Way back in November 2001, Game Park released a little hand held that never made it out of South Korea. That means most of you reading this probably have never heard of it. My goal with this article is to change that fact. Considering there is no official English release of the GP32 means most of the games are not available in English. Considering I only speak/read English (though I can get a fight started in seven total languages) I thought it might be a clever idea to pull together a list of great games for the GP32 that everyone can play, no language barrier blocking you.
A little history of the GP32
First up a bit of history about the GP32. As mentioned already, it was released in November 2001 by Game Park. This little bad boy is a 32-bit handheld with a color screen. The GP32 was one of the first handhelds to eliminate proprietary cartridges in favor of SmartMedia cards (SMC). This left the handheld wide open for homebrew and independent developers to tear into the platform with nothing more than just the handheld itself.
The GP32 features two main buttons (A and B), a four-way mini-joystick controller, and two shoulder buttons along with Start and Select buttons. Remember the mention of developers? Well, the GP32 features a USB 1.1 port and a serial expansion port. The screen is also color. This all runs on two AA sized batteries.
GP32 was open to fans to develop software
The development software was freely available though Game Park did have developers jump through a couple of hoops to acquire it. Later on in the handhelds life developers created their own custom firmware that removed the Game Park restrictions. There were nearly 30 commercial games released for the GP32, not exactly a huge library but still not bad for a handheld only released in South Korea. As with most of these types of platforms, it is what the fans did with it that makes it special.
On with the list
First, here are five commercial games you can play that don’t have a huge language barrier to tackle. There are some fan translations available for stuff like Princess Maker 2, but I did not include those. Maybe in a future article.
Her Knights is a brawler style game like Final Fight and Streets of Rage but with a strong fantasy theme. There are two attacks, strong and fast, with combos being performed with button combinations. Pick from five knights and cleanse the realm of the evil.
Blue Angelo is often referred to as Dragon Ball meets “metroidvania” gaming. If that starts your engine, then you are going to have one hell of a challenging time finding a copy of this one. Apparently, there were only 500 copies produced and Blue Angelo holds the distinction of being the last boxed release for the GP32.
Dungeon and Guarder is another brawler set in a fantasy world but this time there is a strong Camelot Planning style menu selection going on. If you want a brawler that is not scared to throw blood around, then definitely check out Dungeon and Guarder.
Little Wizard brings 1 on 1 fighting action to the GP32. The basics of fighting require no understanding of the language to know if you lost or won and it helps that Little Wizard has some great graphics. The game world is decidedly fantasy which opens the possibilities for fun.
Tomak Save the Earth Again is the weirdest back story on this list. I saved it for last for a reason. Apparently, this is a follow up release for a PlayStation 2 title, Tomak Save the Earth, which involved growing human heads in pots like plants. Tomak mixes things up with some bullet hell and more traditional shooters with some weird graphics and enemies. If you just want to play Tomak investigate the easier to get Windows PC version and enjoy the fifth, exclusive, level.
GP32 had indies before it was cool
Now for some independent and homebrew selections for the GP32.
First up, Beats of Rage. With this one you can add in whatever PAK file you want to recreate classic brawlers or mix it up. There are hundreds of mods for the BOR engine, so you are likely to find at least a handful of games you like.
GpAlice is a 2D side scrolling action game I covered here already. If you want a run and jump style action game set in the Alice in Wonderland style, then definitely check this one out. Available here.
QuadTris is by the same team responsible for GpAlice. Fans of Bejeweled, here you go. Make matches in square or rectangle formations and get the high score. Available here.
What independent game list would be complete without the Giana Sisters game? Yep, this little run and jump game is available for the GP32 (and a crap ton other platforms according to the download page). Available here.
OpenJazz is another run and jump game that could be right up your alley if you are wanting an action game like Super Mario. Available here.
For a metric ton of indie games and ports head here. Seriously, there are a lot of games and software for this little handheld.
Want a GP32 of your own? eBay has them but man, they are pricey.
This article was originally published on Retro Gaming Magazine.