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 '91, Ganbare Gorby, Magical Taruruuto-Kun, Mappy, Shining Force Gaiden