Tiger Castlevania Handhelds

Remember those old Tiger handhelds? The ones in the late 80's that were kinda popular (well, at least when I was young)? It was the only way to get portable gaming before the Game Boy came out in 1989. Well, many NES games were remade for Tiger games, although the game play usually didn't resemble the game it was based on very much.

Anyway, Tiger happened to release one of Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, which I found at the local Kay Bee for only $10. Anyway, you play as Simon and you must keep walking right, whipping any bad guys that come close. You can turn around and whip enemies behind you, and jump to hit enemies in the air. There are two jump commands...one which sends you straight up in the air, and the other leaps forward. In addition to your whip, you also have four daggers to use in each level that will kill almost any enemies in one shot.

Just like the NES game, there are day and night scenes (indicated by a sun or moon in the upper left corner.) The first half of a level is daytime, but halfway through, it turns to night where the enemies take twice as many hits (this gets annyoing with the gargoyles in the third stage, they take eight hits!) Sometimes there a ball that pops up in the middle of the screen that you can whip that'll fill your life up and refill your dagger supply, but its appearance is random and it can be hard to hit. Some levels also require that you leap over water from block to block (otherwise, Game Over, start from the beginning.

It's not bad for $10. It'll be useful as a quick five minute diversion every once in awhile, but Game Boys are still better. If you do find it, you'll also probably be thanking whatever deity you believe in for including a Sound Off button (as the sound effects are worse than a cat running its claws across a chalkboard.) There's also a high score function (I think I'm at 1220 as my high score, on level 3.) Apparently, a watch version of this title exists too.

There was also a Tiger handheld of Symphony of the Night. The following information is from Frostbite, who also had provided the scans for Symphony handheld.:

I picked a few of them up in mid to late 1999 at a K-Mart in New Jersey for $15 apiece. Whether it was just a random fluke or something else, I never saw them anywhere but K-Marts (and I checked multiple WalMarts, Targets, Toys R Us, etc in New Jersey and New York state for them). They were hard to find then, so I imagine they're pretty rare now. Anyways, the box art and handheld's design were pretty standard Tiger. The manual had the story, instructions, and level info interspersed with gameplay pictures and artwork.

Gameplay wise it was a typical Tiger handheld, you walked forward killing everything that got in your way until you reached the end level boss. Graphics were ho-hum and sound was standard beeps. Controls allowed you to walk forward, turn around (you couldn't go back, just used to hit enemies behind you), jump (only if a platform was above you), attack, use a special weapon, or pick up an item. You could pick up hearts (used to heal), an axe, a throwing dagger, or a cross (though the cross didn't appear until the final Dracula battle). The special weapons were all pretty much the same in that they would shoot upwards to attack overhead enemies. You started out with a short sword, and you could only get hit 3 times (though the hearts would heal you). There are 4 levels. Level 1, the entrance, had you fighting skeletons and medusa heads. At the end you fought that weird reptile thing with the woman attached to the tail (I think it was called Damascus something or other in the PSX version, but the Tiger manual calls it Medusa).

After you beat her you got the jeweled sword (made your sword appear bigger, and did a bit more damage) and went on to the royal chapel. Pretty much the same as level 1, but with bats and overhead platforms now. The boss was the hypogryph and when you beat him you got the silver ring (which didn't seem to do anything). Level 3 was the catacombs, which was the same as the last level but with salem witches added in. The boss was the succubus and the worthless prize was the gold ring. Level 4 was the castle keep, which was again the same as the other levels, but now you were under constant attack. The boss was Dracula (who looked like a disembodied torso with skull tentacles). You got the cross before the battle and used that to defeat him. Then it was game over. The game was a bit challenging but only for the reason all Tiger games are hard: overwhelming odds with bad play control.

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Even more curious, Tiger actually planned to make Symphony of the Night for its ill-fated portable system, the Game.com. According to Tiger representatives, it was about halfway done until the system was canned, and the game thus cancelled. All that remains are the screenshots, which actually don't look half bad.

And here's the Japanese version, sent by by cool Japanese fan Ieyasu. Sega actually put these out in Japan. Weird.

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Features - Tiger Handhelds