Game Gear Buyer’s guide 2022 INTRODUCTION
So you’ve got yourself a shiny new Retro Gear Customs Sega Game Gear? Great news! While Andrew is busy crafting your masterpiece, what next? Well, if you’re new to the Sega Game Gear or perhaps you had one back in the day, maybe you need a few tips/reminders about what games to pick up for your pimped out new handheld. In that case, you’re in the right place. I’m gonna guide you through 10 games I think you should check out straight away.
Are retro games expensive?
Don’t worry! This guide isn’t gonna send you chasing after the expensive, hard to find, holy grail games for the Game Gear like Panzer Dragoon Mini or GG Aleste. These are just 10 games to get you started with Sega’s handheld that won’t break the bank and will give you a taste of what the system can do. I’ve tried to include some variety so we’ve got some platformers, puzzle games, racers and even a straight fighter! There are a shedload of great titles on Sega’s handheld so without further ado, let’s jump straight into it with game number 1!
1. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Where else were we gonna start? No Sega console is complete without a Sonic game and it just so happens the original 8-bit Sonic game is excellent. Sonic is represented well on the Game Gear and while I could recommend others in the series, Sonic Triple Trouble for example, I highly recommend you start with the original. This is the first game developed by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro of Streets of Rage fame. Rather than being a butchered port of 16-bit Sonic, the development studio, Ancient, really took the time to work with the 8-bit system to craft a Sonic game that retains much of it older brother’s elements, but works with the 8-bit handheld’s limitations to create a Sonic game that in my opinion, often outshines the Megadrive version. A must for anyone new to the Game Gear.
2. The G.G. Shinobi (1991)
Another of Sega’s beloved franchises, Shinobi, got a couple of entries on the handheld and The G.G. Shinobi is often amongst many Game Gear fans’ top 10 for the system. Released in 1991, The G.G. Shinobi plays much like its 16-bit Megadrive bigger brother, The Revenge of Shinobi, requiring you to rescue captured Ninja across 4 different locations. Once rescued, this allows the player to select the different ninja’s as playable characters, each with different strengths, much like the Megaman games. Gameplay is tight and challenging and the game looks fantastic on Sega’s 8-bit handheld. I’ll let you in on a little secret here. Shinobi is Andrew’s (the man behind the Game Gears!) absolute favourite Game Gear Game and this is the game that he uses to test every Game Gear he builds.
- Cart Only: £7-10
- Complete: £15-25 (All prices based on pricecharting.com and eBay)
3. Columns (1991)
Nintendo Gameboy had Tetris, Game Gear had Columns! I can’t write a Game Gear buyer’s guide without including Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s biggest handheld game. Released in 1991 in PAL regions, this match-3 game requires the player to match jewels of the same colour in vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines with the aim of playing as long as possible to get the highest possible score. Naturally, as play progresses, the speed increases and the game can get rather tricky at times. It’s not the greatest puzzle game, but it’s a classic Sega game and well worth a play for new Game Gear owners. It’s also incredibly common and won’t break the bank.
- Cart Only: £4-5
Complete: depending on variant, £15-20, the UK version is fairly pricey on eBay going for £100!
4. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (1991)
Just like the Megadrive, the Game Gear enjoyed a generous amount of support from Disney, and probably the finest examples of these are the Mickey Mouse Illusion trilogy. Although I personally have a soft spot for Land of Illusion, Castle of Illusion starring MIckey Mouse is generally considered the highlight of the series. It’s a fairly standard side-scrolling platformer but the star of the show in these games are the excellent visuals, bright, colourful and a joy to behold, especially on your new and improved Game Gear’s screen. The level theming and music are also excellent. It’s not the toughest game, but if you like 2D platformers, this is a must in any Game Gear collection. An excellent introduction to the world of Disney games on Sega’s handheld.
- Cart Only: £5-£8
Complete: £15-25 depending on condition
5. Jurassic Park (1993)
If you’ve picked up one of the awesome Jurassic Park themed Game Gear’s (I don’t blame you, they’re gorgeous and one of the most popular shells available on the store), then you’re almost certainly gonna want to pick up the game too. A fantastic action-platformer, Jurassic Park, released in 1993 is another personal favourite of the man behind Retro Gear Customs. Andrew, who has already or will be lovingly crafting your shiny, new Game Gear is a JP superfan and this one comes highly recommended from him. Set across 5 zones, each based around a different dinosaur, the aim is to beat the initial 4 zones in order to progress to the final zone, the visitor centre to battle the mighty T-Rex! Each area has a driving stage before setting off armed with 3 different weapons. Defeat the boss dinosaur and it’s onto the zone. The platform stages are solid with excellent visuals and make for a fine handheld Jurassic Park experience. It’s not the longest game, but well worth checking out, especially if you have a JP shell on your Game Gear.
6. Streets of Rage (1992)
For me personally, one of the best games released on the Sega Megadrive was Streets of Rage and its sequels. So it’s a no-brainer to me that it should be in the collection of any Sega Game Gear owner too. Released in 1992, Streets of Rage on the Game Gear is an impressive port of its 16-bit bigger brother. Due to the limitations of the handheld, we do lose a character, Adam, meaning it’s a straight choice between Axel and Blaze. There is also the issue of the system only having two buttons compared to the Megadrives three, which makes for a slightly more challenging control scheme for veterans of the original game. However, once these controls have been mastered, there is much enjoyment to be had here. The graphics are excellent and the difficulty level is challenging. The game even supports 2 players via the link cable! Obviously it’s a bit shorter than the Megadrive version but it’s Streets of Rage on the go! What more could you ask for?
- Cart Only: £10-12
Complete: £15-30 depending on condition
7. The Lucky Dime Caper Starring Donald Duck (1991)
I couldn’t write this buying guide without including this classic Disney game. The Lucky Dime Caper starring Donald Duck is another side-scrolling platformer in the same style as the Mickey Mouse Illusion series. Again, the presentation is top tier and the colours will really pop on that sweet new Game Gear screen. Donald has a couple of attacking options compared to Mickey using a hammer to hit enemies and he can also throw discs making enemies far easier to defeat. The game is a decent length too consisting of 7 different stages, with a good variety of locations such as Tropical islands, the Pyramids and the South Pole. A well received and reviewed game at the time, The Lucky Dime Caper is still just as playable today and a fantastic pickup for any new Game Gear owner.
- Cart Only: £5-12
8. Mortal Kombat II (1994)
If its a straight fighting game you’re looking for to play on the go, you can’t go wrong with the Mortal Kombat series and luckily, the Game Gear got a pretty decent port of the excellent Mortal Kombat II, Largely based on the Gameboy version, which gives us a great example of how the Game Gear was at the time much more advanced than Nintendo’s handheld, we get full colour as opposed to the Gameboy’s monochrome and of course, there is blood! Obviously, due to the limitations of the system, the gore has had to be toned down a touch with a little less of the red stuff and some simplified fatalities, but all the characters and arenas of the Gameboy version are here. The controls have been simplified to account for the Game Gear’s 2 buttons so the start button is brought into play to block but there is still a vast array of moves for each fighter once you perfect some of those button combos. This is a slightly pricier one and it might be worth checking out the US version to save a little cash.
- Cart Only: £15-30 PAL, £12-20 NTS
- Complete: £25-40
9. Road Rash (1994)
If you were a Megadrive/Genesis fan in the early nineties, chances are you would have played Road Rash, the excellent racing/vehicular combat game at the time. It was super popular and also very good! We wouldn’t see a Game Gear port until 1994, but it was worth the wait. It’s a damn fine port with clean, clear graphics and nice big sprites. The controls are simple and the challenging gameplay will keep you playing for a while. For me personally, the greatest joy to be found in this game was always the combat. There’s nothing as satisfying as whacking a rival racer with a lead pipe or chain, sending them hurtling out of the race. The only drawback is the lack of a 2-player mode, but that can be forgiven considering link cable multiplayer is not something you’re gonna be doing too much these days. If you’re after some arcade racing fun, Road Rash is well worth your time.
- Cart Only: £25-30
- Complete: £25-40
10. Fantasy Zone (1991)
If shooters are your thing, the Game Gear offers a few options such as the eye-wateringly expensive GG Aleste! But I wanted to include something in this guide that really shows off that Game Gear extended colour pallet and still scratches that shoot-em up itch. Step forward Fantasy Zone! While sharing a similar name to the Master System game, it is in fact it’s own entry in the series with some new weapons and some original music tracks. If you’re familiar with the series though, this game will be instantly familiar to you. The bright, colourful graphics and cutesy art-style will look great on your new Game Gear and with 7 levels to play through, this will keep you going for extended handheld gaming sessions. There were some compromises made however. There is no HUD and at times the gameplay can get a touch choppy, but overall it’s a great, little package and a nice introduction to the shoot-em up genre on the Game Gear
- Cart Only: £10-12
- Complete: £45-55
The Master Gear Converter
Sega produced their own adaptor to allow Master System games to be played on Game Gear, the Master Gear Converter. Released in 1991, while not technically produced by Sega, it was at least officially licensed by them at least initially. This handy device attaches to the back of the Game Gear and screws in. Once connected, simply pop in your favourite Master System game and off you go. Simple as that. It’s also compatible with the custom Game Gears sold here at retrogearcustoms.com and is a great way to experience Sega’s 8-bit home console on the go.
- These can still be picked up on eBay for around £15-25
- Brand new version of this for £19 from Retrosix
Now, if you really wanna take your Game Gear experience to the next level and make the ultimate handheld, you’re gonna want to get yourself an Everdrive. What’s an Everdrive? Well it’s a flash cart that you can load up with ROMs and play your games from an SD card rather than having to insert a new game each time. It will also give you the ability to create save states so you don’t have to start Sonic from the beginning every time! The most common and by far the most popular of these devices are the one’s made by Krikzz. There are a few different models available for the Game Gear but the one I recommend and personally own is the Everdrive GG X7. It boots Game Gear and Master System ROMs flawlessly and quickly (the cheaper models can be a little slower to load). The UI is simple and easy to navigate and save states work like a charm. I loaded mine up with the entire Game Gear and Master System ROM sets the day I got it and never looked back (note: I’m not gonna link the full romsets here but a very quick Google search will give it to you in seconds). One thing to note, the Everdrive does require an SD card but any micro SD is compatible or you can simply buy one with the cart as most sellers give an option to include it. A Retro Gear Customs Game Gear combined with an Everdrive is an awesome combo! Knowing that you only have to carry around the handheld itself with the cart in and you have every game available to you is something Sega fans would have never believed possible back in the 90s.
- Anywhere from £50 to £150 depending on brand and version
There you have it! That’s 10 excellent games to get you started and a couple of pro-tips to take your Game Gear to the next level.. There are a tonne of excellent games out there for the Game Gear and they are widely available on eBay etc. Many are cheap if you’re not worried about having the original box and manual.
Welcome to the Game Gear family. Enjoy your new handheld.