Review: Glory Hunters (Game Boy) - A Glorious 8-Bit Throwback With Some Rough Edges

3 weeks ago 61
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With such a wealth of homebrew and aftermarket games releasing for old Nintendo hardware, we thought we'd check out one of the most promising examples in this neo-retro Game Boy review. To reiterate, Glory Hunters isn't available on Switch, though we'll be sure to let you know if that situation ever changes.

For review, George played and captured screenshots on an Analogue Pocket.

The release of GB Studio in 2019 has resulted in a flurry of games available for Nintendo’s lovely big brick over the last few years, but few have been as ambitious or as widely covered as Glory Hunters – the debut game of Mexico-based 2think design studio. Billed as "a unique Game Boy action-adventure RPG", Glory Hunters smashed its crowdfunding target on Kickstarter in 2022 and launched recently in both downloadable digital (via and physical form, the latter coming courtesy of Bitmap Soft. But does it live up to the hype?

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During the build-up, Glory Hunters was often likened to The Legend of Zelda, and right off the bat we see a large, celestial body (not a moon!) on a collision course with the land, followed by a positively Wind Waker-esque slideshow detailing an ancient tale - imploring a hero to rise up and summon a slumbering God to avert disaster.

But the similarities with Nintendo’s iconic franchise more or less end there. We’re thrust straight into the action. Sort of. We have a sword but there are no enemies, just some bushes and a path blocked by a suit of armour and a friendly little NPC, who lays out the premise that sets Glory Hunters apart from its forebears. The suit of armour is called a ‘Glory Knight’ and progression in the game is achieved through the collection of ‘Glory Points’ (GP) awarded by completing ‘glorious deeds’. We can use these to pay off the Glory Knights and open up new areas of the map. It’s a sort of levelling up, map expansion, and currency system rolled into one.

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At an impasse and with little else to go on, we do what any action-adventure veteran would. We start chopping bushes. Once five bite the dust, a notification pops up - we’ve achieved a glorious feat (apparently) called ‘Cut Starter’ and have a shiny GP for our troubles. We could pay up and move on but instead we keep chopping, curious as to what’s necessary to further this achievement. In doing so we unearth, to our delight, a different feat by picking up a certain amount of item drops.

Learning by doing is something of a lost art in modern games but Glory Hunters excels at this. It knows the tropes — we’re going to read signposts, peer down a well, relentlessly chop grass — and it rewards us for it. But it also steers us effortlessly toward more obscure feats, drip-feeding points to encourage repetition and exploration, constantly fuelling the compulsion to keep probing and trying new things. It’s setting us up to understand the deal from the very beginning – everything in this world is transactional. Succinct tutorial over, we’re then free to explore the open world of Glorianta any way we want, constrained only by the number of points in our possession and armed with the knowledge that reaching one of its four corners will allow us to complete our quest.

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Easier said than done. Glorianta is a behemoth. At a grid size of 17x19 it’s more than four times bigger than Link’s first pocket adventure - and just as gorgeous as Koholint, too. In fact, the whole visual and audio presentation of the game is sublime. The boss designs are a particular highlight and there are cute cutscenes scattered throughout the adventure. The different regions of the world have a strong sense of identity while the music underscores each area perfectly, thumping anthems akin to Mega Man power us through the overworld while cosy relief is provided as we bustle about towns meeting inhabitants. It’s never overbearing and most importantly, very hummable. It’s not all work either, with some excellent minigames dotted about to both waste time on and collect GPs. Double win!

Exploration is hampered by the fact that the overworld map is only accessible in said towns. With such a huge space to explore, it’s a little overwhelming not to have a reference point at our fingertips; fortunately, the enemies are varied enough in pattern and design and the puzzles and hidden secrets sufficiently engaging to keep exploration interesting – though it does chug a bit if there’s more than two foes on the screen. Saving the game and replenishing health is also restricted to specific areas and for a game that relies on repetition to drive exploration, this can be a real problem. Remember those bushes we chopped down at the start of the game? We chopped them down a hundred times, then died before finding a save point, which meant chopping them down 100 times again. This was quite discouraging at times – particularly at the start of the quest.

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Another gripe we have is death resulting in us being returned to the world with the amount of health we had at the last save point, instead of replenishing it. More than once we came through a hard stretch, saved, then faced a tough challenge or needed to go back and became locked into a pretty dire situation where advancing or retreating punished us over and over again.

Having said that, the balance of GPs earned/required is pretty well judged, with minimal amounts of grinding necessary to press on. But GPs are also used as a currency to upgrade your armour, sword, amount of health, or give hints, so you're playing a constant guessing game about spending without knowing if a big blockade of Glory Knights lay ahead that would require hard-earned GPs and if amassing more would be achievable or even enjoyable should that be the case. Over time our thinking adjusted to the idea of chasing points to bolster ourselves, instead of bolstering ourselves and then chasing points, but this involved a lot of backtracking and there were definitely times when we just wanted to get on with it. There’s a whole host of other collectibles which felt a little underused and we couldn’t help but think maybe those might have been better suited to the role of currency.


Glory Hunters is a package that has had a lot of love poured into it while remaining a little rough around the edges. We weren’t always sure when we were taking damage or even dishing it out – particularly when facing larger, noisier bosses, and some beats within the game felt a bit flat. Some translation quirks and grammatical errors also popped up, but these were never substantial enough to bother us (we actually thought they added a bit of charm to proceedings). All in all, Glorianta is a rich, deep world that is enjoyable to explore and successfully taps into nostalgia for Game Boy experiences while providing a fresh and interesting take on the formula. Proof, if there was ever any doubt, that there’s life in the old Boy yet.

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