In March of this year, Sega released the first batch of Game Gear games on the 3DS eshop. The initial three games (Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, Shinobi, and Dragon Crystal) were a great sampling of the Game Gear’s library.
Ported to the 3DS by Sega emulation masters M2 (the developer who handled many of the Japanese Sega Ages collections and the pixel-perfect Sega games on the Wii’s Virtual Console), the releases of these games raised the bar not just for emulation on the 3DS, but on all platforms.
Not content with simply releasing perfectly emulated versions of these Game Gear games, M2 went the extra mile and gave classic game fans a multitude of emulation options to play with. In terms of visuals, players can choose from a “normal” mode that renders the game in an attractive 4:3-esque box within the 3DS’ top screen (the default and my preferred option), a sharp dot-by-dot rendition that places the game in a miniature 3D (yes, this mode actually uses the 3D slider) Game Gear system (that you can change the color of), or a stretched full-screen mode that only a mother could love.
But what about the games themselves?
Dragon Crystal (Original Release: 1992; $2.99 on the eshop)
A roguelike that appears at first glance unforgiving and confusing, but if the player takes the time to explore its world and mechanics, they will find an addictive and satisfying dungeon-crawling RPG.
Who’s it for? Patient portable RPG fans; both roguelike veterans and curious newcomers to the genre.
Shinobi (Original Release: 1991; $3.99 on the eshop)
Not unlike a Mega Man title, the player is able to choose the stage order and gains control/the abilities of the boss they defeat at the end of each. Also, like the Mega Man series, Shinobi is incredibly difficult, and even with restore points, requires quite a bit of skill and persistence.
Who’s it for? Joe Musashi/Yuzo Koshiro completists; anyone who complains that modern games are “too easy.”
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (Original Release: 1994; $4.99 on the eshop)
An original Sonic title created specifically for the Game Gear, Triple Trouble is an admirable attempt to bring The Blue Blur to the system. Fairly complex level designs, two playable characters, and an array of unique powerups give the game plenty of replay value.
Who’s it for? Fans of classic 8/16-bit Sonic sidescrolling platformers.
It’s been five months since the initial lot of Game Gear titles appeared in the North America eshop… and we haven’t seen anything since. Meanwhile, eight Game Gear games have been released in Japan (including last week’s release of Columns, which added local multiplayer).
The Game Gear has a large and diverse library of titles and the 3DS is absolutely the best way to play them. It would be a shame if North American fans missed out on some of these hidden and under-appreciated gems.