The Game Gear Directory: (I)

The dial of destiny spins towards... more Game Gear games

The Incredible Crash Dummies (1992)

Slick and Spin, Slick and Spin get the job done. Sorry, I've had that stuck in my head since 1993. I think I was the only person who ever saw the (genuinely quite funny) Incredible Crash Dummies CGI pilot, so I was primed for this game. Thankfully, it's not the disaster I expected... though expect plenty of disasters, chortle! It's a mini-game collection sort of business not unlike the Game Boy's Bart vs. The Juggernauts, though the efforts on display here are much more forgiving and therefore fun. There's a bit where you jump off a building, a driving stage, a skiing level almost exactly like Skifree and a stage where you arse around in a bomb factory that controls like a sort of much shitter Game & Watch. The final stage is a sort of Jetman piece of business where you've got to carefully use your thrusters to move a cruise missile around a series of obstacles. None of this is brilliant, but - unusually for this sort of thing - none of it is total rubbish, either, with only the bomb factory stage being something of a miss. Not a bad time, all told. ***

The Incredible Hulk (1995)

Another Probe joint! Gosh, they were busy, weren't they? Still, we got some pretty good titles out of it, so I'm not complaining. The Incredible Hulk isn't one of their best efforts, but it's far from horrible; the major issue here is that they wanted to incorporate Bruce Banner gameplay for some reason. Why? Why is this a persistent issue with Hulk games? Nobody wants to be Bruce Banner! We want to be The Incredible Hulk! One is puny, the other is strong! How hard is it to figure this out?! Look, sorry, I'm whinging, but come on. The way puny Banner is utilised here is in the classic "areas too small for Hulk to fit into" gag, with said areas being primarily optional paths that'll skip sections of stages while putting you in some significant danger. It's best to stay as Hulk as much as possible, because being Banner at the wrong time can genuinely make a level impossible; you need to keep your gamma levels up as transformations at the right time aren't always on the cards. It overcomplicates what is otherwise a fitfully fun side-scroller, but I still enjoyed bashing my way through it once I got the knack. The comic book intro and interstitial graphics are nicely done, too. ***

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1991)

Essentially a microcomputer port, this nails-hard platformer will see off most gamers with its excruciatingly unfair, shockingly difficulty first level. Being on the Game Gear does it no favours either, making the nightmarish experience of acquiring the Cross of Coronado into something of a horror show. You can't see what you're doing, so enemies and obstacles will repeatedly damage you with no way you could have avoided it besides precognition. Even hitting your head on a ceiling damages you! Worse yet, the collission detection is tuned to "utterly unreasonable", and will see you falling through platforms you definitely landed on, taking hits from enemies who you definitely avoided. I'm not going to pretend I don't like this game, though - I have a soft spot for its sheer cruelty, having grown up with it on the ZX Spectrum. Once you get past the Rick Dangerous-esque first stage, things do somewhat improve, but the fact of the matter is that most people won't be arsed, and frankly why should they be? *

Iron Man/X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal (1996)

Unbelievable. This came out in 1996?! It reflects absolutely no meaningful effort on the part of its creators, whoever they are. Taking control of either Marvel's Iron Man or Valiant's X-O Manowar (not really a difficult choice, is it?), you'll have to blast your way through god knows how many levels of ignominy. Honestly, this is just shit. Hideously ugly graphics, unbearably imprecise controls and utterly infuriating enemies all come together to make a game so wretched that I can barely think of anything useful to say about it. Look - superhero games should make you feel powerful, and every enemy here from the lowest possible grunt is more capable than you are. Good luck getting onto the first platform in the game with that small spider guarding it. Sheesh! *

The Itchy & Scratchy Game (1995)

Oh, for god's sake. Another stinker to round off the I's, a rather desperate Acclaim effort based on The Simpsons' cartoon-with-a-cartoon, Itchy & Scratchy. Now, basing a game on this pair isn't an inherently bad idea, but the execution leaves a huge amount to be desired. You basically just tool around boring, empty stages playing as Itchy, collecting weapons of no real value or consequence. The aim is to defeat Scratchy, who is also tooling around the levels. The thing is, it's so lacking in any kind of strategy that even multiplayer wouldn't make it fun. I do like the fact that the music to the first level is a pastiche of the Flintstones theme song, though. That's quite good. But nothing else stands out. It's visually sparse and the poor feel of the player movement just brings it all down to nothing. A shame. Simpsons games don't have a great batting average but this is one of the weaker ones. *

(Next: Ja-Je)