Ever since R.O.B., the robotic companion who would join you in a game of Gyromite or Stack-Up on the NES, Nintendo has been all about unnecessary gimmicks for their already nearly perfect games and systems. The Power Glove, the Virtual Boy, the 64DD, the touch screen, the motion-sensor Wiimotes... ever since revolutionizing gaming, Nintendo has been known for numerous attempts at doing it again. Regardless of whether the gimmick does well or not, they have never actually changed the entire gaming industry as a result like their intention seems to be, and by the next generation of systems they're usually through with their previous products that "changed the gaming industry forever."
The functionality and quality of the product gives a general idea of how successful it was. They either seem to do well and are remembered forever, or do poorly and are forgotten instantly. But what if somebody told you there was a product that sold insanely well and was very popular for a short amount of time, yet has seen little-to-no attention from people since? Well, if you grew up in the late 90's, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about... assuming you actually remember, and didn't cheat by reading the title of this article.
The Game Boy Camera isn't something you're gonna really hear about in popular culture or on the internet, but if you were in elementary school during the late 90's, you knew everybody had one in all sorts of different colors. Much like PokÃ©mon versions, the cartridges had different colors, which were red, green, blue, yellow, teal, and purple, however, unlike PokÃ©mon, there was absolutely no difference in the game itself between colors. I have heard that there was a special Gold version released in 1999 that was Zelda-themed, but I've never seen or played it.
As you can probably tell from the picture, it looks different from most Game Boy cartridges, and judging by the name, it's obvious why; the top of the cartridge is a camera. However, before we get to that, let's talk about the game itself.
For some odd reason, when you turn it on, you get a copyright date that says 1995, even though the game wasn't released until 1998. I dunno what the deal with that is, but thankfully it displays the correct date on the next screen, as you will see in the follOH MY GOD WHAT IN THE HELL IS THAT!?!
It looks like some guy in a Mario costume spazzing out!
If you don't laugh at this, you're gonna cry. If you cry, don't even bother with the rest of the game, because this only sets the tone for much, much more crazy shit.
You are then brought to the main menu, which is nifty. It shows a Game Boy Camera that turns around as you switch between options.
This screen has a cool beat!
By pressing start you can access a data screen (which looks like a solar system) or select for printing and communication options. You can send photos between Game Boy Cameras through a link cable, but there's not really any more to it than that. All of the menus in this game are cool though, they generally have some theme to them, and it's all outright crazy. Take for instance, the "Shoot" menu, which is styled after just about any classic RPG. The options are "Shoot, Items, Magic, Check, and Run." Shoot is where you take pictures, items is where you can take timed photos (because it's so easy to get a Game Boy to stand up straight), and magic is where you can take multiple photos to combine into one (and other stuff of the like) as well as the picture of your face you want to use in-game, check lets you look at photos you have taken.
Then when you choose run...
Probably you, I don't want to be molested.
The running feature is the weirdest thing. Every time you select it, you get one of three creepy guys saying some strange thing, much like the picture above. The better you do in the game, however, seems to make it more likely that instead you get a picture of South America that says "You are now crossing the equator
They're both weird and don't make much sense. You can shoot and save up to 30 pictures in your gallery. Then, you can check them, and edit them as you like! You can doodle on them, give them descriptions, and put various stickers on them to make them look as goofy as you wish. Most of the stickers are mouths, eyes, and ears that are intended to put on people to make them look goofy. However, they also have some Mario and PokÃ©mon ones.
Now to completely dork things up for a bit, here's an interesting factoid about the PokÃ©mon stickers. They all look like sprites ripped directly from the Game Boy game. However, more observant gamers (such as myself) will notice that a majority of the sprites aren't from Red and Blue. In fact, the only sticker from Red and Blue is Mew, and in a background elsewhere in the game that features Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise, and Mewtwo, only Venusaur and Charizard are from Red and Blue. So where did the sprites for Blastoise, Mewtwo, and all the other PokÃ©mon stickers come from? After getting a copy of PokÃ©mon Green a few years back, I have found out that all of those other PokÃ©mon sprites were from the Japanese Red and Green versions, which weren't released here (our Red and Blue are modified versions of the Japanese Blue version). So how come three PokÃ©mon at seemingly at random use their correct Red and Blue sprite? According to some sources that I don't believe are still on the web, the Japanese version had a different set of PokÃ©mon stickers (apparently more of them, as well as more PokÃ©mon stuff in general).
An example of a Japanese-only PokÃ©mon background.
When the Game Boy Pocket was released here, they only kept Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Pikachu, and Meowth, which kept their original sprites as there was really no point in changing them (it should be noted in both versions Pikachu is edited to look more like the actual Pikachu as opposed to the in-game sprite, but retains the pose of the original sprite). Mew, however, was never in the Japanese version
, and was added for an unknown reason (perhaps because it wasn't as well known in America and they wanted Americans to take notice of it?). Because it was added, they likely just ripped the sprite from the American games, which would explain why it's the only one with the Red and Blue sprite. Why Venusaur and Charizard were changed for the aforementioned picture, well... let's face it, I have PokÃ©mon Green, and their original sprites are ugly. Really
ugly. Venusaur had it's flowers sticking out a different way than usual and takes this weird pose, while Charizard has these weird and creepy huge eyes that he never has anywhere else. They were probably modified to their Red and Blue sprites to be more recognizable and not look dated when compared to the actual games. Dorkiness over.
So anyways, you probably noticed me mentioning putting your face in-game earlier. That's because the Game Boy Camera actually comes with four (three at the beginning) games that all involve your face! They are all selectable through a menu accessible in the first game, Space Fever II.
I've never played Space Fever I...
All you have to do is shoot the game you want to play. B is Ball, D is D.J., and ? is Run! Run! Run!, which you unlock later. If you want to play Space Fever II, you just wait a few seconds without selecting a game, and Space Fever II will begin instead. The game's a pretty basic shooter, enemies come at you from the top to the bottom, you shoot at them, etc. etc. Every other shot you take shoots two lasers right next to each other, while the other shots are a single laser. This way, you can shoot two enemies at once in certain situations, which gives you a bonus. There are three bosses, all are floating heads. The first two are defaults, while the last one will be whatever you took a picture of for your Game Face (so if you're playing by the rules, you
are the last boss!). After beating it, you unlock Run! Run! Run!.
Next is Ball, which is a Game Boy port of the old Game & Watch game, except your Game Face of your choosing replaces that of Mr. Game & Watch (or whatever you wanna call him). Very simple, there are three balls flying in the air, and you move your body and arms to the left and right to make them go back up, trying your best to keep them in the air. You lose if one hits the ground, and you win if... well, you don't win. It just goes on forever. Your only goal is a personal one.
To cool you down, stir you up, and drive you crazy.
D.J. is surely the most confusing game. It's where you can set your own beats (with an in-game piano), tempos, and all this other stuff while your character dances around. You can also do that scratching record thing, but for something so complex, there isn't much to do other than watch your character jam to your tunes... I guess you have to really be into music to fully appreciate it.
Say bye to your thumbs.
Run! Run! Run! is easily the most irritating of the four games in terms of gameplay. To put it simply, it would make a good Mario Party mini-game. You just keep hitting "A" to run, "up" to jump over little hurdles, and "B" to flap (which I don't entirely understand, it seems to keep you in the air slightly longer, but as far as I know there's no reason you'd need it). You race against a mole underground and a bird flying above. Although the bird is easy to beat, even after all these years I don't think I've managed to beat the mole fairly. I got so annoyed trying to beat it that in second grade I just used a turbo controller on my Super Game Boy and got a record of 14:89.
The game is loaded with tons of stuff. Original artwork (as well as some old Nintendo ones), a slideshow, printing, linking, records... well, those things themselves aren't really interesting, but it's more the unique atmosphere and menus that you'll find when looking for or at them.
Mario's randomly placed hotrod.
Now there's one more thing I want to discuss... like the PokÃ©mon thing, it's not really important, but I just feel like it's something I need to say. Something I love about it is, aside from the Super Smash Bros. series, it could very well be the only game that references my two favorite game series of all time, PokÃ©mon and
EarthBound. So where's EarthBound in all this? Well you see, in the main menu, if you hit Start, you'll get another menu that looks like a solar system, where every planet is an option. Select "Credits," and what do you get?
Some random guy dancing and multiplying himself to possibly the funniest music in the world.
There aren't even credits, and some people actually believe this is simply a joke and that there aren't any real credits. That's only what they want you to believe. If you can beat Run! Run! Run!, go back to the solar system screen, and select credits. Instead, you'll get some weird smiley face this time, followed by scenes based off of the old Nintendo arcade game, "Sheriff."
There's no real gameplay here, it's just for decoration.
It plays a nice, soft melody, as it shows the sheriff rescue his girlfriend (I think).
Suddenly, the music stops...
Then the next thing that happens, well, would probably just be boring and uninteresting to most people, but it blew my mind. Out of nowhere, it shows a guy dancing (much like an iPod commercial), and...
The EarthBound file select music plays!
After the person dances for a few seconds, the music evolves into its own original beat, but the EarthBound file select music continues to play in the background the whole time. I can honestly say, the sheer awesomeness of the EarthBound music, the catchiness of the new melody, and the cool visual of the guy just jamming out to it in the background makes this my favorite video game credit sequence of all time.
With all this praise I've given the Game Boy Camera in this article, why is it not highly regarded today as it should be? Well, despite a great marketing campaign, a fair number of sales, being quite popular for some time, and just being an awesome game in general, there are two major flaws with it. First off, the camera, the main selling point of the product, outright sucks. I mean, the camera itself looks fine, but it's so hard to get a good picture it can be unbelievable. You're more likely to get a blurry mess than anything (I can barely make out my game face). Pictures can come out great, but they take quite some effort in order to do so. Another problem is the lack of things to do. Even though it has great music, great visuals, great variety, and provides great laughs, you could probably do everything there is to do in about a day, if not a few hours. I think if they made a full-length original game in this exact style, minus the camera feature, it would be a huge hit (although probably wouldn't have sold as well if it was originally like that). Even so, the Game Boy Camera is still one of my favorite Game Boy games to this day, and perhaps my favorite Nintendo gimmick of all time.
Don't butter me up!
And this, folks, has been my second article. I know I ranted way too much on things nobody cares about, but hey, like I said, it's my
second article. Seeing as how my first was conveniently written in September, while this one was October, I think I'll make it a monthly thing. Remember, give me suggestions for improvement, and if you have any questions, post a comment. Thanks!
We Game Boy Cameras can see everything...