When you think about it, the Game Boy was a rather limiting handheld. The monochromatic color scheme forced developers to get creative when it came to making games pop. It meant making colorful adventures without a wide palette to choose from. Sunsoft’s Trip World is one of the best examples of a game that managed to be vibrant within the confines of the era.
Trip World is a Japanese platformer starring a rabbit-like creature called Yakopoo. Only he’s not always a rabbit. Yakopoo is a Shabubu, which means he can transform into different forms on his quest to retrieve his grandpa’s stolen Maita Flower that keeps all creatures peaceful. His standard form has long ears, a tail, two feet, two bright eyes and the teeniest nose, but he’s also able to naturally flatten and extend his ears to fly, as well as switch to an aquatic form. In addition, he also gets supplemental, limited transformations that allow him to shoot seeds from a flower on his head or extend a more prehensile tail to attack.
It all sounds pretty basic, but Yakopoo shines in action. His flower form helps reinforce the notion that this character is still a child, as his seed attack looks as though he’s playing kickball. Should you transition into his fish form on land, he’ll lay on his side and flop on the ground. He doesn’t look menacing. Rather, he’s a perfect example of an innocent child playing (and succeeding) at being a hero.
This is a trait shared by many of Trip World’s enemies. Remember, this was a peaceful world before the Maita Flower was taken. None of his opponents truly seem prepared for battle. They’re fluffy, smiling, innocent and often even happy. But it isn’t only the detailed appearances that reinforce this notion. The bosses are the only foes guaranteed to attack Yakopoo. All of the others are mostly indifferent. Very few are hostile. Touching them doesn’t harm you. It helps maintain the assertion that these aren’t violent creatures. They’re genuinely calm, even good, and the stolen flower just means some are more likely to respond negatively if Yakopoo attacks them first.
Even the environments help keep things colorful. Locations are more detailed than you’d expect from a game with only five worlds. The bricks on the chimney alongside Yakopoo and his grandfather’s house are weathered. There are minor patches of grass sprouting along a mountain path. Intricate pillars in ruins have Shabubus carved into them. Under the ocean, a piece of seaweed might transform into a crab. I’d even call one section steampunk, since there are obvious technological elements running along the walls, pipes, and steel mixed in with the rocks.
The amount of personality crammed into Trip World is extraordinary. It’s unexpected, too. What could have been a basic platformer is so much more, all because of the little details Sunsoft thought to put into it. Lore is maintained, with enemies that look similar to our hero and aren’t always eager to hunt him own. Locations have special touches to add authenticity and make them feel more alive. Then, there’s Yakupoo himself, a little guy whose basic appearances and animations all provide hints at his background. Trip World is a characterful and vivid game, and anyone with a Game Boy or access to the Japanese eShop would do well to restore peace to this colorful land.