PCZ ISSUE 126 - MARCH 2003



One of Nintendo’s weirder ideas, and one which the company has just revived for the Gamecube/GBA, was the Super Game Boy. In 1991, just as the first wave of popularity for the original mono version of the little handheld was beginning to wane, Nintendo came up with a strange piece of hardware that plugged into the cartridge slot of a SNES console and enabled gamers to do something which had previously been the preserve of lucky magazine reviewers – play Game Boy games on a TV screen.

Not only could you now enjoy your GB games in big-o-vision, but the Super Game Boy also offered a variety of cosmetic enhancements. Games now came with elaborate screen “frames”, but more excitingly – these were the days long before the GB Color, remember – also offered rudimentary colour schemes, which could even be customised to your personal taste, so if you wanted to make Mario into a little black chap in Rupert-the-Bear dungarees, you could. You weirdo.

Still more impressively, some Game Boy games even squeezed proper SNES titles into the tiny GB cartridge alongside the GB game itself. Space Invaders, when played through the Super Game Boy,  offered not only the enhanced Game Boy version of the game, but also a full SNES port with full-blown SNES graphics and sound. (The SNES version of Space Invaders was never released in the UK, in fact, so the GB cart with a  Super Game Boy was the only way you could legally play it here.)

Most GB emulators overlook the features of the Super Game Boy, but at last there are a couple which do this bizarre peripheral justice, Best of them is BGB, a well-implemented GB emu in its own right but which also offers  full SGB functionality. Only about 70 games ever took full advantage of the SGB’s powers, but all the ones that did offer up examples of the kind of loving attention to detail that you only ever seem to find in Japan.



For much of 2002, the Visual Pinball community was hijacked and crippled by an obnoxious bunch of wreckers who drove away most of the scene’s most talented authors in an acrimonious ego war which looked like it might destroy the superb pinball emulator altogether. Happily, the crisis has recently been averted by the creation of a new home for the VP community, to which most VP authors have now returned, and from where they’ve been bestowing fantastic recreations of arcade pins on grateful silver-ball fans once again. Pinball lovers should hurry along there.


Some SGB games tried to make your TV look like a tiny handheld again...

While some attempted to recreate the feel of the arcade.

Pinball: Not just for Americans.



Kikaioh (Capcom, arcade, 1998)

Speaking of the Japanese, if there’s one thing our gaming pals on the other side of the planet love (more than schoolgirl-dating games, obviously), it’s giant robots whomping the heck out of each other. Most “mecha” games are all but impenetrable to normal sane people, but this one transcends comprehensibility. Kikaioh is at heart a pretty standard one-on-one fighting game, but instead of poncy little kung-fu kicks and weedy fireballs, the 1000-foot-high protagonists get to hurl colossal missiles and devastating atomic grenades at each other in a ludicrously over-the-top bout of metal monster mayhem that’ll bring a smile to the face of even the most sceptical of beat-‘em-up haters.

Even if you have no clue what you’re doing, just thrashing away at the fire buttons provides near-endless amusement as the lumbering behemoths swing million-ton metal fists at each other in a hugely kinetic manner that static screenshots just can’t do justice to. It’s brainless in every sense, but no less fun for that.



(Left) Hey, you could have someone’s eye out with that.


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