The Game Gear Directory: (Pe-PG)
On the greeeeeeeen!
FYI, I have covid so if this seems lacklustre, I apologise - I'll come back to it and spice it up later. Thank you for reading!
This cute little action-puzzler is beautifully tailored for the Game Gear, with a strong use of colour to make everything clear as possible. You've got to defeat "Sno-Bees" by shoving ice blocks into them, crushing them with their force. It's a familiar set-up, but the execution is very strong, making for a breezy, enjoyable little cartridge. Perhaps it lacks a little depth, though there's certainly high scoring potential here that eludes me. The fact that the last enemy on each stage will eventually escape means that you're never stuck fruitlessly running after that last little bugger. Strong stuff, I'd say, and while my write-up is a little muted, that doesn't reflect badly on the game. I think, reasonably, I'd call it an easy five stars, but bear in mind that it is very much an arcade game and most levels are essentially the same thing. Fun, bouncy and genuinely exciting, Pengo is a banger, but it's not for everybody. ****
Pete Sampras Tennis (1994)
Fore! No wait, that's the next one. This tennis game is pretty enjoyable at first, with strong presentation, but once you get into a rally you'll discover the problem - to my possible weak hands and mind, it seems like opponents are preternatually good at tennis, and rallies will last for ages and ages and ages until you lose focus and screw up (likely) or score a point (unlikely), There's plenty in terms of options, and even a nice little in-game text tutorial, but it's not enough to resolve the difficulty issue and makes it hard for me to recommend. Okay, let me be fair, maybe I'm just really crap, and it's visually/sonically rather good, with responsive controls and seemingly plenty of options as far as what you can do with your racket is concerned. Not a bad tennis sim at all, but I found the difficulty level was tweaked way too high for my tastes. ***
PGA Tour Golf (1994)
Fifteen-love! No wait, that's the previous one. Clearly a feature-rich take on the sport, PGA Tour Golf falls in its being mechanically incomprehensible. There's a lot of text and a lot of manual-reading necessary to even begin to play with any degree of skill, and the game is utterly unforgiving. It's almost funny how complex everything is, but the actual act of hitting the ball is so simplistic. There's a place in this world for complicated golf sims, but I'm not convinced the Game Gear is it. In fact, it's kind of amazing just how many sports games were released for the system. Am I blithering on to cover up the fact that I don't really have much to say about this game? A little, I suppose, but context does matter. A simpler golf game like the NES masterpiece NES Open Tournament Golf would be outstanding on the Game Gear and I live in hope that there's something similar coming up. Anyway, yes, this is a no from me, but clearly a lot of hard work has gone into the systems. **
PGA Tour Golf II (1995)
Yikes. This is slightly better in terms of its systems being relatively coherent, but it feels like a PC game shrunk down and compressed onto a tiny cartridge on a system that it just isn't built for. It's also slow as molasses, making the player wait through a loooong intro before they can even get stuck in, and rendering each screen of the course like you're playing on a BBC Micro or something. There's a huge amount going on here, it's absolutely festooned with golf stuff, but none of it matters because you spend 75% of your time with this cart waiting around for the course to slowly draw itself, or lazily switch between screens with no real sense of urgency. Yes, it's golf; golf isn't a fast game. But this isn't actually golf, it's a video game. Ceci n'est pas une golf. Understand? Now, let's talk about transformation in art, beginning with the work of Roy Lichtenstein... no? Oh, we're out of time, folks. In closing, this game sucks. *
PGA Tour 96 (1996)
Okay, this is better, and by a lot, but it's still far too slow to recommend easily. EA coming on board seems to have polished things up, but watching the course draw itself after every shot gets old in a hurry. Still, taking said shots has been made much more enjoyably arcadey, with the simple button presses now feeling more responsive and generally simpler to get to grips with. Again there's plenty of content, multiple courses, multiplayer and more. It's a fine package, there's just seemingly not much to be done about that slow-ass drawing speed. Perhaps it was the same on consoles, I don't know; I have my favoured golf game (NES Open Tourney) so I just play that. PGA Tour 96 is the best of the lot, but I still can't in good conscience score it any higher than two. **