25 Jun 2004 7:30 pm

Aside from stressing endlessly about hotels / hostels / ryokans in Tokyo for my upcoming trip to Japan, I’ve been playing a lot of games on my Gamecube and my GBA.

I blame Zelda: Four Swords, really; I stopped by an EB to gawk at the NES-themed GBA, and was very nearly convinced to trade in my onyx GBA and fifty bucks for, well, what is exactly the same machine, just cooler-looking. I suspect it’s the asian ricing genes at work here. So, instead of spending that fifty for a sideways hardware “upgrade”, I ended up buying Four Swords instead.

This, unfortunately, was the defining trigger point for ‘cube game purchases, as, in the next few days, I picked up a copy of Wind Waker (my only defense was that it was on sale, at $30 CAN — unheard of, even for this three-year-old game), Skies of Arcadia Legends (yeah, I finished it on the Dreamcast, but I had a hankering for Air Piracy again), a used Action Replay (to make plowing my way through SoA Legends easier), and I pre-ordered Tales of Symphonia (which, sadly, doesn’t look like it’s going to ship ’til mid-July, which means I won’t be able to play it ’til I get back in mid-August).

Because of this buying spree, I’ve not actually played too much of Four Swords, save for the first few sections, but I have tried it in multiplayer mode with Dave and his brother, and boy, does that rock! Even being “dead”, the ability of your shadow-Link to crawl around and push buttons wreaks serious havok on some of the levels. And the horse-racing mini-game accessible from Tingle’s Tower is just Too Damn Fun, and makes excellent use of the GBA to GC connectivity.

The other half of this Nintendo equation, and a good chunk of the reason for this little rant, is the aforementioned onyx GBA. I could mention that I finally got back onto Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and that was like being on digital crack. Instead, I’d rather mention the innocuous-sounding PocketNES, and the twenty or so NES roms now loaded into one 44 megabyte .gba image on my GBA flash cart.

Yeah, baby. Crystalis? Got it. Blaster Master? That too. Bionic Commando? Who’s got the power-arm? That’d be me. That’s right. Add on to the list the entire Dragon Warrior series for the NES, Megaman 1, 2 and 3, the Super Mario Bros. series, Lifeforce, Maniac Mansion, Shadowgate, Kid Icarus and both Zelda’s, and you have more old-school cred than even these three limited-edition GBA’s combined:

GBA extremely limited edition Famicom version, normal limited edition Famicom version, NES version

Thanks to Super Deluxe for the pics

I’m so jazzed by this emulation-via-flash-cart-on-the-GBA situation that I’ve gone back to one my older sisyphean tasks: resurrecting my non-booting Flash2Advance 256 M cartridge (which I managed to kill while attempting to load PogoShell onto it). If I can get this working, then I can load it full of emulator goodness, and leave the 512 M cartridge for commercial releases.

This should help me while away the downtime hours in Japan as I crash in coffin motels, 24-hour movie theatres, or in fully-equipped rentable game booths (all options if other forms of temporary housing don’t make themselves more available).

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