The Gaming Eras of Bit Boy!! (WiiWare)

bitboyboxSo as best as I can tell, Bit Boy, or Kubi as he’s sometimes called, is a little pixel who has to go back in time to save his little pixel friends in this new WiiWare downloadable game. Gameplay is similar to Pac-Man, as you run around mazes collecting Bit Boy’s pixel pals while avoiding roving monsters. But the big gimmick in the Bit Boy!! game is that each world’s levels are designed like the different ‘eras’ of video game history. So the mazes progress from blocky 2-D to detailed 3-D. Let’s take a tour of the worlds of Bit Boy!!


Bit Boy (4-bit)
OK, so I know there’s really no such thing as ‘4-bit.’ Yes, even the Atari 2600 was technically 8-bit. But I guess the makers of this game wanted to differentiate it from the 8-bit levels, so there you go. The mazes in 4-bit are small and simple. Characters and enemies are single colors and sound effects are rudimentary. Gameplay is also simplistic, as you can only move around and that’s it.

Believe it or not, in the ‘4-bit’ era, I didn’t even have an Atari 2600. I did play it a lot over at friends’ and neighbors’ houses, though. I may be a staunch console-only gamer now, but I actually started playing home games on our first computer: the Apple ][+. So while the other kids were complaining about the crappy Pac-Man 2600 port, I was happily playing a near arcade perfect version called “Taxman” as well as other good Pac-Man clones like Snack Attack. My favorite Apple PC games were Aquatron (it was like Defender except you could go underwater), and Spare Change (I’m not even going to try to describe that one). But really, my favorite thing about the ‘4-bit’ era was the early 80’s arcade scene. Nothing beats my childhood memories of going to arcades back then and plunking quarters into games like Super Pac-Man, Pengo, and Q*bert (plus many, many more). The early 80’s arcades are why I’m such a big Namco fan now!

Bit Boy 2 (8-bit)
Well if this is supposed to be 8-bit, it must be REALLY early NES 8-bit. Or even before that, like Atari 2600. There are more colors in the mazes, sure, but the graphics are so butt ugly it’s hard to look at all the garish hues. Bit Boy himself has learned a new ability to help with the bigger mazes. Push the button for an attack. It circles around Bit Boy and any enemies get destroyed. But like Peter Pepper’s pepper shakes in Burgertime, you only get a limited amount of attacks you can use.

I didn’t jump on the NES bandwagon right away in the “8-bit era.” I had gotten an Atari 5200 for Christmas a year prior to the NES release, which was a total surprise because I didn’t even ask for one! So while Super Mario Bros. was fun, I was perfectly happy playing Pengo on my 5200. It was The Legend of Zelda that really sold me on the NES. And once I got one, I was definitely on the NES bandwagon like every other kid in the 80’s. My favorites being Zelda, Mario 2, Mega Man, Capcom’s Disney games (DuckTales, Rescue Rangers), and Little Nemo. I was still really big into PC games, too, like Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, The Adventures of Willy Beamish, SimCity, and Lemmings.

Super Bit Boy (16-bit)
These must be early 16-bit graphics, like TG-16 or first year Genesis. Because I know the SNES could do better. The game menu says it features improved sound, but I don’t hear that. They play the same retro 8-bit tune in all the levels. There’s a bit of Mode 7 style scrolling, but it’s only used in one maze, and not very well, I might add.

I’d have to say the “16-bit era” was probably my favorite time in video gaming, aside from the early 80’s arcades, of course. The games had all the fun of the 8-bit era, with the refinement of 16-bit technology.  Only thing I didn’t like about this time was Sonic the Hedgehog and the following glut of crappy mascot platformers. I never had a TG-16 or Sega Genesis, because as a kid back then with a limited allowance, most of us only had one game system. I think with my tastes of games back then, the Super Nintendo really was the best choice for me. I got my SNES a week or two before it was even released, but that’s a story for another time. Some of my best gaming memories came from the SNES, which had great 2-D action games like Super Metroid, Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario World, and ActRaiser. And don’t forget Squaresoft’s oh so wonderful 16-bit RPGs like FF6, Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Mana. Heck, I even used Mario Paint for some of my school projects back then! The SNES also had great sound, and that’s what really wowed me in some games. The SNES could also do scaling and rotating fairly well, and called it Mode 7. So every game’s title and company logo would zoom and spin on the screen. I loved the cheesy simulated Mode 7 3-D, and some games were entirely built around this concept, like Pilotwings and Super Mario Kart. Aside from some games like Jazz Jackrabbit and Pro Pinball, I wasn’t much of a PC gamer anymore.


Bit Boy 3-D (32-bit)
The mazes are in 3-D with basic green and gray textured polygons. And like early 3-D games, the camera angles are really bad. But luckily you can change back to a top down view. The only other significant difference in Bit Boy 3-D is the long mock loading screens that simulate and make fun of the extended loading times of early PlayStation games. It’s funny for the first couple of times, but after a while it gets annoying since you KNOW the game doesn’t really take that long to load!

I was a couple of years late to the 32-bit party, as I was still perfectly happy playing stuff like Yoshi’s Island, FF6, and Chrono Trigger on the SNES. And as a staunch Nintendo fan, the lure of the N64 on the horizon prolonged it even further. When the N64 came out, I was in college and reviewing games for The Dallas Morning News, and the money I earned from that was my spending money in college. But because of the lack of games being released on the N64, I considered getting a PSOne. It would be the first time I bought another company’s game system. As a poor college student, I REALLY couldn’t afford to buy one. But once I did, it was the best gaming purchase I ever made. After I got my PlayStation, I was reviewing games left and right. Too many fun games to mention here, but I will say that Namco’s titles particularly rocked on the PSOne. I never had a Saturn.

Bit Boy 64 (64-bit)
Ow, my eyes! Not much different from the 32-bit mazes, except the colors are much brighter. Visuals are like peering into a bowl of nuclear Fruity Pebbles, and it’s definitely an eyesore (literally). I think they were trying to poke fun of all the brightly colored ‘kiddy’ games on the N64. This can be seen in other ways, too, such as the enemies looking like little bouncy spring monsters, and Bit Boy’s attack now has a rainbow trail behind it.

Even though the N64 is one of my least favorite Nintendo systems, and I kind of bashed on it earlier, it doesn’t mean I hate the N64. I liked it quite a bit, actually. When Nintendo or Rare would release a game for it once in a blue moon, you KNEW it was going to be a must-buy. My favorites include Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie,, Mario Kart 64, Ocarina of Time, Diddy Kong Racing, etc. I think Rare really carried the N64 along for a while. Heck, I even didn’t mind the N64 controller, it was perfect for games that were designed specifically for it.

Bit Boy Wii (128-bit)
The textured polygons are more detailed and maze borders look more like tree stumps, log cabins, and brick walls. But honestly I think the PSOne could’ve handled these graphics just fine. The other big addition is motion control. Flick the remote and Bit Boy will jump. Of course, like many other Wii games, I think just pressing a button to jump is much easier and more practical. The jump is a good idea, though. You can’t leap over monsters like in Pac-Mania, but you can hop on low walls in the maze to give you safe haven from danger. Too bad this neat idea was only used in the last part of the game!

Since we don’t really label game systems by number anymore, I’m not sure if we’re still in the 128-bit era or if we’ve moved on to 256-bit or not. I will say that I think I liked the previous generation’s consoles (PS2, GameCube, Dreamcast) a little better than today’s stuff (Wii, 360). I don’t even own a PS3! I didn’t really talk about handheld games in these eras because those are kind of in worlds of their own.

So, is Bit Boy!! worth the 600 Wii points? Well unfortunately, no. You’d think I’d like this game since I enjoy single screen maze games where you run around chasing things and eating things (Pac-Man, Bubble Bobble, Bomb Jack, Pengo, etc.). But the mazes are poorly designed in Bit Boy, with lots of dead ends and long straightaways to get trapped in. And there are not many mazes either, just five in each level. And with no ways to earn extra lives or attacks, and no extra ‘shark element’ challenges to boost your score, Bit Boy!! just isn’t very fun. Your 600 points would be better spent with Bubble Bobble Plus!, which has more than 200 levels and other goodies. It just goes to show you that just because a game is ‘retro,’ that doesn’t always mean it’ll be good. You know what retro styled WiiWare game I’d like to see in the US? Pole’s Big Adventure from Sega. But because of the quirky Japanese humor in it, I doubt it’ll make it to the US, but it would be nice if it did. If you want to play a GOOD game that shows the progression of classic gaming, try Retro Game Challenge on the DS.

In the comments section, I would love to know what YOUR favorite ‘era’ of gaming is. Even though I like the 16-bit and 80’s arcades the best, each era of gaming has something good about it.

No Responses to “The Gaming Eras of Bit Boy!! (WiiWare)”

  1. I’ve played all eras but my favorite has to be 1996-1998 on the PC. Why?

    TIE Fighter
    Civilization 2
    Tomb Raider
    Baldur’s Gate
    Thief: The Dark Project
    Red Baron 3D
    … and I didn’t even play console games during this time.

    3D was brand new and every new game pushed what was possible ahead by miles.

  2. I really enjoyed my college years (’89-’92), simply because I had far more time (and access) to gaming during those years…. a fair bit of PC stuff (gold box SSI RPGs, Populous, etc…) and some late NES and early SNES since my roomate had a console…

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