Sega gave the Master System new life by squeezing it into a pocket-sized package. 




Several years ago, I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of this handheld version of Frogger.  Sega had intended to release this for the Game Gear over ten years ago, but decided against it for undisclosed reasons.  This made no sense at all to fans of the company who naturally assumed that Frogger was Sega's property.  However, now that we know the game's true origins, it becomes more obvious why Sega was unwilling to distribute it.  They never had the right to make a sequel to Frogger at all, because it was actually Konami's game.  Other web sites have reported that this sparked a lawsuit between Konami and Sega, and as is often the case with custody battles, the game went back to its biological parents, leaving its adoptive family empty handed.

In retrospect, I wonder if the Frogger series would have been better off had it remained under Sega's control.  We've seen a lot of lousy games calling themselves Frogger since Konami reclaimed the license.  You couldn't directly blame them for the atrocious Playstation version of Frogger... although asking Hasbro to design an update of a classic coin op is as good as dragging the game through the mud yourself.  However, the frustrating, unappealing Playstation 2 game was entirely their faults.  If you haven't tried Frogger: The Great Adventure, all you need to know is that you'll hate everything about it, from its Southern-fried reinvention of the Frogger character to the odd hop-walking that literally cripples the control.  Konami was also responsible for a handful of mediocre Frogger spin-offs on the Game Boy Advance... the only one of these that truly cuts the mustard is buried beneath five other games on the exceptional Konami Arcade Classics.

Sega never had the chance to make a dozen Frogger games, but their one and only sequel on the Game Gear eclipses anything Konami has done with the license.  It strikes an even balance between adding new features and keeping the game faithful to the original, so the player is never bored but never questions the game's relevance to the Frogger they remember as a child. 

The biggest difference between the arcade game and this update is the main objective.  Instead of finding a home for your frog at the top of the screen, you'll rescue small orange toads scattered throughout the vertically scrolling rounds, then bring them back to the cabin at the beginning of the stage.  This adds the important element of risk and reward to the gameplay... you can either rescue the toads one at a time, ensuring that they'll stay put if you die, or you can press your luck, grabbing all three in one run and saving yourself a lot of time in the process.  Just be careful, because if you're hit with all three toads trailing behind you, you'll have to start that round from the beginning.

The Game Gear version of Frogger benefits greatly from the addition of power-ups and bonus items.  In your quest to retrieve the toads, you'll also find treasure chests, apples, eggs, and, most appropriately, flies for Frogger to devour.  Frogger can collect some of these items by leaping on them, but sometimes, you'll need to snag the prizes with a quick flick of your tounge.  Flies are toughest to collect, since they remain hidden until you flush them out by leaping at them.  Once they're discovered, they'll spiral around you, giving you a brief shot at striking them with your tounge before they vanish.  They're worth a lot of points, but the most helpful item in the game has to be the egg which grants Frogger temporary invincibility.  Neither the biggest Mack truck nor the hungriest alligator will be able to harm you while you're energized by this incredible edible prize.

As you can already tell, there's a lot of variety in this game.  You'll find even more of it in the level designs and obstacles.  Unsatisfied with traditional Frogger staples like turtles and cars, Sega added gigantic tanks, dinosaurs, trains that move in both directions, and even rivers of blood to the game's two dozen rounds.  Every third stage brings with it a new surprise, and there are even bonus rounds which let the player relax and snap up a rainbow of delicious apples as they float by on logs.

The game is very well designed, holding up beautifully even ten years after it was released.  The graphics may not be as loaded with color and detail as the artwork in Konami's Frogger games for the Game Boy Advance, but they're still quite charming, with plenty of animation and a style of artwork that's cartoony without being downright silly.  The music doesn't offer as much variety as the arcade game did, but it certainly fits, and won't try your patience the way most Game Gear (and Game Boy, and Neo-Geo Pocket...) soundtracks do.  Finally, the control is responsive and, for the most part, responsive.  It suffers slightly from the Game Gear's mushy D-pad, and you can't rotate Frogger in place like you could in many of Konami's games, but you'll only wish you had this ability during the bonus rounds, where it can be tough to line up with the apples due to the dividers blocking your path.

It's hard to make this judgment from just one game, but the Frogger series would have been much better off in Sega's hands if the Game Gear version had been an indication of the quality of future releases.  Even if this wasn't the case, it's hard to imagine Sega doing any more damage to the Frogger franchise than Hasbro or Konami's clueless Hawaiian division.




"What? A mascot game!? Tails fans rejoice!"

Too many people tend to pass this game by because it's not your typical Sonic game, but for me it was the game that really made the system (Game Gear) worth its cost. It possesses lots of trappings of a great game: good play control, decent graphics, and a password system. While I found most of the Game Gear Sonic games to be sorely lacking compared to their Genesis counterparts, Tails' Adventures did not disappoint.

What this game is not, however, is a normal Sonic game. It is more action-adventure oriented than the pure action of Sonic, and it is not as fast-paced. You'll actually find yourself (gasp) revisiting stages with newly-acquired items to accomplish things which were impossible on your first run through. The game's focus is more on exploration and using items than a straight run-through.

The plot involves Tails taking a break from being Sonic's sidekick in favor of some relaxation on a small island where he's built himself a little house complete with a workshop (this was, I believe, the first game that officially established Tails as a mechanic). Lo and behold, the peace is shattered when an army of bird warriors tries to take over the island (for what reason is left unknown; hey this is still an action game, not an RPG). So off Tails goes, armed with skills gained from his many hours of following Sonic around, as well as his talent with gadgets.

Unlike in the regular Sonic games, here Tails does not attack bodily except when using special items (such as the Super Spin Dash item, which sadly is a huge waste since the play mechanics for the dash were very poorly done). Tails begins the game armed with bombs--yes bombs--which he chucks at enemies. Later on he picks up or builds other items and weapons to use, including an ever-vital remote-controlled robot and the SeaFox, a submarine. Naturally Tails can also fly to explore or to escape attacks. His flying ability is limited by a meter which can be extended using Chaos Emeralds. The flying mechanics are actually different than the regular Sonic games--rather than tapping a button repeatedly to flap, here you press a button just once to get Tails airborne, after which you can move around freely using the control pad. This gives you much finer control on where Tails flies, which in some levels is quite necessary. It also allows you to, at the press of a button, plunge out of the sky like a lead weight whenever you desire. A rather surprising addition to Tails' list of moves is the ability to climb--he can cling to the edge of platforms and will automatically scale ledges that are low enough by just pressing toward them.

Tails' Adventures is somewhat short compared to many games of its type, but it is a lot of fun to play through and possesses only moderate difficulty. If you're unfortunate enough to own a Game Gear I really do recommend picking this one up.


tech specs


Zilog Z80








4 channel stereo


Zilog Z80




32 of 4096





best games

Mortal Kombat
Sonic: Triple Trouble
Tails' Adventure

worst games

Aerial Assault
Beavis and Butthead
Chicago Syndicate
Sonic Blast
The Last Action Hero