Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Psychic World Review

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pw_smspw_ggPlatform: Game Gear (there is a European Master System version) – For the hardcore, the Japanese MSX version is worth looking up.
Released: 1991 (worldwide)
Developer: Hertz
Publisher: Sega
Digital Release? No
Price: $3.75 (cart only), $15.00 (complete), and $15.00 (new/sealed) per Price Charting

Psychic World is one of those old Sega games that just seemed to get lost in time. Originally called Psycho World, in Japan on the MSX computer, the game was brought over to Europe in 1991 and renamed the more suitable Psychic World. The game was released on the Master System and Game Gear, for this review well be delving into the Game Gear version (which did come out in the US). This was probably one of the first Game Gear games I ever played next to the original Wonder Boy.

Psychic World is set in the year 19XX. which no matter how you write that on paper now sounds like it’s in the past, even though the setting of this game feels far into the future. I guess the game developers thought we would enjoy the 20th century so much we wouldn’t want to leave it so they started sticking Roman Numerals at the end.

pw_3So, a very small research team consisting of Dr. Knavik, Cecile and Lucia (who you play as) are carrying out work on ESP which stands for Extra Sensory Perception. Well wouldn’t you know disaster strikes and the lab explodes and some of the test subjects which just happen to be monsters take Ceclie and run off. I guess that’s one way to strike at work. Lucia takes a ESP Booster a special tool that enables the user to use psychic powers and heads out to save her sister. I have to say for a old game it was a breathe of fresh air to play as a female protagonist, instead of some muscle bound dude, that’s one point to Japan right there. The story is very simple and you really don’t see much of it apart from the introduction of the game and the final boss conflict but it works and is presented in very nice panels.

The game plays a straight forward platformer with many power ups at your disposal. Your main weapon is a sort of shooter that fires off waves to take down the baddies. To begin with this weapon is really weak. As you progress through the game you can upgrade the weapon by collecting power ups dropped by fallen enemies or just lying around the level. Upgrading increases the damage and draw distance of the shot. It’s also pretty cool to see the progression of your upgrades as you progress from the beginning to the end of the game. You can also find new weapons like the fire shot, sonic shot and freeze shot which can also be upgraded. All the weapons in the game have unlimited usage and each weapon is better suited to specific enemies or environments. For example, the freeze shot can create new platforms in the ice level.

You can also find and use a wide variety of psychic powers. These drain your green ESP bar and the power ups can also be upgraded improving the effect and length of time they act for. Power ups include levitation which allows you to jump higher for a short period and explosion which damages everything on screen. The power up you’ll be using all the time however, is restoration which practically makes you invulnerable for a short period of time. Though this is a very useful power up it makes the game a little too easy because it hardly drains your ESP bar and you can easily refill the bar by item drops from enemies. It’s almost possible to do the entire level with this power up. Basically if you want to have a more challenging game you need to resist the urge to use this power up.

pw_1

You have a health bar in the game which drains as you touch enemies, get shot or fall in a pit. There is no period of invulnerability so you continuously drain health until you escape the hazard. This can potentially lead to some quick deaths. There are plenty of health pick ups throughout each level should you need to replenish your health though. And lets not forget the ever helpful restoration powerup.

There are four levels each has a unique feel to it and contains a mid level and end of level boss. Though the levels are fairly decent sizes the game is still very short, you can easily finish it in under a hour. The game still feels suited to the platform and after all this is a handheld game with no saves or passwords. . The final boss is worth mentioning because even to this day this conflict makes no sense. I won’t spoil what happens but lets just say the game surprises you by removing all your weapons and power ups and changes the game into something else entirely. So much so you probably won’t know what to do and it’s pot luck if you succeed or not. Of course there is always the internet, but back in the nineties this was a pain to have placed right at the end of the game.

pw_2Graphics for the Game Gear are quite colourful and stand out on the small Game Gear screen. You will travel through a variety of environments like a forest, a volcano, an ice cavern, and a metal base. Character sprites stand out too and there is a wide variety of enemy types. The boss characters in particular look surprisingly good on the small Game Gear screen.

Music is also quite the delight in this game. The PSG (Programmable Sound Generators) chip does a good job at presenting some catchy tunes, providing it still works in your old Game Gear. The first level and the boss battles probably have the most memorable music. Though each level has its own charm. The victory music when you complete a level is also very memorable.

Psychic World is a game that really fits into the hidden gem category. Even today I love this game, it’s great fun to pick up and go back to. The game is not very long but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t warrant another playthrough. Many reviewers rate this game as average and generic but while the restoration power up can be over used to make the game a lot easier, its one of those games that you can set your own challenges. Even if you do spam the restoration power up it’s still a blast to play. This game goes for very little online even today so if you love that Game Gear and have not checked out this game I highly recommend giving it a go.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 (review guidelines)

Written by jamalais

January 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

Posted in Game Gear, Reviews

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One Response

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  1. First game I ever completed for Game Gear though no idea how as I was 10 or 11 and didn’t have a clue what I was doing! The final boss just seemed to be try every weapon/ esp you had if I remember rightly

    John

    May 31, 2017 at 9:42 pm


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