So a few weeks ago, I wrote about how traditional Japanese aesthetics can help make games seem bigger and full of life with mere suggestion.
This doesn’t change that sometimes, some games are just fucking huge.
Take the original Pokémon games (red and green, 1996). They contain one hundred and fifty monsters. The number of Pokémon is currently ridiculously high, but for the initial pair of games to contain so many unique monsters, that act both as enemies and playable characters, each with their own sprite, blows me away. Compare this to the first Final Fantasy (FF1), which had 128 enemies. Granted, the Pokémon R/B/G world really isn’t so big by itself (Not including dungeons). Yet the areas that seem to be just unnecessarily stretched and winding corridors, are actually playing two parts: They are sort of dungeons by themselves, and most importantly, they are wildernes to hunt more pokémon.
While the individual Pokémon don’t really differentiate mechanically, the game does have 55 different spells/attacks, divided across the now classic expanded rock/paper/scissors system. Again, compare this to FF1. 32 spells. It’s a lot, especially from such an old game, but Pokemon just seems huge in comparison.
Another GameBoy title that manages to feel huge by simply just containing an enourmous amount of content, is Link’s Awakening (LA). This game is structurally pretty much a remake of the original Legend of Zelda (LoZ), but with more advanced controls, more complex tools, an actual narrative and a fuller world. While LoZ was 8x16 screens big, plus 8 dungeons of monsters to kill, LA is 16x16 screens big and has 8 far more complex dungeons of unique architecture, changing perspectives, and even a few good puzzles. The game even has __eighty-one_ enemies, 16 traps and 9 bosses, many of which function mechanically pretty differently from each other, which is pretty damn impressive.
Size doesn’t matter, but when somebody manages to fit games like the original Pokémon and LA on friggin’ GameBoy cartridges, I can’t help but be impressed.