The Game Gear Directory: (Pr-Pu)

No Predators, not enough dinosaurs and too many golf.

Predator II (1992)

With a Contra-esque enemy bullet onslaught, Predator II is certainly challenging, and it's initially quite fun despite uneven difficulty; the first stage is exponentially harder than the second, due to the former's unkillable enemy snipers. But after two compelling stages of this isometric blaster, you're thrown back to the first level's environment again and it'll sink in that you've now seen everything it has to offer. And you'll see neither hide nor hair of a Predator until stage seven, by which point you'll have caved your own skull in due to the sheer repetition - saving said Predator a job. Overall it's alright, it's a decent blaster with a relatively high level of difficulty but enough health to keep the attentive player alive. It's just way too samey and there aren't enough flippin' Predators. Thankfully, a password system means you won't need to keep replaying the same stages if you don't want to, so dipping in here and there seems like the best way to enjoy Predator II. ***

Primal Rage (1995)

Garbage. As with the Mortal Kombat ports, this game exists out of contractual obligation. No intent was ever made to produce something of value or quality. Inputting special moves is a crapshoot and the character roster is missing Vertigo, making for an anaemic six. It all looks hideous, more akin to a Game Boy game running in Game Boy Color mode than a properly-drawn Game Gear title, and the music is pathetic. There's no reason for it to exist, nobody wants to play it, and nobody should. The only reason I did was for the sake of this Directory, and even then I briefly considered not bothering. A pitiful effort. I'll give it the lightest possible credit by saying the Mortal Kombat efforts were probably a little worse, but then those were like being punched in the face by a man covered in dog turds. With Primal Rage, it's just a regular turd-free punch in the face. *

Prince of Persia (1992)

About as you'd expect. Prince of Persia is quite a difficult game to get wrong, but it's also quite a difficult game, full stop. Its sixty-minute time limit is retained here, with a password system meaning you don't have to play the whole game in one sitting on Game Gear - which, believe me, would be a tall order. It plays absolutely fine, though there's not much in the way of modernisation akin to Konami's terrific SNES version - though the action is a little bit faster. What you get here is near as damnit to the Apple II original, though of course with a splash of colour. It's a very faithful port that's as enjoyable as ever to spend time with, a challenging and sometimes frustrating jaunt with the time limit delightfully hanging over every second of play, meaning you'll likely need to start over fresh with the knowledge you've picked up during your previous attempts. It's a marvellous port of a marvellous game, though you already know if the time limit will cause you to bounce off it, hard. The only thing knocking it down from full marks is a small change to the combat that seems to replace the original game's quick parry with a slower, less responsive block. But even this can be adapted to. A brilliant cart. ****

Psychic World (1991)

This unusual game has something of a Mega Man feel, but the seemingly-random and erratic enemy placement reminds me of microcomputer titles. In fact, I wasn't surprised in the slightest to learn that it was originally an MSX2 title, Psycho World, and it appears to be a much better fit there than on Game Gear. Infuriatingly, there seem to be multiple instances of design that require the player to take damage due to absolute projectile spam, though this could be down to me not quite understanding a certain mechanic; you can switch between various options by pressing Down + both buttons, but some of them seem unfathomably useless. Anyway, it's alright, but you need to have a taste for the slightly arbitrary and unfair to have any chance of digging it. I'm going to be thoroughly generous and give it three stars, but I think most would disagree. I liked the music and the way the levels change up their appearance as you make your way through them, rather than staying locked to on aesthetic. More interesting than outright good, but that's worth more to me than some "better" games. ***

Putt & Putter (1991)

Golf is the sport that translates the best to video games, but Putt & Putter is too lacking in its physics, course design and general handling to escape near-total ignominy. Ugly, garish graphics and a downright confusing interface (choose shot direction, then... choose shot direction again? What?) are another nail in the coffin of this title. A crying shame, given the potential of a crazy golf game... think the likes of Kirby's Dream Course, or just generally applying a half-decent putting system to some more outlandish courses. The offerings here are too sprawling and unpredictable, frustrating to navigate and unappealing to look at. The presentation is dreadful, too - flat-coloured puke-green menus with barely any options. It's a crying shame, because I was genuinely looking forward to giving this a go. But nah. Leave it. Not so much crazy golf as lazy golf. Guffaw. *

(Next: Qu-Rid)