Video Works by Jeremy Parish

For Nintendo's third portable system (allowing for a very loose definition of "portable" where Virtual Boy is concerned), we once again have another platformer in the Super Mario Land family to help kick things off. But while Wario Land II may technically be a sequel to Super Mario Land, it has almost nothing to do with that game besides being a platform game inspired by Super Mario Bros. It drops the "Mario" title altogether, focusing entirely on antagonistic protagonist Wario, who finally distinguishes himself from his do-gooding rival by being completely immortal. There are no health pick-ups here, no 1UPs, none of that frail nonsense. Wario is indestructible, like all cartoon bad guys, and Wario Land II builds on that premise to create an exploratory puzzle-platform experience like nothing before it. It's a masterpiece, and a great launch title for Game Boy Color... even if it technically wasn't, originally.

Game Boy Color's second release is ALSO a portable puzzler, but one with less mass appeal than Tetris. While clearly a passion project by a small team, Hexcite is bogged down by its fidelity to an actual physical board game release and a few too many rules for its own good.

Game Boy Works travels forward in time eight years to the invention of a radical new concept in portable gaming: Color! Well, maybe it wasn't so new for the industry at large, but true color was a first for Nintendo portables. And to kick things off, the Kyoto giant went back to the well to reprise the block puzzler that helped make the original Game Boy a smash hit: Tetris. In addition to a color palette, Tetris DX also tweaked the vintage release with new modes and modified physics. It's not so much a remake as a sequel, but it's a fitting kickoff to the Game Boy Color lineup (even if it wasn't technically the first Game Boy Color release, having been beaten to the punch by Dragon Warrior Monsters).

American publisher makes its NES (and console) debut with conversions of two of its own landmark computer titles: Doug Smith's Lode Runner and Will Wright's Raid on Bungeling Bay. Neither men had any direct involvement with these conversions, which instead were handled by Japanese developer Hudson. The result is a pair of visually overhauled (but generally quite faithful) ports that go a long way toward embodying the overall tone and style that would define NES games. At the same time, these ports speak to America and Japan's shared love of great games while highlighting the stylistic differences between east and west in the 8-bit era. A solid duo of classics... though perhaps a bit slow to reach the U.S. to have true impact here.