Pocket-sized bloodshed

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Finally, Game Boy has incited a new dimension for handhelds, successfully creating what will be known for years as the Starcraft that fits in the palm of your hand. Enter Warlocked — the most complex, utterly captivating baby cartridge to ever target the portable gaming market.

Playing as humans or beasts, controlling your own army of knights, wizards and dragons has never been so convenient. Here, dozens of levels are concentrated for Game Boy use, each more challenging than the next. Whether you’re defending a military outpost or aiding peons in a desperate escape from the enemy’s dungeon, this 8-bit crash course in battlefield strategy is purely an excuse to say, “I can wait until next month to pay the rent.”

As an added bonus, plugging in a link cable allows for two players to pit hordes against each other. Seeing as each victorious siege on single-player mode adds units to your personal army, the more time spent clanging swords will surely cause your opponent to mutter “defeat” once his or her brutalized battalion can only find sympathy with the bloodied earth.

Yet Nintendo does not adjourn from quality with the aforementioned medieval romp. After one glance at Crystalis, classic gamers of the community will probably have flashbacks of the original NES console. In a gigantic stride, Game Boy has transcended black-and-white indecency to full-color glory, transferring a once-popular Legend of Zelda-like quest onto a system that weighs less than a paperweight. With this role-playing adventure, airport layovers may begin to seem more like cause for festivity than chaos.

Updated cinematics, almost humanlike digitized speech and hours of quality gameplay are the defining elements of this Game Boy duo — not to mention an “A for inventiveness” report card grade. Ironically, the blatant “Official Nintendo Seal of Quality” on the back of every box at last represents validity for portable junkies crusading for more than Pokémon-flavored appetizers.

Jon M. Gibson writes about video games for the Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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