Sakigake!! Otokojuku: Meioutou Kessen

August 4, 1990

Based on a thoroughly Japanese manga, this thoroughly mediocre fighting game remained stranded in its homeland.

Shisenshou: Match-Mania

July 13, 1990

Irem makes its Game Boy debut with this adaptation of Tamtex’s arcade Shaghai variant, losing the original version’s color (and its smut) in translation to the portable.

Boxxle II

June 22, 1990

The Game Boy’s first sequel builds on its most imitated game to date: Boxxle. Can basic box-pushing stand up to the fancier variants we’ve seen since? (Not really.)

Snoopy’s Magic Show

April 28, 1990

Like so many licensed kids’ games of the ’80s and ’90s, Snoopy’s Magic Show had basically nothing at all to do with Peanuts: A generic action-puzzler. Always remember: Capcom’s NES Disney titles were the exception, not the rule.

Soccer Mania

April 27, 1990

A startlingly wretched take on soccer (the other football) whose only interesting points are its bizarrely huge sprites and the fact that it may have been produced by the company that animated Ranma 1/2. Those facts are not enough to justify playing Soccer Mania, though!

Ninja Boy

April 20, 1990

The first portable entry in Culture Brain’s long-running Chinese Land franchise, Ninja Boy is also the worst entry in the series. Don’t be fooled by those big, appealing character sprites; poor design and terrible controls and collision detection make this a frustrating nightmare.

SD Lupin III: Kinko Yaburi Daisakusen

April 13, 1990

The classic manga and anime comes to Game Boy in the form of… a generic, by-the-numbers puzzler. Because that’s precisely what one of the most beloved (and stylish!) comic franchises deserves, yeah.

Serpent

April 6, 1990

A curious sci-fi reimagining of the game more commonly known as Snake, Taxan’s Serpent takes the venerable arcade classic Blockade and adds special attacks (as well as some sort of galactic war story) to the whole affair.

Space Invaders

March 30, 1990

A bare-bones but admirably faithful rendition of the arcade classic. While Taito made some compromises in order to squeeze the game into the tiny handheld, they did so intelligently, preserving the essence and pacing of the original remarkably well.

SD Gundam: SD Sengokuden: Kunitori Monogatari

March 24, 1990

  Game Boy gets its first strategy game and its first Gundam game… and Kunitori Monogatari is pretty lousy at being either. Rather than depicting a cool Gundam, this is about chubby robot suits in ancient Japan. And the cumbersome strategy interface yields to some absolute rock-bottom barrel-scraping fighting game. Disastrous.

Solar Striker

January 26, 1990

Game Boy’s first vertical shoot-em-up. Simple and clean, Solar Striker may not impress these days, but that’s by design: What seems painfully limited in 2015 made for a highly playable action game on the original Game Boy hardware. Sometimes, smart design and timeless design aren’t one and the same.

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 […]

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; […]

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 […]

Super Mario Land

April 21, 1989

Super Mario Land was the big release for Game Boy’s launch – the can’t-fail hit designed to move systems by the million right as the world was caught in Mario Mania’s peak thrall – and that makes it a fascinating game on several levels. Thank the maker For starters, unlike Game Boy’s other launch titles, there’s no ambiguity about who was […]