This may not surprise you, but I was a Game Gear kid. While everyone else was bringing their Game Boys to school, I happily chugged away on my full color backlit power house, playing Sonic Triple Trouble, Lion King and Lucky Dime Caper. So when I heard the 3DS was going to have its own handheld centric Virtual Console, I was stoked. Finally, some of my favorite games from childhood would be available to play on a modern screen!
So far, SEGA’s selection of Game Gear titles have been pretty solid, with only a handful of mediocre Sonic games ruining what is an otherwise fine selection. Yet, there are still some spectacular titles missing from the line-up, titles which should be given their due before SEGA calls it quits on the Virtual Console.
Fantasy Zone Gear
This game brought classic Fantasy Zone action to the Game Gear’s pint sized screen. Rather than simply porting the Master System version over, as they had done with so many other Game Gear versions of established franchises, SEGA opted for an all new, original game. Fantasy Zone Gear is a significant visual upgrade comparison to the other 8-bit Fantasy Zone games, and also introduces new enemies, new power ups, and the ability to switch between power-ups in a menu. In order to accommodate the Game Gear’s smaller screen the action is zoomed in, which takes some getting used to but does nothing to get in the way of the fun once you do.
Despite the game’s box art simply saying “Fantasy Zone”, this is a Fantasy Zone experience that can only be had on the Game Gear. That’s something SEGA really ought to correct by bringing it to the 3DS eShop, which doesn’t have any Fantasy Zone game to speak of.
Power Strike II
I’m sure most fans of SEGA’s 16-bit hardware are aware of two spectacular shooters from Compile, M.U.S.H.A. and Robo Aleste. What you might not be aware of is that not only were these two games from the same franchise, known as “Aleste” in Japan, but that the series was also on the Master System and the Game Gear in the form of the Power Strike series.
Right off the bat, the fact that this game shares pedigree with the likes of M.U.S.H.A. should give you an idea of this game’s quality. Power Strike II is a superb shooter and easily the best in the genre that the Game Gear has to offer. All of the Aleste trademarks are here: you have a main weapon which can be powered up by collecting p-chips, as well as four different subweapons which can be leveled up by collecting additional power ups of that same sub-weapon type, or changed to a different sub-weapon power up, though this comes at the cost of your old sub-weapon’s leveled up power. At their top level these weapons can blanket the screen in destructive power.
Power Strike 2 would be a great addition to the eShop, which is currently lacking in vertical shooters. SEGA has already published M.U.S.H.A. on Virtual Console, so they can totally do this. Make it happen, SEGA!
Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck
Last year was a great year for Disneyphile gamers. Not only did they get a massive crossover game in the form of Disney Infinity, but they also received two stellar remakes in the form of Capcom’s Ducktales and SEGA’s Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. SEGA clearly still has a good relationship with Disney if they were able to buy the rights to produce a new Mickey Mouse game. But why stop with CoI? SEGA made loads of stellar Disney games in the 90s, and if any game needs to seriously be given its due, it’s Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck.
Lucky Dime Caper is a non-linear action platformer that has Donald traveling around the world to rescue his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, stopping Magica de Spell, and retrieving Scrooge’s lucky dime. This game features superb controls and level design that hides all sorts of little secrets, occasionally even branching out into two different paths.
Lucky Dime Caper was one of my favorite games as a kid, but it never gets the same amount of recognition as Castle of Illusion. With both Scrooge and Mickey returning to the video game limelight, it’s high time Donald Duck gets some time in the sun. Putting this game on the eShop would be a great way to do that. Maybe SEGA could also produce a remake for QuackShot while they’re at it!
By 1995 the Game Gear was on its way out and as a result many games never made it out of Japan. Sylvan Tale, an action adventure RPG in the vein of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda, was one of those games. I first heard about this little gem last year while I was researching Game Gear RPGs and noticed it was receiving glowing praise from several message boards. After learning that the game had a complete fan translation produced by ROM hacker Aeon Genesis that was playable on the Game Gear through the EverDrive-GG, I knew I had to have it. From what I’ve played so far, the game definitely lives up to the praise.
The enemies may not be much to write home about but the dungeons are well made, forcing you to solve puzzles with little more than cryptic clues from other dead adventurers to go on. In place of Zelda’s assortment of weapons you’re given suits which can change how you move, give you access to new areas, and grant you new abilities. Finally, the game also gives you a decent amount of content, providing you with an overworld and eight dungeons to explore.
Out of all of the games on this list, this game is perhaps the most farfetched.
Though Virtual Console has played host to import releases in the past, they have typically been import friendly to begin with. Sylvan Tale’s text will need to be translated for it to be playable, though Sylvan Tale isn’t too text heavy from what I’ve played. Since import releases are already sold at an increased price, perhaps SEGA could sell Sylvan Tale for the same price as their 3D conversions? Surely translating an old school adventure RPG like Sylvan Tale wouldn’t cost much more then converting an entire game to 3D, right?
Maybe this could open the door for other games like Shining Force: Final Conflict…though that is something I’ll save for a future Weekly Five.
I’ve tried to stay away from Genesis ports on this list, mostly because it’s kind of pointless to ask for a Game Gear versions of games like Ecco, Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy, when it makes so much more sense to simply ask for 3D conversions of the far superior Genesis versions. Ristar is a different story. Though the game shares some bosses and many level themes with its Genesis counterpart, it’s pretty much its own game. All of the level design is completely original to this version, and there are several level themes and bosses that can only be found here.
More importantly this game is almost, if not equally, as fun as its Genesis counterpart. Hell, I’d argue that Ristar is easily the best platformer on the Game Gear, period. It has all of the bouncing and grabbing action of the Genesis version and manages to mimic the physics and feel of its big brother with remarkable accuracy given the Game Gear’s limitations. Out of all the Game Gear games I’ve discovered these last few years Ristar is easily the biggest surprise.
I discovered the Genesis version of Ristar through the Wii’s Virtual Console years ago and I remain eternally grateful that SEGA gave me the chance to check it out. It’s high time the Japanese version of Ristar GG, which had an entire level that was cut from the American release, received the same treatment. Maybe while SEGA’s at it, they could also put Ristar on the short list of Genesis games getting a 3D conversion…those multiple background layers would look spectacular in 3D.Ad: