Game Gear Reviews D-F

Deep Duck Trouble Starring Donald Duck
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2003/11/26

screenshotThis endearing little platform game really grew on me. The bizarre premise is that Uncle Scrooge has obtained a cursed relic that's transformed him into a floating balloon and Donald must return the relic to undo the curse. I understand this is also under consideration as the plot for the next Indiana Jones movie.

Like Quackshot (Genesis, 1991), Deep Duck Trouble has that certain charm only Disney can deliver. The graphics are top-notch, with large characters that are humorously animated. Donald can hop on enemies (ala Mario), but even more fun is your ability to kick blocks, which can knock off enemies, expose power-ups, or open new areas. You can choose what order you play the stages, and there's plenty of variety within each.

The only stage I didn't find particularly fun was the obligatory underwater stage. The control is dead-on, but expect some slowdown. In fact, the game seems like it's moving in slow motion at times, especially if you've just finished a game like Sonic the Hedgehog. All in all, Deep Duck Trouble is a very straightforward platform game that's better than most. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Desert Speedtrap
Grade: C
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2017/7/8

screenshotHaving recently suffered through the dismal Desert Demolition (Genesis, 1994) I was apprehensive about Desert Speedtrap. Fortunately this is one of those instances where the portable game is actually more enjoyable than the full version. Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are still up to all their wacky antics but the gameplay is a whole lot simpler. Playing as the Road Runner, you collect stars, peck bird seed for health, and try to reach the end of the stage before time runs out.

The problem with a fast-moving game like this is that it's hard to see what's coming and react in time. It doesn't help that the controls are imprecise and slippery, especially when trying to land on small platforms. Still, arrow signs keep you headed in the right direction and it's exciting to try to beat the clock. Towards the end of each stage the coyote shows up to harass you with some imaginative new gadget. Desert Speedtrap is not exceptional but it's one of the few Road Runner games to effectively get its point across. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 13,860
1 player 

Dynamite Headdy
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2014/8/15


screenshotDynamite Headdy is one of so many platforming stars of the 90's currently residing in the where-are-they-now file. Headdy uses his detachable head to bash enemies, knock down obstacles, and pull himself up to higher ledges. Special icons modify his head to give him abilities like moving faster, spraying bullets, or sucking in enemies. The heads add variety, but their effects only last a few seconds so don't dawdle.

The stages are brimming with color but it's not easy to tell what you can or can't jump on. The bosses exhibit a lot of Japanese weirdness in the form of possessed teddy bears and creepy dolls. The first boss confused the hell out of me. This bear would run into me, pause to be "recharged" by some kind of yellow pod, and repeat the process.

I kept dying until I realized a few not-so-obvious things. First, it's possible to jump over the charging bear even though your legs don't clear him. In most games contact like that would result in death. Next, when the bear briefly pauses it's possible to damage him, which is not obvious at all. After a few hits he floated off the screen, which I assume means he was defeated.

The game has a lot of quirks, but I guess you could argue they give it some character. The controls are outstanding. A score is displayed every few rounds, but it would have been nice if it was displayed on the game over screen. Dynamite Headdy is no Sonic, but this light-hearted platformer is entertaining enough for a rainy day. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Ecco the Dolphin
Grade: D
Publisher: Sega (1993)
Reviewed: 2017/7/8

screenshotDuring the 16-bit era Ecco the Dolphin (Genesis, 1992) provided a welcome reprieve from a steady diet of platform jumping, space shooting, and spine-ripping. The game let you assume the role of a graceful dolphin navigating beautiful coral reefs while dealing with denizens of the deep. Ecco's vibrant scenery was accompanied by a tranquil, soothing soundtrack that placed you in a submerged state of mind.

Sadly, these elements don't translate well to the Game Gear. The scenery looks washed out on the small screen, with objects like jellyfish blending into the background. The looping music is more grating than relaxing. Playing the game on my Retron 5 helped me to better appreciate the colorful reefs and haunting digitized marine noises, but it couldn't help the gameplay.

It's hard to figure out what the heck you're supposed to do in this game. The coral mazes all look the same and certain enemies come after you like heat-seeking missiles. When you die the game takes you all the way back to the beginning of the stage. Easy-to-enter passwords are provided, but after playing Ecco on the Genesis I found it hard to muster the enthusiasm for this one. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball
Grade: C-
Publisher: Acclaim (1995)
Reviewed: 2005/5/8


screenshotJudging from looks alone, Big Hurt is easily the best baseball game for the Game Gear. Players move with fluid motion, and the pitchers look especially good as they deliver their pitches. Although the gameplay is similar to other Game Gear baseball titles, there are too many lulls in the action. First, when you turn the game on, you're required to sit through no less than six (!) intro screens. Let's get on with it already!!

Once the action is underway, you then have to wait for each batter to approach the plate; the pitchers also tend to pause on the mound. I tried to adjust this, but even the "fast play" option isn't a marked improvement. Another flaw lies in the pitching controls, which are more complicated than they need to be.

After aiming the ball, you select the pitch type (what the heck's a "sinner"?) and lastly, choose a pitch speed. The problem is, most of the time choosing a pitch's speed doesn't make any sense. Who would want to throw a slow fastball or a fast changeup? Batted balls tend to be hit weakly - most don't clear the infield. Fielding controls are decent, although they could be more responsive. Overall Big Hurt is a good-looking game but its pace is too slow for a portable title. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Fred Couples Golf
Grade: B
Publisher: Sega (1994)
Reviewed: 2011/7/13


screenshotThis game makes a fine first impression with its appealing music and quick-cut animations of Fred Couples in action. Fred Couples Golf lets you compete against 31 pros on three courses. Before teeing off however you'll want to head straight to the options menu so you can turn off that God-forsaken background music. The over-amplified sounds of chirping birds and crashing waves are bad, but at least you'll be able to maintain your sanity.

Swinging your club requires that you walk through a series of quick set-up screens. The first determines your direction, which is tricky because the overhead map is pretty tiny. Next you'll choose your club, although it's rarely necessary since the game always suggests the correct one. Setting your stance sounds complicated but it's just a fancy way for advanced players to apply draw or fade to their shots. Finally, there's a simple two-press power meter.

This process may sound like a hassle, but in practice you'll whiz through these screens very fast. The ball also moves quickly so you won't need to sit through any lengthy rolls. I really got into a rhythm playing this, and how many golf games can you say that about? This game is also very forgiving. In one case my ball landed in shallow water, and I was allowed to hit my shot from there!

Putting is not a problem because the greens tend to be very flat. The action moves along at a brisk pace so you can squeeze in 18 holes in about a half hour. The tournament mode provides a password upon finishing the round, but only if you make the cut. Fred Couples Golf may lack the bells and whistles of modern golf games, but I'll take its quick pacing and hassle-free controls any day of the week. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Emula Zone, GameFAQs, Moby Games, Games Database