The best handheld conversions of all time

Brilliant games that shouldn't have even been possible

Converted from: PSone/Dreamcast/N64 (2000)
Converted to: GBA (2000)

At the time of Tony Hawk's 2's release, the industry had the widest technological gulf between the consoles of the time. And with the top-end Dreamcast's version looking like this...

And Game Boy Color's looking like this...

What chance did GBA have?

The answer was completely unexpected. Out of nowhere, Vicarious Visions managed to port the full-fat Hawk experience onto the new GBA hardware. With isometric 3D backgrounds mirroring the 3D stages of the home console game and a tiny 3D skater moving and tricking identically to the big version, this handheld game was the real deal. Proper Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on a Game Boy system.

Of course, there were some slight concessions in terms of detail...

But with the same levels, all the tricks and a level of control that belayed that four-button GBA layout, this is every bit as playable and addictive as the full version.

Above: Grinding tricks can be varied and combined for huge scores

And when the viewpoint zooms in on a perfectly-timed Christ Air, you realise this isn't just an unexpectedly exhaustive conversion - it's showing off as much as you are.

Road Rash

Converted from:
Mega Drive/Genesis (1991)
Converted to: Game Gear (1994)

Game Gear owners were used to the likes of Super Monaco GP as the ultimate in racing game graphics on their system. This 'port' was nothing like the 16-bit version and looked a bit like a car and a track. Kinda.

Above: Super Monaco GP on Game Gear. Good fun, but not exactly faithful

No undulation in the terrain. No scenery larger than a chevron. The grass at the side doesn't even move. Still, it's what you'd expect from an 8-bit handheld. So how on earth was the Game Gear going to do Road Rash, which was even more ambitious than Monaco GP in its 16-bit state? As you may have guessed from the other Game Gear entry here, the answer is a good one. Amazingly, it went from this...

To this:

Not only does it move like the Mega Drive version (with what appears to be the same graphics engine for the road), but it's fully-featured too. Look at the elements it retains:

There's even a layer of parallax scrolling between the background and the clouds, as if to say 'limitations? What limitations?'. In fact, bar the slightly thinner sprites, the only major difference is in the sound. Game Gear's sound chip made some phenomenal noises in its time but it wasn't quite up to the Mega Drive's soundtrack. Oh, and your rider doesn't shout 'yeah' any more when you win. He must be speechless from the amazing game he's riding in.

Above: Let it never be said that we doctor screenshots

28 Sep, 2009

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Home console conversions can be ace too


The longest-serving GR+ staffer, I was here when all this was just fields. I'm currently Reviews Editor but still find time to speedrun Sonic levels and make daft Photoshop articles.
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