Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe – Review

I love retro gaming, and I have for a long time. I've never been one who could invest any amount of time into a Xbox 360 or PS4 game, but a game on my Sega Dreamcast or my Sega Genesis? Those I could pour hours into! One thing I love about the retro gaming scene is when new games come out for these old systems. It's really interesting to see what a new creator can do with these ancient pieces of tech. That's exactly the case here with Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe for the original Gameboy, and I love it!

The Gameplay

Tobu Tobu is deceptively simple, and agonizingly hard game(I've yet to beat the first level, but I've gotten close). Just jump upwards until you reach the goal in pursuit of your cat. Each level of this arcade style platformer should only take about a minute or two to complete, but that's only if you have the skill. Bats, birds, spikes, and other obstacles await those up to the challenge.

Press up and “a” to boost upwards, but be wary of all the obstacles in your way. Touching the bottom or side of any creature (or anywhere on the spikes) brings you back to the beginning. You can jump in up to 8 directions via the d-pad, and flap away with the “b” button (though only until your energy runs out). Reach the swirl at the end of the map and you've beaten the level. You can see how far along you are in the level with a helpful map on the side of the screen.

The challenge in Tobu Tobu comes from the limitations of the number of boosts you can do and how long you can flap. Three boosts is all you can do before Tobu becomes red from exhaustion and needs an enemy to jump on to refill her boost gauge. Otherwise you'll fall to your doom. Pressing down on the d-pad while landing on an enemy refills your energy meter so you can flap some more. You'll need to master these two mechanics to do well at the game. The other challenge in the game comes from the enemies. While most stay in one place, others move around and this complicates things a great deal.

Enemy placement is randomly generated each time you start a level and also each time you're brought back to the beginning of a level(which happened a lot to me). Sometimes due to the random enemy placement you can die as early as your first jump, so pay attention. You don't have a number of lives to worry about so the game is very forgiving in that way.

The game offers what they call an unlimited mode after you beat the first three levels. Heaven is what they title it, but hell is what it is(fun hell though).

Thoughts

Because Tobu Tobu is a Gameboy game (with enhanced color for color systems) it can run on a variety of systems. Everything from the original Gameboy to the Super Gameboy to the Gameboy Advance runs this gem, but you may want to be picky about what you play it on.

The game moves quickly, and the blurry and ghost ridden screen of the original Gameboy won't do you any favors. You'll also want something with a great d-pad like the Gameboy Pocket or even a Super Nintendo gamepad if playing on the Super Gameboy. Same goes for if you are emulating the game, get a good d-pad or even a fight stick and give this game a go. I played this emulated on the DS Lite and the RG 350, and the RG 350 was definitely the better experience, because of the better d-pad.

While the game is hellishly hard, it's also quite addictive. While I ended up throwing my DS Lite across the room in frustration, I picked it back up and began playing again.

The Music

The music in Tobu Tobu is fantastic! The soundtrack is whimsical, and immediately made a fan out of me(I ended up buying the OST on CD). It doesn't get in the way of the gameplay, nor does it get tiring. It's very catchy. If you love chip tunes or if you just find yourself loving the soundtrack you can purchase and download it from Bandcamp here. Thank you potato-san for such a great soundtrack.

How To Get Your Hands on this Gem

Tobu Tobu can be downloaded for free(or make a small donation to the creators) from itch.io To buy a physical version of the game you can purchase one here (please leave a copy for me!) The full source code and assets for the game can be found from Github here

Happy gaming everyone!