Overview: This Game Gear version of the Genesis game by the same name is really good. The graphics are excellent, much better than I normally expect from Game Gear games. The story is the same, though the game itself is different. You are the immortal Chakan who fought Death and received ever-lasting life. Now, seeing this life for what it is, a curse, you must fight all evil and rid the world of it, so that you may finally know peace.
Fight your way through various beautifully detailed worlds, picking up weapons and alchemy potions to help you along. The music is a bit high pitched (like most Game Gear games) but mostly unobtrusive. There are plenty of sound effects (that sound rather good really) and plenty of other details to get and hold your attention, like various monsters and traps. While not as dark as the Genesis version, you can still miss things because of the darkness of the game if you aren't careful.
Directions: After pressing Start at the title screen you will have to choose your game difficulty. The screen says, "Your task will be.." Then you can press up and down to rotate through the options of Wicked, Deadly, and Mental, from easiest to hardest in that order. To start you may want to choose Wicked, but you'll have to beat the game on Deadly to get the real ending.
Chakan's health is displayed in the top left corner of the screen in the form of a ghoulish skull/face. It will slowly disappear as you take damage. As I've said before, immortal doesn't mean invulnerable. There is no lasting consequence to health loss, but if all of the face vanishes, Death will pick you up on his ferry and when you press any button you'll be taken back to the central screen where the blue doors are located. If you are on the "Mental" difficulty, Chakan will only have half of his health when he gets back to the central screen. Chakan has unlimited lives. He takes damage from enemies, enemy projectiles, and traps (like lava). He does not take damage from falling alone, but only if he lands on something harmful.
The order and flow of the game can be a bit difficult to figure out. All of the blue doors in the central world are numbered with roman numerals, but that doesn't mean that you should go through them in order. You might find beginning at the end to be helpful. Press up to go through a door.
In addition to the normal controls, you can press Down to make Chakan crouch. If you press Button 1 while crouching, you'll perform a low attack that it useful against crawling enemies. Press the Button 2 to jump, and then again in mid-air and he'll do a spinning jump that will reach great heights. If you press Button 1 while you are doing a spinning jump, Chakan will do a spinning slash, lashing out with his swords as he spins. If you hold down the 1 Button he'll keep his swords out. This actually counts as attacking, so, if you want, you can stand there with your swords out and let things run into them and eventually kill themselves. While holding button 1 down you can press the directional buttons (including up) to get him to point his swords in another direction. Press button 2 and down to perform a roll. Use this maneuver to get out of harm's way quickly.
Pressing Start does more than just pause this game. Pressing Start takes you to your Alchemist menu where all of your weapons and potions you've picked up will be displayed. Chakan can carry 6 of each color of potion at once. Any potions picked up after the limit are wasted. In the center are tiles that you can move a hand over. Move the hand over a tile you wish to select that has an icon on it and press button 1. Chakan will now make that alchemy. The effects will be seen when you get back to the regular screen, which you will be taken to automatically. Not all combinations are helpful, so be careful. One alchemy you'll be sure to recognize is the one that has a skull on it just like Chakan's health meter. This one will refill his life. Press Start to exit this screen without using anything. The bottom four boxes display the weapons you have picked up. To equip a different weapon, move the cursor to it and press 1.
Some alchemies add special effects to Chakan's weapons. You'll find that different enemies take different amounts of damage from different weapons. Try different weapons and alchemies on different enemies to figure out what works best against each one. One strategy for this game is to figure out where the special weapons are and get them before seriously trying to beat them game. Since you don't lose anything when you run out of health, you keep the weapons even if you "die".
At the end of every stage you'll find a boss. Bosses will take many more hits to kill than normal enemies and deal more damage as well. Take a careful hit and run strategy with bosses (remembering the hint below about spinning slashes) and watch for patterns. Keep in mind that bosses may require a specific weapon to defeat them as well.