The Game Gear Directory: (Ch)

The ever-growing quest to review almost every Game Gear game

Chakan: The Forever Man (1992)

Dodgy hit detection makes this otherwise pretty cool and atmospheric platform game into something of a no-no. Your character is athletic and mobile, with plenty of interesting ways to move around, but unfortunately none of them are really put into any use. Enemies don't seem to show any feedback from being hit, so you're essentially forced to wiggle your sword at them repeatedly then move away so they won't unerringly walk into you, seemingly impervious to your blade. It's a shame, because this could be an interesting experience if literally every single aspect of the gameplay wasn't constantly at war with you. On the plus side, fantastic death scream. Worth playing just to hear it. **

Championship Hockey (1994)

Well, it sure is a game of hockey. A conversion of EA Hockey to be exact. To be honest I'm not especially... what's the word... qualified to talk about Canada's great national sport, having as I do a knowledge of it that begins and ends with that Jackass skit where Ryan Dunn (R.I.P) gets repeatedly annihilated on a hockey rink trying to jump over barrels. Anyroad, this game seems to be reasonably well-featured with a bunch of options, though in game I was able to basically guarantee victory by getting the puck and rushing the goal, mashing the "shoot" button. Against another player it would likely be a lot more enjoyable, but I didn't see this option in the menu. Er, whoops. **

Chase HQ (1991)

I used to love playing this game on the Spectrum, but for some reason it just didn't land as well here. Whether it's nostalgia for the Speccy visuals and joystick, I couldn't really tell you. Regardless, it's pretty fun, with you racing after a suspect in your motor (which utilises the screen fully, unlike Super Monaco GP), eventually catching up and ramming them off the road. It's satisfying, but samey, and gets arbitrarily more difficult after about, ooh, five stages? The controls are pretty tight, and there are a number of options, but it all sort of blends together quite quickly into a repetitive chase (HQ). Perhaps as a bite-size game it's more fun to dip into, but finishing the game completely will require multiple loops and I can't imagine anyone really having the patience for it. ***

Cheese Cat-Astrophe Starring Speedy Gonzales (1995)

Beautifully drawn and animated, with lovely smooth character movement, this platform game starring everyone's favourite racist caricature should be a winner. Unfortunately for all concerned, the level design is by turns tedious and frustrating, with Speedy - as you may expect - moving far too quickly to react to most enemies. He's able to jump on them or (sigh) throw sombreros, which must be collected, but neither is going to stop you from careening into danger. As a result, rather like Bubsy, it's a game with a character who can run extremely fast (which is fun) which is best played incredibly cautiously (which is not). It's at odds with itself, and the level design isn't particularly enjoyable anyway, with loads of repetitive terrain and little in the way of real platforming. Not totally awful, but don't go out of your way. **

The Chessmaster (1991)

Well, it's chess, isn't it? "One night in Bangkok" and all that! Ha ha, no, not that kind of chess! The board game! The ancient game! "The beautiful game", as I believe it's referred to in certain circles. Look, is it obvious that I'm just writing any old bullshit because I don't know the first flamin'
thing about chess? I mean, I understand the basic rules, a bit, maybe, kind of, but that's it. The Chessmaster, then, isn't really my cup of tea, though I do like the crystal clear sampled speech that opens the game - some nerd droning out "Welcome to The Chessmaster". There are plenty of options available, with such choices as "touching rule", which means nothing to me unless this chess sim just got a whole lot sexier. Look, again, it's fucking chess. I don't know. It's fucking chess. ***

Chicago Syndicate (1995)

A bizarre, baffling spin-off of the Mega Drive's underappreciated Eternal Champions series, Chicago Syndicate casts you as that game's Larcen Tyler, a gangster who in the Chicago Syndicate timeline has turned against the mob. He's got a year to clean up Chicago, apparently single-handedly, which sees you researching different gangs and familia, in order to strike at whoever is currently the weakest. Unfortunately, said striking consists of a rather weak fighting system that utilises a few too many commands on not nearly enough buttons, making for a rather frustrating experience - though the attacks do hit satisfyingly hard for an 8-bit game. It's visually impressive as well, with some very fun, silly portraits and well-rendered objects to investigate. The music, though, is a bit woeful. Not very good, but interesting as heck. Not even the final Eternal Champions spin-off! **

Choplifter III (1993)

After some appealing initial imagery of a chopper descending onto the screen, you'll find yourself thrown into a rather good take on the classic heli-'em-up, seeing you explore a succession of horizontal stages airlifting tiny little Lemmings-esque green soldiers back to home base, racking up points the more you manage to ferry at once. Of course, you'll find yourself set upon by all manner of beastly gun emplacements, tanks and... er... small birds in the process, but that's okay because you can shoot and bomb them all to smithereens. It's great fun, though I found the controls for turning around could be a little finicky. There doesn't seem to be a scan of the manual online, astonishingly. Anyway, if it turns out I am missing a trick - which I don't think I am - I'll be coming back to give this the full five stars. An excellent little game. ****

Chuck Rock (1992)

Oh dear, this didn't turn out very well. No disrespect intended to its programmer Gary Priest, but I wouldn't put my name on this. No music? What is this, an Amiga game?! And on top of the lack of music, the background is just... a flat, black void. Surely the Game Gear could do better than this? Argh, accentuate the positive. It plays pretty much okay, and I encountered no slowdown to speak of. Jumping and kicking and belly-bumping remains fitfully enjoyable, and this conversion retains many of the gimmicks that made Chuck Rock popular. The crocodile whos tail you stand on before throwing ("chucking") a rock at its mouth to propel you upward like a see-saw is here, for example, but the spot you need to stand is so small and finicky it's actively irritating to use. No, this is a bit of a wash-out. Play it on Mega CD if you can. **

Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck (1994)

Yes, this is a bit more like it - full visuals AND music, how spoiled we've become! Sadly, though, this still isn't exactly brilliant. Leagues better than the original Gear effort, sure, but the level design is a little flat compared to the (excellent) big console version, without consideration being paid to the system's smaller viewing area. This means you'll find yourself taking hits you shouldn't be when falling from certain platforms, with spike placement being completely unfair due to the lack of foresight the player is allowed to enjoy. Still, it's not a horrible game by any means and it retains the secrets and general quality of the Master System version it is so eminently based on. It's just a shame that the little bit of extra joosh wasn't there to make it something of an essential. A fun platform game you won't regret buying, but far from the best. ***

(Next time: Cl-Cu)