Review by Ice Water

"Gameboy: Fellowship of the Color."

Do you remember the Gameboy? It was about as big as one of them TI-83 Calculators that everyone seems to be into today, and had less buttons, and took more batteries. Everyone loved that huge little system. Then in 1996, Nintendo had this bright idea to create an improvement. But after the Virtual Boy got shutdown, Nintendo decided to just upgrade upon their good thing. So in 1998, we were introduced to the Gameboy Color.

Starting out with only two types of color at the time: Clear Atomic Purple and regular Grape (both purple), the Gameboy color seemed to have the upper hand at its launch, seeing how there was always virtually no competition in the handheld department. But even with the improvements that the Gameboy Color brought to the table, it STILL did not deliver like it should have.

The System
The Gameboy Color is like your simple Gameboy, only way smaller. Coming in your choice of six colors (as well as them limited edition Pokemon GBC's), you had a variety to choose from. On the surface, your Gameboy Color provides you with a small control pad, a Start and Select button, and the standard B and A buttons that are on EVERY Nintendo product and/or controller, as well as a screen that is the size of your classic Gameboy screen, though the border will make it seem smaller than it actually is. To the left side, you will find the volume wheel that would crank your sound from being too quiet up to "I can hear this as long as everything around me shuts up". You will also find a port that you can use your Gameboy Link Cable in, so you can connect to your friends Gameboy and play a two player game. To the top of the system is the standard Cartridge slot where you could stick a Game into or something else to get your buddies steamed up, and the hardly ever used Infrared port. To the right side of the system, you will find the power switch. Classic Gameboy had the power switch on the top, so this is much different than before. And at the bottom of your Gameboy Color are two slots: One for your headphones so you can hear the tunes of your game, and a very tiny slot big enough to slip an AC power adaptor into it.

Contained inside your Gameboy Color is a bunch of chips and stuff I don't know a thing about. The point of these chips is to allow you to play ANY Gameboy game, be it classic or Color. Naturally the 'plays ANY Gameboy game' line became obsolete at the time of the launch of the Gameboy Advance, but despite that your Gameboy Color already has a game library of over 500 some-odd games: good or bad. As an added bonus, these chips also allow you to play these classic games in a way you probably never played them before (unless you have a Super Gameboy of course): IN COLOR! No longer do you have to find yourself a nice corner to sit in and adjust the contrast so you can see a lighter shade of black and white, but now you can sit in that same corner and see everything in glorious color. Why do you have to sit in that corner still you might ask? Simple. The Gameboy Color creators say that putting in a Backlight would have cost more and would use up more of your batteries, so they made it so you have to sit in a direct light source to be able to play your games. This gets REALLY annoying, especially if you're playing in the car while driving through a forest or tunnel or something. If Nintendo had gotten rid of that semi useless Infrared adaptor, there could have been room for a backlight. Oh well.

So what's the deal with this Infrared dealie on top?
The brilliant guys at Nintendo, who brought us awesome stuff like the Gameboy Pocket, the Soft Reset, and the Virtual Boy, thought that this would be a revolutionary way of the future. Too bad they didn't think enough into this idea as it was, seeing how only 4 or 5 games that I can think of at the moment even use this stupid thing. If you are playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game, or Pokemon Gold, Silver, or Crystal, you can take advantage of this infrared adaptor by pointing it at another guy's Gameboy Color, and be able to get a nice gift or something as you follow the instructions on your screens. Sure this was a nifty idea, but come on! They could have done so much more with this thing! How about some extra lives in Mario if you pointed it at a light or something?! It was probably for the better that the Gameboy Advance got rid of this nifty idea gone wrong, but had Nintendo actually done something with this little gizmo, we might have been able to go someplace with it. I swear the infrared adaptor was the reason why the Gameboy Color had a 70 dollar launch instead of a 50 dollar launch...

So how ‘bout them graphics?
Oddly enough, the Gameboy color manages to produce graphics that are somewhere in between the late NES games and the early SNES games, depending on the game of course. The graphics come out looking all colorful usually, unless it's a classic Gameboy game, and then you'll be lucky if you see more than three different colors (play a game like Metroid II to know what I'm talking about, and compare it to something like Dragon Warrior III). Despite this, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe looks EXACTLY like it did on the NES, so the graphics aren't that bad. And like all 8 bit systems, the graphics are good enough to get the job done so you seriously can't compare it to something like the Nintendo 64 or anything like that. The Gameboy Color is good enough to keep you entertained in the car.

So what about sound?
The sound produced on the mono stereo system contained at the lower right hand corner of the Gameboy Color depends on how close your head is to the thing. At max power, you can play with the system closer to your lap and still be able to hear it, provided that a vacuum cleaner isn't in use, or a truck is exploding on your street. Even at max power though, this thing won't be enough to blast a hole in your eardrums if it's right next to your ear at max power, so the speaker will get the job done and that's about it. Compared to the classic Gameboy though, this Gameboy just doesn't measure up with the capacities that the original brought, especially because I could STILL HEAR my Gameboy speaker (when it worked…RIP) through the vacuum cleaner! If they made the speaker a bit louder, then it would have been perfect. Another problem for people who don't know how to hold a Gameboy is that their palm on their right hands will cover up the speaker while they're trying to use the B button. I guess if they had moved the speaker to the center of the Gameboy Color then it would have posed no problem, but the speaker is fine where it is in my opinion.

How's that large game library I heard of?
Depends on what your tastes are, and with over 500 something games, there's a game for everyone on the Gameboy! Most of the Gameboy Color exclusive games seem to be either ports of classic Nintendo games, ports from the classic Gameboy remade into color, and crappy movie games. There are a few gems that shine through the crap, but they are so far and in between that you may not even notice them unless someone hands it to you. Instead of mentioning all of the great classic Gameboy games that are worth getting, I'll mention all of the Gameboy Color exclusive and Backwards compatible games instead!

In the action department, you have such awesome hits like Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, several Zelda games, and a few games that aren't even worth it like Megaman Xtreme or Donkey Kong Country (that's right, it was originally remade for this system first, THEN the Gameboy Advance a few years later). Sadly, this is a pretty small number when it comes down to it, seeing how the classic Gameboy had more than just a handful of games that were worth getting.

I believe that this category is almost non existent, but from what I heard there is a Street Fighter Alpha game somewhere for the Gameboy. I believe they also had a few sub par Mortal Kombat games as well. Then again, fighting games on a handheld just aren't that great in the first place since something always seems to be missing when you port a game with six or something buttons down to only two.

With awesome games like Tetris DX, and a few Dr. Mario clones, you have a pretty good selection of puzzle games. Too bad you can get all these great games on this thing called the Internet at game sites like shockwave or something. Puzzle games just can't make the cut here either!

This is probably why the Gameboy Color didn't succumb in the first year of its arrival. With the smash hit Pokemon just released the same year as this system, many people flocked to the local Walmart and bought up the entire store. Sure there were many other gems like Dragon Warrior III, Lufia: The Legend Returns, and probably some more that I haven't had the honor of playing, but when it comes down to the roots of it all, Pokemon is the one thing that saved this system long enough for the Gameboy Advance to be released. Why else do you think this system only lasted for 4 years?

There are also games in the department of Sports, Racing, and some Shooters, but since I don't care about any of those and since people have been telling me that they are all sub par in the first place, I'd say you can safely pass on them, unless you're bored in the car or plane or something.

So is this thing even worth buying with all the terrible things you just said about it?
Despite all these bad parts, the fact that you can get a Gameboy Color for only 20 bucks today is awesome! The fact that you can also play any Gameboy game in the pre-Advance ages is also a selling point, seeing how you can play all of your classic games in color for once! And for 20 bucks, you can get a Gameboy REALLY fast and be able to play one of these hot games from the past without paying up to 80 bucks for the Gameboy Advance SP. This truly is the poor man's system of choice!

So despite all of these problems the Gameboy Color poses, it is definitely worth getting if you need something to do in the car, in school, or at work, provided you aren't doing anything important like learning, driving, or keeping a Nuclear reactor in check.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 12/09/04

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