Rumbling In Your Pocket
Several months ago, I wrote an article highlighting the Forgotten Relic – the DS Rumble Pak. However, this was not the first time that a portable game system incorporated force feedback into games. Sure, there were a couple other failed handheld systems like the Zodiac Tapwave, but the Gameboy Color actually had several games with a built-in rumble motor.
The problem was, the GBC hardware did not have any force feedback built into the system. Instead, developers got crafty and actually designed a rumble pak right into the game cartridge itself. But making a motor vibrate requires energy, which is why each cartridge contained housing for a single AAA battery. These specially designed GBC carts were much taller than normal GBA cartridges and stuck out above the system when installed in the cartridge slot. The battery slot actually was closed off by a detachable plastic cover. If users weren’t careful, this tiny plastic piece could easily go missing. And although I didn’t test duration, I am confident in saying it is possible to get hours’ worth of rumble support from a single fresh battery.
Here are most of the US released GBC games that actually supported the Rumble Pak feature:
– 10 Pin Bowling
– Disney’s The Little Mermaid II: Pinball Frenzy
– Legend of the River King 2
– Missile Command
– Perfect Dark
– Pokemon Pinball
– Polaris SnoCross
– Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
– Star Wars Episode I: Racer
– Top Gear Pocket
– Tonka Raceway
– Vigilante 8
– Zebco Fishing
Games like Missile Command and Polaris SnoCross didn’t gain much by incorporating the rumble feature. This force feedback was probably best used in Perfect Dark, Pokemon Pinball, and Legend of the River King 2. Let me know if I am missing any from the list above.
Perfect Dark used pretty much every hardware feature on the Gameboy Color so it was a natural fit that the rumble pak was included. River King and Zebco Fishing actually worked surprisingly well; feeling the pulling of the digital fish created a more immersive experience. Feeling the bumps in Episode I: Racer also added a little something extra as well. But like all games with rumble support, it is something that isn’t necessarily necessary. It is a novelty that can wear out quickly depending on the player but can also be seen as innovated. But unlike the DS Rumble Pak, it is much quieter and not as annoying in comparison.
The Gameboy Advance (GBA) also supported games with a built-in rumble feature. However, only two games used this special rumble cart: Drill Dozer and WarioWare Twisted. WarioWare Twisted also included a built-in gyroscope that made the user twist and turn the console to play a host of mini games. Unlike the GBC carts, these GBA carts did not require an external power source to work – no extra battery required.
Unlike the PS3 and 360 force feedback controllers that any modern gamer is used to, the quality of the rumble in these GBC games is different. While nowhere near as detailed, the GBC rumble is better than you might think as it is capable of low to high frequency shaking. However, most games didn’t require a subtle-to-heavy rumble. The DS Rumble Pak feels like a fish is flopping around in a tin can whereas the rumble in these GBC games is a little more controlled and not as obtuse. After all, a forceful force feedback could have potentially damaged the hardware.
If given the opportunity to play one of these GBC games with the rumble featured turned on, it is recommended just to experience a unique feature of the hardware. Kudos for the developers who actually supported this ill-used feature for doing something different.
Not As Good As: the PS3 force feedback
Also Check Out: motion-sensing Kirby Tilt-n Tumble
Wait For It: a 3DS with rumble support