The Game Gear Directory: (Wiz-Woo)

Nobody make a joke about Woody Pop. It's childish and puerile

Wizard Pinball (1995)

Hey, this is pretty cool. A solid little pinball that's kind of a blatant knock-off of Dragon's Fury, with the fantasy-theme table and several bonus levels you can access through targets that open up portals. It's not perfect, mind - the physics can be a little frustrating in a "WHY DIDN'T I HIT THE BALL" sort of way, and it's a strange decision to have one of the targets you need to hit also cause a reset of the ball, so you're having to launch it more frequently than you're actually enjoying the chaos of a proper pinball experience. Still, this is pretty good, fun enough that I can overlook these flaws. The bonus tables are fun and aren't overly difficult to access, which adds variety. It's a shame about the lack of music, but then again it'd get repetitive the longer you played and the sound effects are alright. You may find it more difficult to ignore its small issues, but I think it's a bit of a winner. ****

Wolfchild (1993)

I knew this was a Core Design joint almost immediately, because at the start of the game I jumped left over a bottomless chasm with no visible platform to land on, and was award two invisible 100-point score bonuses. I mentally gave the game five stars, and proceeded to write the Directory with the correct score for non-lunatics. This is... disappointing. My initial enjoyment of this platform shooter was marred by the complete lack of music and general slowness of the gameplay. It's quite fun to move around as a big werewolf fellow, shooting balls of energy at some well-designed monsters, but it all just feels formulaic and when you're going for a bog-standard platformer such as this, you need to absolutely ensure there's some spice in there. Better graphics, cool music. You know? So this is a fine platformer, elevated for people like me by some obscure hidden secrets, but it just isn't interesting enough to really be worth your energy. A shame. **

Wonder Boy/Return of Drancon (1990)

The game with the most confusing lineage imaginable puts in a decent showing on Game Gear, retaining most of what makes the arcade original fun. If you're not familiar with it, you dash from left to right, breaking open eggs to collect power-ups and grabbing fruit to increase your energy bar. No doubt this simplistic description will annoy fans, but the fact is it's a pretty simple game, and those are usually pretty strong on handheld. My only real issue with this port was that you couldn't really go full steam ahead in the way I'm certain you could in other versions, because the items that emerge from eggs fly out in a slow, high arc, meaning you've got to slow down to grab them. Besides this, it's a fine, fun, colourful version of a very solid arcade game. ****

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (1992)

Possibly the most acclaimed Game Gear title, Westone's classic is well-regarded throughout the retrogaming community as something of a masterpiece. And while I respect what it achieved, and the diversity and intrigue it brought to the table, I cannot entirely rate it as a Game Gear experience. On Master System, sure, yeah. But here? It's just too zoomed in. It's a pioneering Metroidvania with enjoyable level design and great cartoon visuals, with a sense of scope and scale that's still impressive to this day. But you can't see what you're doing! And enemies will hit you almost out of nowhere, and that never feels good! So by all means, play this game. You will learn the layouts and the small screen estate will stop bothering you, eventually. Or you could just play any other version and have a better time! Your call. A classic, but better on the telly. ***

Woody Pop (1991)

I tried this Breakout-style game on its middle difficulty setting, "Average". Within a minute or so of play the ball was moving so fast that I had to laser-focus to have any hope of catching it. The unpredictable physics and moving targets on the boards made it a real twitch game, requiring extremely adept reflexes. And that was too hard for me, so I reset and put it on "Beginner". Within a minute or so of play the ball was moving so fast that I had to laser-foxus to have any... look, you get it. You get the bit. This game's hard. It really puts you in the zone when you're playing it, but frankly it's too hard, too quick. It's a shame because the idea here is really cool - every time you clear a board you can move to the next one, which could be up, down, left or right. Like Smash TV, but with a bat and ball. A cool idea, for sure, but the game's just too hard to be fun. **

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