The Game Gear Directory: (Ca)

A smaller update by necessity, but an update nonetheless.

Caesars Palace (1993)

At the risk of allowing my personal politics to filter into this Game Gear Directory, no system should play host to this evil shit masquerading as a harmless simulation. Ethics aside, this isn't a good casino, mostly seeing you click your way through endless dull slot reels before wrestling with the Video Poker in an attempt to get a game going. The graphics are ugly and feel like they haven't properly been resized for the handheld - why do I need to scroll the screen every time I want to insert a coin into the slots? One thing I do like is the ability to walk around a virtual casino like some sort of appalling gambling take on Zelda, but overall I don't see the appeal of simulated casinos anyway. Which is a shame, because there's another one coming up. *

Captain America and The Avengers (1993)

Oh, this one is just deeply disappointing. A clumsy, ugly side-scroller that bears little relation to the enjoyably knockabout Data East arcade game, this seems to be a title you can pretty much conquer simply by doing repeated jump kicks. It's not absolutely horrible, but it does funnel you through worlds that are empty of intrigue, locking you into fights with identical robot enemies, each of which is defeated... well, identically. It's so anaemic that it's difficult to even write about, such is the depth of my disinterest in the proceedings. It feels unfinished, like it had to be rushed out; there are platforms you can climb on, as you'd expect, that at first appear to offer alternative routes but ultimately lead nowhere at all. Very strange, very bad. *

Casino FunPak (1995)

The threatened second casino game, and an equally evil piece of exploitation masquerading as entertainment. This one doesn't even let you walk around a casino, though playing Backjack against the computer is sad enough that presentation ceases to matter. Look, you shouldn't play games like this. The only reason I can see for their existence is to somehow mitigate the damage an addiction to gambling causes to a person's finances by giving them the same buzz with fake money. Seems to me that it's more likely to trigger a recovering addict back into real gambling! But what do I know, I'm not a scientist. At any rate, I am a gamer, and this game sucks pretty darn badly. It isn't a fun casino sim, and it doesn't seem to have slots which is absolutely baffling as they are a must for any halfway decent den of sin, no? *

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (1991)

Oh thank god, something good. A favourite of mine going back to early childhood, I still feel confident in calling Castle of Illusion one of the best pure platformers ever created. Yes, there are only six levels, but they're large, densely-packed with stuff and secrets, and totally different in vibe. There's no aspect bringing things down, the game is framed perfectly for the small screen, and with small level design tweaks and Mickey's play control being modified to bring it in line with the (inferior, but still good) Mega Drive version of the game. It's a masterpiece that's an absolute joy to play over and over again, an experience that simply fits handheld gaming like a glove. A lovely, silken one. *****

Next time: (Ch)