Friday, May 30, 2014

Lucky Monkey? More like lucky me ...

You the saying, "never judge a book by its cover"? Well, in the case of this game, I wish I would've heeded a slight twist on that oft-used cliché ("never judge a game based on random screenshots") long before now.

Oh, well, at least I pulled my head out of my keister eventually, right?

And, really, it's at least somewhat understandable that I would've ignored Natsume's Lucky Monkey--released elsewhere as Spanky's Quest--for a certain period of time, as it's hardly the most attractive (in terms of graphics) GameBoy title out there.

Not helping matters was the fact that Natsume published a second game called Spanky's Quest in the West--this time for the SNES--which long led me to believe the GameBoy iteration was little more than a second-string bastardization of its 16-bit big brother.

So, what prompted me to change my mind about this oddly compelling (in the end) portable title? Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it was the Japanese version's box art:

Actually, its cart-label art is even better:

Lucky Monkey's Arabic-leaning logo (see the first photo, above, for the best view of it) also is pretty cool, if you ask me--as is the curvy, English version of the same logo that's plastered across the side of its box.

Thankfully, this GameBoy game's packaging isn't all that's attractive about it. Its gameplay--which basically involves clearing each stage of fruity (literally) baddies by bouncing bubbles on the titular monkey's head before tossing them at the aforementioned adversaries--is pretty great, too, once you get a hang of it.

Lucky Monkey is a game that can be enjoyed no matter which language(s) you understand, by the way, so feel free to pick up the Japanese version, the North American version (called Spanky's Quest) or any other version of the game you come across in your pursuit of portable, ball-bouncing, fruit-flaying action.

Do you know of any other GameBoy "gems" I should add to my collection? If so, let me know about them in the comments section below.

See also: 'Who you gonna call? HAL Laboratory's Ghostbusters 2 for GameBoy'


sharc said...

i'll never understand that name change for the US version. : psyduck :

this one's a personal favorite of mine, though - a really great old-school platformer in the taito vein. also features natsume sound team superstars hiroyuki iwatsuki and iku mizutani, who you might recognize from great nes soundtracks like shatterhand. get a load of that boss track! they also worked on tail gator, but i feel like lucky/spanky is definitely the better game of those two.

as for recommendations - battle bull? catrap/pitman? rubble saver? it's hard to remember what you already own! you should update your backloggery someday :U

sharc said...

yeah, my net presence is pretty inconsistent these days, but talking about the game boy is a pretty reliable summoning ritual.

battle bull is really neat in that it's a top down game that you can exert a lot of change over. want to play like a puzzler? buy the push-plate upgrades and smash enemies with blocks to win. want to play like bomberman? buy weapon upgrades and go hunting. good stuff, anna anthropy sold me on it ages ago.

rubble saver is a weird, dreamlike game; it's the JP version of adventures of star saver, where you play as a sister rescuing her brother; in the US version the genders are sneakily switched around. really catchy music.

i can't remember, have you already played trax? said...

Well, get ready to be summoned to my blog a lot in the coming months, as I'm going to be posting about the good ol' GB A LOT in that time :)

Sorry to the folks who don't care about the GB, of course, but a guy's gotta go with his heart.

Hmmm, your comments about Battle Bull and Rubble Saver definitely are interesting. I'll go look them up and nab the ROMs for them and give them a go.

As for Trax, yes, I've played it--and quite loved it, honestly. (Despite its brevity.) Don't yet own an actual copy of it, sadly, although I'll more than likely rectify that soon :)

TheGameroomBlitz said...

I'm the wrong guy to ask for GameBoy recommendations, but I've been screwing around with games on the Visual Boy Advance emulator and have come to the conclusion that Sumo Fighter is pretty good. It's a pretty ordinary platformer made better by its heavy Japanese ambiance. If you're a fan of the culture, and I mean the ancient traditions of the Japanese people, it's worth a peek.

The game based on the Batman animated series is similar in that it's a predictable game design improved by its atmosphere. If you like the series, you'll go mad for this.

I may have mentioned Cyraid before. It's not good, like at all, but I'm nevertheless fascinated by it, in the way people watch a train wreck with slack jaws and bulging eyes. Play it and you'll likely have the same bewildered reaction.

Ever notice how GameBoy DMG games seem to have a higher volume of original concepts than other systems? Developers really seemed to think out of the box and off the deep end when they came up with these ideas. Like that game with the anatomically ambiguous angel... I don't think you could really compare that to anything else.

BTW, off-topic, but that Umihara Kawase game on 3DS is ten dollars off on the eShop right now! Just thought you'd like to know! said...

Hello again, Jess!

Well, I definitely like the *sounds* of Sumo Fighter. Is that the game's Japanese name? Anyway, I'll look it up. Batman, too, although I'm honestly less interested in that one.

I actually played through a bit of the Cyraid ROM after you last told me about it and thought it was interesting. Not sure I thought it was interesting enough to go ahead and buy, but we'll see! It's on my "consider" list at the moment.

I don't know if I would go so far as to say the OG GameBoy had a games catalog that was more full of original concepts than other systems, but it certainly had it's share, that's for sure!

That's one of the main reasons I like the system so much, actually. That, and I just really like that so many of its games can be enjoyed in short, 5-, 10- 15-minute bursts. I don't have the attention span I used to -- or the time, in general, to play games -- so games that don't need to be played for an hour or two at a time earn my appreciation pretty fast right now.

Finally, about Sayonara Umihara Kawase: yep, I know about the sale. Not interested in it myself as I already own the Japanese release, but I guess I should've told others about it via Twitter or something... said...

That's too funny! Anyway, thank you kindly for helping out in this way, noman :)