Tuesday 19 May 2015

Bound High! (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: Japan System Supply, Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: N/A

Bound High! is an unreleased game that was meant to be part of the second wave of Virtual Boy titles in 1996.

You play the role of a bouncing ball and your job is to destroy all enemies on screen to proceed to the next level. Some require you to bounce directly onto them while others must be hit from the side to push them off the play area. There are numerous factors and obstacles to make things more difficult including changing wind directions and electric shocks that temporarily restrict your movement. You can collect a few items by bouncing on them such as the Magic Tile (allows you to add extra platforms) and the Freeze Monster (stuns enemies). At the end of each world you'll face a boss that has a unique weakness you must exploit. They're imaginative, especially the third boss who splits up and transports to different parts of the level. The difficulty is very fair to start and you'll likely breeze through the first two worlds. However, from 3-1 the enemies increase in numbers and begin to move around at incredibly quick speeds. The controls remain rock solid throughout and success comes down to pure skill rather than luck. There's also a few other modes including the excellent Pocket and Cushion which plays like mini-golf as you direct balls into holes while racking up a required score. The game's 3D is well done and it's easy to judge the distance between objects due to the clever camera and sprite scaling. I expected things to get repetitive but the level design, range of enemies and weather conditions keep things fresh. The music is catchy and will stay in your head long after you've stopped playing!

Bound High! is a charming game and it's a real shame it wasn't officially released. While I disagree with people who say it would have been the killer app for the Virtual Boy it still makes great use of the system's strengths and it's perfect for dipping into when you have a spare few minutes.

Random trivia: Although Bound High! doesn't have a battery save function it does give you passwords you can enter to continue your game at roughly the same point.

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