The Game Gear Directory: (5-An)

The first in a series reviewing every single game on the system

Hello. My name is Stuart Gipp, and I love the Game Gear. So much, in fact, that I have decided to review every single game on the system. Okay - not every single game. Japanese games that I cannot play due to Not Understanding Japanese cannot reasonably be reviewed by me, so please do not expect to see them here. Sound off in the comments if you think I've missed an accessible one and I will endeavour to update the piece. I'm hoping to do one of these a week and hopefully eventually get through the whole library. I'm excited, because I think that while these reviews are going to be short and personal, they're also going to be some of the most complete Game Gear coverage ever published. Maybe. I hope! Look, that's enough preamble - it's time for games! So let's get started with the Game Gear Directory, from 5 to An!

5 in 1 Funpak (1994)

A workmanlike compilation of classic meatspace games, 5 in 1 Funpak is serviceable in every sense of the word, with two-player capability for the included activities, which are: Backgammon, Checkers, Reversi, Chess and something I've never heard of called Yacht, which seems to be some kind of dice game. I checked out all the others and they get the job done. They're fast-paced and have a very functional, responsive control scheme. Visually everything you'll need to pay attention to is very clear cut, and all the information you'll need to play is always available on screen at all times. It's difficult to rate a game like this because while I personally have no interest in it, I can't deny that it's an impressive cartridge. It won't "wow" you, but it'll certainly help you while away the hours. ***

Addams Family, The (1994)

Aaargh, this game just SCREAMS "microcomputer port" at me with its bizarre, looping, nonsensical level design that feels like stuff was placed to kill you in the most aggravating possible ways. Controlling family patriarch Gomez you've got to explore the Addams mansion and its grounds, collecting money and keys as well as jumping on the heads of nasties. It's the sort of game I recognise and acknowledge is quite bad, but I get a kick out of its Sinclair ZX Spectrum/Commodore 64 vibes. ***

Adventures of Batman and Robin, The (1994)

Oh dear. This is a choppy, awkward platformer that controls like a rabid dog. Its level design isn't bad and the gameplay seeing you hucking Batarangs at everyone within range and punching them in the face for livin' is fun, just rather spoiled by the peformance. The visuals are on point too, though it borrows some stills from the Mega Drive version in a rather shameless way. Oddly it's closer to Konami's SNES game than Clockwork Tortoise's astonishing Mega Drive effort. It's not absolutely horrible but I wouldn't recommend this. **

Aerial Assault (1992)

A rather enjoyable horizontal shooter, with the exciting addition of two-player mode via a link cable. Humorously, using this mode also disables many other features such as your final power upgrade and the ability to continue. The problem is, while Aerial Assault is gorgeous to look it and enjoyable simplistic (it's a one-button game), it's perhaps a touch too vanilla and is laughably easy all the way from the start to the finish, which is something of a nail in its coffin. Even though it's only 25 minutes long, it could have done with being cut down in size and the difficulty cranked up. **

Alien 3 (1993)

Tremendous UK software house Probe bring us this 8-bit version of the frustrating Mega Drive game, naturally a port of the Master System version. You've got to take Ripley through the bowels of the horrible Fiorina 161 prison, rescuing the victims of the xenomorphs before time runs out, at which point their chests burst messily. Unlike the console original, this game has a much fairer time limit, though it's still tight enough to make you sweat. The platforming and blasting action both feel good, the level design is strong and while the viewing area has been cut down to accomodate the Game Gear, you still have plenty of reaction time. Another solid licensed title from Probe. ****

Alien Syndrome (1992)

This classic Sega arcade game fits the Game Gear like a glove. Traversing the mazes, locating and rescuing hostages, opening doors and, of course, blasting the living hell out of alien scum. This top-down shooter lets you inspect a map by hitting button 2, though of course this pauses the action for a microsecond, leading to somewhat stop-start gameplay if you overuse it. That aside, Alien Syndrome has been crafted very nicely for the handheld. It looks lovely, feels great to control and has plenty of content. Very good! ****

Andre Agassi Tennis (1994)

This is a noble effort, but fundamentally difficult to enjoy as the difficulty is far too high and it can seem absolutely random what kind of hit and its trajectory your tennis racquet is going to offer, and yes I've read the manual. It looks great and the animation is very strong, if a little choppy. Unfortunately it just doesn't play a good game of tennis, and therefore misses the point quite spectacularly. Andre Agassi? I'm Andre Aghast-y! **

(Next time: Ar-Ay)