Publisher Incube8 is gearing up for a strong finish to 2023 and a promising start to 2024. This Canadian publisher has a history of releasing Gameboy and Gameboy Color games, including two we covered: 2021 Moon Escape and Dango Dash. Currently, they are actively promoting four new Gameboy Color games set to be released within the next year: “Dragonyhm,” “Fix My Heart,” “The Mayor of Sanctuary,” and “Zephyr’s Pass.” Yes, it may surprise you, but physical Gameboy Color games are still being produced even in this day and age. Out of these four upcoming GBC games in development, I had the opportunity to take a closer look at two of them.
This RPG Adventure was first known as Dragonborne DX but got rebranded to Dragonyhm. It’s still under development by Spacebot Interactive, and a demo is available for the public. You can get it here. The story follows the typical adventure game formula that we (retro gamers) all know and love. The main character, Kris (a teenager, of course), is sleeping in his bed and having a prophetic dream. This dream is the game’s prologue, and it slowly turns into a nightmare. Kris is awakened by this nightmare and his mother. She informs Kris that his father, Kurtis, the dragon slayer, didn’t come home last night and is missing. And there you have it, the starting point of Kris’s epic adventure in a fantasy world.
You only have to play Dragonyhm for 5 minutes to figure out where the game got its inspiration from: The classical intro, the overhead view, the catchy music, and the gorgeous 8-bit handheld graphics. The game looks and sounds like a typical Zelda game, and there is nothing wrong with that in my book. Imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery, and a good copy is better than a bad original.
Turnbased RPG style
With that said I must empathize that the combat system for Dragonyhm is the classic 100% turned based RPG style. This might turn some adventure gamers off that are expecting dungeon hack and slash action. For others this Zelda meets Dragon Quest mix might feel like a dream coming true.
It will be interesting to see how the game develops, beyond this point. The fact that Spacebot Interactive made a special “border” for the SNES Super Gameboy shows an innate eye for detail. That alone makes me confident that spacebot interactive and incube8 games will deliver this game nicely polished in the near future.
Dragonyhm will come at a price of $54,99 USD somewhere in Q1 2024
The story of “Zephyr’s Pass,” another game on the Incube8 Games website that caught my eye, is an original one. Abel, the protagonist, is a member of a band of air pirates who find themselves stranded in the desert after their airship loses its stabilizer in a windstorm. Despite the damage to their ship, the pirates manage to reach a nearby village. Once there, the captain sends Abel on a quest to find food and spare parts for their ship. As you progress, you gradually uncover a story involving missing livestock and wind gods.
The gameplay, much like “Dragonyhm,” draws inspiration from handheld Zelda games. However, “Zephyr’s Pass” places a stronger emphasis on exploration and narrative-driven puzzle solving, without incorporating turn-based RPG elements. Exploration takes place within the village, where the inhabitants send you on quests to find objects and people. The dungeons in this game focus more on puzzles than what you might expect from other games in this genre, which is a refreshing change of pace. But don’t be mistaken; there is still plenty of action in the dungeons, and the boss battles are quite challenging.
Zephyr’s Pass gets a pass for now. Oh man, that pun was so easy, anybody could have come up with that one. But in all seriousness, the game is set for 2023 Q4 release so there is a lot of time left for improvement. The demo (without story spoilers) can be found on incube8 website here.
Zephyr’s pass includes
- Sealed box
- Clear cartridge
- Clear cartridge protector
- Instruction booklet
- Stickers sheet
- Silkscreened PCB with artwork on the back side
And will be available for $59,99 USD somewhere in Q4 2023