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CONSOLE: Game Gear DEVELOPER: Compile PUBLISHER: Compile
RELEASE DATE (JP): December 29, 1991 GENRE: Vertical Shooter
// review by SoyBomb

Good...going?

"GG Aleste". It's as if the game is congratulating itself on beating itself.

For those not in the know, the Aleste series consists of a group of vertical shooters starting with the original Aleste on the Master System in 1988, along with various sequels on classic Sega consoles and even the Super Famicom. (There's even a revival sequel in the works called Aleste Branch, due out in early 2020.) Recently, I stumbled across "GG Aleste". While the cover art claims the "GG" stands for "Galvanic Gunner", we know darn well it stands for Game Gear.

Aleste games typically give me a run for my money being fairly challenging yet entertaining. GG Aleste was neither.

With a very meager intro sequence, GG Aleste is set in the distant future of 2065 A.D., when random space weapons just start pummeling the Earth and causing havoc for the upcoming space colony we supposedly are building. Everything seems lost... or so it seems! Leave it to master pilot Ellinor Waizen and her "Galvanic Gunner" to take out every last one of those enemy ships and SAAAAAVE the Earth!

GG Aleste is indeed a vertical shooter where you basically blast your way through wave after wave of enemy combatants, working your way to a heated boss battle before moving on. There are eight stages in all with varying terrain, although the actual variation of gameplay within the level is dismally minimal; they definitely didn't try anything unique for this Game Gear adaptation of the franchise. Occasionally you'll stumble into a bonus stage for extra points, but they are dry as toast and drag on far too long.

As with most Aleste games, there's a significant amount of customization for your ship, mostly in the form of a unique variety of weapons you can pick up and, over time, upgrade with power-up icons that fly out of numerous enemies. Some, such as the laser or a weird pair of flashy orbs that circle you, are nice to look at, but perhaps the most useful weapon is Homing, which is simultaneously useful and game-breaking.

With the exception of boss battles, the maximized homing weapon pretty much locks onto everything and defeats it quickly, leaving you to either focus on dodging bullets or, more often than not, to just sit there and let the level practically play itself while you just fire away. Better still: despite enemies also coming in from the sides near the bottom of the screen, if you keep your ship at the absolute bottom edge, they will never touch you, leaving your homing bullets to make mechanical mincemeat out of them.


Great Gams, Aleste!

In short, you can loaf your way through, if you choose to. Needless to say, I chose to, and it made the game a rather dry experience overall. I remember Stage 7 in particular, in that it was both exceptionally lengthy and immensely boring, given that I could pretty much sit still the entire way and eat a toasted bagel while holding down the fire button. Perhaps the most difficult battle is that of the final boss — or, more specifically, the fifth form of it (yes, it has five forms, though the first four can each be defeated in about five seconds using my patented "Homing Spam Technique". The last one DOES require actually paying attention and some smooth dodging moves, but your homing weapon can do all the dirty work while you focus on movement.

Being on the Game Gear, I could not expect miracles in the presentation department. Most games are downgraded for the system anyhow (the Game Gear is essentially a portable Sega Master System). While GG Aleste certainly isn't gross to look at, the graphics are passable at best. That being said, the game doesn't suffer from any slowdown or excessive flicker despite all the action on screen, so kudos to Compile for technical mastery. The music is chipper but a little too high-pitched at times and will probably grate on the player's nerves. I do admit, however, the boss battle music DOES get me pumped for action!

GG Aleste does what it intends to: provide a vertical shooter on the Game Gear. You shoot things, you get points, you power up, you defeat the evil — a textbook space shooter. For those looking for anything unique in the genre, ANYTHING at all, you'll be sorely disappointed, as GG Aleste is indeed a by-the-numbers game. Plus, you can pretty much hoodwink your way to the end with relatively little skill. This game has a sequel called "GG Aleste II: Lance Bird" (which sounds like it's about some guy named Lance Bird), but this one wasn't Japan-exclusive; it received a European localization as "Power Strike II". Wonder if that one's any better...


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