Blog 419: Return of the GameBoy

I commute to work every morning. Up at half six (ahaha, more usually seven), out on the 0735 train, swap to the 0744 at Partick to get to Queen Street, stand outside in the freezing cold until the company bus arrives…

But now that I’ve become somewhat acclimatised to this schedule, I’ve taken to not sleeping on the bus in anymore. This necessitates portable entertainment.

Cue GameBoy.

It’s not without precedent; last year, when I was doing my summer placement commuting to Edinburgh (motherfucker), I used the GameBoy to play The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and James Bond on the way home (I really did need to sleep on the way in for the whole ten weeks, 1h30 is a punishing commute).

This was somewhat because those were the only two games I had left; some time ago, my gran (yeah) had discovered a liking for Tetris or been shown a DS or something and ended up snagging my sister’s old brick and all of our games except the above. Let’s face it, I’d never give up Link’s Awakening… Not sure why I kept JB, because it was actually pretty floppy next to that masterwork, though it’s relatively similar in format.

My gran, naturally, promptly forgot about the entire stack of games and machine she’d been given and fucking lost them. But it’s all right, because they were found again. And they were returned to their rightful home, whence they could be played and enjoyed once again.

So while DS Chris pulled out his DS, I whipped out my brick and trumped him good. Isn’t there just something delightful about having to blow onto the contacts to make the games work? About having to breathe on the batteries to warm  them up before it works? About having something reassuringly solid in your sweaty paws? At the very least, my original GameBoy is a superior bludgeon.

Think how much hardware you could fit in there these days; a screen right to the edge, the processing power of a small sun...

Super Mario Land

The best thing about Super Mario Land is the end-credits music, which I have sadly so far been unable to experience again because of just how punishingly difficult some segments of this game are. I especially love it when gravity bugs and sucks you down too fast from a jump.

However, other challenges like jumping onto the bouncing rocks in the Easter Island level that seemed impossible back then were consumed first time without a hitch.

I also remember being a dab hand at sneaking around the bosses because I didn’t have the Fireflower, but it took me at least seven tries to get around that god damn Sphinx in the first world.


Haters gonna hate!



It wouldn’t be right to play an original GameBoy without indulging in a bit of original Tetris. I never particularly enjoyed it the first time around (being a plot-driven action-adventure kind of a man), but it’s mildly diverting and terribly frustrating of a morning.

“It’s always nice to get your name into an empty scoreboard” is about all I can add.

Kirby’s Block Ball

I do very much remember enjoying this game. It’s got delightful little level intro cinematics, nice music and sound effects… The only problem I had with it was trying to see the tiny little ball of Kirby in the winter low-sun glare and/or darkness of going under a bridge.

Then when I powered off, I discovered that the cartridge’s internal battery was dud — my saved game disappeared. It looks like I’ll have to do a five-hour bender to fully appreciate this game.

So many worlds, so little time!

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

It’s always the games you care less about that have the surviving cartridge batteries; SML2 had a saved game from whenever the hell I last played this game still on it. Okay, that’s not true, Zelda‘s cartridge was still happily storing saved games.

It’s a bit ugly and it’s a bit daft, and because Mario is at least three times the size he was in the predecessor there isn’t actually a lot of screen space to manoeuvre in, especially in boss fights (where the boss is even bigger). Part of the challenge, I’m sure.

Donkey Kong Land

I want to complete this game because it’s one that we have never ever managed to finish. We managed to get to the end boss, and he kept owning us dead. Currently, I’m stuck at the second level, so this is going to be a bit of a tall order.

It feels an awful lot like a very slow Sonic game, actually; you can roll/cartwheel instead of spin dash (though you can’t roll forever like Sonic) plus the usual jumping on top of people. I also can’t remember what the purpose of collecting all the K O N G letter blocks is either, and I suspect the manual is long, long gone.

The backgrounds in this game are rather busy, which doesn't help in the low light of the bus.

All images herein were sourced from the intertubes because I only have four batteries and my camera sucks anyway.

6 thoughts on “Blog 419: Return of the GameBoy”

  1. I’m always considering the purchase of a gameboy but always decide against it. Probably going to buy the 3ds though. (build in stereo photography is too cool to ignore)


  2. My old classic Gameboy is sadly falling apart (The glue holding the piece of plastic over the screen has lost hold), but I still remember playing Super Mario Land and Donkey Kong Land. Good games. Pretty sure the K O N G letters are required to let you save.

    Also Link’s Awakening is still generally awesome.


    1. Aye, my screen cover came off years ago too; albeit when I dropped the thing on a stone fireplace. It is now super-glued on, and there is an ugly smear where the glue has ruined the grey paint surround on the inside. Luckily mine is a bad ass-transparent one so you’re meant to be able to see the innards…


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