The 5 best Game Gear games – handheld fun

Sega Game Gear

I never did get a Game Gear back in the day. The complaints about the short battery life, high consumption of batteries, lack of games and high price were just too off-putting, at the time. Why getting a Game Gear when the Game Boy existed?

However, I actually found one recently at a flea market and figured I would give it a try! The fact it came with an external rechargeable battery pack and an A/C adapter certainly helped seal the deal and ease two of my big concerns regarding this handheld console.

By the way, this is the first time I am talking about a handheld console on my blog, and I am glad that I did pick up Sega’s portable console. It is “brand new” to me, but I have already worked out what my personal favorite games are. So, without further ado – and as promised in my previous post – here are the 5 best Game Gear games ever.

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5. Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap (Developed by Westone, published by Sega 1992)

A screenshot from Wonderboy III: The Dragon's Trap

Not sure why Tom-Tom dyed his hair… XD

Okay so, this game is not a Game Gear exclusive, but it was the only handheld console to get it in the end. First released back in 1989 for the Sega Master System, it was ported to the Game Gear for a 1992 release.

Fun fact: if you liked this title, a remake was released in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and mobile devices.

This title is regarded as one of the best 8-bit era games in existence and for a good reason. Praised for the colorful and polished graphics, the interesting non-linear gameplay that does not feel repetitive, immersive sounds and a quality story.

It is easy to see why so many people loved it, and I definitely think it deserves a spot in any top 5 Game Gear list.

4. Sonic Chaos (Developed by Aspect, published by Sega 1993)

A screenshot from Sonic Chaos

Run, Sonic run!

So, this is a Sega game (hey, it’s Sonic!) that was released for the Sega Master System first and then – one month later – for the Game Gear.

Fun fact: the Game Gear version was secretly re-released inside the Sonic Adventure DX game for GameCube and Windows PC. Also, it was later included in the Sonic Mega Collection Plus for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC.

This is actually the first Sonic game to let players control how Tails flies around, plus it is the first that let Tails be a playable character. Pretty big thing at the time! It would have been strange to not include a Sonic title in this list, and Sonic Chaos does deserve the spot.

Despite the graphic change, SC was praised for its graphics and strong gameplay, which made it very entertaining. Keeping all the elements that made its prequels great, Sonic Chaos adds Tails into the mix, to make a game that every fan of the series still has huge love for.

3. Land of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Sega 1993)

A screenshot from Land of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

What can I do? I am a Disney fan…

Some people might not have been big fans of this game but personally I love it, just so enjoyable to play!

Fun fact: the story here actually has nothing to do with the prequel (Castle of Illusion) or the sequel (World of Illusion), so you do not need to play either to understand this game.

A typical side-scrolling platformer with classic Disney characters and incredible graphics, but some very cool gameplay elements. There are some nice potions that allow you to do different things such as shrink Mickey and he can also attack enemies by throwing things at them, which can result in some funny moments.

It is just all around good fun, but the fact it does not really connect to the previous game leaves a little to be desired, at times.

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2. Gunstar Heroes (Developed by Treasure, published by Sega 1993)

A screenshot from Gunstar Heroes

Nonstop action…

We definitely do not get many run and gun games like Gunstar Heroes anymore. First released on the Sega Genesis console in 1993, it was later ported to the Game Gear in 1995, after a little bit of difficulty.

Fun fact: Gunstar Heroes was re-released for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS as well.

This was clearly one of the best Sega Genesis games around, and the Game Gear version is also one of the best games for the platform. It is a hardcore action game on a level that was not really seen at the time, and it quickly became a favorite with gamers and critics alike.

It is a fast and hard side-scrolling game with single player and co-op options. I have not had the chance to try co-op considering it needs two Game Gears, but I do really like this game thanks to the frantic gameplay, large bosses, nice sense of humor and level design.
There is a lot to love here!

Honorable Mention:

Royal Stone (Sega 1995)

A screenshot from Royal Stone

To me it is more of a Royal Gem, absolutely entertaining!

Okay do not be surprised if you do not know what this is. Royal Stone is the sequel to Crystal Warriors, that was released in 1995. However, it is a Japan exclusive. This title was published when Sega was phasing out the Game Gear, so it was never given an English release.

Fun fact: some fans made an unofficial English translation and I got to play it.

This GG exclusive keeps that turn-based grid battle system and while it is pretty fun, it also includes perhaps the best graphics and visuals for any 8-bit handheld. Of course, it also has that catchy soundtrack which leaves you humming the songs for days on end.

Royal Stone does deserve a mention, but the lack of an official English release does mean it was not on many people’s radar and technically was not playable in my region, which is a real shame.

Number one is next retro folks, are you ready to find out?
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Toynk Toys

1.Dragon Crystal (Sega 1990 Japan, 1991 rest of the world)

A screenshot from Dragon Crystal

Do not be fooled by the repetitive graphics, the gameplay rocks!

Developed and published by Sega, it is no surprise that Dragon Crystal got a Game Gear release and for once, the handheld version actually released first! For me, there is little doubt this the best GG titles in existence, it even rates highly today.

Fun fact: Dragon Crystal was released for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2012 and also still holds the solid 4+ star rating it held back in the 90s.

The Game Gear with its low battery life seems like an odd home for a permadeath game like Dragon Crystal. With no save or password options, there must have been a lot of raging from players, because I know there is no way I could have played this game like that (let alone ranking it first).

Just thinking about how the console would run out of power, when I was minutes from the end, gives me the shivers. It is a cruel game, where you lose health if you run out of food and with all kinds of strange enemies.

Fortunately, the above mentioned rechargeable battery pack and – above all – the A/C adapter have enabled me to enjoy Dragon Crystal as it should be. it is an amazing title, still appreciated in the current gaming climate. After all, we all seem to just love hardcore and permadeath games!

That’s it for my list today everyone, I hope you agree on at least some of my choices for the best Game Gear games around! What ones do you agree with and what do you think should not be on the list? Is there anything you think I have missed and should take another look at?
Please let me know by posting in the comments below!

Till next retro ranking!

About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our younger gaming years alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

2 thoughts on “The 5 best Game Gear games – handheld fun

  1. Steve

    This is certainly brining back some memories. I remember when the Game Gear came out and how cool it was that it had a full color display. Until then, I feel like GameBoy was the only thing out and the graphics were…let’s just say…less than impressive. 

    I was surprised at most of the games that you listed here. I knew that a Sonic game would be on there, as that is a tentpole for Sega. However, the others I was not expecting as there are so many more well-known franchise characters. Thanks for highlighting these though, as I’m sure they are a lot of fun!

    Great post!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Steve and thanks for your nice comment, it is a pleasure helping people know more about games. 🙂

      I agree, Game Boy’s graphics were certainly not its forte, but it had a killer application: Tetris!
      Tetris helped Game Boy achieve mainstream success, it did make it huge!
      The Game Gear has many great games, but no killer applications and like it or not, that made a big difference, back then.
      Despite this, the Game Gear has aged really well!

      I appreciate you taking time to read and comment on my post, I hope you become a regular, here on my blog.

      Reply

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