Full disclosure: I freaking loved my Game Gear growing up. Yeah, you probably don’t hear (or see) those words in a sentence together very often considering the bad reputation of the handheld system. It was large, awkward to hold with a notoriously short battery life, and didn’t even receive much support from Sega despite coming out strong. In the end, Sega’s attempt at a portable system could never really compete with Nintendo’s Game Boy, but that didn’t matter to 5 year old me. Nope. I felt like a total boss lugging around my suitcase full of games, charging cables, magnifying screen, and other accessories that made my Game Gear some sort of mini transformer robot Frankenstein.
An actual picture of Dinky, age 5.
Knowing this now, you shouldn’t be surprised if you see me talking about Game Gear games quite frequently on this blog starting today. Let’s begin with Psychic World!
Psychic World (or Psycho World in Japan) is an action platformer with a sci-fi theme that stars a young girl named Lucia who must save her sister from monsters after the lab they work at is destroyed. Lucia is given a special headband that allows her to use psychic abilities to control different elemental beams, fly and become temporarily invincible. What? You never even heard of this game before? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The company who made this game is called Hertz, and they don’t exactly have a history of making anything notable.
Actually, this is probably the most interesting game they ever made, not to mention the first. The original version of Psychic World released for the MSX in Japan only in 1988, and it is very different from the Game Gear version I grew up playing. The biggest change is the overall length and level design. While the Game Gear edition has completely redrawn sprites (that are way cuter) it is missing a lot of the maze-like level design found in the original. Not surprisingly, the Game Gear version is an easier game to finish than the MSX one. I asked my buddy Geen to play Psychic World with me and we were able to finish it in about an hour and a half without much frustration. (BTW, can you believe how ugly the US cover art is compared to the Japanese one? ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!)
Something I can always get behind is having a female lead with cool powers and an outfit that is at least a couple steps above Halloween stripper costume. We get all of that with Lucia, which makes me wish Sega somehow saved Psychic World from disappearing into oblivion. Her sister Cecile is adorable too.
The levels are fun and challenging if you let them (by this I mean not spamming your invincibility until you absolutely need it), and the controls are pretty tight. It’s not the most original game of its kind, however, and it leaves players with a bit of wanting. This becomes the most apparent with the boss battles. There is very little strategy involved and some even feel a bit futile without use of the invincibility power. The music also becomes rather forgettable after the first stage.
On the bright side, using Lucia’s different ESP powers can be amusing in solving small platforming trials. You can use her fire beam to melt ice blocks and the ice beam to freeze waterfalls for bridges and her range increases as you pick up power-ups dropped by enemies. Once you have the stages memorized, you are able to blaze through the tight corridors and manipulate the environment to your advantage. I found that the more I perfected each level, the more fun I had. This is often the case with good old school action platformers where you must restart a level each time you die. This can be a massive drawback for some, but for others it’s all part of the challenge.
Now, for Geen’s retrospective of Psychic World!
Geen says: I really enjoy the “Psy Power” system in this game! Enemies having different weaknesses and the beams being able to change the environment is a nice touch. The Game Gear version plays better than the original MSX version, in my opinion. The downside is the difficulty in Psychic World just doesn’t seem balanced. The game feels a bit cheap at times unless you’re abusing the invincibility power. The enemies are also entirely bland and the final boss battle leaves so much to be desired. Despite this, I found the game to be enjoyable overall and always enjoy having an empowered female lead.
Level Design: 4/5
Boss Fights: 2/5
There you have it. Overall, I would recommend this game to those who are looking to explore the Game Gear library. Mega Man fans may also enjoy this title! If you like playing as cute heroines give Psychic World a shot! You may be surprised!
Until next time,