game boy

Pro tip: A medium difficulty skill chain in Tetris Attack

Today we're going to look at one of the slightly more advanced skill chains you can do in Tetris Attack / Puzzle League, something that I'm going to call a Delayed Skill Chain.

Starting with this puzzle here

we first slide the Green Tile to the right so that it falls down and creates a 4-combo

Then, moving quickly, we move the first Yellow Tile over so that it falls on the Green Tiles as they clear

Then we (quickly!) move the second Yellow Tile over to the gap between the two that are already there

So that it falls to where the Green Tiles were before the other Yellow Tiles fall

So when they do fall, you get a quick chain!

And since it's a little bit easier to see the timing in video form, I've prepared a short clip for you

Pro tip: Tetris is (usually) balanced

It's really easy in competitive Tetris, especially if you're matched up against someone who's at about the same skill level that you are, to feel like the game comes down to the selection of pieces you get. But, in most games of Tetris, both players get the same pieces. It really comes down to who can put them in place the fastest.

Which is kind of hard to wrap your head around, I know, so I prepared the video below where I use the same controller input for both controllers and play a short round of competitive Tetris.

It's actually pretty illuminating. Everything's the same: pieces dropped, garbage sent, all of it.

Of course there are probably variants of Tetris that don't make everything equal like this, but you probably don't want to play those.

Pro tip: The Tetris T-Spin

In Tetris, you occasionally will have to maneuver pieces so that they fit in spaces where it doesn't initially look like they're going to fit.

Like this T-piece, for example.

It would totally fit in that hole on the left column if some of those pieces weren't in the way.

But if you let it get partway in

And then rotate it at the last second, it slides into place

Which is easier to show in animated .gif form

This is a pretty useful maneuver, since it lets you slip those T-pieces in places where they wouldn't normally go.

Pro tip: finding MissingNo (or 'M) in Pokémon Red and / or Blue

I have to preface today's tip with a serious warning: Do not try this at home! Seriously, doing this glitch can corrupt your save game, costing you hours upon hours of work, or worse. I'm doing it here so you don't have to.

To find the mysterious Glitch Pokémon MissingNo (or possibly 'M), perform the following steps. You'll need to be pretty far into the game (at least far as Cinnabar Island)

1. Start in Viridian City. Find the guy that offered to teach you how to catch Pokémon

2. Take him up on his offer and watch the show

3. When he's done, immediately Fly to Cinnabar Island (yes, I know the picture says Fuchsia City, don't worry about that)

4. And begin Surfing up and down on the thin strip of terrain where the water and the land meet (remember, even encountering this thing can cause some game hiccups, don't do it)

5. Eventually a battle will start, and the Pokémon is a glitchy mass of pixels with a 'M in its name or MissingNO. It's level 0, so it shouldn't be much of a challenge to capture or defeat (extra warning catching it causes lots of glitchy and unpredictable behavior, don't do it)

6. As an added bit of fun, if you fought 'M, like I did here, the sixth item in your inventory will have inexplicably multiplied to an amount so big, that the numbers glitch out trying to display it (around 128)

If MissingNo or 'M is caught, glitches will happen (in fact, just encountering 'M will make weird things happen). But, like I said, this can have disastrous effects on your saved game, whether you save it or not.

Pro tip: manipulating when the letters for E-X-T-E-N-D appear in Bubble Bobble

If you play Bubble Bobble enough, you might begin to suspect that the collectible items that appear are essentially random.

But you'd be wrong.

Some of the more useful items are the bubbles that hold the letters that spell the word EXTEND. To get them, all you have to do is encase a lot of enemies in bubbles and maneuver them so that they all pop at the same time.

If you popped enough, when the next stage starts you'll notice that the lettered bubbles start pouring in!

In fact, you get two less than the number of enemies that you popped at once (pop 3 enemies, get 1 bubble; pop 5, get 3 bubbles; etc.)

And this works on every version of Bubble Bobble that I tried it on.

Pro tip: Game Boy Player, not feature complete

The Super Game Boy was great, it let me, for the first time, play Game Boy games on my television via my Super NES. It also, with certain games, allowed for way more colors than the 4 that most Game Boy games supported. I mean, take a look at this Donkey Kong screenshot.

Isn't that great? Extended color palette, custom screen border, and when Pauline gets yoinked away at the end of the stages, she actually calls for help.

Now, if we take a look at the same game in the new-fangled Game Boy Player for the Game Cube

The enhanced palette is gone, the custom border is gone, and Pauline's cries are reduced to a sad little squeak (sounds kind of like a goose blowing a kazoo).

So you might want to keep your Super NES and Super Game Boy around if losing access to those things means anything to you.

Pro tip: Changing the amount of stuff you have in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 2

Let's say you're playing the first Wario Land game and you decide to pause the action for a second to check out your stats.

Then, instead of hitting Start to get back to the action, you instead decided to hit Select 16 times. Then you might notice a little reticle appear around some of the digits.

If you hold down the B button, you can move that reticle around and change any of the numbers in the top row, altering how many coins, hearts, lives, and seconds you have on the timer.

And you can do this as often as you like to give yourself an advantage. So go nuts!

Pro tip: getting the 3UP every time in Super Mario Land 2

At the end of some of the stages in Super Mario Land 2, you get to play a kind of skill crane game where the claw moves left and right over a conveyor belt and you have to time when it tries to grab a thing.

But, if you wait for it to go right and then all the way back to the left once, and press the A button

You'll grab the 3UP every time!

Which is definitely the most useful of the items in there.

Pro tip: getting more out of your portable system's sound system

As far back as the original Game Boy hardware, Nintendo's portable systems could output stereo sound. But all of the systems have a very poor delivery system: tiny, tinny speakers.


Most of their systems (save for the Game Boy Advance SP) came with the 1/8'' phono plug on the bottom for headphones. Which instantly makes the game sound better (it's how I first discovered that the final battle in Donkey Kong '94 had music mixed in stereo), and is fine, but I like to take it one step further.

I went out and purchased this from my local Radio Shack:

It has the phono plug on one end, and the left/right RCA plugs on the other end.

What does that mean?

It means that I can plug the output of my portable game system directly into my surround-sound system.

And that means that playing games like Elite Beat Agents and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow takes on a whole new dimension.

Pro tip: setting off fireworks in Super Mario Bros.

In the original Super Mario Bros. (and its huge number of remakes) you get to slide down a flagpole at the end of each level.

Once you slide down and go into the mini-fort, you might see some fireworks, which give you 500 points each. There might be one, three, six, or zero.

But what triggers it?

Great question!

The amount of fireworks you get is dependent on the last digit of the timer when you hit the flagpole. If the digit it 1, 3, or 6, then that's how many fireworks you get. Anything else nets zero.

I find that the best way to guarantee a 6 is to stand on the top step as far left as you can. Then, when the timer's last digit hits 9, hold B, run and jump onto the flagpole. Then you get the 5,000 points and six fireworks for 3,000 more, which nets you a total of 8,000 points (plus the bonus for whatever's left on the timer).

Not too bad!

Oh, and this tip only works on levels that actually have a flagpole. So it's a no-go in the big castle levels.

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