Space Squash (Virtual Boy)

March 16, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Space Squash - Title ScreenSpace Squash - GameplaySpace Squash - Map Screen

It’s a lot of fun when this happens.  I’ve wanted Space Squash for the Virtual Boy for something like 10 years now — since a little after I got the VB.  I never really bit the bullet because it’s an import-only game and was always kind of expensive.  Then I packed up the system for several years and never really touched it.  Well, I got it out a couple weekends ago, dusted it off, and started playing again.  Naturally, that made me want to buy more games for the system (such is the plight of the classic game collector).  Then, when some fairly reasonably priced new copies of Space Squash showed up on eBay (as they seem to be doing regularly now), I decided it was time.  But would it live up to 10 years worth of anticipation?  Surprisingly, yes!  And maybe more!

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not much of a Virtual Boy expert.  I only own five games, and I’ve never even played Wario Land.  But with that said, this is my favorite Virtual Boy game yet, and even if Wario Land does turn out to be as great as everyone says, that doesn’t diminish how much fun this game is.  It’s straightforward, if not a little simplistic, but engaging and addictive.  It’s Pong in 3D, and it’s executed perfectly.

In fact, this is a first for me since I’ve been running this site: I got this game a few days ago, and I’ve already played it enough to give it a proper review.  No filler posts first, either!  No “Latest Haul” or “Impressions” to announce I got it.  This game is just plain fun.  I can’t imagine why it wasn’t considered for immediate translation and release in the US.  But maybe I should qualify my enthusiasm a bit, first.  I love bouncing ball games.  Pong, Breakout, Arkanoid, Wii Sports Tennis… It’s all good stuff and good fun to me.  So I dunno, maybe I’m a little biased, and if you don’t like Pong, Breakout, and their ilk, maybe you won’t be as engaged by this game as I was.

But with that said, I love this game.  The 3D effects are done very well, the control is spot-on, there are a ton of stages to play through, the branching routes through the levels keep things fresh when you play through multiple times, and any one path is short enough to play in a single sitting — great for people with short attention spans (like me!).

You take control of a hovering robot, out to play 3D space squash against a variety of opponents, and every few stages, you face off against a powerful boss that has special powers.  The stages vary in size from tiny tunnels to what feel like gaping landing decks on a space station.  I have no idea what the background story of the game is (I speak no Japanese) but it doesn’t really matter.  The gameplay transcends language barriers.  Here are the basics to get you started, though:

  • Left control pad: Hover around
  • Right control pad, Up: Overhead smash
  • Right control pad, Right: Swing your right hand
  • Right control pad, Left: Swing your left hand
  • Right control pad, Down: Charge your special power
  • R/L: Use your special power when charged

It makes very intuitive use of the dual D-pads, and the special powers add an extra element of depth.  You can choose between power shots, speed boosts, force fields to protect your end, and homing shots.  (Go with the power shots against most opponents and homing shots against the bosses).  On top of that, there are special items and obstacles scattered about each stage.  So while the basic gameplay remains simple (get the ball past your opponent, just like Pong), there’s enough variety to keep it fresh and interesting.

Retro Star AwardFinal Thoughts: There’s a bit of a premium on the price of Space Squash, since it’s somewhat rare and was never released in the US.  But that premium is not exorbitant, and it’s well worth the price.  It’s games like this that make me think the Virtual Boy had some real potential.  The 3D effect is used very well and the controls are top-notch with the dual d-pads.  If you’re looking for a new game for your VB and haven’t checked this one out yet, do yourself a favor and track it down.

Space Squash - ShowdownSpace Squash - Boss encounterSpace Squash - Bonus Stage

Game Data

About Tim
My name is Tim. I live in Chicago, IL. I'm a retro gamer.


One Response to “Space Squash (Virtual Boy)”
  1. john says:

    I have Space Squash, and agree it’s an excellent game. The “bosses” are a little tedious; but then you get to the bonus game — a field of tiles (stars and moons and saucers etcetera) — each image is there TWICE. Strategy is to hit a tile with the puck, and the tile disappears. Now — try to hit the SECOND of the SAME image to get major points. You have to be calculating bounce-angles in your mind, so that after you whack the puck it bounces off of one wall, then off of the second wall, then the third wall — and hits the SECOND pair-image.

    RE “Bound High”, I got a copy from Uncle Tusk, fully made into a playable cart (they got the source code and fixed some bugs). It is the BEST GAME for the Virtual Boy. Strategy is to bounce on “enemies” and not fall off of the high-altitude platform. But then comes periodic WINDS that try to blow your player (Chalvo) off! Certain figures have the ability to STUN your Chalvo for several seconds — once “stunned”, you have ZERO defense against the wind! Do not play near any sleeping persons; you WILL be screaming and they will be throwing things at you!

    Tusk also offered another prototype, “Faceball” — available as original (not very good), and re-done (with a BUNCH of new, and difficult mazes). Each “enemy” has a personality; some sneak up when you’re not looking, turn and LOOK at them and they run away! I love the girl in the background who shouts “WHEW-HEWWWWW!” every time you complete a level!

    Someone reading this who has a Dragonhopper cart (there are at least 6-10 carts out there!), or perhaps a Zero Racers or Goldeneye (there are carts known to exist) — PLEASE take pity on some of us VB-addicts and let us play this game. Our appreciation of the game far exceeds the “value” of hoarding.

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