This 1996 release on the Nintendo Game Boy is one of Shigeru Miyamoto‘s least known works, although it really is a hidden gem on the system and is well worth finding and playing now if you’ve never seen it.
You play Muddy the Mole and you must explore overground areas and dig underground areas in order to make it to the next screen. Ultimately you are trying to make your way through seven different levels in order to rescue your wife and children, who have been kidnapped by a farmer called Jinbe.
Various obstacles, enemies, and bosses stand between you and your family – some of them very Mario-like! It has been speculated that Mole Mania takes place in the Mario universe and that Jinbe is related to Mario, but that’s by-the-by. What Mole Mania does have is the same level of care and detail lavished upon it by the developers as a Mario game.
Little touches like sticking your nose out of the ground to check what’s above; pushing, pulling and throwing objects; collecting cabbages to increase your life points; bonus games where you have to avoid the angry farmer and push cabbages down holes; and also colour support (if the cartridge is plugged into a Game Boy Color).
Mole Mania is a fantastic game that is both cute and challenging. The ‘dig’ mechanic works very well, although in later, more difficult levels you do have to be careful where you start digging because it can render a screen un-finishable. Thankfully you can simply exit and re-enter a screen to start again.
More: Mole Mania on Wikipedia