The ports that had no right to work

Game: Max Payne

Format: Game Boy Advance

The Game Boy Advance does not have a keyboard. Nor in fact, does it have a mouse. Nor does it have, now that we come to think about it, anywhere near the processing power needed to run a game like Remedy’s Bullet-time noir shooter. Or a high-res screen. Or a DVD drive. Or analogues. Or anything else that Max Payne needed on the PC or ‘big’ consoles. Yes, the GBA version of Max Payne was indeed doomed. It’s a good job then, that no-one pointed out that fact to the GBA version of Max Payne.

Like the guys who converted Killer Instinct to the SNES, the team at Mobius Entertainment recognised that the best way to handle the conversion was to get across the essence of the game rather than to create a hideously malformed mess by trying to port the game in its original form. That approach would work on the PSP, but on the old GBA? Lets just say that there are some things that no man should see. To that end, they moved the game into the kind of 3D the machine was comfortable with, namely fixed camera isometric, and used the available horsepower to deliver a shrunk-down version of the two things that come instantly to mind when people think of Max. Bullet-time gunplay and grimey noir misery.

What we have in Max Payne on the GBA is a perfect port. Not perfect in getting the literal details right, but perfect in genuinely recreating the experience of the game. You can shoot. You can flip through the air in slow-mo. You can plaster whole rooms with bad guys’ remains, and you can do it all in the kind of dark, grey, adult-oriented world almost never seen in a Game Boy game. It might not have the hardware behind it, but it still feels like Max Payne, and that achievement is exactly why Mobius found themselves earning the new name Rockstar Leeds as a result of it.


  • Dalibor - September 29, 2009 12:08 a.m.

    I can't believe how some of those games were able to be converted to less graphical systems. That is pretty amazing.
  • RobTheBuilder - September 28, 2009 3:59 p.m.

    No list of incredible ports is complete without the stunning RType conversion to the Master System. That machine had no right to run that game but it did.
  • RebornKusabi - February 10, 2009 4:17 a.m.

    Hehe Halo 3 on a Game Boy Micro... hehe

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