The Game Gear Directory: (Wor)

The penultimate entry of the Directory may be painful, but at least it's not protracted.

(Takes deep breath) Oh God. Okay. Here we go...

World Class Leader Board (1991)

A somewhat pedestrian golf sim - yes, another one - is enlivened slightly by a unique control scheme that goes some way to enlivening interest. Don't get me wrong, it's not that unique, just a matter of holding the button to power up, then releasing and tapping again to slice. Unfortunately the positives rather come to an end there, as waiting around for the game to "draw" its 3D course is tedious and the putting leaves a great deal to be desired, leaning on the side of "ridiculously difficult". Then again, I suppose it's not Sub-Class Leader Board, is it? The inclusion of a putting practice mode and a driving range are decent editions, but the sluggish menus won't keep me coming back to this cart when I want a game of golf. One further note - I do like it when you sink a putt and there's this affected voice sample congratulating you. But I didn't hear it often enough because the game is so hard. Scratch Golf remains unsurpassed on Game Gear. **

World Cup USA '94 (1994)

You can tell right from the Sega logo that this game has production values - cute animations give way to slickly-produced menus which unfortunately lack text, which inarguably saves time on localisation but makes them difficult to parse, even with the manual to hand. Still, there's a more-than-decent suite of options and modes here, and the gameplay itself takes its cues from Sensible Soccer, so they're onto a winner providing that it's actually fun to play. Sadly, it isn't, with the AI sides seeming arbitrarily faster and better than you in ways that you can't match as a player. I'm not talking about the game simply being hard, I mean they seem able to do things that are not replicable with the controls, so it never feels like a fair match. It also feels somewhat arbitrary precisely how accurate your passes are going to be, and I'd contend that the view is either slightly too zoomed-in or it just doesn't quite manage to communicate well enough exactly where on the field the rest of your squad is. Now, these issues could be ignored if there was a decent multiplayer, but despite going on a rather deep dive into the menus I was unable to find such an option. Believe me, I checked, but there don't seem to be any manual scans online either, so I'm forced to assume that no such versus mode exists. A shame. The presentation here is very impressive, with plenty of detailed insert shots of the crowd cheering and such, but it's just not enjoyable outside of its aesthetics. **

World Series Baseball (1993)

Clearly designed from the ground up for Game Gear, this is a graphically impressive baseball sim that manages not to sacrifice function, though it isn't quite as enjoyable as (say it with me) The Majors, lacking its breeziness and severely short on truly exciting moments. It's easy to control with great clarity to the proceedings, and a surplus of different modes to enjoy including link-up multiplayer. It'd be something of a great if there was just a little more favour thrown to the player; as it is, even on the easiest mode, you'll really struggle at times to even get a remotely decent hit in, with most swings ending up being either bunts or just walking. Maybe that's what real baseball is like, too. How offputting. Ah well, at least the next game isn't a yearly iteration on the same thing... ***

World Series Baseball '95 (1994)

...Oh, bollocks. Well, this is just as good, though the menus seem slightly more lacklustre; maybe that's just the repetition. I mean, what else can I say? It's the same. The names and teams have been updated, but other than that it's difficult to discern almost any meaningful difference. I will therefore use this space to shower praise on the game's visuals - the screenshots above (for both this and the '93 game) will show that an enormous amount of information is communicated within a very, very small screen space, while also including the players, the field, the crowd; the most abstract crowd possible, but they're present. And I think that's something of an art and I want it to be recognised! So, well done, World Series Baseball '95 and predecessor - you did a good job. I wish you were slightly more fun. But here we are. I will give credit for the fact that moving your players around the bases does feel a little smoother and less rigid here, so I'd favour this version over the original. But not enough to give it another star or suggest that The Majors has been unseated as king of Game Gear baseball. ***

(Next: WW-Z)