An oddity from Nintendo here that had a release only on the Game Boy. We remember forcing our mother at gunpoint to buy this for us from a Toys R’ Us back in the summer of 1996. A curious Shigeru Miyamoto project, it’s a puzzle game about moles digging. And mania. Drug-induced mania? Possibly. But on with moles, too.
The game was never going to challenge Link’s Awakening or anything. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t any fun. A simplistic puzzler, its focus is to test your brain (although not mightily) and see if you can reach your destination without getting flattened.
You star as a mole. This mole has to face a lot of mania. And over the course of various square-shaped levels you have to guide, dig, and shove your way around them. Some of the puzzles could really test your brains, in truth, but it’s definitely more of a kid-friendly type of game.
So you can see the game’s ending above. That’s a spoiler. But you were never going to play this thing, so what do you care?! But it is a good fun title all the same. Twee. Inventive. Charming. And an interesting coda in Nintendo’s pre-N64 days (the console launched more or less at the same time as Mole Mania in 1996).
Obviously, with the handheld console’s graphical limitations, the Game Boy was almost notorious for its “black and white” colour scheme. Yet despite competition from the likes of Sega’s colour Game Gear, Nintendo dominated the market thanks to low costs, low battery usage, and some excellent games.
Nintendo still does dominate the handheld video game market. And it’s thanks to ingenious little wonders like this. But it’s more specifically the Pokémon phenomenon, so perfect for the small screen, that’s ensured no one can get anywhere near the business’s stranglehold across the world of handheld video games.