The Game Gear Directory: (Super)

It most assuredly bloody well isn't.

Super Battletank (2001)

An odd one, this, not least because it's by far the final release for Game Gear - well, until GG Aleste 3, I suppose. Bizarrely, it opens up with a screen "Dedicated to the brave men and women who took part in Operation Desert Storm". It would be difficult to think of a less effective tribute, but here we are. This is a fitfully enjoyable tank-'em-up that's rather satisfying to play but ultimately has a very repetitive gameplay loop that requires you to pause the game a little too often - traversal is much quicker and easier from the map screen, so you'll essentially just destroy an enemy tank, pause and move to the next one, rise and repeat. It's visually quite nice and there's care gone into the presentation, but ultimately it's a shallow experience. **

Super Columns (1995)

Well, it's Columns again. Does anyone even like Columns enough to justify all these different versions of it? I guess they must do, but I don't get. There are more versions of the game here, including a Mean Bean Machine style Story Mode with some almost certainly racist "Arabian nights" stereotypical characters, so if you love Columns and want to kiss its face you really should pick this version. You'll also be getting Flash Columns again, as well as the original. Despite being seveal years into the Game Gear's life, the visuals aren't really any better or slicker. Again, I cannot stress this enough - I don't get it. But, statistically, at least one of you has to be an enthusiastic Columns-head. **

Super Golf (1991)

Yet another video golf game (sigh, but this one lacks much beyond basic charm. Picking from different golfers with different vital statistics is cute but ultimately fairly meaningless, ditto the ability to choose your caddy. The game is both ugly and way too zoomed in, making lining up your shots unfairly tricky. The music is constant and overpowering, and the interface is a write-off. Sheesh, there must have been over a dozen golf-'em-ups on the Game Gear and I'm getting pretty tired of them. Maybe the weight of the whole Directory journey is starting to get on top of me. No. No! I will review every god damn Game Gear game! Even the sucky ones, like this! *

Super Kick Off (1991)

Oh for goodness' sake. This piss-poor football game feels like a pre-alpha protoype for the vastly superior Sensible Soccer. Even dribbling the ball is an ordeal, and while it could be argued that this makes skilful play all the more impressive, there's really nothing whatsoever to like about this fastidious approach to arcade football. There's a significant delay between passing the ball to an AI teammate and your being able to take control of them, so you'll lose possession in situations when I wouldn't even have done so in real life! Back in the day when this was popular I would never have been able to enjoy playing it and there's certainly no reason to do so over thirty years later. Sure, there are plenty of modes and that's laudable, but they all ultimately play horribly, so why bother? *

Super Monaco GP (1991)

Finally, something that breaks three stars. The classic Super Monaco GP manages to marry simplicity with intensity rather brilliantly, making for a tough-but-fair Formula 1 racer that lets you customise your vehicle before taking it out to burn rubber. The graphics are nothing special but they do the job, though the engine whine noise is tediously omnipresent. Thankfully, the volume can be lowered to zero and your Ultravox cassette tape CRANKED TO MAXIMUM as you enjoy a racing sim-thingy that gets to the gosh-darn point for once. It's basic, but so's the Game Gear, making it something of a fine fit for the big clunky failed handheld. Which I love to pieces, obviously. ***

(Next: Super cont.)