Crystal Quest is a game I have fond memories of. As a kid, I played it a lot in the 1980s on my Apple Macintosh and Apple IIgs. It's a game that was originally developed by Casady & Greene, who later went on to produce a lot of exclusive Mac titles. Of course, Crystal Quest eventually found its way onto a number of other platforms, including a 2006 remake for the Xbox 360. The remake by Stainless Games was pretty boring, but at least it included the original.
Somehow I managed to overlook the Game Boy edition that was released in 1991. Developed by Novalogic and published by Data East, it's finally time to check out the first portable version of Crystal Quest.
In this 1991 port, you control a small ball (or 'circular spaceship,' as some people claim it to be) that is tasked with collecting all the crystals on the screen. On screen there are three portals, which is where enemies of all types pop out. The portal at the bottom of the screen remains closed until you collected all crystals. If you succeed in this mission, the portal opens and takes you to another level where you repeat the process.
Your spaceship can defend itself by shooting (unlimited) or bombing (limited), which erases all enemies on screen. The original Mac game was completely controlled with the mouse, causing super-fast gameplay. The original should also get an honorable mention for the remarkable (and funny) sound effects of the aliens and enemies that try to exterminate your little ball/spaceship.
Unfortunately, the best elements of Crystal Quest have disappeared in the Game Boy conversion. Though in essence a very simple concept, the hardware is just not up to it. The main problem is the control with the D-pad. This game was just made for very quick movement with mouse (or even analog stick), but controlling with the D-pad is just too slow, stiff and bothersome. Though the whole game is slower, it still is harder to dodge enemies and collect crystals. What's more, the fantastic sound effects of the original are gone, since the hardware isn't able to reproduce them. Without its best qualities, this version of Crystal Quest is downgraded from a pretty cool shooter to a mediocre one.
All in all, Novalogic and Data East did not do a bad job on converting Crystal Quest to the Game Boy. The game is still playable, but most of the charm and fun of the original is gone. This time it's the hardware that is to blame.