The Game Gear Directory: (Ris-Ro)

Wrist star

Rise of the Robots (1994)

In a ludicrous irony, the Game Gear version of the infamous diarrhoea-filled toilet that is Rise of the Robots may be the best of all. It's still total crap to play, but the graphics here are genuinely impressive and the animation shames the likes of Mortal Kombat and Primal Rage on the same system. Of course, it remains a miserable experience and I'm reasonably sure it's impossible; I couldn't get past the first opponent as damage seemed to be completely random. Still, I've got to respect the fact they got the pre-rendered cutscenes and stuff crammed onto this cartridge, despite the fact it was ultimately all in vain. Would sequel Rise 2: Resurrection manage to reverse the tide, with the help of virtuoso guitar wanker Brian May composing? In a word, no. *

Ristar (1995)

I'm not a gigantic fan of the original Mega Drive Ristar;  and while I hate to evoke this ludicrous adjective, I think it's somewhat overrated. Good, competent, and an aesthetic spectacle, but just not all that enjoyable to play, particular on anything other than original hardware. That said, this Game Gear version is utterly remarkable, condensing the aspects that I enjoyed in it bigger brother down into a very, very palatable handheld platformer that stands at the very peak of the system's library. Honestly, this is brilliant, I feel as though it works so much better on the smaller screen, compact and bijou. The stretchy-arm gameplay just feels infinitely less irritating, and the newly-added surplus of collectable stars makes for a compulsive experience. Sprites are small but wonderfully detailed with a clean, pleasant feel to the visuals. I was pretty blown away by this one and you should consider playing it as soon as possible. Fun trivia: The Western version of the game eliminates several stages, but all regions use the same cart; it's a hardware check. So if you set the system to Japanese, you can play the complete experience. And you should, because... dare I say it? This may be the best Game Gear game ever released. *****

Road Rash (1994)

A remarkable (and remarkably late) port of EA's violent bike-'em-up, Probe's take on Road Rash is surprisingly brilliant fun and while it isn't as fast as its Mega Drive big brother, it is just as smooth and enjoyable. It looks great, the road has its peaks and valleys and jumps to enjoy, and it's always enjoyable to leather the absolute shit out of other drivers with your fists. Earn money by winning races, buy better bikes and beat the competition. It's impressive as hell and an easy recommendation, but let down slightly by by supernaturally easy; I think I barely had trouble with any corners, let alone losing races. Still, despite the simplicity, it's a fun and pretty spectacular effort. ****

RoboCop 3 (1993)

Horrible. The RoboCop 3 game for ZX Spectrum is more playable than this - and, astonishingly, it also has better music. This is a side-scroller (of course) in which you are essentially condemned to take unavoidable damage nearly constantly, as enemies fire at an absurd speed and from off screen, where you cannot even shoot them. It's essentially a race to take as literal mandatory damage as possible between extra health pick-ups, which can work in some games thanks to good balancing. Unfortunately, RoboCop 3 has bad balancing, and should simply no be played. It looks alright for the Game Gear, and its flaws don't feel like issues with the screen estate. Said issues, though, absolutely dwarf anything that could theoretically be enjoyable, and the high difficulty is largely based on ceaseless bullshit rather than creative level layouts. Sometimes you just walk forward for ages and no enemies come onscreen. Huh?! *

RoboCop Versus The Terminator (1993)

This, on the other hand, is great. It's exactly like the Master System version, only a little more zoomed in - though that isn't to the game's detriment, not really. You are the robotic cop himself, making your way through slickly-designed stages and blasting thug after thug to bloody bits - and I mean bloody as this game has a nice bucketful of claret. There are lots of levels, but also secret hidden stages and warp zones to reward the curious (and make replays less arduous). Visually it's gorgeous, with some wonderfully smooth animation, and even fun voice clips from ol' tin-tits himself. It's really rather strong stuff, easily the best game about either RoboCop OR Terminator that has ever been released. All it took was for them to get together! Teamwork made the dream work. *****

(Next: Sa-Se)