If you’ve ever wanted to play an oddball Japan-only Game Boy game with a title inspired by Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls… here it is!
This action RPG launched in September 1992, but also got an English fan translation in 2011. Let’s hop to it and have a gander.
The Frog For Whom the Bell Tolls as a Prototype for Link’s Awakening
Right, so this thing kind of has three names.
There’s Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (カエルの為ために鐘かねは鳴なる—For Frog the Bell Tolls).
And there’s the other title of The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls. Good stuff, eh?
It was developed by Nintendo R&D1 with fellow Japanese studio Intelligent Systems, serving in many ways as a prototype for the excellent Link’s Awakening (1993).
The plot is some crazy stuff. There are two princes in a far away land:
- Prince Richard of the Custard Kingdom.
- The prince of the Sablé Kingdom.
These two have a friendly rivalry. You take control of the prince dude of Sablé. Hurray!
One day they’re warned about the evil lunatic King Delarin, who’s invaded the Mill-Feuille Kingdom and kidnapped the top totty princess Tiramisu.
The princes rush off to try and help, but are transformed into frogs along the way.
From there, what we can sort of tell is you control Sablé and have the power to transform into a frog. And later a snake. All to defeat that evil bastard Delarin.
All sounds amazing, right? Here’s a bit of the SOB in action.
For Game Boy graphics, very good there.
The game’s engine was reused for Link’s Awakening and playing through Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru you can spot many elements Nintendo would later nab. Including the overworld and side-scrolling parts.
There’s also a groovy sounding soundtrack, which really does nod towards what would become Link’s Awakening’s soundtrack.
You could take the below and stuff it into Nintendo’s game.
We suppose this isn’t too unusual for the era.
After all, Nintendo took a decidedly weird approach with Super Mario Bros 2. in 1986. The west got a completely different game to Japan, one rejigged from a game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic.
In some ways you could argue we’ve all kind of played Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru, as its graphical core morphed into Link’s Awakening.
And it must have been reasonably popular, as a sequel was expected for the Game Boy Colour in 2002.
Yet it was canned. And the mysterious game, with its Nippon only release, has gone down in legend as the test flight for the Game Boy’s greatest video game.