The Game Gear Directory: (Ten-Tes)

A brutally low-scoring offering. Is Stuart Gipp OK?

Tengen World Cup Soccer (1993)

It's impossible not to compare every footy game I play with the majesty of Sensible Soccer, but at least this one has the sense to include a link-up multiplayer mode. It's not horrrible, either; presentation is plain but it gets to the point rather nicely, getting you into a game in seconds if you so desire. Somewhat unfortunately - and despite having never been anywhere near that system - it suffers from Amigaitis, making you choose between the (rather good) music and (rather good) sound effects. With football you need the atmosphere, so it's sound effects every time, but the music is nice so it's just a bit of a shame. As for the actual matches, they're fine. You can do a exhibition or a World Cup (obviously) and while the team are generic it really doesn't matter. The game feel is nice and "arcadey", though I found it frustrating that control would pass off to other players somewhat erratically; sometimes it's too fast, others it's way too slow. That irritation unfortunately cuts rather too deep a hole in the experience for me to get over. While I appreciate the no-nonsense brevity of Tengen World Cup Soccer, it's just not playing a good enough game of football. **

The Terminator (1992)

Towards the end of the first level, I found myself using Retroarch's "rewind" feature in an attempt to figure out exactly what the developers of The Terminator were expecting of me. Taking control of Kyle Reese, I'd navigated a large complex full of dead ends, though didn't find any collectable items. My only weapons were an infinite supply of grenades, thrown in an arc or rolled when crouching. Enemies beset me from all sides and never stopped spawning; being locked into these tight corridors, it'd mean I could duck some bullets but any low shots were just going to hit me. The controls were responsive unless I was in combat, when at times I'd tap the grenade button only for nothing to happen because there were more than two sprites on screen. Health was gradually whittled down in 5% increments until I made it back to the surface, whereupon an unseen foe would blast me for 20% damage a shot, enough to kill me and impossible to get past with so little health. So yeah, I rewound. I rewound to the start of the preceding corridor, curious if reaching this off-screen tyrant with, say, 40% health was going to be enough. But no matter what I did, no matter how I gamed the system frame by frame, it was impossible to get through said corridor without being reduced to 20% or less HP. So I gave up. Perhaps I shouldn't have, but I simply wasn't having any fun whatsoever and figured my - and your - time was worth more than this utter, utter bilge. One of the least enjoyable Game Gear games ever made. *

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1993)

Oh, god, spare me. This is dreadful as well, a boring, leaden punch-'em-up with one move - a dull and ineffective punch combo - and no impact whatsoever to any of the violence. All you do is move left and right and mash Button 1 to beat up thugs, occasionally pressing up on the D-Pad to enter doors. The music is a godawful loop that's way, way too short, but the graphics aren't too bad, with some nice colours. It's just so nondescript, with no effort to differentiate it from the blandest possible template. At this point I just... don't know what to say. It's a game intended to sell on its license alone. Nobody is going to recommend this to anyone for any reason. Why should I write about it? What has the game done to deserve any kind of meaningful critical scrutiny? I guess that's the most damning thing of all. The only reason I have even engaged with Terminator 2: Judgment Day is because it exists. It is a Game Gear game, ergo, I wrote some stuff. I will never play it again. I will never think about it again. It is expunged. It is in the wind. Whoosh. Off it goes. Goodbye. *

Tesserae (1993)

I'm stumped. You got me. This may be the roughest Game Gear Directory entry ever. To go behind the scenes a little, I cut them down to four games because covering up to seven or eight was quite exhausting and I worried about the feature racing to the end. But then a game like Tesserae shows up and finds me at the absolute limit of my powers. It's a tile-based game which sees you flip "Primary, secondary and tertiary" tiles in order to clear the board. But I don't understand how. I read the game's manual and I still don't get it at all. I don't have whatever kind of brain is necessary to comprehend the game. And it seems fine, you know? It controls nicely, there are plenty of boards and the instructions are available in-game, too. Handily you're allowed to undo moves, right back to the start if necessary. So it seems like it's pretty good! But I don't know! I can't solve a single board! I'm an idiot! This isn't Smurfs, you know? There's no jumping. I mean, there is, I guess. You're jumping tiles over other tiles. But that's all I got! Unofficial rating: But for the record... ***

(Next: Ti-Ur)