gameboy color

Harvest Moon 3 (2001)

Harvest Moon 3 (2001)

Another Harvest Moon retrospective? Yes. It’s time.

Many moons (heh) ago, I played and reviewed Friends of Mineral Town (FoMT), and came away disillusioned. FoMT is on the books as a timeless classic, but… Then why didn’t I enjoy it? Had I outgrown Harvest Moon, period? Could even nostalgia no longer smooth over the experience? I had many fond memories playing the earliest Harvest Moons, and while part of me wanted to establish that I hadn’t played mindtricks on myself all these years, I was much too afraid to taint happy memories with modern skepticism, and chose to leave my Gameboy games alone. That is, until I decided to attempt some cartridge repairs, and while looking for spare parts stumbled upon Bokujou Monogatari GB3, my Japanese copy of Harvest Moon 3. Okay, universe. I read you loud and clear.

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Posted by ChronoCritic in Retrospectives
Pokémon Trading Card Game 2 (2001)

Pokémon Trading Card Game 2 (2001)

Can you recall any Pokémon video games that sold poorly? And I mean poorly. Hey You Pikachu (2000), that oddball virtual pet game for Nintendo 64, sold over 250,000 copies in Japan. That’s pretty good. Pokémon Snap (1999) sold half a million. Pokémon Pinball (1999) sold millions worldwide. The first Mystery Dungeon games received decidedly mixed critic reviews, but still sold over 1.4 million copies in Japan alone. The Pokémon brand name all but guarantees sales, no matter the product.

Then why, of all spin-offs, did Pokémon Trading Card Game 2: The Invasion of Team Great Rocket do so badly, coming in at less than 100,000 total copies sold – evidently not enough, in Nintendo’s mind, to justify a localisation? By way of benchmark, Konami shifted 1.6 million (!) combined copies of Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters 4, another card battle title for Gameboy Color released around the same time as TCG2. Even the original Pokémon TCG game from 1999 did quite well, exceeding 600,000 sold in Japan alone, and another million-plus worldwide. But TCG2 is nowhere to be found on the 2001 charts for Japan. Surely it can’t be that bad, can it?

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Posted by ChronoCritic in Retrospectives
Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories (2002)

Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories (2002)

Dark Duel Stories came to us late. Very late. Japan got their Duel Monsters III in June 2000; North America received a localised version only in March 2002, and Europe not until March 2003 (!). And because of this time-lag, Dark Duel Stories (DDS) was a loveable yet goofy has-been game as soon as it hit the shelves.

Just released and already a thing of the past? How is that exactly? You see, every so often, the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game ruleset is rather comprehensively revised. Konami will do something like throwing out a rock-paper-scissors system of elemental weaknesses, or introduce a much expanded trap and magic zone, or completely rewrite the rules of monster effects, that sort of thing. (Or in recent years, develop summoning mechanics and interactions so complex that they require walls of fine print on each card.) Dark Duel Stories (DDS) – alongside four other GBC Yu-Gi-Oh that were never translated – was conceived prior to the codification of Yu-Gi-Oh 2.0.

In 2003, wanting to play the latest rules with the freshest cards, I was equal parts annoyed and bemused about the quirky package that was DDS. So many years on, I’m grateful that DDS made it to the West at all, for it survives as a pleasant historical oddity, a snapshot of an alpha stage in the cardgame’s evolution. Today, Dark Duel Stories is a time capsule to a primeval form of Yu-Gi-Oh, a tried, tested and ultimately abandoned set of ideas. It’s Yu-Gi-Oh, but it absolutely isn’t, and I love it.

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Posted by ChronoCritic in Retrospectives
Pokemon Prism (2018)

Pokemon Prism (2018)

Pokemon Prism is dead; long live Pokemon Prism!

To discover Pokemon Prism’s humble beginnings, we must travel backwards in time to 2008 – over a decade ago – when KoolBoyMan (KBM) hatched the ambitious plan to create a nostalgia-fuelled Pokemon RPG in the visual style of GameBoy classic Pokémon Crystal. For years KBM chipped away at the herculean task of designing an entirely new adventure by himself, sharing snippets of progress with an expanding complement of eager onlookers as Prism grew in scope and completeness. The lone developer’s persistence paid dividends when in late 2016, a YouTube trailer of the near-complete game went viral, whipping up mass enthusiasm at this evidently mature and well-polished retro fan-title. Inevitably, however, this public interest also attracted IP holder Nintendo’s attention; soon after, an instruction to cease-and-desist from Prism’s further development landed on KBM’s doormat, threatening to unceremoniously scupper the project mere days prior to planned beta release.

Fortunate it is, then, that the dispersion of bits and bytes is hard to quell completely by court order. In a feat of eleventh-hour salvation not altogether uncommon to fan projects, a benevolent soul leaked Prism’s source code to the wider web, where it was downloaded freely by thousands. More so, the raw file release prompted the formation of an anonymous collective who stylised themselves the “Rainbow Devs”. Valiantly vowing to carry KBM’s vision to completion, Prism’s fate has been in their hands ever since – and boy, is it good.

Posted by ChronoCritic in New Releases