Review: Speedy Gonzales (Game Boy)

[Editor’s Note: I’m working on a very long JRPG right now, and apologize for the eight day gap between posts. Hopefully after this game, reviews will be more frequent.]

Speedy Gonzales for Game Boy is another game from my childhood. It is also a Sonic the Hedgehog rip-off. It makes sense: Sonic is a fast hedgehog, Speedy Gonzales is a fast mouse. Also, Sega and Nintendo were hardware rivals at the time.  Each party made games exclusively for their own platforms. This is as close as we may ever see to a Sonic game on Game Boy. Unfortunately, the game falls flat in some of the same ways Sonic does, not the least of which is cheap deaths from not being able to see in front of you. I don’t want to be too dismissive; the controls are good and the platforming can be enjoyable, but Speedy Gonzales is sadly an exercise in frustration more than anything else.

The game is divided into six zones, and each zone has three sections and a boss. Some examples of zone names are Mexico Zone, and Desert Zone, in which you will find cartoonish depictions of Mexicans and Middle Easterners. Each level has unique art, complimenting the name of the zone. With the exception of the occasional reused sprite, the art is about average for a Game Boy game.

The game is like Sonic in that you run fast, there are springs you can bounce off of, and you collect spinning discs of cheese which are similar to Sonic’s rings. There are even loop-de-loops, waterfalls you can run behind, and trees to pass through all like in Sonic games. It’s a little shameless how much Sega’s flagship franchise is ripped off. Then again, if you thought Sonic was cool and only owned a Game Boy, maybe this would have been worth picking up.

The levels, when they’re not about running to the right and avoiding obstacles, are about finding switches with question marks on them which change something in the level. A switch could start an elevator, open a passageway, or produce a series of blocks. Some switches are optional. I found the switches to be fun, though the puzzle-solving never got too intricate, because you are on a 99 second time limit.

Once again, the game has a fair number of cheap deaths. The obvious example is running so fast that you can’t see the enemy / obstacle / pit ahead of you. But there are also creative cheap deaths. There’s a time where if you go left instead of right, a wrecking ball drops from the sky and you can’t escape it. There are enemies that fly up and down, and you have to jump with split second timing to not hit them and die.

You have three lives, and there are no 1-Ups. If you’re in Section 3 of a Zone or facing a boss and you lose your last life, you start at Section 1 again. It’s super frustrating if you don’t have save states. Once you do clear a zone, you’re given a password, so you can always return to the farthest zone you’ve reached. I guess the challenge of making it through three sections and a boss on three lives added to the game’s overall length, but it can lead to memorizing levels.

Speedy Gonzales for Game Boy would have benefited if everything was slower, but I’m not sure how you’d pull that off with the title character. Maybe this needed to be a Tweety Bird game. It’s really not such a bad platformer, but emulate the game so you can save state your way out of dying all the time. As it stands, frustration is more frequent than reward. A slightly below average game.

2/5

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