Minority Report: Game Gear
Nick takes a deep dive into the import world of Sega’s portable superstar
In the mid-nineties, Sega seemed intent on refocusing the Game
Gear’s software line-up to appeal to kids, acquiring the rights to produce games based on a number of popular anime licences – Yu Yu Hakusho, Magic Knight Rayearth, Saint Tail, Doraemon and more. Kishin Douji Zenki was part of this licensing drive, and while you might not have heard of it, its popularity in mid-nineties Japan was unquestionable – the original 12-volume manga spawned a 51-episode TV anime adaptation, plus a short straight-to-video animated film and five videogames.
The team assembled for this adaptation was quite a talented one. Producer Katsuhiro Hasegawa was a Sega veteran whose previous work included The GG Shinobi and Deep Duck Trouble. Director Hisayoshi Yoshida had worked on Sonic 3,
Sonic & Knuckles and Legend Of Illusion, and his planning partner Tadashi Ihoroi had experience on the 8-bit Sonic games Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble. Given their experience, you won’t be surprised to find that they put together a platform game to represent Zenki.
The game starts off with the titular character Zenki in his ‘demon god’ form, fighting in a short boss battle. This single-screen encounter gives both Zenki and his opponent life bars, and Zenki is able to select from four different attack moves – a fireball, a lightning spark, a dash and a tornado attack – by pressing the start button. After you win, you’ll head off to the map to select one of the main action stages, but these boss encounters are frequent throughout the game.
In the main platform stages, you play as either a small version of
Zenki, or his shrine maiden friend Chiaki. Zenki can attack enemies by curling into a ball, either when jumping or by performing a forward roll from a crouching position, while Chiaki can use her magical powers to shoot small flames or find singleuse spell tags to summon lightning, wind or fire. These unique skills grant different paths through the stages, too – only Chiaki can defeat certain barrier enemies, while only Zenki is capable of breaking blocks from above or below.
What’s nice about the platform stages is that they’re not just graphically attractive, but varied and interesting to play. Each has unique gimmicks – destructible floors, moving bars to hang from, and even alternative exits leading to new stages. Some stages are the usual left-to-right affairs, while others see you moving mostly vertically.
The game’s presentation is top notch, too. The graphics are good for the Game Gear, and plenty of story cutscenes add to the atmosphere. The soundtrack by Saori Kobayashi is also good considering the limitations of the system’s audio hardware. It’s not the most inventive of games, and if you’re a Game Gear fan you probably have a few good platformers already. However, it’s an exclusive game for the system and a high quality one at that – not something you’ll come across too easily on the Game Gear, so it’s worth the £15-£25 it sells for.