The Game Gear Directory: (V-Win)

Directory! Of!! Game Gear!!!

Virtua Fighter Animation (1996)

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be pelch, and to be frank it's not very far off. While its dynamic "realtime" camera impressively zooms in and out of the battles depending on your distance from the opponent, it doesn't make the pugilism itself any more enjoyable. My favourite aspect of this cartridge is actually the rather extensive and quite well-written story mode with its many anime-inspired cutscenes. It goes well above and beyond any similar attempt I've seen on Game Gear, but the problem is you still have to do the fights and, god bless it, Virtua Fighter just isn't that fun without the smooth polygons - see also the dreadful Virtua Fighter 2 on Mega Drive. This is quite a remarkable cartridge; the fact it even exists in 1996 is impressive and another example of the Game Gear's surprising longevity for what is considered a failed system. I just don't recommend actually spending money on it, not really. It's not horrible, but there are better mano-a-mano fighting games on Game Gear. In fact, I have a feeling one's going to show up very, very soon. Probably not though. ***

VR Troopers (1995)

Another one-on-one fighter? How very unusual. Based on the Saban bastardisation of tokusatsu series Metal Heroes, this is a surprisingly accomplished and enjoyable little game. There's some mild sprite flicker, but in my experience it only seemed to affect the announcement text of who was fighting whom. I don't know any of the characters or remember the show except for the talking dog, who thankfully makes an appearance between rounds. There's a story and a battle mode, the latter of which simply throwing you into contextless fight after fight - not that the story is much cop. It all works, because the fighting action is well-animated, smooth to handle and genuinely enjoyable to partake in. I don't know the exact commands for the special moves but they seemed to be along the lines of a tap and a press of both buttons, somewhat like executing a smash attack in Super Smash Bros. I tried to verify this, believe me, but the manual didn't seem to be online and there were no FAQs for this version. In the options menu, it's possible to make the characters "Giant", which is entertaining but doesn't look very good. Overall, I liked this! I liked it a lot more than I expected to. Graphically, it's quite remarkable - a very strong imitation of the Mega Drive game, based on the screens I saw of the latter. This is limited in a sense, and lacks a link-up versus mode, but if you want to kick some monster heads in it's a pick-up-and-play belter. We are VR! That's the only other thing I remember from the show. ****

Wheel of Fortune (1993)

Oh, what is the point in games like this. Yes, Wheel of Fortune is a fun take on "Hangman", for sure, but does anyone genuinely want to play a slow, laborious, bowling shoe ugly version of the megahit game show on their handheld console. Everything, of course, has to be manually entered on an unresponsive on-screen keyboard, and it's just not any fun at all. There's almost no music and the visuals are honestly breathtakingly bad and have to be seen to be believed. Even the titular wheel itself doesn't really spin properly and looks crap. Yes, there's fleeting enjoyment in the quizzing nature of the game, as there is in all quizzes. But do you really want to pass your Game Gear around to do multiplayer when you could be playing almost anything on a television? This is a complete waste of time. *

Wimbledon (1992)

A promising set of slick menus and some rather good music give way to a rather pedestrian tennis sim, with CPU opponents that seem to be able to pull off moves and spins you absolutely can't. Rallies last forever and it's all just a bit boring. The animation is stilted and strange, but it plays well enough and has nice, clear graphics and a total lack of slowdown or flicker. It's just not very exciting and seems rather unfair. It's lacking in options outside a basic tournament and single match play, giving what really seems to be the bare minimum, despite decent presentation. The Game Gear isn't really well served (no pun intended) for tennis games, with the mediocre Pete Sampras Tennis remaining the high bar to clear. One of those games it's hard to think of anything to say about. **

Winter Olympics: Lillehammer '94 (1993)

Another great set of menus! What appears to be a sullen, surly child points out the options available to you, and they are myriad. A Full Olympics, a Mini Olympics or Training. There are plenty of events - at least ten - and I found them all really rather good. It feels crafted for the handheld, with controls that are simple to pick up and understand. The visuals are lovely, with tons of bespoke animation per event and very little in the way of reused assets. The music is pretty slick, too. And the Winter Olympics are obviously inherently cooler than the shitty old regular Olympics, let's face it. I especially enjoyed the impressive semi-3D graphics of the luge section, which has a really enjoyable sense of speed to it. You'll need the manual for some of the events, but most of it is WYSIWYG and easy to have fun with. It's pretty difficult to find fault with, but I'd say it's not quite great enough for full marks. Extremely solid but you're not going to jump out of your chair. Certainly one of the best sports games on the system, though. Very good indeed! ****

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