Over a decade ago now, I was huge into Game Boy collecting. Like, the sole focus of my video game collection was GB, GBC, and GBA. I bought some Gamecube games, too - sure. But GB was what I really cared about. At a time - I was insane - and was attempting to collect a full set of GB, GBC, and GBA games. The caveat being, I was going for loose cart US copies, to help the financial blow. But still. This was an insane endeavor that amounted to thousands of cartridges and who knows what percentage of them were really worth playing. Around the time I finally got rid of the collecting bug, I had amassed HUNDREDS of little carts. Not that I regret a thing. I played and discovered so many unique games during that time. And really, I learned a heck of a lot. I dare say that my GB knowledge is way way up there, even if it's not really my focus today.
Having said all that - outside of the stupid US full set collecting, there were plenty of imports I was interested in. And even way back then, Magical Chase was on my radar. If anything, it was a bit of a GB holy grail. If you don't know, Magical Chase was a highly regarded Turbo Grafix 16 shmup. One about a little witch. It was cute and colorful. It was a highlight of the system. It was also released in small batches - both in Japan where the PCE did well, and in the US where the TG16 did not. Thus, it was a high priced item on the afermarket. The game was later ported to the GBC in 2000, but only in Japan. And it was a technoligical marvel. Yep, it was an honest to goodness SOLID port of a TG16 on GBC. And it was a solid shmup on GBC. So you should know that it was always pricey for GBC collectors.
For many years, I resigned myself to the idea that I'd never own this one. But I'll be honest here. I'm no longer a video game "collector." I'm a guy that strongly appreciates VG history, but I don't care about having this amazing collection to show off. I don't care about CIB, or sealed, or graded games. I only care about getting a chance to play some games that interest me. Which is why when I stumbled upon a CLEARLY bootleg copy of Magical Chase for less than $20 I didn't even think twice. Yup, it's on a gaudy yellow cartridge to make sure you know it's not the real deal. And yeah, the PCB is a little wobbly in there, so I had to re-insert the cart numerous times before my Retron 5 console even recognized it. But dudes. I "own" a copy of Magical Chase. I don't care about the authenticy on a prohibitively priced import ($360 for a legit used cart on eBay as I type this), I'm just hyped that I'm playing a cartridge of it at all.
The "witch shmup" sub-genre is something that seems to intrigue me. I was a fan of Cotton and Castle Of Shikigami and Deathsmiles. So I mean, Magical Chase is a no brainer. If nothing else, Magical Chase seems like a Cotton rip-off. But not in a bad way. Maybe it's more of a tribute. Just more candy colored.
Anyway, I've been playing it tonight on a nice big screen and with a SNES controller, and I'm into it. It looks good. It plays good. It sounds good. The neat thing is that shops pop up and you can purchase weapon upgrades, or replenish health or whatever. I've been experimeting with different weapons, and it's cool and seems to add depth.
The levels are disarming. They look so bright and fun, yet this game is actually pretty challenging. Part of it comes from the size of your sprite, though, making it tough to dodge some projectiles. Plus, your shots can blend in with enemy fire. Not really uncommon for a GB shmup.
But yeah, this is a cool game. I made it up to the boss of Stage 4 (out of 6?) so far. And the boss battles are cool and well animated. Look, I'm impressed by this one. It's such a cool collectible. Even if I don't have the real deal, I feel like I added a cool title to my own little rag tag collection.