– 1989 –

December 31, 1989

An index of all Game Boy releases for the year 1989.

Game Boy World 1989 (revised print edition)

December 31, 1989

The first book compiling articles and photography of all Game Boy releases has been revised into a larger format to better match up with upcoming volumes. (1990 Vol. 1 is coming very soon!)

Master Karateka

December 28, 1989

Master Karateka The final Game Boy release for 1989 was also, fittingly, one of the final games released in the 1980s. In many ways, it makes for a neat summary of how games had changed over the course of the decade. Master Karateka offered gamers a conversion of a classic, American-developed 1984 PC action game to Nintendo’s Japanese […]

The Sword of Hope

December 28, 1989

The second RPG ever released for Game Boy was even more unconventional than The Final Fantasy Legend. Square’s game at least adheres to the general structure and format of the console RPG in the post-Dragon Quest era, even if its inner workings were all over the place (trending toward “weird as hell”). But Kemco’s The Sword […]

Boomer’s Adventure in Asmik World

December 27, 1989

The vexing thing about Boomer’s Adventure in Asmik World is that, while it’s a perfectly entertaining action puzzler in its own right, it’s best described in terms of a game that wouldn’t hit the Game Boy until several months later. Kind of like the way some people think Shin Megami Tensei is a big ripoff of […]

Q Billion

December 22, 1989

Nobody loves Seta. In the annals of gaming history, Seta is one of those easily-forgotten little guys. They never published a timeless classic, but neither do any of their games sit perched on some Internet critic’s snarky “worst games ever” list. Their most infamous creation, Bio Force Ape, earned its reputation for nearly never existing. Seta published dozens […]

Battleship

December 22, 1989

  A popular trick among Western video game publishers during the late ’80s and early ’90s in particular was to buy up a popular license — whether for a toy, a film, a TV series, or some other more esoteric media property — and attach it to an existing Japanese game. Given that Japan entered the NES […]

Fist of the North Star: 10 Big Brawls for the King of the Universe

December 22, 1989

Here’s what you need to know about Fist of the North Star, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept: It’s based heavily on the Road Warrior/Mad Max movies. And it’s written by a guy who adopted the nom de plume Buronson. Yes, that’s how you write “Bronson” in Japanese. As in, Charles Bronson. In other words, […]

Shogi

December 19, 1989

Shogi was the third Game Boy release to revolve around an endemic Japanese pastime, and the third Game Boy release never to see a release in the West. It’s almost like there’s a pattern evolving, or something. As we venture further into the Game Boy’s life, the disparity between Japanese and Western releases will grow considerably; […]

The Final Fantasy Legend

December 15, 1989

Kawazu: The man, the myth, the legend Akitoshi Kawazu may be my all-time favorite video game auteur. He’s not your typical Hideo Kojima or David Cage, though — no film-obsessed designer whose predilections revolve around the synthesis of two forms of media. Kawazu’s quirks, his specific flavors of madness, reside purely on the mechanical side of things. He […]

Golf

November 28, 1989

The testament of a great game: Even if you don’t care about the subject matter or genre, a player can still appreciate its quality and refinement. So it goes with Golf, a game that revolves around the topic of its very literal title and does so with far more style and panache that its generic name would suggest. […]

Kwirk

November 24, 1989

When you think of Atlus, you obviously think of the Shin Megami Tensei games, or maybe just Persona, or — if you are a righteous and god-fearing human — Etrian Odyssey. But like so many developers, Atlus took a while to find its groove; the studio didn’t simply spring into existence as a world-class RPG-producing powerhouse. […]

Malibu Beach Volleyball

October 31, 1989

Volleyball is one of the worst possible sports you can turn into a video game. That’s probably why there are so few of them; to the best of my reckoning, this is the only one that ever appeared on the original Game Boy. As a sport, volleyball comes in a few different forms: Either the standard […]

Castlevania: The Adventure

October 27, 1989

Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, no series could sell me on a platform like Castlevania. I loved the NES trilogy, and when early screens of sequels for Game Boy and Super NES began to materialize, those systems shot right to the top of my must-have list. Once I finally got my hands on […]

Revenge of the Gator

October 18, 1989

In the early days of the Game Boy, one of the biggest challenges facing developers was the question of how ambitious to make their games. Portable gaming, new and untested a format as it was, posed a dilemma, especially on the decided limited Game Boy hardware. Should these works aspire to the scope and substance […]

Hyper Lode Runner: The Labyrinth of Doom

September 21, 1989

How circular gaming has become. Over the past couple of decades, portable and PC gaming have essentially existed on opposite ends of the medium’s total spectrum; handheld systems lend themselves to low-power, efficient game design, whereas PC developers typically revel in the format’s raw power, sometimes designing games that demand so much processing muscle that […]

Motocross Maniacs

September 21, 1989

To be realistic about it, there were only so many ways you could make a racing game in the days before true 3D graphics came around: Top-down, isometric, or fake-scaling pseudo-3D. And when it came to motocross-style motorcycle racing, your options became even more limited; because bike racing leans so heavily on uneven tracks dotted […]

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle

September 5, 1989

Nyeah, what’s up, doc? Released in September 1989 in Japan, The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle stands as the Game Boy’s first licensed release (that is, the first to bear a license from another medium). However, the particulars of its license — or rather, licenses — and chronology of its release variants make a compelling case for […]

Boxxle

September 1, 1989

The classic puzzle game Soukoban has gone by many names here in America as it’s seen release by countless publishers hoping to put a unique face on the same idea (and often the exact same content): Shove It!, Boxy Boy, Sokoban… and those are just the official releases. You don’t even want to know about the clones. […]

Shanghai

July 28, 1989

It took a couple of months, but we finally have the first third-party release for Game Boy… though only just barely. These days, Shanghai publisher HAL Laboratory is more a Nintendo second party studio akin to Intelligent Systems than a true third party, but the company’s relationship with Nintendo was still evolving back in 1989. And […]

Tetris

June 14, 1989

So. Tetris. Has any game ever defined a platform so clearly? Wii Sports, probably. Possibly Halo. But Tetris didn’t merely move systems – though it certainly did that – it established the tone and style of the Game Boy. Until Pokémon came along, Tetris served as the Game Boy’s statement of intent. Game Boy Tetris carries several levels […]

Tennis

May 29, 1989

Nintendo is not simply some monolithic entity when it comes to the actual creation of games. There is no slab-like “Nintendo” object that stamps out games on an assembly line. (Also, no: Shigeru Miyamoto doesn’t single-handedly invent every idea to issue forth from the company’s walls.) Through the years, Nintendo’s innards have shuffled around, with teams and larger divisions […]

Alleyway

April 21, 1989

You can see the Game Boy’s roots in the Game & Watch series on clear display in Nintendo’s first generation of releases for the system, and nowhere more than Alleyway. A dated take on the block-breaking genre even at the time of its 1989 debut – the far more sophisticated Arkanoid predates it by a good three years […]

Yakuman

April 21, 1989

When Game Boy launched in Japan, it arrived with four games (each sold separately, of course). Most of them made their way to the West – as did the overwhelming majority of game releases from Game Boy’s first year of existence, for that matter – with one notable exception: Yakuman. Yakuman‘s failure to venture beyond […]