The Game Gear Directory: (Di-Do)

A clutch of Disney titles for the cartoon-infused handheld

Disney's Aladdin (1994)

Almost every format gets a different Aladdin game, and the Game Gear is no exception. Though, to be fair, this is more or less a Master System port. What was very impressive on said home console - parallax! Semi-3D buildings! - is less so on the handheld, knowing what it would go on to do, but Aladdin remains an enjoyable little game. It lacks the consistency of the Mickey and Donald games, but there's a decent amount of enjoyment to be wrung out of its movie-led structure. Opening with a couple of exciting chase levels, proceedings soon give way to a somewhat more thoughtful Prince of Persia-style platformer that makes time for the expected magic carpet ride and sword fight against a giant snake. Sorry for the spoiler. There's plenty of story here, too - far more than any other version - but cut this stuff out and it's a remarkably brief journey. ***

Disney's Bonkers: Wax Up! (1995)

Oh, god. Look, the cartoon was beautifully animated, let's just leave it at that. The SNES Bonkers game is surprisingly decent so I had hoped this would be okay, but it's a total stinker, folks. The music sets the tone - or doesn't, because it's borderline unlistenable. There are barely any sound effects, either. It looks okay, though things move so slowly, so judderingly, that it doesn't really matter. Worst of all, the levels are enormous, maze-like runarounds full of platforms and ladders like a shit Chuckie Egg, seeing you avoid boring enemy sprites while collecting indistinct objects in an effort to finally move onto the next borderline-identical area. Bonus rounds see you rolling across obstacle courses on a runaway office chair, but they're so sluggish that they fail to inject any excitement into the proceedings whatsoever. It's a Game Gear cartridge, friends - I don't want to spend ten minutes plus on a single boring level. One of the weakest carts I've encountered so far. *

Disney's The Jungle Book (1994)

You wouldn't think a Jungle Book game would work particularly well, but the Mega Drive cart based on the film of the book of the book is a shockingly enjoyable collect-'em-up platformer. On Game Gear, sadly, it doesn't fare too well, but that's due to some sadly careless use of the Game Gear screen space rather than its level design, controls etc - the actual meat of the thing is a lot of fun, seeing Mowgli zip around various bits of his beloved jungle collecting precious red diamonds, just like he did in the movie. Your main weapon is an infinite supply of bananas, though other items can be picked up and utilised, such as a powerful boomerang. It lacks stage variety compared to its big brother, and even the earliest stages have innumerable leap of faith thanks to the aforementioned screen crunch. It's a shame, because it's a lot of fun to control and visually tremendous - but careless ports cost lives. Sorry, not lives. Stars. They cost stars. ***

Donald no Magical World (1994)

A downgrade of the rather excellent Mega Drive burger-'em-up McDonalds Treasure Land Adventure, this Japan-only platformer is one of the best on the Game Gear; a bit of a shock considering the insipid license. While it's a little slow-paced, the level design is beautifully crafted around the Gear screen, and actually expands on the moveset from the Mega Drive title with the addition of playable character Ronald McDonald's umbrella, which he can open to slow his descent ala Lemmings or, if you prefer, Robocod. Graphics and sound are exemplary throughout, there are some reasonably enjoyable mini-games to play for power-ups, and the experience retains its creativity and imagination all the way to the end. Best of all, the whole thing is in English, so you can import and get stuck right into the brilliant storyline. Which I imagine has something to do with burgers. *****

Double Dragon (1993)

Ahh, what a crying shame! Double Dragon for Master System is a tremendous effort, and this Game Gear game certainly looks the part. The pixel art is wonderful, particularly the backgrounds, with great variety and some fun set-pieces like a battle atop a moving train. Unfortunately, the game feel is absolutely awful to the point that all this clear effort has gone to absolute waste. The framerate is rubbish and not even in a way that you can get used to, with enemies and your poor little Lee brother juddering around the screen in a failed attempt to do anything of consequence. The controls are a hot mess and you spent what feels like 99% of your time waiting for the unbelievably shy-seeming enemies to stop hiding off-screen. It's a huge, huge disappointment, because this is a little polish away from being enormous fun. As it stands, though, it's gonna be a hard no from me. I give it one extra point for its ambitious visuals. **

NOTE: I'm aware that later games on the list will also be "Disney's XYZ" - when I compile the completed Directory, I'll make sure these are listed consistently. For the time being, you're just going to have to forgive me.

(Next: Dr-Dy)