The Game Gear Directory: (ML-Ms)

I'll have no truck with this lot. Except the trucks.

MLBPA Baseball (1995)

Da-na-na-NA-na-NAAA! This game gets an extra star just for having a banging remix of the "Charge" fanfare over the opening logos, but beyond that it has absolutely nothing on The Majors. You've got your full season mode, your World Series, and plenty of teams, but the core game just doesn't feel as well adapted. There's next to no sound, the visuals are ugly (and, dare I say it, more than a little microcomputery) and batting is a total crapshoot to the point of feeling unfair; I used rewind a few times while getting screenshots, and what seemed to be totally different swings resulted in identical hits, almost as though your actions were somehow predetermined. But that would be totally wild. At any rate, control over your team feels annoyingly out of your hands, so I can't recommend this one outside of that aforementioned and really rather exciting piece of music. **

Monster Truck Wars (1994)

Unbelievably poor menu presentation belies an absolute banger here; I had enormous fun with Monster Truck Wars, a top-down racer that only does a couple of things, but does them so well that it makes for a borderline-perfect handheld title, a pick-up-and-play drive-'em-up for the ages. It's not unlike Micro Machines in its visuals, though with the focus on, well, monster trucks, you're obviously doing a fair bit more smashing of things than you would in the Codemasters franchise. The handling model is enjoyably chaotic, with cars to smash dotted around each of the dirty, dirty tracks. You're constantly being shaken and swerved all over the place by water, oil and other vehicles, but thanks to the forgiving controls you won't get frustrated. Each race's checkpoints are generous, too, and power-ups will appear on the course to give you the edge. Between races you'll be able to spend the money you earned on upgrades in the classic style, making things even more compelling. A lack of visual variety is the only issue here, but it's so much fun that I'm going to give it full marks anyway. It's a monster - tee hee - of a cartridge. *****

Mortal Kombat (1993)

Oh god, there are three of these in a row. Three. Look... it's... let me be real, here. Let's keep it real. They made Mortal Kombat for Game Gear because it was big. Because Mortal Kombat was the thing. A contract was written and it was produced, assumedly to give the game even more of a profile. Look, it's on every system, it's on your toaster, you've got crumpets with Sub-Zero's face in them, it's huge, it's the zeitgeist. You need Mortal Kombat, but for the love of Christ's sake you need it on the Mega Drive, not this. Nobody wants to play Mortal Kombat on the Game Gear, least of all me. It's not horrible, you know? But it only exists to make the Mega Drive version seem even bigger, even better. There's absolutely no reason why anyone would ever choose to play this port of the game, given that it's choppy crap which has been cut to ribbons for obvious reasons. Yes, there's a blood code, yes there are fatalities. Good luck pulling off a single one of them. Not only are the inputs ridiculously specific, but you'll also have to put up with the obstacle of you not actually playing it, because why would you be playing it. Why would anyone, ever? Do I really have to cover two more of these? *

Mortal Kombat II (1994)

This is slightly better than Mortal Kombat, but remains a pointless waste of time. A smoother play experience doesn't mean it's a play experience worth having, and the roster of eight characters - while an improvement - just means two more characters to ignore while you play a better version. Am I being too harsh? I honestly don't think so; I see these perfunctory ports as nothing more than advertising for the console versions. I cannot conceive of any reason - besides misplaced nostalgia - why anybody would choose to play them. There is no reason to waste my time further with meaningful analysis of something that was never really intended to move a needle of any description. Unless you count Baraka's blade arms as needles, in which case you were intended to move them into your opponent's esophagus. Oh wait, Baraka's not even in this heap. QED, I guess. Just one more to go. *

Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

Makes the other two look "alright". An unplayable, god-awful cartridge that should see everyone involved in its creation blacklisted from the industry. Incontrovertible proof that these handheld aberrations were never cared about, never produced with the intention of being fun, of having any kind of value. This game is a blemish, a stain on the hobby, and every copy of it should be destroyed. E.T nothing, this is worse. I am not exaggerating. I am not trying to be badass. I am not trying to be funny. This isn't ineptitude - this is malice. They knew what this was, and they released it anyway. This is the worst Game Gear game I have ever played, and may in fact be the worst game I have ever played, full stop. Absolute fucking garbage. *

Ms. Pac-Man (1995)

It's Ms. Pac-Man, except you can't see the whole maze at once, the enemy AI is banjaxed and the controls aren't responsive enough. I really don't know what else to say other than that I can't really understand how, in 1995, they got Ms. Pac-Man so wrong. The ghosts are unbelievably easy to "group", more so than in any other version I've played, though that's if you can tolerate having half the maze invisible to you at a time - absolutely not how Ms. Pac-Man was intended to be played. The worst thing about this port is the daft yellow bird's tendency to stick to the corners. Not ideal when the ghosts - sorry, monsters - are bearing down on you. It's kind of okayish but pretty far from what I'd call a good port. ** (Edit: Retronauts Discorder Ubersaurus has informed me that both this and Ms. Pac-Man in fact do allow you to see the entire maze by pressing right on the D-Pad on the title screen. I have verified this and when it comes time to compile the Game Gear Directory, I will edit this entry to reflect the new information.)

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