Don’t you just hate it when your cat floats into the atmosphere?
What They Say:
Your cat is floating into the atmosphere and you are the only one who can save it. Jump, dash, and flap your arms to maneuver around perilous obstacles racing against the clock to retrieve your pet friend before it is too late!
Tobu Tobu Girl is a fun and challenging arcade platformer developed by Tangram Games featuring an original soundtrack by potato-tan.
Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe is a new and enhanced version of the original featuring improved, full-color graphics and is fully compatible with the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Super Game Boy.
Your eyes do not deceive you! This is indeed a review for a Game Boy video game. I know it may come as a surprise to a lot of you out there but yes, there are still games out there being created for various retro systems. Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe happens to be one of those games. I, for one, am glad that retro systems are still getting love in this day and age. I grew up with the Game Boy and have probably owned most of the systems in the Game Boy family. That being said, when the opportunity to review Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe arose, I was very excited to dust off my Game Boys! It’s been years since they were last turned on and I’m happy to say that they all still worked. Now then, who’s ready to take a trip down memory lane?
The story behind Tobu Tobu Girl‘s creation is a fascinating one. It was originally created for the Third GBJAM game jam. Afterward, the game underwent several transformations until it achieved the look that it has today. At the end of 2017, a Game Boy-only version was released. In 2018, the idea for Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe was proposed. This was inspired by the Deluxe remakes you saw in the 90s for the Game Boy Color. Thanks to the support of a Kickstarter campaign, funding was secured and Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe became a reality. Tobu Tobu Girl can now be enjoyed on all systems of the Game Boy family!
Before I delve into the gameplay, I want to take a moment to focus on the physical release of Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe. First Press Games was gracious enough to send us the JP Regular Edition of the game to review! First things first, let’s discuss the actual game cartridge. Right off the bat, I’m a big fan of the sky-blue color. The “Dot Matrix” shell is custom molded and honestly, it looks beautiful! I’ve been told that it’s extremely difficult to find quality aftermarket Game Boy releases. The pieces for Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe had to be completely customized from scratch! I can only imagine that this was a time-consuming process and the people behind this release must have been really passionate about providing nothing but the most genuine quality for the game. I decided to compare Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe‘s game cartridge with the first Game Boy game I could find in my collection which turned out to be Pokemon Yellow. Ah, the nostalgia. Anyway, when comparing both cartridges, it was clear to me that they did an outstanding job replicating the old school Game Boy cartridge look and feel. I have nothing but the utmost respect for their dedication to providing only the best quality for this release.
Not only did they do a great job with the game cartridge, but they also did a fantastic job with the box packaging. It looks almost exactly like the old Game Boy Color releases. It even has the iconic silver streak on the left side of the box! Again, props to them for going the extra mile on this release. Other goodies that come with the Regular Edition of the game include a protective case, an adorable sticker set with various characters from the game, a beautifully illustrated manual, and a stunning silver-colored collector’s coin that features the girl’s face from the game. A neat thing about the manual that I’d like to highlight is that it features a story manga. You don’t get much of the story when playing the game. All you know is that your cat is floating into space and you have to catch it. The story manga does a nice job of giving us a little background into that specific day where the girl trips on a rock and sends her cat floating into space. Why the girl thought it was a good idea to tie a balloon to her cat is still a mystery to me, haha. Anyway, it’s an adorable little story and I recommend giving it a quick read before starting up the game. Simply put, the JP Regular Edition of Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe is magnificent. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there’s also a Limited Edition of the game.
The basic premise of the game is that a girl has lost her cat and it’s floating up into space because it has a balloon tied to it. Again, I’m not going to ask why she tied a balloon to the poor cat. The goal of the game is simple – just retrieve your cat. Achieving that goal, not so much. In order to get to your cat, you have to jump, dash, and flap your way to the portal at the top of each stage. At the same time, you also have to dodge obstacles and enemies that get in your way. These hurdles only get more difficult as you progress through the game. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, you also have a time limit to complete each stage. You can’t just take your sweet time! You have to be quick and decisive with your actions. The main story is actually quite short and consists of only three stages – Plains, Clouds, and Space. If you make it to the end of the Space stage, you’ll be able to grab your cat! Yay! And then you tumble all the way back down to earth because the balloon pops! Well, I’m sure the girl and her cat are okay. Probably.
The one thing you’ll be doing a lot in this game is dashing. You can dash in eight different directions which gives you a lot of options. The catch is that you can only dash three times in succession. Once you use them all up, you better hope you land on an enemy or have energy to float. Otherwise, you’ll fall and it’s game over. Bouncing on an enemy will reset your dashes though. Besides dashing you can also flap those arms and fly upwards! The downside to flapping is that it uses energy and once you run out, well, you’ll meet the same end as running out of dashes unless you land on something. You can restore energy by stomping down on enemies. This tactic also propels you upwards which always comes in handy. And lastly, you have to be mindful of the time limit that each stage has. While it took me a few hours to really get the hang of the controls, the time limit is what really proved challenging to me. There were many times where I had great runs only to lose because I ran out of time! As I said before, you can’t take your sweet time with this game. You have to be quick! Luckily, you can grab clocks spread throughout each stage to increase your time a little bit. Once you’re able to master dashing, flapping, bouncing, and managing your time wisely, your cat is as good as saved!
I was always happy when I completed a stage for the first time! As I said, it’s a simple yet challenging game. Honestly, just finishing a stage was good enough for me. Of course, that may not be enough for everyone. After a stage is cleared, you receive a score. Your high score is based on how fast you completed the stage and how many enemies you defeated. You’re also assigned a rank depending on how you did. The goal is to try and get an S-Rank on each stage. Sadly, I never managed to achieve that. The best I could do was get an A-Rank. I know, I suck. You don’t need to tell me! But you know what? I still had a lot of fun trying to beat my previous high scores. Little things like that keep you coming back for more.
After completing the first three stages which I like to call the main story, you unlock a bonus infinite game mode. As the name suggests, it’s a mode where you can keep jumping up towards the heavens to your heart’s content. Defeat enemies, clear obstacles in your way, and see how many waves you can last! As previously stated, I’m not that great at the game, haha. But I did manage to last a decent amount of waves before it was too much for me. I appreciate the challenge! This mode was definitely a lot of fun. If you still need more reasons to keep playing the game, then perhaps you’d be interested to know that there are a lot of fun secrets and unlockables to discover? I thought I had unlocked everything but the more I played the game, the more I realized that I was mistaken! For the longest time, I didn’t know that there was a secret minigame if you move the cat on the title screen! My mind was boggled. I don’t want to spoil too many of the other secrets you can unlock but I implore you to mess around in the game once you’ve conquered all the stages. Who knows? You may find a surprise!
After completing a certain amount of stages, you unlock a music player. Why am I mentioning this? Well, because my favorite part of the game is its soundtrack! I love 8-bit music and the tracks in this game were simply phenomenal. The fact that they included a music player was a stroke of pure genius! I often just turned on the game just to listen to those tunes, especially before I went to bed. They sent me off to dreamland on a good note! I have nothing but high praise for potato-tan’s amazing music. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the game’s gorgeous graphics! The pixel art was simply beautiful. Just take a look at one of the screenshots and tell me it’s not pretty. That’s right, you can’t!
Lastly, I have to talk about how the game played on various Game Boy systems. I tested the game on three systems – the original Game Boy, the Game Boy Color, and the Game Boy Advance SP. The game worked and ran smoothly on each of the systems. Of the three systems, I think I had the best experience playing the game with the Game Boy Advance SP. As I’ve said numerous times throughout this review, Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe is a challenging game. In my opinion, playing it on any of these Game Boy systems doubles its difficulty, at the very least. That could be considered a good or bad thing. I do admit that I enjoy challenges but there were a few times I felt frustrated playing the game. None of that frustration was the fault of the actual game though. Maybe it’s because I’m an adult now but a Game Boy system has never fault smaller in my hands. Regardless, it was quite challenging to move in precise directions with the Game Boy’s D-Pad. I often made mistakes and I’m not going lie, my fingers felt uncomfortable at times. While you’d think I’d gravitate towards the fat, original Game Boy, I actually had a better time playing the game on the Game Boy Advance SP. Also, it definitely looked the best on it! I made too many mistakes on the Game Boy Color. If I had a Super Game Boy, I’d probably prefer that over everything else. I can certainly appreciate that you can play the game on any system from the Game Boy family. Just be aware that it plays better on certain systems. Find the right Game Boy for you!
If you don’t have a Game Boy system, don’t be sad! While it’d be great to experience playing this game on the Game Boy, you can actually play the game on a PC. And guess what? You can play it for free! Thank you, Tangram Games!
Tobu Tobu Girl Deluxe is a breath of fresh air in this day and age of gaming. It’s a great homage to retro gaming! It reminded me of my childhood days playing Balloon Kid on the Game Boy. Its beautiful pixel art will leave you bewitched. Its music will fill you with nostalgia. Honestly, what’s not to love about it? It’s a simple yet challenging game that will keep you coming back for more! If you own a Game Boy and are itching to dust it off, why not consider picking up one of the physical releases? First Press Games did an amazing job putting it all together. It’d be a great piece in any collection. And on a closing note, why did the girl tie a balloon to her cat!? I’m never going to let that go.
Grade (the game itself): B+
JP Regular Edition Packaging Grade: A
JP Regular Edition Cartridge Grade: A
JP Regular Edition Extras Grade: B+
Publisher: First Press Games
Developer: Tangram Games
Genre: Arcade, Platformer
Age Rating: E for Everyone
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: October 28, 2019
Platform: Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Super Game Boy
This review was done with a review copy provided by the publisher. We are grateful for their continued support.