AA’s By The Gross – A Love Letter to the Game Boy/Super Game Boy

As I have started to discuss a bit, I had…what could be generously called an odd childhood. A key aspect of this was my hatred and disinterest in sports. My parents really tried to get me to like it, but after a disastrous year of coach-pitch baseball, my parents finally gave up on trying to get me to care.

So they just shifted all their enthusiasm on my brother. And…I was along for the ride.

There was a strong period from like…2nd grade through 10th grade when my parents didn’t trust me to be home alone. Looking back, they really didn’t trust me for a long time…

So, if I couldn’t stay at a relative’s house, I was stuck with them on the road.

Have you ever been stuck at a baseball tournament…in the middle of no where….10s or 100s of miles from your house…in the bumfuck, ass end of nowhere, deep south. With nothing to do. They at least didn’t make me watch my brother’s games, so I suppose I should be grateful for that.

But, I mean hours. Like 14 hours plus sometimes. Stuck at a baseball field.

And that’s where the Gameboy entered my life.

I got it one Christmas with the express intent of me taking it on the road. I had a set of grandparents who kind of…felt sorry for the fact that I was an outsider, stuck in a place I had no connection with. So they were always good to get me nerd shit.

They got me the Gameboy. They would also, every Christmas, get me a fucking gross of AAs and a 24 pack of blank VHS tapes from Sam’s club (more on VHS in a future entry).

Around that time…you could get like 2 Gameboy games for the price of one SNES game. So, there was plenty of times where I would just choose Gameboy…cause I knew I could take it with me on the road.

Once we got a Funcoland, I was actually able to get used shit and turn in stuff I never played. Then it really piled up.

It got the point where some people knew me as “that Gameboy kid,” cause I had like 30 gameboy games. I had a big ole black case I got one year so I could bring like 20-30 of them on the road with me.

Also, for about 2-3 christmas/birthdays from 2nd-4th grade, that was the only thing I focused on. I needed some kind of anti-glare screen, a AC adapter (if I found a wall), bag for all my shit (as noted above), and…more games.

After that, I had a decent kit built up.

It made those long ass days easier to stomach. I also had my walkman and some cassettes. If I got lucky and there was a college near by (or the tournament was at a college), I could catch college radio, so that was always a reprieve.

Either by force of habit or just really growing to like them, I found myself playing gameboy shit at home more often than I did on my SNES. So I was fucking ecstatic for the Super Game Boy. I could use my SNES to play Gameboy? Hot shit!

The first time I saw a Gameboy game on my television, I freaked.

That shit…I wasted hours of my life on that shit. Even more than what was wasted on the baseball field. I have this distinct memory of taking the Super Game Boy and a bunch of games to a sleepover with my friends…and they just looked at me like I was nuts. Sure they had a Gameboy but they had Tetris, Zelda, and that’s it. No one understood my fascination with it. We quickly went back to other SNES games.

And my fascination stayed a long time. I never ended up getting a Gameboy Color. By the time that became a thing, I could stay home….the playstation was out….and I was kind of out of the handheld game until college and the Gameboy Advance SP. And I have had a few handheld consoles since then…

But, I will always have a place in my heart for the Gameboy. It was there when I needed it to be, and it did its job.

I want to close out talking about a few Gameboy games. Now, definitely do NOT think of this as a list of “oh you HAVE to play these games.” Not at all. This (like the rest of this post) is a nostalgia list. These are the games I played the MOST back then. Like if you wandered onto a baseball field somewhere in the rural parts of the south, and found 12 year old me, this is what you would most likely find me playing on my gameboy, while I listened to cassettes.

The first two will be obvious…the last two…not so much

This one is hella obvious, in that its a top 10 title for the Gameboy. But it blew me away. One of those ignorance is bliss things. I assumed it was just going to be a straight port of the arcade. Which the first 4 stages are….and then it just fucking opens up to one of the best puzzle games ever made.

First off, the controls are fucking tight. Everyone talks about Mario 64’s controls, but man, this gives it a run for its money. So fucking precise. People who know me, know I hate platformers generally. But, with tight ass controls like this, you had so much fucking control and precision.

Plus the compatibility with the Super Gameboy made this one a complete masterpiece.

Among its problems, the Gameboy did have one major problem with the games. The FIRST game that would come out would be super shitty and not at all what you were looking for in a game. It was their first attempt to make either the NES/SNES experience work on the Gameboy’s shitty processor, and it never worked. It happened with Battletoads, TMNT, and of course Mario. I think I may be in the severe minority of people who did NOT like the first Mario for Gameboy.

But this fucking game. Gold. It was creative, fun to play. Hell it was a fucking good time all the way through. And totally its own thing. Something worth playing on a Super Gameboy. I would put it up there with the really great Mario games.

Now we on that REAL shit. That Right Reverend shit. That thing that should not be shit.

If you walked into a Service Merchandise, and just randomly pulled a slip to get a Gameboy game, without looking at reviews, the title, or talking to anyone who knew what the good shit is, you would get a game like this.

A game where the designer was forced to bite off WAYYYYYY more than they could chew. This was designed to be sort of a metroidvania with Predator hunting aliens….great fucking idea right?

Welllllllll. It had problems

  • The controls were ass
  • The map taking up the top 1/5 made it really hard for you to judge your projectiles correctly
  • The labyrinth was too complex.
  • No fucking save points. There were just individual stages.
  • Never enough powerups.
  • Enemies reacted faster than you could.

Thank god for the Gameboy Game Genie otherwise I would have never been able to beat the fucker.

I wasted HOURS into this piece of shit. I, in fact, held it up often as “See how awesome the Gameboy is. There’s no predator game for SNES.” And then people would play it for two seconds and realize how shitty it was.

I got really into Chrono Trigger, sometime late middle school. So, I wanted an RPG for the road. I picked this one up at Funcoland…

Holy shit this game…this game is bad. For totally different reasons than the Alien v. Predator above. Lets discuss why:

  • It’s basically proto-Pokémon. If your character died, you had a limited number of resurrections. So you need a roster of leveled up characters to complete the game.
  • If you made the grave mistake of being a human because you wanted to cast spells, you found out that the magic system here is CONSUMABLE. You would buy stacks of like Fira at the store, and they would run out. Often, you would find yourself without spells almost at the final boss of a dungeon, and so have a useless character on your team.
  • The story sucked. The combat mechanics were worse. And it just drained time from your existence.

I spent hours on this shit cause I was determined to beat it…and I never did. I eventually just fucking traded it in and got some good shit like Donkey Kong Land or something.

Let me close out by saying that I still have a soft spot in my heart for portable gaming. Whenever I see a kid on their phone, Nintendo Switch, or whatever, I remember that exact feeling.

I’m just happy they have tons more fucking options than I did in the dark ages.

Play on gamer kids of today. Enjoy that good shit.

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