The Game Gear Directory: (K)

You want me to review more Game Gear games? K.

Kawasaki Superbike Challenge (1995)

Brrm! Brrm, brrrrm!! Brruuuuuuuuuummmmmm!!! Oh, alright, fine. This is why I don't normally do impressions. Anyway, when I saw the DoMark logo heading up Kawasaki Superbike Challenge I was a little nervous - they're hit or miss - but I needn't have worried. This is the motorised cyclist's equivalent of their brilliant F1, though it doesn't quite reach the heights of that grand Grands Prix. You've got multiple racing modes, anchored by a garage for buying new parts to upgrade your bike ala Road Rash. The racing is smooth as butter, with undulating terrain and decent variety in the scenery, including weather effects - inclement conditions will cause you to slip and slide your vehicle in the rain, which is immersive but slightly non-ideal given the game's only real flaw is its detachment between bike and game feel; you can feel a little floaty at times, though you'll quickly adapt to it and let's be reasonable - this is a Game Gear cart, not MotoGP 23. The engine noise can be as tiresome as it is in all these racers, but that's why you crank the volume down and the Human League CD up. What, you don't listen to The Human League? You think you're better than me?! ****

Kishin Douji Zenki (1995)

Based on an anime I've never seen from a manga I've never read, Kishin Douiji Zenki gives me a ripe little opportunity to throw back to the classic era of British games journalism by remorselessly getting every single detail of the product I'm supposed to be covering entirely wrong. This is an action platformer thingummy with two playable characters whom Wikipedia informs me are named Zenki (the quite literally titular "Demon God") and Chiaki (schoolgirl descendant of the aforementioned). Interestingly, Zenki controls rather like a slow Sonic in terms of his jump being basically the same as Sega's mascot's famous spin attack. Taking control of Chiaki removes this but enables a flaming frontal attack, please stop sniggering at the back. The stages are well-designed and end up being something of an amusing combination of Anyway, it's all rather gorgeous-looking, fluttering between boss battles with enormous sprites and the more typical platforming areas. It's another great-looking game, though of course I didn't understand a word of it. Structurally it's impressive, with a hint of Goemon to the between-stage map - there are even hidden exits in some stages that lead to entirely alternate areas. Good stuff here, only let down by easily-triggered slowdown that occasionally makes buttons unresponsive just when you need them. ****

Klax (1991)

It is the nineties and there is time for... wait, no it isn't. What even is this? The twenties? The second twenties? Doesn't matter. Klax is a classic, but - forgive me - I just didn't have a lot of fun with it on Game Gear. You've got to align tiles as they make their way along a sort of conveyor belt towards you, where you drop them into a "bin" in order to - you guessed it - match their colours. The switching up of the game rules - stack vertically! Now stack diagonally! - makes for a rather confused experience, and the central action is just a little too slippery on the Game Gear for the precision you need after just a few stages. There are plenty of options and it's visually quite strong, but it doesn't quite come together. Bizarrely, I found it quite easy to get confused between a couple of the tile colours, which is... really not what you want in this kind of game. Far from ideal. **

Krusty's Fun House (1992)

Probably still the best Simpsons game ever released, Krusty's Fun House is unfortunately a little compromised on Game Gear - the dreaded curse of the lack of screen real estate strikes anew! Yes, while this delightful fusion of Lemmings-style puzzling and arcadey platform hopping remains as well-designed and compelling as ever, it's a bit of a pig trying to navigate some of the larger levels thanks to the zoomed-in camera. Still, dealing with Krusty's rat problem sees you taking on a real surplus of challenging stages and the password system means you won't have to start from the beginning every time. Play control is beautifully smooth (why couldn't the other Simpsons games be this good?) and the music and visuals look appealingly cartoony. There's even some nice sampled Krusty speech. The clown himself does look a little odd in his super-deformed form, but you'll get used to that quickly. A really good game, just not in its best guise. ***

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