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What’s on this $10 Handheld? Two: My Arcade Go Gamer Edition


Summon for hire
Yeah, I was gonna say that one looked very Metal Slug-esque, I just hadn't played it recently enough to decide between direct rips and light re-paints.

Meanwhile the Space Sword ship looks like a cross between a Star Destroyer and the SDF-1, but I don't recognize the exact sprite so I don't know if it's original or ripped from some other mecha game I haven't played. Ditto for the player sprite which is Valkyrie-ish but not anything exact from Macross. Could be another mecha show, though.



16. Pool Party
Another, different timing game. The attendees at this pool party want to jump into swim rings and onto floats, but not into buckets. You need to press A to have them jump at the right time. DJ Mouse continues rocking out the entire time.
I'm very sad I wasn't invited to this party


Son of The Answer Man
I'm very sad I wasn't invited to this party
I feel like you could actually recreate this party in real life, the only tricky part is booking someplace that has a "lazy river" setup that everybody can ride their tubs and rings around in. I have no doubts you could find a DJ who'd work in a full-body mouse costume in swimming weather. Heck, you can probably find a DJ who only works in a full-body mouse costume and makes that a condition of engagement.


Son of The Answer Man

22. Airborne Alien
The little mouse-man falls out of a UFO, collects hearts for points, and mostly just falls until they reach the castle at the bottom of the screen. (You can maneuver side to side as you fall, and if you land on a solid surface you can run and jump normally, but it also costs you health when you’re standing on anything.) The spites look vaguely familiar, but I can’t really place them beyond “Kirby-ish”. Level 2 features giant, off-colored brick formations of Mario and a Goomba, based on their SMB1 sprites. This isn’t bad; kinda zen really.


23. Gliding Apple Girl
I’m not 100% sure what I’m supposed to be doing here. The apple-headed fairy girl bounces into the air and you can slow or speed up her descent, as the game tracks what I think is your stamina on the left (it decreases in the air and increases on the ground) and your total distance traveled and top speed while doing it. I have no idea what “Elives” is, though. I think you’re trying to get the most distance and best top speed before running out of stamina?


24. Jumping Ball
Blocks are rapidly falling from the top of the screen. You need to avoid them and then jump on top of them; the goal is to get as high as possible without being crushed by the blocks. There are power-ups that bounce you higher and power-downs that make you dizzy and slow. Also, this game has an actual results screen!


25. Mad Ball
Another weird platformer—this one also gives you infinite lives, and you need to maneuver through short stages collecting all of the coins and the reaching the exist. The Mad Ball can jump and roll reasonably well, but the third stage introduces teleporting platforms with no indication of when they’ll disappear, so the whole thing becomes a careful memorization exercise. (Mad Ball looks vaguely like a Nice Code Nature Clan character, but that may be a coincidence. I mean, Jumping Ball did too.)


26. Glide Object
As the pilot of the Glide Object, you need to maneuver around obstacles and get as far as you can. You have a health meter, and there are hearts you can grab to restore it. There’s also a shield power-up that makes you invincible until the shield meter runs out. If you’re at the top of the screen it moves faster, but you’re also more likely to smash into things. The goal is to get the best time crossing the entire stage (the meter on the bottom-left is your progress). As silly minigames go, this isn’t bad.


27. Submarine
Ooo, different modes! There are also an assortment of numbered stages. As a Sailor, you avoid jellyfish and mines and collect the occasional gem to try to cross the stage without sinking and get a high score. (That bar on the top is a progress meter.) If you make it the whole way, you advance to the next level, and your score is based on how long you last (so it’s basically a runner game). I think the things you encounter are randomly generated—repeated tries of a level weren’t the same, and I sometimes hit two shield powerups (which don’t stack) right in a row. On later levels the jellyfish change color. Captain mode adds torpedoes and mines you can shoot to destroy the obstacles, but is otherwise the same game. A single hit in either mode is game over.


Son of The Answer Man

28. Dudu Rush
A very traditional runner game: You’re a cave boy, running along a series of plateaus avoiding dinosaurs, fires and rocks and trying to collect stars. How far you get determines your score. This is a commercial mobile game that you can still find for iOS and Android, which I was able to figure out because of the unique name. I have a sneaking suspicion that a number of the other titles here are mobile games that weren’t originally made for this device (and might not be authorized to be here).


29. Earth Shaker
You were not going to guess this one from the title: You’re a ninja surrounded by bugs! Pressing the A button makes you jump and slash (and holding it charges up a bigger slash that hits more bugs), but no matter which way you’re facing, you can only slash downward. And touching a bug makes you lose a life, including landing directly on a bug after a jump. From the facts presented, we can conclude that this ninja was trapped in an underground bunker by the earthquake the title refers to and is now trying to stay alive by using his inapplicable ninja skills to kill bugs for sustenance. Due to an ancient superstition, when you're trapped by an earthquake and need to kill bugs, you must only swing your sword while facing to the south or you invite further doom on yourself and your extended family. (It's an extremely specific ancient superstition.)


30. Fly Through Flowers
This title is very accurate: You have a helicopter and need to fly through all the flowers, while avoiding the floating islands and pine cones. (Hitting obstacles reduces that rainbow health meter.) Sometimes you can pick up the “Shoot” powerup and fire missiles to explode the islands. The stages get more complicated quickly.


31. Full Moon Night
A puzzle-platformer: You’re a werewolf, but in each stage you need to find the potion that will turn you back into an army guy (the same Metal Slug sprite from Save the Fallen) and also the key to get out, all while avoiding the zombies. The werewolf can use his claws to kill the zombie; the army guy has no attacks, and a single touch from the zombie or spikes will kill either of them.


32. Monkey Brothers
The two monkey brothers always work together. They can’t pick up food, you see, but one of them can knock it over and the other can catch it, and they can swing each other around. So you need to carefully maneuver each stage so that one monkey knocks food from a higher floor to the other monkey below; but avoid the rotten food (the darker-colored items) which stuns you; and the floating balls and watermelons, which make you lose hearts. Collecting or knocking away all the food in each stage moves you to the next one. The stages are the same except for how many enemies/obstacles are in each one.

And that’s the full set of action games! Five more sets of Mini Games to go.


Son of The Answer Man

I’m making an effort to mix-and-match the action games and the thinking games, so I’m thinking I’ll do the Puzzle section next, and then Venture, Table, Sport and Relax in order. And I have to say, my initial reaction to the Puzzle section is that they aren’t half bad!

As with the Action section: I’m trying to find any sources for these that I can, but I don’t have a lot to work with. If you see anything that looks familiar, say it!


1. Shudu
For instance, we start with a pretty decent sudoku game! You can change difficulty levels and toggle the “open hints”; and the game will alert you when you make a mistake (and you can freely change numbers). I had a mild sudoku addiction for years, including doing the five-by-five ones that were published in the local newspaper with the comics. I actually had a whole system where I put all the possible numbers in tiny writing on the top of the box so I didn’t have to keep it in my head. I also remember doing a lot of “Kakuro” puzzles from the same newspaper, where the puzzle was a cross between sudoku and a magic square. Is sudoku still a thing at all, or did that fad completely die out?


2. Move Box
Your standard block-pushing puzzle set, featuring a dude in a red hat who might not have all of his body parts connected to each other. (When you succeed at a level he cheers, and either it’s weird coloring or he doesn’t actually have arm or legs, just hands and feet.) This is a generic enough concept that while it might be related to the Nice Code title Box World, it might also be new.


3. Color Stone
In each stage, you need to maneuver all the colored stones (they all move with every button press, unless there’s something in the way) so that all the same-colored stone end up touching. Ideally, you want to do it in as few moves and little times as possible. The puzzles actually get hard very quickly, and it looks like there are 20 levels.


4. Gobang
We’ve seen this classic game before: It’s the five-in-a-row game played on a Go board. (I think there were at least two different versions of it on our Famiclone handhelds.) I remain pretty terrible at it, but I suspect I could be much better with relatively little research: This has the distinct feel of a game that can be “solved” and played perfectly either to a draw or to “first player wins” every time.


5. Mine
A clone of Minesweeper, the Windows pack-in classic! Again, this is a pretty decent port. I prefer playing Minesweeper with a mouse as a matter of personal preference, but “A to click, B to flag” works just fine. (I’d argue that Minesweeper is one of relatively few games where a two-button mouse is definitively better than a touchpad. And Minesweeper is another game where I developed a mild addiction at one point in my life. I feel like I should do a separate thread with my thoughts on puzzle/casual games in general.)


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
4. Gobang
We’ve seen this classic game before: It’s the five-in-a-row game played on a Go board. (I think there were at least two different versions of it on our Famiclone handhelds.) I remain pretty terrible at it, but I suspect I could be much better with relatively little research: This has the distinct feel of a game that can be “solved” and played perfectly either to a draw or to “first player wins” every time.
It has been (weakly) solved for small boards but not for full sized boards.

Starting in 2015 computer players developed to be able to beat high level players when before that they struggled to beat even beginners and mid level players.


Summon for hire
It has been (weakly) solved for small boards but not for full sized boards.

Starting in 2015 computer players developed to be able to beat high level players when before that they struggled to beat even beginners and mid level players.

Those appear to be about computers solving/playing actual Go, not the 5-in-a-row game played with the same pieces and board. (Unless that’s also in there and I missed something while skimming.)

Ghost from Spelunker

Honestly, Full Moon Night looks appealing in a Lost Vikings way, plus I just want to see how well they traced over Metal Slug art.

Alas, Full Moon Night is a super common name and any searches for vids gets me better games. Nuts to that!


Son of The Answer Man
Oops. I did not realize / know that this is a different game from Go.
To be fair, I didn't know that either until the either thread of $10 handheld games, when I assumed that one of the games was Go (which I've never played and don't know the rules for) until someone corrected me. I appreciate learning more about both games, though!

Alas, Full Moon Night is a super common name and any searches for vids gets me better games. Nuts to that!
The extremely common game names have been an issue trying to hunt down what they're copying from or what the original sources of these games are. It's entirely possible that 90% of these games are like Dudu Rush and lifted wholesale from mobile games or online game sites, but they're so hard to hunt down I can't tell.


Son of The Answer Man

6. Parking Lot
A set of Klosky puzzles, where the goal is to get the red car out of the parking lot. (Which is a perfectly fine excuse plot for a set of klotsky puzzles—blame the valet!) This doesn’t have a “reset the current level” function, which is my biggest complaint. Your bonus in each level seems to be based on your remaining moves when you finish. (That meter out of 50 in the top right.)

I feel like I go through cycles on klotsky puzzles, sometimes thinking they’re fine and sometimes outright hating them. There are always a few in every Professor Layton game, and at least a few times they were the only puzzles I used skips on.


7. Dogs
The dogs can only move along the pathways and only one dog can occupy each space; swap them around through the one empty space to get each dog onto their color. (Does that puzzle style have a proper name?) The dogs bark whenever they move and they move kinda slowly, which gets annoying, but this isn’t a bad setup. The later stages add and rearrange the paths to make the puzzles more complicated.

(And now I'm wondering if this is better or worse than what VV was envisioning.)


8. Rolling Box
Flip and roll the two-by-one-by-one box to get it to fall into the hole without going off the sides. (And the entire block has to be on the ledge—if it’s half-off, it’ll fall.) Later levels add special buttons that you need to land on to create bridges. This is another of the sort of puzzles where I feel like you learn a few “tricks” (like, the best ways to move to get one space to the left on the fewest moves, that sort of thing) and then refine your strategy in each level from there.


9. Big Shot Checker
Plain, old, ordinary checkers. The AI is beatable, which as a middling Checkers player, is really all I look for. I actually remember playing electronic Checkers on an Atari system when I was very young, but I don’t think I owned it. I think my friend Jessica had it for her 7800.


10. Sea Fight
It took a few tries to figure out what I was doing here. It’s not Battleship, which was my first impulse. Every turn, you pick a direction for your ship and move one space, and the enemy ships all more toward you. Alternately, you can press B to fire cannons perpendicular to your facing. (But you can’t spin in place.) If enemy ships collide with each other (or you) they sink, and hitting them with a cannonball will also sink them. You can’t cross the resulting shipwrecks (or preexisting obstacles like islands). You need to destroy a certain number of ships to finish each level.


11. Build Road
This is neat, and something I’ve never seen before. The little girl walks back and forth and can only climb a one-block height. Tetrads (and smaller pieces) drop from above and you need to build a road/staircase to get her up to the treasure chest. The bootleg wiki says this is a clone of Gussun Oyoyo (aka “Risky Challenge”), which I was unfamiliar with but seems accurate.


7. Dogs
The dogs can only move along the pathways and only one dog can occupy each space; swap them around through the one empty space to get each dog onto their color. (Does that puzzle style have a proper name?) The dogs bark whenever they move and they move kinda slowly, which gets annoying, but this isn’t a bad setup. The later stages add and rearrange the paths to make the puzzles more complicated.

(And now I'm wondering if this is better or worse than what VV was envisioning.)
I honestly had no expectations for a dog puzzle but am glad that the sprites are actually dogs.


Summon for hire
Rolling Box seems bit clever and I'm kind of surprised that I don't think I've seen it before. It's nice that there's some puzzles and games that are taking advantage of things like pseudo-3D perspective that'd be more difficult to pull off on one of the old Famiclones.

Build Road probably could be done on Famiclone just fine, but also seems like a decent diversion for a while.


Son of The Answer Man

12. Puzzle Connection
This game was definitely designed with a mouse or a touchpad in mind. You need to click on the glowing spot and then on spaces through the “maze” (they get more complicated in later stages) to the pyramid, with each space costing one of your 5 energy. If you hit a big blue crystal, it restores all of your lost energy. It’s not pleasant to play with a D-pad, but if I could figure out where this originated, I suspect it’s a fun touchpad game.


13. Transmover
This starts off embarrassingly simple: Have the mouse (which can climb one-block steps) collect the key and get to the oddly yonic door. The third stage gets to the real trick of the game: You can fire shots (in four directions, even!) that swap the mouse with green blocks. That’s actually a pretty clever gimmick!

Anybody else want to build an elaborate framing story about how the transfemme mouse acquires a teleportation device and then has to use it to climb a magic tower?


14. Pocket Change
This is a relatively straightforward “pick the correct coins to get the total value using the smallest number” challenge…complicated by the fact that it doesn’t actually use US currency. The coins are 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 and are apparently representing dollars, not cents. Each stage has a list of 7 challenges you need to do before time runs out. This is actually the sort of game I’d expected to find in “education”, especially since my son did a lot of money worksheets that looked like this back during his 2nd grade school-from-home period.


15. Brain Challenge
A memory game: You are show several symbols, and then they hide them and ask you which one is missing. A challenge for your brain.


16. Shape Switcher
Okay, this is interesting: You can only pass through doors that you match either the shape or color of; so you need to step on the shape/color tiles in the correct order to transform your ball so you can pass through the other doors and eventually reach the heart. And the levels are timed, just to make it a little more complicated. I which the shape moved a little faster, but this is a pretty decent concept. This appears to be a direct clone (including level design) of an online arcade game with the same name.


17. Maze of Doors
Hey, it’s the red-cap guy again! (I suspect that if we could find him in some other game somewhere else on the internet we'd throw open the doors to where a lot of these games came from.) There’s a maze of doors (appropriate!) that open or close as you pass by them. You need to get to the blue X in the fewest moves. Extra credit to this game that the B button backs you up one move (and you can subsequently undo a lot of moves) so you can fix your mistakes. Professor Layton games often include a puzzle like this, but I can’t find an example of another game that is only these puzzles.

Heads-up that I'm traveling this weekend, so there won't be another update until next week.


Son of The Answer Man
I'm back! We got rained on all through our ski day on Friday, but had gorgeous weather for snow tubing on Sunday, and all the other logistics of the trip worked out, so generally a good trip.


18. Super Brick
Slide the colored blocks left and right (and gravity can make them fall down) and pairs will disappear when they touch. Eliminate every block to go to the next level. The levels get hard quickly because you’ll need to destroy the blocks in a particular order.


19. Panda Labyrinth
An irritatingly and unnecessarily isometric block-pushing game” You need to push the boxes onto the switches and guide the panda (which moves in slow-mo hops) to the exit. The bootleg wiki notes that while it isn’t a direct clone, this is very similar to Soukoban. Honestly, I think you could argue that every block-pushing game is "very similar" to Soukoban.


20. Chess
It’s chess. We’ve come a long way since the handhelds that called a game chess but it was actually Go. The AI here can’t be very good, as I’m mediocre at chess and I checkmated it in a dozen moves.

Did anyone else have the issue when growing up as the “smart kid” and being expected to be good at chess? Like, I learned chess and I’m okay at it, but I think a lot of people got the impression that the mark of brilliance was being able to play chess (and every movie super genius plays multiple games simultaneously and wins them all), so therefore every smart kid must love chess and be amazing at it.


21. Link Water Pipe
Spin all the pipe segments so they connect and the duck wandering around at the bottom can take a shower. I’ve always had a weird affection for this style of game, though I think I prefer the ones where you need to spin a pre-existing set of pipes more than something like Pipe Dream where you need to build the path from random pieces. I like the guarantee that it’s always solvable.


22. Classic Tangram
Speaking of games I’ve always had an affection for (despite never being the greatest at). I was first exposed to tangrams in elementary school; they were one of the things the “gifted” program threw at us as “enrichment” for lack of better lesson plans. This is what I was hoping for from the tangram game in the Educational section: While it’s a little clunky (D-pad controlling a pointer always is), you have the standard selection of shapes (and rotations) and it accepts non-pixel-perfect accuracy.


23. Silversphere
This is another variant block-pushing game where you play as the silver ball. You need to box the boxes into the water to form a bridge so you can reach the blue exit symbol. (There’s no edge gravity, which is also a complication. If you go off the edge, you FAIL!) In later stages, additional balls will be rolling back and forth to get in your way; if you touch them you explode and FAIL! Oh, and levels are timed, rather than having a move counter or set number of moves.


24. Bomb Chain Unlimited
You are given a collection of pre-set and placeable bombs, and need to set off one so that it explodes the others. I couldn’t figure out how to win the very first level, because the bombs only have a one-block explosion radius. I suspect there's something I'm missing.


space hero for hire
(He/Him + RT/artee)
Super Brick appears to be a clone of Taito's Puzznic (just like Epic's Brix for MS-DOS).


(He, Him)
I think I’ve won exactly one game of chess that didn’t rely on me trapping someone in the back two rows with a queen and a rook, and it was against my 7 year old daughter. Could never wrap my head around the strategy in that game.


Son of The Answer Man
Full post later, but an important update: I found an online version of Bomb Chain Unlimited, and it tells you the critical fact I was missing: You can combine bombs together to make bigger explosions!

There are a dozen different sites that all appear to have this game. I think I understand how it got added into the Family Sport 2201-in-1 pack. And I'm suspecting that I could dig up Flash versions of more of these games if I put more effort into it. To whit: Silversphere is on the same site; and I think Pipe-It might be Link Water Pipe (but I can't get it to run).

Super Brick appears to be a clone of Taito's Puzznic (just like Epic's Brix for MS-DOS).
I think you're on to something here--it's not exactly the same (stage layouts are different), but the gameplay seems very similar.


Son of The Answer Man
We’ve done 116 of our 220 games and passed the halfway point. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, though the Puzzle section has included some actually pretty decent games so far.


25. Seven
I’m reasonably certain I don’t understand how this works. You’re clearly trying to match the color/number pieces, because doing so makes them disappear and gives you points. That causes chain reactions that changes the values of all the other pieces and might make them also disappear. But I can’t figure out the rules—and I suspect it’s not actually that complicated, it’s just really hard to guess by playing.


26. Move Squares
This, on the other hand, is pretty easy to grok. The numbers on each square are the number of moves you can make with them, and you’re trying to get every square onto one of the spiral boxes. My only complaint is that the boxes slide very slowly. The later stages add the gimmick that you can push boxes that have run out of moves with other boxes, which lends a fun level of strategy to the whole thing.


27. Puzzle Ball
You’re given a selection of pieces and need to build a ramp so that the ball, when released by the START button, will roll into the hole. This is another game that might be decent with a mouse or touchscreen, but is just too clunky with a D-pad pointer.


28. Button Jumper
A “step on every square” puzzle game, where you press directions to hop onto each space exactly once. The third level adds orange squares you need to step on exactly twice. (And later stages add three-step and infinite-step blocks, too.) The timer seems to be counting how long it takes for you to beat the entire game. There’s a slight delay to each button-press which I found annoying because I wanted the entire game to move slightly faster, but this is decent.


29. Earn Stars
You need to click on the “attractors” (the round things; they come in different shapes in later levels) to create a growing gravity field that pulls in the green stationary stars (to finish each stage) and the red moving stars (for points). But if the gravity fields intersect, you get a Fault! message and have to restart, so the puzzle is in making each one the right size (with the timing element of trying to catch the moving stars). Another decent concept that would be helped by a mouse or touchpad.


30. Cylinders
This isn’t a pipes game, which was my first impulse. You need to arrange the cylinders on the board so that when you turn the crank, each one will fill with the right amount of juice (3 units will flow from the 3 pipe and you need to get 3 into the 3 cylinder, etc). It takes a while to get complicated (…well, a little complicated) but eventually adds multiple spouts you need to combine and pipes you need to use to redirect flows.


Summon for hire
To whit: Silversphere is on the same site
This starts getting a little non-trivial around Lv6, but then Lv12 is just annoying, needing you to do three actions in a row with near pixel-perfect timing between ice blocks and patrolling marbles. Lv13 is pretty clever though. Had to stop there and get back to work.