Of all the "five overlooked games you need to play as soon as possible" posts I've already published here and will publish in the coming weeks and months, this is sure to be the easiest to write.
After all, as much as I love the Famicom, PC Engine and PlayStation, and as much as I know about their extensive game libraries, I know quite a bit more about the GameBoy's catalog at this point--especially when it comes to that portable's more obscure titles.
Speaking of which, the following five carts are among the GameBoy's most painfully ignored, in the opinion of yours truly. All are Japanese, but don't let that keep you from giving them a try. You don't need to know a lick of the language to beat any of them.
Astro Rabby--Before I say anything else, I have to warn you that one small aspect of this Cyclone System-developed game will make you want to rip out your hair. Thankfully, it can be ignored. Also, the rest of what's on offer in Astro Rabby--forced-scrolling, overhead action that puts players in the shoes (paws?) of a robotic bunny who hops through space in search of the stolen parts that'll allow him to fly--is enjoyable enough that it more than compensates for the bitter taste left by the above-mentioned bonus rounds. Still not convinced its worth your while? Boot up Astro Rabby simply because its interstellar stages are littered with Super Mario Bros.-esque question blocks.
Burning Paper--Of all the games discussed here, I consider this one to be the most disappointingly overlooked. That's mainly because Burning Paper's gameplay is unlike that of any other GameBoy title I've played. Hell, it's unlike that of any other game I've played, period. Imagine an inverted Space Invaders mixed with a dash of Qix (or even Patchwork Heroes) and you'll be close to understanding what it's like to play Burning Paper. Unfortunately, whatever image you conjure up won't let you hear this old LOZC G. Amusements-published cart's far-better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be soundtrack, so you really have to buy a copy of the game (or boot up a ROM) to get the full experience.
Noobow--This slow-paced puzzler-platformer is the perfect pick-up for someone who wants a unique portable title that won't tax their reflexes. In fact, you're never even forced to time a jump à la Mario while playing Noobow. Here, all you do is move the titular character left and right using your GameBoy's d-pad. As you do that to work your way through each of this Irem-made title's stages, you encounter various obstacles and objects. A single press of the system's A or B buttons generally prompts Noobow to pick up whatever object is in front of him, and another press prompts him to set it down or use it in some fashion. Successfully reaching the end of each level is more challenging than you probably thinking, especially when you consider this game was aimed at kids.
Painter Momopie--As far as Pac-Man clones go, Painter Momopie is neither the best nor the worst in the world. Still, I recommend checking out this Sigma Entertainment-developed release because: a) its cast of characters is surprisingly appealing for such an under-the-radar title (especially the titular Momopie--I mean, what's not to love about a broom-toting witch?), b) its soundtrack is wistful in a way most game music isn't and c) its gameplay tweaks the aforementioned quarter-muncher's just enough to make things seem fresh and interesting. I'm also pretty fond of the quaint cottage-like environs that double as Painter Momopie's stages.
Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe: Ohanabatake wa Dai-Panic--Just like Astro Rabby and Burning Paper, it's not easy to explain Taiyou no Tenshi Marlowe's gameplay in a quippy sentence or two. Actually, I'm not sure I can explain it in an entire paragraph. Thankfully, Hardcore Gaming 101 devoted an entire page to this Technos-made head-scratcher. All you really need to know, though, is it's a unique experience that's well suited to the GameBoy hardware and screen. Also, its angelic protagonist and cadre of baddies (if they can be called that) are beyond cute.
Enjoy this post? Keep your eyes peeled for a similar one in the coming weeks that'll shine a light on five overlooked North American GameBoy games I think you should play as soon as possible.
See also: five favorite pieces of Japanese GameBoy box art and five favorite pieces of North American GameBoy box art