The current series of Top 5 lists that Scott and I are doing in the lead-up to MGC 2010 has been good thus far, but something that we have skipped over entirely has been the portable systems. Hence, I am going to be doing a web-only series of Top 5s detailing what I think are the most difficult Game Boy, GBA, and DS games that I ever played. I would love to include the other portable systems, but my severe lack of experience with them somewhat precludes me from doing so.
The original Game Boy was a system that I had tremendous exposure to. Between myself, my two younger brothers and my father we had a total of six different Game Boys in our household (four original systems plus a Game Boy Pocket and a Game Boy Color). Each of us had our own unique library of games for our systems, as well. That being said, creating a list of the hardest Game Boy games that I ever played was rather difficult. There are many games that probably should have made the list and didn’t, and perhaps some that got included that don’t deserve to be. So without further adieu…
Top 5 Most Difficult Game Boy / GBC Games
5.) Metroid II: The Return of Samus (GB) – I’ve played every game in the entire Metroid series, and as far as difficulty is concerned this lone entry on the Game Boy is a hands-down winner. There are several reasons for this, in my opinion. Perhaps chief among them is the world Samus finds herself in. The planet SR388 is immense, and with no map you have to rely completely on your memory of where the weapons are. Supposedly in order to get the “good” ending of the game you have to beat it in less than 2 hours, but I’ve never come close to that.
4.) Bionic Commando: Elite Forces (GBC) – When I first played this game I was hoping for another excellent addition to the series, but what I got was not that. I was terribly disappointed because of how much I loved the NES and original Game Boy versions. It would have been a fun game, but because of how slowly it moved I found it incredibly hard. It had the same basic grapple and swing mechanic that I was used to, but the frame rate issues were so bad that I would oftentimes find myself swinging straight into oblivion. It was a shame that this game ended up such a black mark on an otherwise great series.
3.) Star Wars (GB) – Of the dozens of Star Wars games that I have played, this one might be the hardest of them all. You start out as Luke on Tatooine, and from the very beginning this side-scrolling game throws the difficulty level to very high. Luke has to traverse a series of caves while searching for Obi-Wan; in the process he has to jump very precisely because one wrong move lands him in a pit of spikes. If you manage to make it off of Tatooine (no easy feat) then an incredibly hard space battle with TIE fighters awaits. You start the game with three lives and ten continues, and if you can even make it to the Death Star with those 30 tries, I congratulate you. This is one of the very few Game Boy games that I owned and have never beaten; it is very deserving of a spot on this list.
2.) Solar Striker (GB) – This is a top-down shooter that was released in 1989. It really didn’t do much as far as innovation for either the genre or the system was concerned, but it was an incredibly tough game. There were six stages in total, and I think I only ever made it to stage three or four. That may be because you only had three measly lives at the start of the game and there were no continues! The power-ups were very lackluster, the boss battles were insane, and there weren’t any shields to help protect you. For these reasons, it made my list.
1.) Final Fantasy Legend (GB) – The first iteration of my all-time favorite series on a portable system was an experiment unlike any other Final Fantasy game. What made the game so unique was also what made it so ungodly difficult, unfortunately. Every weapon that could be equipped had a limited amount of uses. Once a sword or bow was used up, it was gone for good. There was also no distinct way of leveling up – there weren’t experience points at all, and unlike Final Fantasy II there wasn’t a defining way of increasing stats. Instead, it all seemed very random. FF Legend II had the same characteristics, but everything seemed to work in a more streamlined fashion (not to mention that there were ways of “cheating” in the sequel). But this is, in my opinion, the most difficult Final Fantasy that has been released to date – and certainly one of the hardest Game Boy games that I have in my collection.