HALLEY WARS / Taito / Game Gear
Halley Wars is the sequel to the little-known Halley's Comet from Taito, a mid-80s arcade release that I don't think ever got much traction outside of Japan. This sequel for Game Gear did get international distribution, however, and it turns out to be a pretty decent little shooter (if on the basic side). It actually feels like a more souped-up version of Astro Warrior, though of course by a different company.
So it's basic, and the pace is a little on the slow side, but it's solid and pretty entertaining. It definitely isn't "bullet hell" and it really isn't memorization-based; the difficulty is more about tempting you into over-committing to a shot or a power-up too early and then huwackin you in the tool shed with an unexpected projectile or enemy pop-in. There are six levels in total, which each usually take about three to five minutes to clear.
The action kinda feels like vertical Gradius, except instead of choosing your upgrades you just kinda pick each one up (and it's always a good idea to grab them as there only seems to be one weapon path). It does have one unique mechanic, though. You'll notice a percentage counter in the lower right, which is initially mysterious. It turns out that every ship or comet that you allow to slide by you is making its way to Earth to do damage, however, and that's what this is keeping track of. Let it get to 100% and it's game over. In between levels some small amount of this damage is repaired, depending on your score.
Though it's not something to set the world on fire, it's a welcome entry in a very thin Game Gear sh'mup lineup. Add in a pretty good little chiptunes soundtrack and you've got a title worth giving a look if you are into Sega's valiant little handheld.
* Gameplay video