The SEGA Game Gear, the gaming hand-held known for its sizing issues. In 1990 it was too big, making people wonder why you had a massive slab in your pants, and in 2020 it’s far too small. Like, just entirely too small.
Size issues aside, the Game Gear boasted a game library similar in count to that of the Nintendo 64, and offered quite a few exclusives that have since been lost to history. Today I will discuss some of them that I feel need to be remastered or ported to modern platforms. And by the way, there are so many Game Gear exclusives worthy of a revival, and this is definitely not an exhaustive list. We’ll just look at just a few of the Game Gear exclusives I’d love to see either remade or ported to modern platforms first.
Starting off is my childhood hero and the game that made me want a Game Gear, Sonic Triple Trouble. With the recent success of Sonic Mania, it would be the perfect time to revive this old Sonic gem which released at the peak of Sonic craze, right after Sonic 3 in 1994.
The game featured the foundational characters of the franchise: Sonic, Tails, Metal Sonic, Dr. Robotnik before he was changed to the far worse Dr. Eggman moniker, and of course everyone’s favorite asshole: Knuckles. I HATED his laugh animation so much as a kid. This chump would constantly mess up your mission to defeat Dr. Robotnik, and he’d just toss his head and back and laugh at you. What a dick.
The game also introduced a new character: treasure hunter Nack the Weasel who was another asshole that laughed at you! This game one of the original causes of what doctors now diagnose as gamer rage. And I would love to see it remade.
There were just so many unique aspects to this game that would translate so well in a Sonic Mania 2 of some kind. It had some cool levels that could really be fleshed out in a remaster, like the very short train segment. Why haven’t we seen Sonic in more train levels anyways? Oh right, the last one was in Sonic ‘06… guess that killed it for good.
If we’re going to talk about a potential Sonic Mania 2 which would include Sonic Triple Trouble, it would make perfect sense to also bring back the other exclusive Sonic Game Gear platformers, like Sonic Chaos, the original Sonic the Hedgehog, and even Tails’ Adventure. There were so many good aspects to the Sonic Game Gear exclusives that captured the Sonic craze of the 90s, it would be a shame to have it lost to the flow of time.
We’ve seen many of these titles ported before on the Gamecube under the Sonic Gems Collection, but that in and of itself is also lost to time. It would be great to get a Sonic Retro Mega Pack collection or something that includes everything!
I know I’m not alone in this dream. Games like Sonic Chaos have become so popular among fans that a fan project to revive this game à la Sonic Mania has been launched, and the announcement trailer for it is already at nearly half a million views!
Let’s not forget about our cute two-tailed sidekick Tails. To be fair, Tails’ Adventure has been ported plenty of times, being included in Sonic Adventure DX, again in Sonic Gems Collection and last released on the 3DS.
Tails’ Adventure was a much slower-paced game and more akin to a metroidvania. Instead of just running to the right and collecting rings, as Tails you would take your time exploring levels and finding new items that would open up new parts of the stage to explore. Maybe SEGA could develop some modern metroidvania games with Tails, using this original concept as inspiration.
Then there is one of SEGA’s most popular franchises, Shinobi, which had two entries on the Game Gear: Shinobi and Shinobi II: The Silent Fury. The original has managed to be revived a few times already on the 3DS virtual console and again on these Game Gear nanos, however the sequel remains trapped in 1992 on the original Game Gear. It’s a fun little game and a small piece of Shinobi history that deserves to stand alongside its predecessor.
Next up I’d like to see the three X-Men games ported over as some kind of X-Men Game Gear Trilogy collection. Sure, some titles here are better than others, but just like Star Wars, you usually buy the good films bundled together with the garbage ones. You know which ones I’m talking about.
In the 90s, X-Men was a huge franchise being amplified by the cartoon series which spanned a whopping 5 seasons. The franchise launched several game titles for all the major platforms including three on the Game Gear. The first two, X-Men and X-Men: Gamesmaster’s Legacy were both well received while the third one, X-Men Mojo World, ironically… lost its mojo.
In the first installment, players play as either Cyclops or Wolverine, working to save the other X-Men captured by Magneto. As new X-Men characters are saved, players can then play as them including Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Nightcrawler and Iceman. The bulk of the gameplay is your basic action-platformer with different X-Men using different abilities. For fans of the franchise though, it’s all you need for a classic portable platformer.
The second installment has a similar concept to the first in which you start with two playable X-Men, Cyclops and Storm, and then you unlock several others later on. The gameplay is quite similar to the first, though with some added level of polish.
Then there’s Mojo World, which again has the same type of gameplay as the other two, but somehow plays worse. Strange, considering it looks like the same game designers were involved in all three games. I guess by the third one, they were just sick of the franchise and said to hell with it.
Alright, now let’s open up a mess of a box from another very popular franchise: Shining Force. This franchise, specifically Shining, is huge, spanning dozens of games, platforms and even game genres. It’s one of SEGA’s more iconic franchises and when it came to the Game Gear, it featured 3 titles: Shining Force Gaiden, Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya and Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict. All three of these are available on the Game Gear Micro, but screw that… platform? If the screen is under 2 inches, it doesn’t count as a real gaming platform. That’s right, Game Boy Micro, you made the cut but just barely.
For the sake of this list, we’ll leave out Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya, as that title was ported to the 3DS Virtual Console and can be bought and played there today. As for Shining Force Gaiden and Final Conflict, they’re an old-school tactical RPG that was unfortunately only released in Japan. The gameplay is very much what you’d expect to see in a turn-based tactical RPG: player characters and enemies are laid out on a grid, taking turns moving and attacking each-other until one side is vanquished.
The fights are tied together with a story which, in the case of Shining Force Gaiden, continues the events from Shining Force after 20 years have passed. Shining Force Gaiden also serves as a prequel to the events of Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya. For anyone who wants to take on everything the Shining Force franchise has to offer, and especially given the plot-heavy nature of these games, I’d say they’re must-ports for North American audiences. Or, if you don’t mind this type of thing, you could dive into the fan translations.
The last title I want to discuss today is an absolute must for video game and pop culture preservation: Donald no Magical World, or as it’s often translated to, Ronald in the Magical World. For some reason, fast food franchise mascots were quite popular in the 90s with many brands using video games to increase their reach. We saw Pepsi do it with Pepsiman and Cool-Spot. Coca-Cola did it with Coca-Cola Kid and McDonalds had a bunch of them across several platforms.
Even more strangely, some of these were great games! Despite Ronald in the Magical World being a handheld fast food game, it still had cutscenes, the beginning one being a full 3 minute time-hog! I could order a Big Mac in less time than that.
It also included well fleshed out platforming mechanics and even a story. Basically Grimace finds a mysterious box, they open it, and Ronald’s friends get sucked up into some kind of magical world. He must then go rescue his friends. Sounds like the usual 90s drug trip inspired story if you ask me, but you could always do worse.
Despite McDonalds being an American icon, this game was only ever released in Japan, making it that much more important to re-release for a Western audience.
That’s my list for now, but feel let me know which Game Gear exclusives you feel have been lost to time in the comments!