In the 1990s, Sega Game Gear was a serious contender in portable video gaming. Forget the Game Boy and its not-so-good graphics — the Sega Game Gear was king. The console had a vibrant color palette, an exciting library of games, and the tech to make multiplayer gaming possible.
The mention of party games immediately brings to mind the classic Super Nintendo favorite Mario Party. However, Sega’s Game Gear was no slouch in the party game department either, boasting some of the best titles in portable gaming. Anything from retro favorites to addictive sports titles, Sega Game Gear had it all.
Here are 7 of the absolute best Sega Game Gear party games of all time.
What is a Party Game?
A party game is any game that brings people together to socialize and have fun. The games typically involve multiple players and often team-based gameplay. Others are more competitive or focus on fast-paced action that encourages friendly competition amongst friends.
In modern gaming, party game title examples include Jackbox Party Pack game on Xbox consoles, Mario Party on the Nintendo Switch, and the classic board game Monopoly. To identify a party game, look for games that allow more than two players, involve some form of team-play, and require social interaction.
Was the Sega Game Gear Known for Party Games?
The release of Game Gear in 1990 marked the beginning of a new era for portable gaming. It was a technologically superior console compared to Nintendo’s Game Boy and Atari’s Lynx.
It had a color screen and an 8-bit processor (Zilog Z80), which enabled the console to run faster and smoother than its competitors. Using the gear-to-gear cable, the console was also capable of multiplayer gaming.
Game Gear wasn’t necessarily known for its party games. Games that dominated the platform included action-adventure titles, racing games, and shoot ’em ups. But the console’s impressive graphics and ability to link with other Game Gears brought forth an array of memorable party games.
Some of the best party games for the system included:
Falling block puzzle games were all the Rage, especially in the 90s, and Columns was no exception. Columns was like Tetris, but with a unique twist: Columns requires you to arrange the falling blocks of three into matching columns. Players must strategically break apart the jewels to increase their score while keeping the stack from reaching the top.
The basic mode is a single-player mode; however, Columns also has a two-player mode in the game’s arcade version. It’s not a competition, but a cooperative game where two players work to clear blocks and increase their score. You can link two consoles and play with a friend using the gear-to-gear cable, making the experience even more enjoyable.
The game’s vs. mode has two players competing against each other, with the winner being the one who lasts the longest. Doubles mode is also available, where two players compete against one computer-controlled player. Given the simple rules and addictive gameplay, it’s no wonder Columns is one of the best Sega Game Gear party games of all time.
- Drift back in time to ancient Phoenicia and challenge yourself with Columns
- Played by Middle Eastern merchants centuries ago
- Tinker with your riches to align glittering jewels across, down, or diagonally
6. Sonic Drift 2
Sonic Drift 2 is the sequel to the original racing game on Game Gear, Sonic Drift. Launched in Japan in 1995, Sonic Drift 2 is one of the most beloved games on the system. The simplicity of the racing mechanics combined with the iconic characters and zany tracks keep players entertained for hours.
Unlike the original, this game features three more characters: Knuckles, Metal Sonic, and Fang the Sniper. The gameplay remains the same, however. Players race around a track, boosting and drifting while collecting rings and powerups. The main goal is like its predecessor: finish first and win the three Chaos GPs, or Grand Prix, including the white, purple, and blue emerald.
If Tails, Amy, Knuckles, or Sonic collect all the six emeralds in Blue GP, they must face Dr. Eggman in the final race around the Death Egg. Also, if Metal Sonic, Fang, or Eggman collect all six Blue GP, they must face Sonic in the finals. These competitive elements help make the game one of the best Sega Game Gear party games. Sega Retro reviewers give a score of 76 for Sonic Drift 2.
5. Primal Rage
Primal Rage is an exciting arcade fighting game. The game occurs after a meteor crashes on Earth, unleashing seven powerful beasts battling each other for dominance. Players can choose to control one beast to take on their opponents in one-on-one battles. This apocalyptic-themed game brings a frantic and exciting fighting atmosphere.
It was an instant hit, with Sega Retro reviewers giving it a 76 score. The game is fast-paced and filled with all sorts of neat effects, from the beasts’ special moves to the realistic animation of each one.
The gameplay is similar to Mortal Kombat, but the characters have a more mythological setting. Players can also choose either the cooperative or competitive mode for an even more intense experience.
4. Baku Baku Animal
Baku Baku Animal isn’t a Tetris-style puzzle game, although there are some similarities. Baku Baku Animal is a falling block puzzle game where players match animals with their food. They must quickly drop the animal blocks, so they land on the food that matches them. If a block doesn’t match, it’ll get stuck.
Sega Retro reviewers gave it a 77 score, and there’s no surprise why. The game tells a story of a king looking for a royal zookeeper. A minister organizes a contest to find the right person for the job, and two young player characters, “Gon” and “Polly,” enter the contest. Who wouldn’t love a game with a story like this?
What’s even more impressive is Baku Baku Animal’s cute yet challenging gameplay. As a two-player game, it pits players against one another in a race to match the right animals with the right food. It’s chaotic and fun and will get party guests laughing and hooting.
3. NBA Jam
NBA Jam is closer to an arcade-style basketball game than a realistic simulation. The game is more concerned with fast-moving, high-energy action, which makes it the perfect party game for those who are less interested in strategy and more interested in fun. The game doesn’t have as many players on the screen, but the exaggerated dunks, no-look passes, and overall energy makes it feel like an actual NBA game.
A score of 79 from Sega Retro reviewers is all the proof needed that NBA Jam is one of the best games for parties. The gameplay is frantic and engaging, and the controls are easy to learn. Two players from each team battle it out to outscore the opponent in four quarters, each with three minutes. The player who has scored the highest number of points at the end of the game is declared the winner.
It’s an exciting game to play with friends because of its intense rivalry and competitive nature. Using a gear-to-gear link cable on your Game Gear, you can challenge your friends in head-to-head games. NBA Jam doesn’t have fouls, violations, or free throws, which helps to keep the intensity up and the action fast-paced.
2. Streets of Rage 2
Game Gear was the perfect platform for the classic Sega beat-em-up, Streets of Rage 2. Released in 1992, the game follows a group of crime fighters trying to save the city from an evil syndicate. This classic brawler features incredible graphics and smooth controls, making it one of the best Sega Game Gear party games.
The responsive controls and intuitive combat system make for an enjoyable experience for everyone. Streets of Rage 2 gameplay changes from its predecessor, Streets of Rage, by introducing new characters, weapons, and enemies. Instead of sharing the same attack moves, each character has special moves and hidden powers.
Super attacks were exclusive to Game Gear, making the game even more exciting. Each character on the roster also has its unique life bar, adding a nice strategic touch to the mix. With a score of 79 from Sega Retro reviewers, Streets of Rage 2 was a definite must-have for every Sega Game Gear owner.
1. Super Columns
Super Columns is an exclusive Game Gear version of the famous puzzle game Columns. The basic premise is similar to Tetris: you must arrange falling blocks horizontally and vertically until they reach the top of the screen. The player’s objective is to gain more points by matching blocks of the same color.
However, Super Columns adds a story to its gameplay. The player must beat five opponents three times to advance in the game. The most exciting bit is that players and opponents can unleash spells, such as increasing the speed of an opponent’s blocks or preventing the blocks from rotating for a short period.
The endless flashiness and fun make this one of the best Sega Game Gear party games. It has a score of 81 from Sega Retro reviewers. The game is addictive, has a unique take on the puzzle genre, and packs an impressive amount of content in its small package.
Game Gear was never a party game console, but it still had a few gems that friends could enjoy. While some are relatively unknown, others were incredibly successful and are still found on modern gaming platforms.
If you’re looking for an entertaining party game on Sega Game Gear, you can’t go wrong with the choices in this article. Whether you prefer sports or puzzle games, there’s something here for all gamers. Each one offers its own intense, action-packed challenge that will keep your party going strong.
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