Greetings fellow retro gamers and welcome to a new series called The Last Official Release. Dramatic, I know.
As you can likely imagine, in these articles I will be focusing on the last ever games released for consoles – highlighting a different system each post.
It should be noted that this series will only be about official releases. While homebrew titles are deservant of attention, the nature of their releases would make this series quickly moot if they were included.
To start things off, we’re looking back to the Game Boy – released in 1989 by Nintendo. Over its lifespan, it’s believed that 1049 games were released. While there is no public official count from Nintendo Towers, that seems to be the most referenced number online. No doubt they do have their own list, locked away in their dungeons – but for now, that 1049 figure will do.
There seems to be a bit of mixed information floating about as to what the last game released actually was. A lot of websites claim that Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition is the final release. However, this is only half true. While it was released quite late in the console’s lifespan; the 16th of June 2000, to be exact – this was the last Game Boy title for the US and Europe only.
Other websites also reference From TV Animation – One Piece: Maboroshi no Grand Line Boukenki! (June 28th, 2002), but that was, in fact, a Game Boy Color game. Although, it was the last GBC game ever to include Game Boy backwards compatibility, so again, there is some half-truth to the claims.
After minutes, upon minutes of research – myself and an office building full of Old School Gamer Magazine researchers and scientists have concluded that the actual last game was released in Japan only on the 30th of March 2001, and was actually two games. These were Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji no Tatsujin and the similarly named Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Keisan no Tatsujin – both of which were published by Imagineer.
There is not a lot of information about these games online – I was barely even able to find any photos. The websites that do feature them are usually just basic profile pages, showing nothing but the title and release date. With there being no descriptions out there as to what the game is about, I turned to Google Translate to see if I could make any sense of the titles. The translations promptly came back as “I will give this to you: a master of the old man” and “I will check this out: Kanjin noodles”. Suffice to say, I do not think these are correct translations.
It was at that point, I came across this video that helpfully shows gameplay:
Again, I attempted to use Google Translate but instead, this time used the photo option that’s built into the phone app. If you’re not aware, this will translate any representation of another language into English in real-time. Handy if you’re, say, overseas and need to read a street sign or a menu. Your mileage might vary with how useful this will be, but I think in this case it worked out.
Translating the main menu screen returns “Master of the Kanji”. As you probably know, Kanji is made up of symbols and characters used for the written Japanese language. Watching the video, it appears that the player is given a choice of words that must be selected to continue. I can only assume that it is some sort of simple word or trivia game. A bit of an anti-climax, I must admit.
While not all that exciting – a console of that calibre arguably deserved something a bit more stimulating – these two games are a piece of retro gaming history none the less. The Game Boy was the original handheld to have major success, after all. And besides, knowledge is power – as the poet Biggie Smalls once said, “If you don’t know, now you knowww”.