. (I agree with Tom about not wanting to play with the GBA outside the house - even when I was on Public Transport in SF I was a people watcher, I never wanted to sit there among the masses going BEEP BOP BOOP)

I’m enjoying Matt Hoffman’s Pro BMX–granted, it’s pretty much the same as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Sadly, I’m playing Jackie Chan Adventures right now… sort of a Double Dragon ripoff. Easier, though.

I cast my vote for Advance Wars as well. I brought this and Golden Sun on a cross country plane trip. I barely played GS because Advance Wars was so addictive. The difficulty ramps up nicely and they slowly introduce new units and concepts as the campaign progresses.

Both are missing frames and the darkness at the edges of the screen result in crouching enemies/hidden death

Painful. Make it stop. Please.

Super Dodgeball Advance is great. Namco museum is also really good except they friggin’ made Dig Dug so that it scrolls vertically. What a pisser. So I spend my time in Galaga instead.