The Game Gear Directory: (Jo-Ju)

Five more carts get the D. (Directory)

Joe Montana Football (1992)

Take this with a bit of a pinch of salt, as I know next to nothing about American Football, not least a single one of the actual rules. I know they play a little tune then go "charge!" and I know they pour gatorade on the team coaches to put them in their place, but beyond that? Absolutely no idea. The ball isn't even a ball, it's like a sort of lemon. Look, it doesn't matter. The point is that I read the manual, went into the game, and the buttons didn't do anything. So I ran all the way down the field, easily avoiding all comers, and I scored a touchdown. Hooray! Then the game's controls all changed for what I guess you would called "defence" (no, sorry, you'd call it "defense", you weirdos), and I was just completely lost. If you know about throwing around the ol' pigskin or whatever saying I've picked up from years of sitcom imports, I'd imagine this is fine. It has link-up play and the graphics are nice and clean, showing the whole width of the field as you'd expect. It seems like an impressive, responsive game to me, but unfortunately I can't really be sure. I liked the way celebrations were shown full screen, with my quarterback doing a fun little shimmying dance then spiking the ball down in the end zone. Based almost entirely on the shimmy dance, I will give it four stars. ****

Judge Dredd (1995)

Prolific Game Gear developers Probe return with 2000AD's fashtastic Judge Dredd in an action game that doesn't quite manage to deliver the goods. It's far from awful, with entirely decent level design and it's good fun switching out ammo types for each situation, but unfortunately the balance isn't quite there; most enemies feel like they take far too many shots to defeat. Crouching seems to be the only smart way to avoid enemy fire, but actually getting into the crouching position feels finicky - it's actually safest to play the game crawling along the ground just in case, because I had to really mash down on the D-Pad to make Joe get down there. I suppose he is old, and his knees are probably seizing up. It all looks nice - I particularly appreciate the muzzle flash illuminating Dredd's visor - but it's occasionally a little unclear what is and isn't a platform. A decent game, but the stiffness really brings it down a few notches. Should have been better. ***

Junction (1991)

Words can scarcely express my dislike of this game, an absolutely rotten cross between the seminal Pipe Mania and one of those godawful sliding puzzles that nobody likes. You've got a little red orb moving through these tunnels, and you've got to provide it a path to the end. So far so familiar, but that's when the sliding puzzle portion comes into play. Rather than Pipe Mania's fun, pacey method of laying down additional tiles, you've got to slide each tile individually around using the D-Pad. Readers, I played this for ages with the expectation that its appalling controls would eventually become intuitive. They never did. It's incomprehensible, unplayable torture, and I despise it. I refuse to write a single word more about Junction. So far, the worst game on the Game Gear. *

Jungle Strike (1995)

The opening credits claim this was made by a company called Unexpected Developments; I should think so, given this is a two-year belated port of the popular chopper-'em-up. Thankfully, it's pretty good, feeling well suited to the Game Gear, and a huge improvement on the poor attempt at Desert Strike the previous year. Dive into a series of surprisingly complex and multi-faceted missions, rescuing the free world from terrorist threats by utilising hit-and-run tactics lest you die horribly, which you probably will anyway. It's very, very hard, but much more fair and fun than, again, Desert Strike. The cutscenes are a fun slice of Tom Clancy-esque silliness and the graphics are clean and readable. They've also improved the audio by removing the constant whine of the copter blades, but they've replaced it with nothing, no music. I don't mind this but it can make the proceedings feel more than a little bit lonely at times. A meaty challenge, this is a very impressive cartridge. ****

Jurassic Park (1993)

Ahh, this is brilliant. What a lovely little cartridge. Ported from the Master System version, this is a marvellous experience with profoundly impressive sound design and graphics mixed in with some gorgeously playable platforming. A real visual showcase, this was more impressive on Master System but still manages to sing here, with fantastic presentation that makes it all look like the budget was pretty huge! There's a Laser Ghost style bit of shooting, where you aim and blast at dinosaurs as they pursue your jeep, with incredible parallax scrolling and a feast of colours to enjoy. Yes, I know I'm harping on the visuals a lot but they really are a treat to observe, spectacularly detailed and at times atmospheric. It's not the longest game, but it's one of the slickest, most enjoyable pieces of software on the system. It's got that lovely sense of polish all over it, quite like GG Shinobi (which I'll get to later), and best of all there's a metric ton of different dinosaurs in there. Short, easy, but absolutely fantastic. Get it played ASAP. *****

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