You may have heard--you know, at the bar down the street, in that dark alley outside your apartment, over on that cesspool of social interaction (I kid ... for the most part) known as Twitter--that I've got GameBoy on the brain at the moment.
OK, so it's really been on my brain for the last eight or 10 months.
Anyway, as a result of my, er, obsessive thoughts (for lack of a better word) on the subject, I've been discovering and re-discovering all sorts of "gems" that were released for Nintendo's first handheld, including the four discussed below--each of which I was surprised to learn were never released in the system's home country.
Balloon Kid--I know this one was released in Japan eventually, but that didn't happen until 10 years after it appeared elsewhere, and even then it was only released (for the GameBoy Color) as part of the Nintendo Power flash RAM cartridge system. Which is a shame, as the GBC version of Balloon Kid (called Balloon Fight GB in Japan) is top notch and its packaging surely would've featured some awesome art.
Buster Bros--I only recently discovered that this odd, Capcom-developed action game had received a GameBoy port (courtesy of Hudson Soft). Shortly after, I discovered--much to my dismay--that while it was released in Europe (as Pang) and North America (as Buster Brothers), it never made it to Japan. I find that kind of strange, especially since similar games like Tumblepop and Snow Bros. Jr. saw the light of day in that region.
Dig Dug--This may be the worst offender of the bunch, as the "New Dig Dug" mode included in this portable release is all sorts of awesome (as well as hair-pullingly frustrating at times, it has to be said). Also, a Japanese release of this game would've allowed me to compare and contrast its cover art with that of its North American counterpart (which I actually find to be more than acceptable).
Update: shortly after I published this post, someone brought it to my attention that both of the above-mentioned Dig Dug games were included in the 1996 Japan-only release, Namco Gallery Vol. 2, which you can read about here.
Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters--Full disclosure: I've barely spent any time with this one over the years, despite the fact that the original Kid Icarus is one of my all-time favorite NES games. Of course, the main reason for that is I've heard some terrible things about it. So, maybe it's a good thing Of Myths and Monsters never earned a spot on the shelves of its country of origin?
See also: 'You really need to try these three GameBoy titles, if you haven't already'