We round up the last 3DS Game Gear VC launch titles, but can a thief named Lupin steal the recommendation prize?
I owned a Game gear growing up, but I didn't own any of the titles recently made available on the 3DS Game Gear Virtual Console service. Judging by Neal Ronaghan's write-up of Shinobi, and Andy Goergen's recommendation of Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, I'm starting to feel like I missed out.
But perhaps my major lost opportunity was Lock 'N Chase, which our very own James Dawson seems to think is a lost classic from a time when maze games ruled the arcades.
|ESRB Rating||Everyone 10+|
Shinobi is a unique entry in Sega's classic ninja series, instead of advancing strictly level-by-level, it features a structure more similar to Mega Man. While the gameplay is the regular side-scrolling ninja-action template, you can work your way through four levels in any order you want. When you beat a level, you rescue another ninja, who has different abilities than the starting one, such as double-jumping or the ability to crawl. Switching between these abilities is basically like Mega Man, but instead of different suits and weapons you change characters. Unfortunately, the special abilities really only come into play in the fifth and final stage, which utilizes each hero’s special power.
The game suffers from a common early portable game issue: the sprites are big and the enemies leap at you from off screen. It doesn’t help that, even without that problem, the game is damn hard. Still, if you’re intrigued by a Shinobi game with some Mega Man influences, then this amusing Game Gear title is worth your time. Just be prepared for some frustration in the same vein as the Mega Man Game Boy games and remember that save states are your friend.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble
What do you get when you take Sonic, the blazing fast Sega mascot, and move him from his 16-bit heritage down to an 8-bit portable? A whole lot of compromise. This Game Gear interpretation of the classic Sonic formula will be very familiar to anyone who's played one of the Genesis classics. However, questionable hit detection and inconsistent frame rate make the game feel distinctly out-of-place on the Game Gear platform. And while the graphics are bright and colorful, they're also very much in line with the 16-bit games and therefore don't feel particularly special.
The game allows you to play as Sonic or Tails right out of the gate, each with a special ability and character specific items. (It's strange that a game called Triple Trouble only has two playable characters.) By pressing the Up and A buttons, Sonic can gain a standing burst of speed, while Tails will instead take flight and launch into the air for a short period of time. Other than that, the two characters play much the same.
Sonic Triple Trouble is a passable Sonic game, and the only one currently available via download on the 3DS eShop. If you're jonesing for a Sonic fix, this might get the job done, but for most others this will be too much of a step backwards from the norm to satisfy.
Originally released in the arcades in 1981 and later ported to the Game Boy in 1990, Lock'N Chase is a maze game similar to Pac-Man. You take control of the thief Lupin in order to safely loot your way through the maze-like vaults of numerous banks, all while trying to elude the police chasing after you.
As mentioned above, the basic gameplay is similar to Pac-Man; nevertheless, Lock'N Chase includes several additions that make it more than just a reskin of the Namco classic. Instead of simply memorizing the police's movement pattern and collecting the coins scattered throughout the level, Lupin can close gates and use other abilities and items to his advantage. Also, the first five stages all introduce new elements to the gameplay, such as an alarm clock that wakes up sleeping police, or warp portals that connect different parts of the maze. The game even goes beyond the six initial stages to feature six extra stages that include three levels each. All of these additions make for an interesting and fresh take on the retro maze formula.
Lock'N Chase is arguably the best maze game on the 3DS Virtual Console, especially with the barebones nature of the Game Boy Pac-Man port. With its additions to the venerable maze game genre, it's a surprise that the game isn't more well-known.