Game Gear Reviews M-N

Mortal Kombat
Grade: B-
Publisher: Acclaim (1993)
Reviewed: 2003/12/30

screenshotWhen I first switched on Mortal Kombat for the Game Gear, I was blown away by the size of the characters. Not only do they fill the screen, but they also boast a level of digitized detail and clarity you might not expect from the system. Does the gameplay match the impressive graphics? Not quite. The fighters' movements are rough and erratic, and certain special moves (like Raiden's flying attack) cause major graphic break-up. Control is not as responsive as it could be, and trying to execute certain special moves (like Sub Zero's Deep Freeze) is problematic.

Still, I found the gameplay to be similar to the arcade game and fairly enjoyable overall. The best part is the tournament mode, where you dispatch a parade of increasingly difficult foes en route to facing the huge four-armed boss, Goro. There are three skill levels and six playable fighters: Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Rayden, Scorpion, Sub Zero, and Sonya (Kano is missing). Like its Genesis counterpart, there is a "blood" code (2,1,2,Down,Up on title screen). © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Mortal Kombat II
Grade: A-
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
Reviewed: 2004/2/16

screenshotThe first Mortal Kombat for the Game Gear was impressive, and this one is even better. In fact, it's hard to imagine a better fighting game for the Game Gear. This time around you get eight warriors instead of six: Liu Kang, Reptile, Sub Zero, Shang Tsung, Kitana, Jax, Mileena, and Scorpion. For some reason, the two women look a little too thick around the middle - not very attractive.

The graphics and sound are about the same quality as the previous edition, but the gameplay is faster and the controls are tighter. A ringing sound effect alerts you when your health is low, but it sounds a lot like a telephone. Thankfully, you don't need to enter a code to unleash the blood, although it's not as gratuitous as you might expect. Like the first Mortal Kombat, there are three skill levels, and you can't pause because the Start button is used to block. Overall, this one is a head-ripping, spine-ripping good time. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

NBA Jam
Grade: B-
Publisher: Acclaim (1993)
Reviewed: 2015/5/2

screenshotLike any respectable game system of the 90's, Game Gear had its own version of NBA Jam. The graphics have that colorful arcade flair with well-defined players that effortlessly glide through the air to perform rim-rattling dunks. But wait a minute - why does John Stockton have blonde hair? Your goal is to defeat all the teams in the league beginning with the Dallas Mavericks. A 14-character password system is used to record your progress, so keep a pen handy.

As you'd expect for a portable translation, certain liberties were taken. Instead of a proper turbo button, the start button is used to give your player a burst of speed. It works but is definitely awkward. I wish the button configuration had the shoot button closer to the turbo. The action on the court is non-stop but not as tight as the console versions. The passes are slow and the CPU takes advantage of this to steal the ball.

I noticed if you harass the CPU enough in the backcourt he'll sometimes settle for an ill-advised long-range three. Sadly, a surprising number of those shots go in! There's no live commentary and I wish there was a way to shut that looping music off. Despite its deficiencies NBA Jam does a nice job of capturing the spirit of the arcade game. When you're down by a bucket with those final seconds ticking down, the excitement level is high. Even a subpar version of NBA Jam is a heck of a lot of fun. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: password
1 or 2 players 

NBA Jam Tournament Edition
Grade: B+
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
Reviewed: 2015/5/2

screenshotI had a good time with the first NBA Jam for the Game Gear, and Tournament Edition takes the high-flying, slam-dunking action to a whole new level. Unfortunately, you're forced to sit through an inordinate number of intro screens featuring various logos and disclaimers. There are no less than seven unskippable screens, and on a portable system that's unforgivable. The object is still to defeat all the teams with the league (worst to best) and the password is shorter this time around.

The players on the court look more detailed and their shoes glow while turbo is engaged. I like the cheerleaders on the sidelines, but the crowd looks more like a sea of blue grocery bags. WTF? The CPU opponent is a lot more aggressive - at least on the default level. It seems like whenever you steal the ball he immediately steals it back! On the flip side, making three-pointers is a lot easier - too easy in my opinion.

Tournament Edition also boasts a much-needed options menu. Among other things you can activate "tag" mode, select from five skill levels, and disable the worthless "CPU assistance". The buttons can be configured however you like, but frankly I struggled to find a comfortable set-up. An extra menu lets you add more razzle dazzle in the form of icons and power-ups.

And if you really want to see how fast a portable game can be, activate the frantic "juice mode". It's nuts! Considering the wealth of options it's a shame you can't disable the frenzied music, which sounds like a xylophone experiencing turbulence. All things considered, NBA Jam Tournament Edition is undeniably fun and the customization options really boost the replay value. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: password
1 to 4 players 

NFL Quarterback Club
Grade: D
Publisher: Acclaim (1994)
Reviewed: 2003/12/30


screenshotIf not for its obvious technical flaws, QB Club would be a nice little football game. It certainly scores highly in terms of presentation. The side-scrolling field looks sharp, and the pudgy players are easy to follow. A smart control scheme lets you spin or speed burst when running with the ball, and this is one of those rare football games where you really can break away from the pack for a long run.

Passing requires precise timing because throws tend to float in the air. On defense, you should be able to switch to the closest defender at any time, but most of the time this doesn't seem to work. The play calling screens are attractive and easy to navigate, and even contain trick plays like reverses, shovel-passes, and half-back options (yes!). All the NFL teams are available (circa 1994), and you can play a password-saved season. Unfortunately, the CPU opponent is weak, even on the "pro" level. That's a serious problem considering there's no link capability.

Other issues include players that disappear from the waist down, and sometimes disappear completely! The ball moves at an angle instead of an arc, which indicates lazy programming. After an incomplete pass, you have to wait for the rolling ball to come to a complete stop before you can continue - for no good reason at all. The option to use X's and O's instead of animated players is ridiculous. NFL Quarterback Club is a playable game, but there's got to be better football action available for the Game Gear. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

NHL All-Star Hockey
Grade: F
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2010/2/10

screenshotWow, this is terrible! NHL All-Star Hockey blows enormous chunks, and after playing it, I suspect you will too! The players are reasonable in size and the rink looks fine, but the animation is atrocious. The players tend to jump around and the screen scrolls in a jerky manner. In terms of graphic quality, this game has more break-up than a Vince Vaughn movie! It's hard to determine who you're controlling, and the puck tends to get lost in the muddled mess.

Your player is highlighted with a white box around his number. As you can imagine, that does not stand out very well against the ice! The passing controls are erratic. Your teammates tend to stand around like idiots, and they enter the attack zone way too late to execute one-timers. What are they doing?! Shots on the goal are weak, and when the puck does find its way into the net, you'll have absolutely no idea how it happened (sorry, there's no replay).

You can never get any sort of angle on the goalie, who might as well be a brick wall. The excessive difficulty just adds insult to injury. On defense, the controls for switching to the closest man are deplorable! NHL All-Star Hockey is chock full of glitches including players that continue to advance the puck up the ice even as they are lying flat on their backs! I found it difficult to believe that Sega could produce such a bad hockey game, until somebody reminded me about NHL All-Star Hockey for the Sega Saturn. Ouch! © Copyright 2010 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