Beating Godrick in the Game Boy version of Elden Ring is just as enjoyable

When news of the Elden Ring Game Boy Demake broke a few weeks ago, I felt drawn to it, drawn to its glow like a tainted one helplessly following the faint glow of the guide light. After completing Elden Ring a few weeks ago, I felt burnt out from the game’s sluggish late stages and was having fun Not guiding myself through any sort of soul-like gauntlet and instead engaging in games that actually feel like they want me to complete them. Make no mistake, I’m FromSoft until I die and die and die again, but even the most passionate of relationships need some resilience.


And yet, when I saw this old-school Zelda-like demake released by indie developer Shin on, my ambition was reignited. I knew it was only the early parts of the game – Limgrave and Stormveil Castle through to Godrick – but who wouldn’t appreciate the opportunity to be the tyrannical despot who makes up for his lack of bravery by sewing the arms of the poor to trip again Troubled wanderers to themselves? I’d love to overthrow the bastard again, even if it’s in 8-bit form.

I downloaded the game, ran it through Retroarch and can say that it’s actually pretty good! Its intention to be as punitive as Elden Ring Proper was made clear when I encountered the Grafted Scion – a boss you absolutely should die to early in the game (which I did).

Spawning in Limgrave, it was nice to see the game piling into some of the familiar faces from the early game of Elden Ring, complete with shortened (but still sane) dialogue. The sorceress Sellen hangs around in a basement you walk into, Kenneth Haight babbles on about the tyranny of Godrick and how “plum crazy” he is (great phrase), and you know exactly what to do when you meet the warrior Jar Alexander. The witch Ranni is there too, complete with her scarred closed eye; For such a limited graphical framework – this game was designed to run on real Game Boy hardware – the attention to detail is impressive.

But once I got past the procession of friendly faces and entered the fight, things got difficult. In fact, the very first combat encounter in the game is probably the toughest, albeit against two lowly soldiers that you would quickly deal with in the main version. You see, even though you have a nifty dodge roll where you smash a wheel through the air with no hands, it doesn’t seem to give you those precious invincibility frames (i-frames). This makes enemy sword swings – which have a vicious 90-degree arc, similar to Link’s swing in the early Zelda games – extremely difficult to avoid.

A good 10 deaths later I thought fuck those guys and sprinted right past them like a true FromSoft player to see what awaited me behind the gates of Stormveil.

If the first part of the Elden Ring demake is like Link’s Awakening, then the second part is Zelda II as the game switches to a side scrolling perspective that works a lot of better for it. Your dodge is replaced with a jump button, and suddenly you’re dodging projectiles, getting behind enemies, and getting into a nice rhythmic flow that the overhead perspective didn’t offer.

As I made my way through Stormveil, my confidence grew as I picked up some power-enhancing runes (which I’m still not sure I actually did anything about) and defeated the castle’s denizens. However, in the true spirit of Elden Ring, the game escalates its attempts to “put out your flame” once you start to get into a groove. I soon got to my first big test: Margit, The Fell Omen – in all its great, big pixel block glory.

Thankfully, his movesets are more predictable than in his original form and well adapted to the Game Boy format. The Demake does a great job of capturing that hypnotic rhythm of an old-school 8-bit boss fight, and when I tapped into that headspace – deftly dodging his daggers and impressive hammer blow – Margit was no more.

In an interesting reflection on Elden Ring lore, the Godrick fight was actual a few screens later Easier than the Margit fight. He certainly looks the part – skinny pixel arms stretching out from a grotesquely broad back, the dragonhead hand, the creepy little head – but the fight felt like a nod to the cowardly character Godrick is meant to be. Again, you’ll need to get into the groove a bit as he rains fire from above and from his ax (hint: hit him a lot of after he brought his ax down), but I managed to defeat him the first time.

It was a fitting end for Godrick – a deluded fool, far removed from the divine blood of his distant ancestors and scarcely worthy of the demigodhood he ascribes to himself. Margit was decidedly the tougher fight, which of course fits with what we later learn that he’s a far more important figure in the entire Elden Ring mythos than he admits.

The end of Godrick marks the end of the demake, and I have to admit that it opened up the neural paths of FromSoft that I’ve closed since completing Elden Ring. Unfortunately, it looks like developer Shin won’t be expanding this charming little iteration of the Elden Ring any time soon. In response to a request to continue expanding the game, Shin said:

“I need to get a real job instead of working on this game,” writes developer Shin. “I’d love to expand the game in the future, but no promises.”

And maybe that’s for the best. FromSoft games wreak havoc on me, and every time I complete one it takes me some decompression time from the grueling journey they take me on. The Lands Between is a special place, but a place I want to think about before coming back to it soon – also in 8-bit form. Beating Godrick in the Game Boy version of Elden Ring is just as enjoyable

Lindsay Lowe

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