June 23, 2009 8:00 AM |
[“Might Have Been” is a GameSetWatch-exclusive column by Todd Ciolek that explores the ways in which promising games, characters, concepts, and companies failed. This edition looks at Seta's Battle Bull, released for the Game Boy in January 1991.]
When Seta Corporation breathed its last in January of 2009, many in the gaming press didn’t know how to mourn the company. It deserved to be remembered for something, but what was the standout Seta classic?
Most resorted to pointing out oddities like the non-racist Tom Sawyer NES game (not to be confused with Square’s hysterically racist one), the mediocre yet amusingly localized Kendo Rage, or Seta’s library of semi-pornographic mahjongg titles. Some even brought up the sad tale of Bio Force Ape, canceled just when it was about to deliver the best game ever to feature pro-wrestling cyborg simians. Yet the best Seta game might be a neglected Game Boy puzzler called Battle Bull.
We must assume that Battle Bull is set in a future where the public is entertained by mechanical crane-tanks dueling in mazes, since there’s no real plotline to be uncovered. In fact, there are barely any characters aside from the anime-lookin' woman who winks repeatedly on the game’s password screen. Battle Bull is all business: your tiny shovel-tank is dropped into a labyrinth of blocks, which you push around to crush foes and avoid their own attacks.
It’s the exact same idea that Sega and Coreland used in the arcade masterpiece Pengo, though it’s enhanced for Battle Bull. The enemies show a little more variety, ranging from scuttling, block-pushing bugs to missile-firing tanks to viciously quick refrigerator robots. The blocks themselves include standard pieces to be shoved across the screen, plus stationary squares and boxes that disappear unless they’re pushed in the right direction. Battle Bull even adds pits that open and close, making it possible to lead enemies to their demise.
Categories: Column: Might Have Been