Sunday, November 30, 2014

I beat every Virtual Boy game, here's how they stack up! (Part 1: 11 Worst)

Inspired by TheMexicanRunner's NESMania and the other similar game system challenges, I recently embarked on a quest to beat all 22 Virtual Boy games released in America and Japan. Well, after approximately 49 hours and 20 minutes, it's now complete! It's only right that I now tell the internet a bit about each game and rank all of them in an epic countdown of somewhat epic proportions! Keep in mind that I am ranking these as a game critic and not by how much I actually enjoyed them, at least to the best of my ability. Keep in mind that many of these are so close in quality (or lack of quality) that they should probably be tied in ranking. Also, I should note that I didn't comment much on the 3D effects in these games because, for one, I played them on emulator, and for two, I can't see the 3D effect on the actual console anyway because my eyesight is poop. Anyway, here we go, starting with the worst game on Virtual Boy...

#22 - SD Gundam Dimension War
Video playthrough - Time to beat: ~2 hours 52 minutes
What could be at the bottom of the barrel of Nintendo's failure of a console? This Gundam game is what! The reason why is that this turn based strategy game requires almost no strategy, contains almost no story, and amounts to an overly simple series of repetitive and easy battles that go on for a few hours before ending in a predictably unsatisfying way. This is what you get when you decide to make a turn based strategy game, but then stop at the most basic level. It's hardly even a game and certainly not a fun one. There's no reason for anyone to play it. It's not so bad it's good, it's just bad and boring.

#21 - Nester's Funky Bowling
Video playthrough - Time to beat: [No ending]
Once again, the problem here is the unforgivable simplicity. You can choose to be a boy or a girl (which makes no difference in the gameplay), change the weight of your bowling ball, and the strength and direction of your throw, but figuring out the winning timing is simple. Once you've got that, all there is to do is play games against yourself and go for high scores or practice in challenge mode with preset configurations of pins set up. That's all there is to the game and there's really no incentive to do any of it. There's nothing wrong with high scores exactly, but since it's bowling, the highest possible score is easily attainable. There's really just not much to this game at all.

#20 - Space Invaders Virtual Collection
Video playthrough - Time to beat: [No ending]
You know Space Invaders, right? It's the old arcade game where aliens go back and forth down the screen at them and you shoot them. Well, that's what this is, but now you can play it in 3D. Or the original style. Or play challenge mode and go for a fast time or high score in a time limit. That's all there is to it. It's the same old Space Invaders without much we haven't seen before. Unless you're a fan of the old arcade game, you'll be bored in minutes and have no reason to go back.

#19 - Waterworld
Video playthrough - Time to beat: [No ending]
According to Wikipedia, Waterworld is considered by many to be the worst game on Virtual Boy. Obviously, I disagree, but I'll admit that it's pretty bad and for the same reason as most of the games on the console: it lacks content. It's basically an arcade style game where you drive a boat around in a 3D ocean containing drowning people and various debris in the center. Your goal is to defend the drowning people from jetskis that race in and try to drag them out of bounds. You do this by shooting and bumping into stolen guys to send them back to the middle. You lose by having all your guys stolen or by crashing into the jetskis too many times. It's actually not that terrible, but it's not all that fun either. It just goes on forever and you have to try to keep going as long as you can. It would've been better if it had more complexity or other modes, but instead it just throws you right into the game or right into the credits when you die. It's a decent concept, but unpolished. It has really good, chill music though, reminiscent of the underwater music in Donkey Kong Country, so that's a plus. Also, why is the goal to keep the drowning people from being saved?

#18 - Virtual Lab
Video playthrough - Time to beat: [No ending]
This one's a fairly unique puzzle game. You get intestine-looking pieces which fall down and the goal is to connect them strategically so that all the open ends get capped with an end piece or an edge of the game area. It's a cool idea and starts out working well enough, but as the endless levels go on, the field will start with more and more pieces which tend to be in unsolvable configurations. By around level 20, the game devolves into resetting until you get an optimal setup that you can actually solve. Even when you have a solvable setup, finishing, which is done by clearing all the tiles in play, puts you at the mercy of the game's random number generator since you'll need specific pieces at just the right time. It's almost good, but then it's not due to these oversights.

#17 - Virtual Bowling
Video playthrough - Time to beat: 1 hour 47 minutes
Oh, hey! It's another bowling game! This one is better because you can adjust your throw in a couple more ways, change the slipperiness of the alley, use different throw types, and compete in a multi-game tournament with computer players with an actual ending! However... you don't really need to worry about all that extra complexity in throwing because you'll eventually figure out the one strategy that works every time. Then you just do that over and over until you're done. And that's Virtual Bowling. This one does have better 3D graphics than Nester's Funky Bowling as well, although they glitch out a bit on emulator (many Virtual Boy games have glitchy graphics on emulator), which is why this screenshot is different.

#16 - Virtual League Baseball
Video Playthrough - Time to beat: 5 hours
Since I haven't played many baseball games, it's hard for me to say how this one compares to others in the genre. It's what you'd expect though; you can do all the usual baseball related things and play through a league of eight games or just play a single game. It uses a password system for the league games, which isn't as great as normal saving, but it's better than nothing. Unfortunately, like Virtual Bowling, there's a winning strategy that will almost guarantee victory. Utilize that, and it's just a four to five hour sleep-inducing waiting game.

#15 - Virtual Fishing
Video Playthrough - Time to beat: 3 hours 26 minutes
In this one, you participate in several different fishing tournaments, each with different fish and locations. In each competition, you have eight minutes to catch the most fish adding up to a total length higher than your computer-controlled opponents'. Each variety of fish has a different timing for when you need to yank the rod, but since each competition has only one kind of fish, it's an easy win once you figure out that particular timing. To hook a fish in the first place, you just cast and reel in until something bites. You can also change your lure, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. When you do actually get a bite, the game switches to an underwater view where the goal is to reel in the fish further whenever it isn't fighting. If you reel too much when it's swimming away, your line will break. It seems like a decently enjoyable game, but it quickly becomes mind-numbingly easy after you figure out how to play.

#14 - Bomberman: Panic Bomber
Video Playthrough - Time to beat: 48 minutes
It may have Bomberman, but Panic Bomber is just your standard match-three-falling-blocks puzzle game. Not that that's a bad thing. The game has you playing alongside a series of computer-controlled opponents as you try to arrange your falling sets of tiles (or animal faces) so that three of the same shape line up. Getting a match causes bombs to appear at the bottom of the play area. These bombs can then be detonated by the occasional lit bomb, sending a flood of blocks over to your opponent. It's not terribly innovative, but fans of puzzle games will enjoy it. It's not very long of a game, but it does have four difficulties, so that's something. If it counts for anything, I actually enjoyed this game more than several of the games ranked ahead of it on this list. It's just not technically that impressive or innovative or long.

#13 - Golf
Video Playthrough - Time to beat: 4 hours 30 minutes
Well, in Golf, you hit a ball with one of your choice of clubs and try to get it in a hole. You can adjust your stance and swing strength and try to get the best score over an eighteen hole course. It's harder than it sounds because there isn't much room for error, the computer players are also quite skilled, there's variable wind to account for, and part of the swing which determines where in the ball you connect is extremely difficult to time correctly. This game also uses a password system, so if you really want to win, you can reset and re-enter your most recent password until you can finish the hole with an acceptable score. It's not bad, but that where-to-hit-the-ball thing is extremely frustrating and makes the game much more difficult than it needs to be.

#12 - V-Tetris
Video Playthrough - Time to beat: 1 hour 11 minutes
On the one hand, Tetris is a fantastic game that I'd rate very highly in general, but on the other hand, it's hard to rank this too highly since it does very little that's new and different from past versions of Tetris. If you've played more recent Tetris games, you'll be disappointed that this one does not have many of the modern Tetris features and is pretty bare-bones. V-Tetris offers three modes: ye olde endless Tetris, line-clear Tetris (where you have to clear a certain number of lines to progress to the next level and start fresh again), and an actually new mode where you can push the blocks around the back of the playing area, essentially having two play areas at once. That new mode is actually pretty interesting and unique and worth checking out for fans of Tetris. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot to this game.

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