Thursday, December 12, 2013

Five favorites: Sega Game Gear titles

You'd think that with the 3DS, DS, GameBoy, Neo Geo Pocket Color and WonderSwan (all of which I've been playing in recent weeks--sometimes using actual hardware and sometimes going the emulation route), my portable gaming bases would be covered for the time being.

Over the weekend, though, I ditched the systems mentioned above and instead spent some quality time with a few Game Gear titles (again, both via real hardware and emulation), an experience that prompted me to contemplate my favorite examples of that handheld's game catalog.

Here's what I came up with, in alphabetical order. (Note: the following games are my personal favorites. I don't necessarily consider them to be the "best" this Sega-made machine has to offer. Also, I have to admit I've yet to play Phantasy Star Gaiden, a title that surely appears on some similar lists.)


The Berlin Wall--Although I've been a fan of the single-screen platformer (think: Bubble Bobble) since I first got into gaming, I wasn't aware of this game's existence until a year or so ago. That's a shame, as The Berlin Wall is a lot of fun. How would I describe it? Don Doko Don blended with Lode Runner is the best I can come up with at the moment, although I doubt that means much to some of you. Regardless, check it out if you've ever gotten a kick out of games like Snow Bros. or Tumblepop.


Bubble Bobble--Those looking for a direct port of Taito's bubble-centric classic will want to steer clear of this version, as it ends up feeling more like Bubble Bobble Mini than a full-fledged port. That's because although each stage has been shrunken down to fit the Game Gear's tiny screen, the title's other elements--Bob, Bub and their many colorful enemies, mainly--were given a reprieve. The game's honestly a bit broken because of that fact, but it's still a lot of fun.


Madou Monogatari I--A first-person dungeon crawler from the makers of Puyo Puyo? Where do I sign up? That was my first thought upon hearing about this series (four of its entries ended up on the Game Gear) some years ago. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was even more enjoyable--and charming--than I assumed it would be. By the way, if you're too chicken to play through such a game in Japanese, this first one was translated into English courtesy of SSTranslations.


Magical Puzzle Popils--All you really need to know about this one is that it was made by the same guy, Fukio Mitsuji, who brought Bubble Bobble to the world. Like that game, Magical Puzzle Popils features more-adorable-than-they-have-any-right-to-be protagonists and tunes but takes the gameplay in a different direction altogether by tasking players with getting from each level's start to its exit (a trapped princess) in as few steps as possible.


Puzzle Bobble--If you're looking for the best-possible portable version of this classic puzzler, look no further than this old port. Sure, it's far from perfect, but it's miles better than its GameBoy, Neo Geo Pocket Color and WonderSwan counterparts. (I'm especially fond of how Bub and Bob look here.) Plus, this release actually features the original arcade soundtrack, which alone makes it well worth checking out.

Honorable mentions: Galaga '91Ganbare GorbyMagical Taruruuto-Kun, MappyShining Force Gaiden

10 comments:

RetroKingSimon said...

Haha, Super Ultra Massive Damage! :P I like Popils too but I haven't played the GG versions of the others here. Bubble Bobble should be in the top everything of everything though :P

thegaygamer.com said...

Hey there, Simon! Yeah, Madou Monogatari is sooooo cute. That said, it also means business (i.e., it's tough) from a gameplay perspective--which is the perfect combination, IMO.


BTW, you really, REALLY should try the GG version of Bubble Bobble sometime. It's ... an experience. You kind of feel like Godzilla Bob/Bub tramping through each stage, which is a lot of fun (or at least I think so).


Strangely, I'm pretty sure it was only released in the US. Hard to believe such a game wasn't also released in Japan at least!

James Fletcher said...

I've always been curious about what's good in the Game Gear, since it's the Sega system no one seems to talk about. I can honestly say I know more about what's on the Sega Master System at this point, and I actually wasn't even aware that was a thing until I started reading about it on the Internet.


Also, did you get the screenshot on the first game wrong, or did they seriously make a puzzle platformer featuring penguins and call it the Berlin Wall? I find that kinda amazing.

thegaygamer.com said...

Hey there, James! Well, there are a few reasons most folks--even Sega fans--don't talk about the GG, I'm sure. For starters, it tanked in relation to the original GameBoy similarly to how the Master System tanked in relation to the NES/Famicom. Also, although a number of good/great games were released for the GG, it also had a good number of stinkers (IMO), which probably has poisoned some folks against it.


As for The Berlin Wall: honestly, I have no idea what's up with the naming of this game. The star/protagonist of the game is a little hard-hatted man who wields a hammer, by the way. The penguins are just the "enemies" of the game's first world (an ice world, if you can't tell).

Monster_Hunter2882 said...

I seriously need to play a game gear that isn't Sonic The Hedgehog related.

thegaygamer.com said...

Yes, that's true. I've never played a Sonic GG game myself. Just never been a fan of the games, although I like the character design well enough.

Justin Difazzio said...

How does Berlin Wall compare with Wreckin' Crew, Bryan?

thegaygamer.com said...

Completely different games, Justin. Wrecking Crew (which I love, of course) is more of a puzzler, if you ask me. Berlin Wall is more arcade-y and action-y. If you've played Lode Runner, it's kind of like that game, but it's much more straightforward and much less strategic. Another way of thinking of it is to think of it as being like Don Doko Don, only rather than using your hammer/mallet to send enemies careening around the level, you use it to dig holes and trap enemies. (And once you have them trapped, you hit them again to make them fall to the ground, where they somehow turn into pieces of cake.)

Justin Difazzio said...

Very interesting. Sounds like my kind of game.

thegaygamer.com said...

Give it a try sometime. I think you might like it. Just be aware that the early stages are super easy. Things do get tougher later on, thankfully. Also, there's an arcade version that plays similar but looks much different. I personally prefer the visuals in the GG version, although the arcade version's obviously are more detailed, etc.