SNES Quick Look: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

Go Go.

Here we go.

I have a soft spot for this series. Mostly ’cause I watched the everloving hell out of it for two years of my childhood. I had more of the toys than any one child should own, and I even had the fan club kit that came with color-coded shoelaces. I got green laces. Get like me.

That said, there is a very good reason I have no desire to watch the show today, other than the obvious “I am an adult with adult responsibilities” excuse that everyone else uses. The show itself is incredibly hard to watch, since it was made with a low budget and relied heavily on stock footage from a then-recent season of a long-running Japanese television series. It’s obvious Saban cut corners with with MMPR in a lot of bad ways. The plots were simple and wafer-thin, since they only really existed to get to the parts with the fighting and the giant robot/monster explosions.

But Power Rangers didn’t need to be The Wire. It needed to be exactly what it was, an action-packed television show. It’s kind of amazing how well the series has done, since it’s been going strong for 20+ years. This low-budget American/Japanese hybrid has become a pop culture firestorm.

Mostly, I remember the SNES game, because it’s really, really well done.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was developed by Natsume and published by Bandai. Natsume is known today for the Harvest Moon and Rune Factory franchises, but on the SNES it produced a ton of underrated gems like Wild Guns, Pocky & Rocky, and Ninja Warriors.

Think of MMPR as the entry-level Ninja Warriors. It’s got a similar style, albeit simplified so anyone can play it. Actually, I think MMPR blows Ninja Warriors out of the water.

What is the plot of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, you ask? Let me show you:

Five motherfuckin' teenagers with five motherfuckin' attitudes.

After 10,000 years, Rita Repulsa has escaped from her space-prison. A magical blue head-in-a-jar named Zordon recruits five teenagers ‘with attitude’ to take on Rita and her army of weekly monsters.

I really wish I was making any of that up or embellishing it in any way.

No Green Ranger? Bullshit, man!

You can select your favorite character in this game, which is pretty cool. Each ranger plays pretty much the same, but they have different weapons, which can change things up a bit. Pick a favorite color, and jump in! For the purposes of this post, I chose Zack, the Black Ranger.

Just another day in downtown Fort Myers.

(Yes, the Black Ranger is played by an African-American man, and the Yellow Ranger was played by an Asian-American woman. I have no idea how the producers did not see a problem with that)

You start the level beating up a bunch of palette-swapped mooks. This game follows the Turtes In Time style of having the same enemy colored differently to show difficulty or to show that it has a special skill. In the first level, all these guys are basically harmless.

In stores now, kids!

At the halfway point, you get a glimpse of the boss. You then get to see what we’ve all been waiting for:

I totally wanted a morpher as a kid.

A sweet morphing sequence! This turns you into the actual Power Ranger.

He's more of a grey Ranger, here...

Where you can promptly kick ass and take names. You also get a unique weapon for each Ranger. The Black Ranger uses an axe. Sometimes it’s a gun, but right now it’s definitely an axe.

After beating the hell out of endless foot soldiers and platforming through rough terrain (though not much of it), you get an encounter with the boss of that level, like the monster of the week on the show. Beat him, and you’ve got another level to conquer. The end of the game even shifts genres a little bit, turning into a fighting game to simulate the Megazord combat from the show (That segment even spun off into its’ own game: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Fighting Edition. But that’s another time).

This game is great. The difficulty is a bit on the easier side, but since a lot of the people who would buy this were kids when this was new, it’s understandable. The controls are flawless, and every potential misstep will be because you made an error, not the game. An experienced gamer can breeze through this in an hour, as it’s definitely a short game, but that hour will be one of the most fun you’ll have on the Super Nintendo.

Natsume, as a developer, is very good about making quality titles out of anything it gets its hands on. Any other company could have just thrown together a Power Rangers game. A few actually did (case in point: the Sega Genesis version. Boo!), but that’s for another time.

It’s a very rare case to see a licensed game transcend the common pitfalls of the genre. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers is one of the few licensed games that deserves to be rescued from the rest of the shovelware. Go play this. It’s not expensive on eBay. Hell, go emulate it. It needs to be played.

Even if you’re not a fan of the show, if you’re a fan of retro games, play this game. It’s well worth it.

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Four Obscure Handheld Games.

Y’know, a lot of times, the classics are nice. There is a very good reason why the first game anyone wants to play on a NES is going to be Super Mario Bros. It’s basically perfect. Same goes for the Game Boy – You’re going to get Tetris, no doubt about it.

The thing is, I’ve played those games to death. They’re excellent, to be sure, but they’re boring as all hell to me now. I just tried to sit down and play Super Mario World again. I couldn’t do it. I may as well have been playing Rise of the Robots.

I’ve started getting into more handheld games since the 25th anniversary of the Game Boy. I’ve become significantly more versed in the libraries of not only the Game Boy, but the Game Boy’s competitors, as well. Here are a few interesting, obscure, even somewhat-underrated games that most people gloss over from a number of handheld consoles:

There's a Super Famicom version we didn't get over here in the 'States.

Now, Bomberman isn’t really an obscure series. Bomberman as a whole is known for its grid-based multiplayer that is scientifically proven to turn your friends into your hated rivals and to ensure that every other word that comes out of your mouth is something that the FCC would disapprove of. Panic Bomber, on the other hand, is a puzzle game, in the style of, say, Wario’s Woods or Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Y’know, easy to learn, hard to master, etc… The game itself is most definitely not a “blast”, partly because that would be the obvious thing to say, but also due to the fact that the game doesn’t quite click like it would if it were on, say, the Game Boy or the SNES. The game is, however, definitely worth a look, simply due to the fact that it is the best puzzle game on the Virtual Boy. In addition to that, this is the sole representative in the Panic Bomber series that made it ‘stateside. All the others were exclusive to Japan. If you’re willing to withstand the red-and-black colors of the Virtual Boy, give this one a shot.

Not a bumblebee.

I haven’t talked about the Atari Lynx yet. I plan to eventually, but I need to get some more games for it. Luckily, I happen to own this little gem. Simply put, Toki is a run-and-gun platformer in the style of Contra or Mega Man. The main character in Toki is the titular man-turned-ape, who can shoot energy projectiles at any multitude of weird enemies. This is a great example of a game in the Atari Lynx library, as it is, at its core, a port of an arcade game, which was what the Lynx was best at. This particular game is a bit different than the arcade version, though. The game itself has a style that was similar to other Lynx games at the time. What style was that, you may ask? Well, the best thing I can say is that it was strange. The graphics are drawn with a realistic look to them, which stands in a direct contrast with the Game Boy’s often-cartoony aesthetics or the Game Gear’s “Genesis’ kid-brother” sort of vibe. The result is that Lynx games, Toki included, looked very different from what was offered on other consoles. The game itself is very difficult, most of the problems stemming from trial-and-error gameplay and blurry Lynx screen issues. That said, It’s easy to forget that this game came out in the heyday of the Game Boy and not the Game Boy Color. To see something with these visuals in the days of the Game Boy is pretty spectacular. Toki doesn’t cost that much on the aftermarket – none of the Lynx games do. If you actually own an Atari Lynx this should be on your short list of games to get for the console.

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na

Batman, for the Game Boy. This may seem like an odd choice for an underrated gem, but stay with me, here. This particular Batman game, which is somewhat-based on the ’89 movie, is a run & gun platformer in the style of Mega Man or a primitive Contra. You control Batman, and shoot down crooks and destroy blocks that impede your progress through a level. It’s very similar to Super Mario Land in that regard, except this game actually has decent controls. When I say that this game is a “run & gun” platformer, I actually mean it: Batman’s main attack is to shoot a projectile at enemies. That’s really odd, because Batman’s kind of got a thing against guns. In that he’s never used one to take down a foe because he doesn’t need them. Batman himself is enough to scare a criminal without the use of a gun. That’s the point of being a masked vigilante. I don’t know if there’s any justification for this in the game’s manual or something, but it’s just plain odd that this is how it’s done in this game. It’s almost like this game wasn’t originally intended to be based on the Batman license, and they shoehorned it in for another movie cash-in. Despite the odd mechanics, the game itself is quite fun. It’s more fun than it has any right to be, since movie-based games are generally rushed out to meet deadlines and they’re quite poor as a result. In the giant landfill that most movie-licensed games eventually belong to, Batman for the Game Boy is one that deserves to be rescued.

Fighting robot! Mega- Wait, used this already...

I know what you’re thinking. Mega Man is not obscure in the slightest. Stay with me, here.

Mega Man on the Game Gear was actually published by US Gold, not Capcom (though their name is with the game as the character is a Capcom character of course). Surprisingly, it’s not a port of one of the Game Boy games OR a port of any of the NES Mega Man games. Instead, it takes a mix of Robot Masters from Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5 and puts them in this new game, along with the traditional Wily tower stages. This game isn’t nearly as good as the Game Boy Mega Man games, as US Gold put in some weird design choices with the gameplay (giving the Robot Masters post-hit invincibility, for instance…). It still feels strange to have a Mega Man game on a Sega console. It’s the same kind of feeling I get when I see something like Sonic Advance or Hotel Mario: that something just feels “wrong”. That said, this game is interesting. Definitely not one that people would expect to see on the Game Gear, and one that a lot of people overlook. If you’ve got a Game Gear that hasn’t got blown capacitors, this game couldn’t hurt to try. Just know that if you’re looking for a perfect handheld Mega Man experience, check out the Game Boy versions (except Mega Man II. That one wasn’t that great).

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SNES Quick Look: Donkey Kong Country 3 (And a DKC Retrospective)

In the early-to-mid 1990s, Nintendo was more or less on top of the world. In the middle of a bitter rivalry with Sega and their Genesis console, Nintendo managed to pull ahead in the race and come out on top. While Sega was busy trying to one-up Nintendo with full-color handheld consoles, CD expansions, and 32-bit add-ons, Nintendo decided to respond by actually making games that people wanted to play.

One of the games that helped Nintendo’s cause was Donkey Kong Country.

DK! Donkey Kong!

At that time in Nintendo’s history, Donkey Kong, as a character, was more or less a footnote. The original Donkey Kong arcade game, to this day, is more known as the game that Mario originated in. When UK-based studio Rare was given the opportunity to work on a Nintendo franchise, Donkey Kong was a bit of an unexpected choice.

What they came up with was a platform game with 3D artwork converted into 2D sprites, which was a visual style that was pretty groundbreaking. DKC wasn’t the first game to do this, but it definitely did it better than a lot of other companies did.

Oh, wow. Shots fired.

This ad was a direct attack on Sega, following their mildly-successful “Genesis Does what Nintendon’t” campaign, intended to show how awesome the Sega Genesis was versus the original Nintendo Entertainment System. For Nintendo, the above ad was basically a strike to Sega’s jugular. It worked.

Donkey Kong Country was a massive hit. It was the second-highest selling SNES game in the console’s history (Super Mario World was the first, mostly due to the fact that it was bundled with the console). It completely revived the Donkey Kong series and character, and made it in to something much more than what it originally was. To this day, Donkey Kong’s appearance is based on his initial appearance in Donkey Kong Country. This game also marked the debut of Diddy Kong, who is faster and infinitely more agile than Donkey Kong himself. He also serves as the second player if you’re doing a two-player team game.

The success of the game spawned sequels, of course. Donkey Kong Country 2 was released in 1995.

You are now hearing Stickerbrush Symphony in your head.

Diddy’s Kong Quest (Not “Diddy Kong’s Quest”, as everyone seems to think) improved on the original game in a number of ways. Oddly enough, Donkey Kong himself was not playable in this game. Instead, Diddy Kong was given the spotlight. The second playable ‘Kong is Dixie Kong, Diddy’s girlfriend who could pick things up with her blonde ponytail, as well as perform a helicopter spin to float down to platforms or make longer jumps.

The game’s atmosphere was a gigantic departure from the first game’s rainforest landscapes and mostly-natural surroundings. DKC2 had a darker color palette, and a distinct pirate theme to the various enemies and surroundings. The music was also very dark and moody. It’s probably one of the best soundtracks in a game in the past 25 years.

This game was also a huge success. It is often regarded as the pinnacle of the DKC series.

After the success of DKC2, Rare made sure to work on a third game in the Donkey Kong Country series. The gaming climate had changed considerably in year between DKC2 and DKC3, however. The Playstation had been released in 1995, along with Sega’s 32-bit Saturn console. Nintendo had even released the Nintendo 64 by the time of DKC3’s release.

Come visit the Northern Kremisphere!

The once-advanced computer-modeled graphics of Donkey Kong Country 3 had begun to look dated. Hell, even Nintendo themselves were ready to move on to the next generation of video games. On top of that, most retailers probably didn’t have space for past-gen games. They needed that shelf space for the hot new stuff.

DKC3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble is often considered the black sheep of the DKC franchise. There are a lot of subtle changes to the game, such as a very slight art design shift where most of the enemies were given more cartoon-like proportions. Some enemies were clearly machine-made, at least partially, which is a far cry from the organic-looking baddies from DKC 1 and 2.

Rare also committed double-heresy by not including Donkey Kong OR Diddy Kong as playable characters in this game. Intead, you’ve got sidekick Dixie Kong upgraded to the top billing, and the giant-but-still-infant Kiddy Kong as the sidekick.

Let’s take a quick look at this often-hated game:

Woo!

The pirate theme of the previous game has been axed. Instead, we’re left with a very different kind of atmosphere – one that evokes more of a New England/Canadian sort of climate. Less oceans, more lakes.

Dixie and Kiddy do work well together. Dixie plays identically to how she did in DKC2. Kiddy Kong, on the other hand, is basically a brick. He’s big and heavy, so you can toss him into cracked floorboards and you can make him roll across water to skip across it like you’re skipping a big, fuzzy rock. He can also throw Dixie farther distances, which is integral to a lot of tricky segments in the game.

Funky's Rentals better not be to scale with the other landmarks.

The world map has changed, as well. There is now a distinct overworld, where you can freely roam around, provided you have the right equipment. As you beat more bosses, more parts are available to make vehicles out of, which means you can pass more terrain into the tougher levels. The one depicted above is the Turbo Ski, which allows you to fly up waterfalls… somehow…

That is not OSHA compliant.

In addition to the cooler-climate of the outdoor levels in the game, there also exists a very heavy steampunk and Industrial Revolution vibe to a lot of the game’s levels. These clash with the cool lakeside spots and the lush forests. Sometimes, the industry collides with the forests in a literal manner, such as with the stage “Ripsaw Rage”, located in the Mekanos area of the game.

This happened in Northern California LAST WEEK.

In this particular level, you need to keep out of the range of the giant saw that is destroying the forest. It’s a memorable stage, and one that captures the feel of the game – that of industry colliding with nature – very well.

Donkey Kong Country 3 is a game that a lot of people don’t like. As far as I can tell, it’s due to the fact that this game isn’t Donkey Kong Country or DKC2. Honestly? It isn’t either of those games. But it is still a very fun game, and it’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t played it already.

In the grand scheme of things, The Donkey Kong Country series proves that, despite what Sega thought, Nintendo was, for a time, what Genesisn’t.

DKC3 definitely drove that point home.

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The Price of Nostalgia Part Two: Into the Stratosphere

As stated before, nostalgia is expensive. Game prices have exploded in the past few years. There are a number of reasons for this:

- People who grew up with older video games are now adults with disposable income.

- The internet has allowed underrated gems to be put into the spotlight

- The internet has allowed people to re-live the amazing gaming moments of the past

- Unscrupulous re-sellers are willing to exploit people into paying big bucks for common, readily-available games.

That last note was definitely a little cynical, but it’s kind of sad how true it is. Regardless, let’s take a look at a few games that have sky-rocketed in price over the last few years.

BIG APPLE, 3AM

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Woo. There’s no question that this game is really, really good. It’s a classic of the beat ‘em up genre, and, compared to a ton of other games of similar style, this game can still be amazing. It has aged incredibly well.

Currently, this game can be bought on eBay for roughly $45

Why is it so expensive?

The main driving force for this game’s high price is the fact that TMNT was, and still is, a huge property. It’s a franchise that is still going strong, and one that people absolutely adore. Kids are watching the new cartoon, and their parents most likely grew up with the original show in some way. This game is a much-requested item in retro game stores and online shops, and as a result it sells quickly. Despite the high price, don’t think for a second that this game is rare. It isn’t. it sold millions of copies, and according to NintendoAge’s database, this particular cartridge is widespread in release. This is a case of nostalgia driving demand.

Arthur is the best one.

Knights of The Round is another beat ‘em up, from Capcom. Awesome stuff. This is probably what drove Capcom to make the D&D arcade games, so if you’ve played those you might love the hell out of this game.

It’s a great game, with a current eBay price of $60, give or take.

Why is it so expensive?

It’s hard to pin-point what made this game’s price increase. I lucked out and got a copy in 2010 at a local Play N Trade for $5, back when this game was worth that much. It’s kind of insane to see that this game has gotten so damn expensive. I’m not going to point any fingers, here. All I will say ia that a lot of people watch YouTube.

The advent of the internet has made obscure games into desired games. This seems to be the case here.

NintendoAge puts this at the “Very Common” rarity level. There are tons of copies out there. Anyone who is trying to say that it is rare is messing with you.

Fighting Robot, Mega Man!

Once you’ve bought a Super Nintendo, go get Super Mario World, and Super Metroid, and Kirby Super Star, and Zelda: A Link To The Past. After that? Get this game. It’s reason enough to own a Super Nintendo. It is everything that a sequel should be. It’s so damn good that Capcom made two sequels that were fundamentally identical and they are still amazing just because they share the same game engine as this one.

Currently, a copy of Mega Man X can be yours for $30 in United States Federal Reserve Notes.

Why is it so expensive?

Whenever you mention Deus Ex, somebody reinstalls it. Whenever you mention Mega Man X, somebody posts this video.

Egoraptor’s video is excellent, by the way. It shows how Mega Man X improved on the original series’ formula and made it better. It’s also been viewed 8 million times on YouTube. Like I said earlier, I’m not trying to point fingers as it’s silly to expect one person to be responsible for a total price hike, but videos like that allow more people to be aware of games like it.

With a series like Mega Man, anything made is going to be at least somewhat popular, so you have that working with it as well. The fact that it is a very, very good game also helps, too. Popular game from a popular series + High quality = People wanting the game. A lot of people.

This game is even more not-rare than the others. NintendoAge lists this as “Very Widespread”, which is understandable, considering not only did Capcom release their initial version, but Majesco re-published it later in the SNES’ life.

Keep in mind that the sequels to this game, Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3, actually are hard to find. This is due to the fact that Capcom put special hardware chips in those games to do vector graphics for some of the bosses, and as a result there are less copies of the game out in the wild. Loose copies of X2 and X3 can go for triple-digit sums.

Now, all of this begs the question:

Is it worth it?

That’s your call. Not everyone can spend cash-money on old video games. And with things like the eShop and Virtual Console, being able to play these games is easier (and cheaper) than ever. I’m a firm believer that it really isn’t the same playing a SNES game on the Virtual Console, but with some of the prices that have been floating around for some of these games, it’s definitely a better option.

On the other hand, it’s not like these prices can last forever…

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The Price of Nostalgia: Part One: Introduction

Within the past five years or so, there has been a gigantic surge in companies paying tribute to their past in every way possible: You’ve got companies like Capcom doing Ducktales: Remastered, which is basically a love letter to the fans of the original game. Capcom also recently announced a new entry into the Strider series, which looks to be taking cues from Metroidvania games.

Hell, Nintendo is making a ton of cash on games that are more or less straight re-releases, be it with their Virtual Console offerings (Earthbound, hell yeah!) or their 3D updates of Starfox 64 and Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.

As awesome as these re-releases are, sometimes you just need to play a classic game on the original console.
Emulators are great (especially for capturing footage of games that happen to be on handhelds with nigh-opaque screens), but they’re not the real thing. They never will be.

Sure, emulators are playing the same games as the consoles did, but there is something magical about playing Super Mario World on my original console that my dad got me as a birthday gift over 20 years ago.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It’s comforting, and it allows us to think back to a time where things didn’t seem complicated, or depressing. It’s our own little happy place. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Unfortunately, people like to take advantage of this.

Right now, all of those kids who grew up in Nintendo’s golden age are just leaving school and getting into the “real world.” The oldest of them have probably settled down right now. A lot of them probably gave up their old video games in garage sales or they traded them in at a game store to pay for something expensive. After months and years of working towards a degree or towards a promotion, those childhood memories of all of the stuff that we gave up or gave away start to creep back into our minds. It’s inevitable.

Picture it, if you will: After a particularly grueling Friday at the office, answering phone calls that never seem to end, you’re looking to spend time with a video game that you absolutely love. What better way to kick back and unwind from the personal hell that is your life than with a few hours of Mega Man X2?

“Hell yeah!” says your sub-conscience, “Mega Man X2 was amazing! A real product of its’ time! Nothing like it!”
Indeed, my friend.

You know that your SNES is still locked away in your closet. After a dusting and some TLC, your console will be up and running. Only one fairly important problem: Your mom and dad made you trade in your SNES games so you could buy a PS2 and a copy of Smuggler’s Run.

eBay’s pretty much your only choice for SNES games.

So, you rush to your computer, which you can barely see because your eyes don’t want to see another goddamn computer screen for the rest of the weekend. As you type in “SNES Mega Man X2″ or something similar, you’re stunned to find that you’re gonna have to cough up some serious dough to relive your childhood.

In the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Man, nostalgia is expensive as shit, yo.”

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A Sega Game Gear Overview

My dad bought me a Game Gear when I was still a toddler. I probably got it when i was two or three. I had a grand total of three games for it: Sonic The Hedgehog 2, NBA Jam, and Aladdin. I played the everloving hell out of Sonic 2, but I have grown to hate that version of the game with a passion due to the zoomed-in screen, which makes things significantly more difficult since you can’t see enemies until they’re right on top of you. The Master System version of Sonic 2 doesn’t have that problem. Play that one instead.

The Game Gear was Sega’s attempt at cutting into some of that delicious handheld gaming pie.

I bet that pie tasted of AA batteries and liquid-crystal screens. Nice and crunchy.

Atari had previously tried to overthrow Nintendo’s Game Boy and claim dominance in the handheld market for themselves, but Atari’s Lynx handheld wasn’t quite up to snuff. Sure, it had color and a backlight, but it drained AA batteries inhumanly fast. The Lynx game library was also quite poor, with little to no third party support.

The Game Gear came out in 1991. To Sega’s credit, they definitely made a nice-looking handheld. The Game Gear fits in with the style of the Sega Genesis quite nicely, easily cementing its’ status as the “kid brother” to the Genesis. The game library reflected this ideal, as well. Most of the games were ports of Genesis titles or side-games that tie into existing Genesis franchises.

At least, that’s the case for games that were originally made on the Game Gear. A small percentage of the Game Gear library consists of ports of Sega Master System games. At its’ core, the Game Gear was a portable version of Sega’s Master System, a console that did not quite catch on in the United States. It was an interesting device, but, as Alton Brown always said on Good Eats, “That’s another show.”

The Game Gear had everything done right on paper: It was wider-shaped than the Game Boy, which made it easier to hold for long periods of time. It was in color and it had a front-light, as opposed to the Game Boy’s green/black monochrome screen, and it had a lot of games that would never have come out on the Game Boy for one reason or another. What went wrong?

A few things.

1. The battery life was abysmal. Six AA batteries would get you roughly three hours of play. If you were a kid who took long car rides to school or liked to get in some gaming to alleviate boredom on a road trip, three hours is nothing. This hurts more when you realize that the Game Boy can get 10-12 hours of battery life with four AA batteries.

2. The LCD screens Sega used for the Game Gear were some of the worst offenders of the classic “ghosting” issue. Games that had too much action going on at once often blurred together, at its worst becoming an unplayable mess and showing afterimages at best. This made things like the first boss in Sonic 2 completely impossible, as you couldn’t see the projectiles that were being thrown at you. RPGs were easier to deal with since the action wasn’t necessarily real-time, but whenever movement happened, it was hard to see. This issue is something that plagued not only the Game Gear, but the Game Boy, the Atari Lynx, and NEC’s TurboExpress as well.

3. The biggest flaw with the Game Gear, by a wide, wide margin, is the issue with the Game Gear’s inner-components. Every Game Gear that was made had faulty capacitors installed within, so they would go bad prematurely. Bad caps aren’t an uncommon problem with electronics, but they’re usually never widespread. As far as I know, EVERY Game Gear ever made had faulty capacitors installed, which, once they failed, would ruin some aspect of the Game Gear, from the sound dying to the screen being impossible to see unless you held the console at an odd angle. It’s not just a bad batch of consoles, like with the Xbox 360 “red ring of death.” This issue was much larger than that.

It’s not a matter of IF the Game Gear will break, it’s a matter of WHEN.

It WILL happen, mark my words. 95% of the Game Gear consoles I’ve come across in the wild have had some sort of issue related to bad capacitors. I haven’t seen a 100% working one in years.

Now, before you toss out your broken Game Gears and curse Sega at the top of your lungs, know that there is a solution to this problem. Replacing the bad capacitors will solve any issues that they have caused. The biggest problem with this is that this requires knowledge of electronics and soldering, and you really should know what you’re doing before you decide to crack open your Game Gear and perform surgery.

As for the effed-up screen and the battery drainage, that’s a whole ‘nother beast that I’m not willing to tackle right now.

If you don’t mind losing true portability, there are people out there who “consolize” Game Gears for people. Basically, they make this handheld console into a regular one, by allowing you to hook it up to a TV and run off of an AC adapter, possibly allowing you to use a controller as well. That’s a fairly-difficult process, though.

Honestly, that’s a lot of work.

I own around 80 or so Game Gear games. The only reason I own so many is because I got a ton of them in a lot at a local game store. They were willing to cut me a break since nobody buys these games. Here’s a recent purchase, from last week:

Sonic Spinball
Streets of Rage
Cliffhanger
Poker Face Paul’s Gin
Road Rash
Shining Force: Sword of Hijya
The Itchy & Scratchy Game
The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants
Ren & Stimpy: The Quest for the Shaven Yak

I was all psyched to play Shining Force when, all of a sudden, my Game Gear decided to break.

Seriously. These consoles are a goddamn time bomb.

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Zoop!

It’s just fun to say, isn’t it?

Zoop!

Zoop was a video game that was hyped to hell and back as being incredibly fun, challenging, addicting, and family-friendly. It was marketed to hell and back as something similar to the world’s next “Tetris”, and, as a result, the game was marketed with unattributed quotes such as “America’s #1 Killer of Time!” and “I Can’t Stop Playing This Game!”

Zoop is also one of those games that was released on every console in existence. Zoop was released on: Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear, Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, and MS-DOS. That’s what many would call “over-saturation.”

Zoop is, primarily, a puzzle game. This is something that is INCREDIBLY PAINFULLY OBVIOUS by the, quite frankly, amazing box art:

ZoopSNESCover

Look at that. That is gorgeous. This is a game that is probably more known for its’ box art than the game itself, and that’s because it tells you absolutely nothing about the game. Other puzzle games like Tetris and Dr. Mario had covers that depicted the game’s content, albeit in a stylized way. The only way the Zoop cover depicts the game is in the colors of the lettering of the word “Zoop.”

Anyway, the gameplay of Zoop goes as follows: You control a cursor in the middle of a grid. Outside the middle of the grid, different-colored shapes constantly stack up towards the middle. Your job, as the cursor in the middle of the grid, is to swap pieces of the incoming shapes and match colors together to make pairs of them disappear. If any of the shapes on the outside make it into the middle of the grid, you’re gonna have a bad time.

It has just dawned on me that Zoop is a very confusing game. Here’s a YouTube video showing the gameplay. It will make more sense:

Puzzle games are usually a “do or die” thing. Of course, being easy to learn and hard to master is essential, but puzzle games, more than any other genre, need to hook a player in right as they turn on the game. Zoop definitely takes a few tries before you get the hang of it, but it does give a great sense of satisfaction when you’ve managed to turn a huge mass of colors into an empty grid. It’s just a little complicated. Because of that, it’s more of a curiosity than something that one can go back to regularly, like the aforementioned Tetris and Dr. Mario. Zoop is more of a game that you play every few months because you remember liking it, but then you put it away again after you get bored.

Despite that, Zoop is definitely worth a quick look. Hell, it’s one of the cheapest games I’ve ever seen on the aftermarket. Pretty much every version is incredibly affordable. Just know that you may not get a lot of mileage out of it.

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