Indie Excavation: Handheld Flashbacks

Unearthing more indie gems, featuring Dogurai, Squidlit, and GB Rober

Indie Excavation: Handheld Flashbacks
Dogurai. Source: PlayStation Store.

Even with all the retro throwback games available on today's market, Game Boy throwbacks are a rarity. Maybe developers aren't willing to tackle the technical limitations of Nintendo's workhorse, or maybe it's a sign of the Game Boy's disregard. Fortunately, there are a few teams out there who remember the monochrome era.

Watch the games in action:

Source: YouTube.


HungryBear Gaming - 2019 - $4.99

Dogurai - a samurai who is also a dog, tasked with fighting through legions of robots. It just feels like something that would have come out in 1989, doesn't it?

Bones, the protagonist of Dogurai, is a canine of simple yet versatile skills - double jump, slide, and a sword which is his only means of self-defense. You lack a ranged attack but can cut through many incoming projectiles, which evens the odds against your opponents. Against tougher opponents, Bones possesses one latter-day specialty: A QTE combo which, thankfully, is very easy to pull off.

Stylistically, Dogurai is meant to recall an early Game Boy platformer, though with an adaptive color scheme similar to what one might have seen on certain enhanced-for-Super-Game-Boy carts. From a design perspective, it bears a lot of similarities to Mega Man, despite having very different mechanics. This isn't too much of a shock - the handheld Mega Man games were probably some of the best-designed titles on the Game Boy, and it's no surprise to see such beloved games referenced here.

Dogurai is a challenging game that will take a few hours to clear, depending on individual skill level and whether one takes the easy route out and plays with infinite lives.

Squidlit. Source: YouTube.


Squidlit Ink - 2018 - $1.99

I've mentioned Squidlit before. It's a bit of a rarity, not just because of its style but because of how dedicated the developers were to authenticity. Squidlit is designed to hew as closely as possible to Game Boy hardware limitations, meaning that this game could well have been released on the original system.

Squidlit casts the player in the role of Plip, a land squid on a mission to rescue the world from the sorcery of the insect queen Skwit Skwot. To defend himself, Plip can fire a burst of ink straight down, which also pops him back up into the air - meaning his double jump doubles as his attack. It's a simple mechanic, and it's all you'll need to defeat Skwit Skwot. You won't even need to duck, which frees up the down button to wiggle for the amusement of your fellow squids.

Squidlit is, above all, a bite-sized bit of nostalgia. It is a very brief game, but anyone who plays it is going to be tempted to speedrun it a few times to try and pick up some of the more difficult achievements.

But if you're already familiar with Squidlit, why not give Super Squidlit a try? I haven't gone hands-on with this one yet, but it promises to do for the Game Boy Color what Squidlit did for the Game Boy.

GB Rober. Source: Mokka -

GB Rober

Mokkograd - 2021 - $6.99

It's the year 202X, and one round little robot is sick of his job - understandable, perhaps, given that his job entails shooting random junk that falls from a chute in front of him. Finally breaking free of the usual routine, he heads off on a campaign against his oppressors, the Robot Landlords, to appropriate their weapons and resources for himself. So begins GB Rober, the most Mega Man game in today's offerings.

GB Rober is certainly going to be very familiar to anyone who's ever played the likes of Dr. Wily's Revenge, but this robot has a few tricks. You can't fire as fast as the Blue Bomber, but your little robot makes up for his firepower deficiencies with enhanced movement. He has a downward shot that doubles as an extra jump (just like in Squidlit) and a quick dash that grants i-frames. You can also build up energy for "hyper mode," which is your main means of self-healing.

The difficulty of GB Rober is a mixed bag. While the bosses are easy relative to those in most Mega Man games and the platforming isn't too technically hard, you will still have a harder time healing than you might suspect and the checkpoints are few and far in between. It's not too frustrating, but be prepared for things to get tricky.


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