SURVIVAL KIDS / Konami / Gameboy Color
On a mega-yacht? So was it run by robots?
It's a pretty common fantasy to wonder what you would do if stranded on a desert island, what kind of Robinson Crusoe hijinks you'd get up to in order to survive and thrive. I'm thus surprised that gaming hasn't explored this concept more often, as Survival Kids for the Gameboy Color is the first game that I know of that takes it on.
You start by choosing to be a male or female. Unlike later games in the Lost in Blue series (the DS follow-up series to this game), your choice of gender doesn't effect the gameplay at all. Your kid is off on some sea voyage with Adventurous Dad on his gigantic yacht, unfortunately some freak storm pops up and capsizes the thing. You wake up on the beach of an island alone, and with only your knapsack containing a knife, a radio with dead batteries and some wet matches. From here, you have to find shelter, food, water, watch out for critters with ill intent, and explore the island to try to find a way back to civilization.
The game actually plays kind of like a Roguelike; the world is tile-based, other creatures move as you do, and you only get a finite amount of moves per day before the sun goes down and you have to retreat back to shelter to get some rest. You've got four levels to watch out for - Health, Hunger, Thirst and Fatigue. If any of the latter three drop to zero, your Health is eaten away rapidly, and when that hits zero it's game over.
Initially there's no real structure to the game. You find a hut to sleep in in fairly short order, and from there it's basically find food and fresh water for yourself each day, while scavenging up whatever items you can and exploring your surroundings. To me this was the best part of the game, as it was neat to wander around exploring and combining items. It's a kick to finally figure out how to make fire, or a bow & arrows, even if the methods are illogical and not always intuitive.
Less fun was the later portion of the game, which turns more into a standard adventure style that relies too much on complicated mazes. Of course, the game allows you to entirely skip this portion if you like - there are multiple endings, and one of the endings comes about if you simply survive for 100 days hunting up food for yourself (I like to consider that one the "true ending", but you can only get the game's "best ending" by going through all of the story/adventure rigamorale at the end).
An interesting and original game, and I'd say it's worth checking out even though I found the end portion of it a little tiresome.
* Gameplay Video