Hello Friend! Come Join Me on a Tour of the Greatest Action Games Ever Released for the Sega Game Gear

Strap yourself in – we‘re about to take a teleporting trip back to the early 90‘s when SEGA challenged Nintendo‘s monochrome Game Boy domination with a slick piece of tech called the Game Gear!

As an avid retro gamer and self-proclaimed Sega historical archivist, I‘ve played and collected almost every title released for this fantastic handheld console. While it tragically ceased production far too soon, the Game Gear managed to build an excellent library across all genres during its lifetime.

But the nitty gritty action games always held a special place in my heart! Blazing Sonic speeds, wall jump sword fights, special move combos…the Game Gear delivered console-quality gameplay you could take anywhere!

Today I‘ll be your guide through the absolute cream of the crop – the 7 quintessential action experiences no discerning Game Gear owner can miss out on!

A Quick Primer on the Groundbreaking Game Gear Hardware

Part of recognizing why these handpicked games shone so brightly means understanding the specialized machine they were built for.

The Game Gear hit North American shores in 1991 with processing muscle nearly comparable to SEGA‘s 16-bit Genesis console. We‘re talking:

  • Sharp color screen – perfect for fast, fluid graphics on the go
  • Custom sound chips pumping great audio through headphones
  • Controls tailored well to the needs of quick action and precision

When other contemporary handhelds featured blurry black and green displays or monotone beeps and boops, the Game Gearfelt like owning a little slice of arcade goodness you could take anywhere!

The tradeoff did come in the form of shorter battery life – only about 3 to 5 hours on 6 AAs. But members of the Game Gear Go-Getters Club like me never let that deter us from amazing portable play sessions!

Over its lifespan, the Game Gear moved over 10 million units worldwide thanks to strong support from legendary game developers like Technos, Treasure and SEGA themselves across all genres like:

  • Racers (Outrun Europa, Ayrton Senna‘s Super Monaco GP II)
  • Shmups (Tempo Jr.)
  • Fighters (Mortal Kombat 1-3, Street Fighter II, Primal Rage)
  • Puzzle (Columns, Baku Baku Animal, Puzzle Bobble)
  • RPGs (Shining Force Gaiden, Crystal Warriors)

But it was running ‘n gunnin‘, wall jumpin‘, special move throwin‘ action platformers that felt most tailor built for the hardware.

Let‘s explore why…

The Core Action Genres Built for Game Gear Greatness

The Game Gear‘s strengths like visual pop, rapid motion and responsive controls made it a phenomenal handheld portal for translating popular action-centric genres into portable perfection. Three types ruled above all others:

Side-Scrolling Platformers

These 2D run & jump games focus on controlling a character across single plane environments full of platforms, enemies and obstacles. Prime examples from console history include Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog and Metroid.

The Game Gear‘s smooth 60 frames per second animation and clear sprite graphics were perfect for rendering these types of games on the go!

Fighting Games

Whether one-on-one like Street Fighter or across 2D battlefields like Golden Axe, fighting games emphasize combat systems over complex world navigation. Special moves, combos, blocks and dodges take center stage along with an eclectic cast of playable brawlers.

Control responsiveness is paramount, and the Game Gear‘s excellent d-pad and face buttons were ideal for this purpose.

Character Action

Take combat-driven gameplay but blend it with exploratory platforming for a genre offering uniquely skilled protagonists like ninjas or superheroes. NES classics like Castlevania and early Prince of Persia pioneered this style of dexterity-focused action.

The Game Gear gave developers the flexibility to realize vivid stage layouts and fluid playable characters previously impossible on handhelds.

Now let‘s get cracking on the creme of the crop across these adrenaline-fueled genres! I present to you…

The 7 Quintessential Game Gear Action Games of All Time

I‘ve carefully curated the following list based on widespread critical acclaim, influential impact on later titles, fun factor longevity and personal nostalgic value. You can‘t go wrong with these essentials!

#7: Sonic Chaos

Genre: Side-Scrolling Platformer
Release Date: 1993
Story: Dr. Robotnik nabs the red Chaos Emerald, and Sonic/Tails must retrieve it to prevent nuclear catastrophe.

The first Sonic title to feature everyone‘s favorite fox-duo, Sonic Chaos stayed true to the franchise formula across its 8 colorful zones and emphasis on ring collecting and breakneck speeds.

Playing as Sonic or Tails proved pure platforming joy – with Sonic‘s trademark spin dashes and Tails‘ cool aerial moves, Robotnik‘s baddies didn‘t stand a chance! The training stage let newcomers easily grasp their contrasting abilities. Snagging Chaos Emeralds along the way even unlocked secret endings.

While some knock Chaos as almost too easy compared to other series entries, I believe this accessibility allowed younger gamers to experience classic Sonic thrills at their own pace. It estate deserves a spot among the console‘s greats!

  • Over 2 million copies sold
  • EGM‘s Best Game Gear Game of 1993
  • Single cartridge multiplayer modes

### #2: Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

**Genre:** Character Action  
**Release Date:** 1991
**Story:** Joe Musashi battles to rescue 4 captive ninjas with unique talents that aid his quest.

Considered one of the console‘s most intensely difficult games, Shinobi III makes no apologies with relentless enemies and perfectly-placed traps around every corner of its expertly crafted levels. 

With measured melee combat requiring keen pattern recognition, Shinobi crystallized the sharp style of action gaming the Game Gear would be revered for. Unforgiving yet undeniably rewarding, this polished ninja title earns a coveted spot in hardcore gaming echelon.

* 85% review average across media outlets 
* Highly influential on later "Metroidvania" exploratory platformers
* Inspired 2017 spiritual successor The Mummy Demastered

I myself have rescued those skilled ninjas over 100 times through the game‘s 6 stages with no death run yet achieved! How about you take up the challenge next?

#1: Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble

Genre: Side-Scrolling Platformer
Release Date: 1994
Story: Sonic/Tails chase Robotnik and newcomer Nack across planets to retrieve the powerful Chaos Emeralds once more.

Building on its predecessor Sonic Chaos, Triple Trouble cranks up the speed while retaining everything fans loved. With expanded abilities for Sonic and Tails, ever vibrant levels and catchy tunes, this title represents the pinnacle of classic handheld Sonic gameplay.

SEGA‘s mascot truly unleashed and untethered, playable anywhere with buttery smooth control! For both its masterful polish and thoughtful gameplay additions, Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble takes the crown as greatest Game Gear action title of all in my humble opinion!

  • One of top selling Game Gear games
  • Universally praised in reviews of the era
  • Frequently re-released on modern platforms

To me, Triple Trouble earns its chaotic namesake by perfecting the art of hyper-fast action platforming on a tiny screen!

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