Usually dismissed as a battery-hungry beast with nary an exclusive game to its name, the Game Gear isn't remembered fondly by the majority of gamers. So when Nintendo revealed last week that the 3DS would have Game Gear titles available to download from its eShop, the mood wasn't one of uncontrolled excitement.
Which is a little unfair on Sega's portable system. Although the majority of the better titles for the bulky handheld were ports, there were still some exclusive gems if you looked hard enough. And even the ports usually contained unique features. So we've compiled a list of ten of the games from the system that we think would be great to see available to download on the 3DS (as long as the price is right, of course).
With the 3DS offering a sharper screen, better battery life (just about, anyway) and sound than Sega’s aged handheld, many of the following titles would be given a new lease of life on the 3DS.
Defenders of Oasis
Developed from the ground up for the Game Gear, Defenders of Oasis was a traditional but undeniably impressive RPG.
It may not have been particularly original, with the game sticking to the age old RPG formula of random battles and turn-based fighting, but the real draw was the constantly twisting and turning plot, which kept you guessing throughout the title’s fairly short running time.
Shinobi II: The Silent Fury
Probably the best exclusive for the Game Gear, Shinobi’s second portable outing was a highly accomplished action title that put right the minor flaws of its predecessor.
The sometimes over-difficult nature of the original was nowhere to be found, with The Silent Fury offering a perfect blend of challenge, responsive controls, and impressive presentation.
With the original already confirmed for the eShop, it’s surely only a matter of time before its superior sequel will get a chance to shine.
Sonic The Hedgehog: Triple Trouble
Although Sonic Chaos was a great game for the Game Gear, Triple Trouble was an exclusive to the system and therefore has the edge when it comes to 3DS eShop desirability.
It may have been stripped down in comparison to home console Sonic titles, but Triple Trouble tried its hardest to match up to its big console brethren. With a load of levels, fun bonus stages, and two playable characters it came impressively close to matching up as well.
Sega has included the game in a few of its Sonic collections in the past, so there’s a very good chance Triple Trouble will make its way onto the 3DS.
It may have only been a conversion of a very simple arcade game from 1982, but Pengo was an understated delight on the Game Gear.
A basic puzzler at heart, the game had you carefully working your way around self contained stages, destroying enemies by strategically slamming ice-blocks into them. The small levels were ideally suited to quick gaming sessions, and nearly 30 years on the game's addictive qualities still haven’t faded.
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap
The Dragon’s Trap was one of the best conversions on the Game Gear, being near identical to the Master System version.
A 2D platformer RPG, the game was a highly effective mash-up of both old skool Zelda and Mario titles. Playing as a hero capable of transforming into a variety of beasts, you had to work your way through castles, dungeons, and dragons to complete your quest. The Dragon's Trap was unbelievably complex and engaging for an 8-bit title, and is a must-buy if it ever turns up on the 3DS's eShop.
Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya
Although all three Shining Force games on the Game Gear were solid RPGs, The Sword of Hajya was the only one to be released outside Japan.
As with most Shining Force titles, the rather dull battle sections were merely incidental to the engaging characters and unravelling plotline. If you can look past the ageing graphics this is still a highly compelling experience.
Baku Baku Animal
Forget Columns: this is the Game Gear’s definitive puzzle title. A Tetris Attack clone with a twist, Baku Baku Animal has both animal and food boxes falling into a well. Instead of utilising a basic match-three mechanic, the game had you placing animals near to their foodstuffs of choice – resulting in the creatures gobbling up the relevant blocks. Addictive, simple, and just a little bit weird, Baku Baku Animal was a surreal but utterly addictive experience.
Notable for going in a Metroid-style direction, Tails Adventure was a real breath of fresh air compared to the many traditional Sonic titles doing the rounds on the Game Gear.
The concept of ‘stages’ of the 2D Sonics was chucked out, while item equipping and a hub world were brought in. Although a little bit more linear than it looked, Tails Adventure was still a brave experiment and would no doubt surprise a few people if it made its way onto the 3DS’s eShop.
Yes, Gunstar Heroes was excellent on the Game Gear, but developer Treasure’s other title for the handheld offers up a little more that’s new, as well as being a brilliant game in its own right.
With several differences in its levels compared to the home console version, Dynamite Headdy on the Game Gear would be a brilliant addition to the 3DS's eShop for both newcomers and long term fans of the game.
Arena: Maze of Death
Finally, here’s something a little more obscure. Released in the Game Gear’s twilight years in 1995, this isometric run and gun title really showed what the handheld was capable of. With twenty levels, a varied cast of enemies, satisfying weapons, and a pumping soundtrack, it was an highly accomplished and fun blastathon.
An exclusive for the Game Gear, and now rather difficult to find, Arena: Maze of Death really deserves to find a new generation of fans on the 3DS. Annoyed that we didn’t include titles such as Streets of Rage 2, Gunstar Heroes or Woody Pop? Vent your Game Gear grumbles in the comments section below.