DEVELOPER: Hertz (port by Sega)
RELEASE DATE: 02/02/91 – (JP), 04/26/91 – (US), 06/1991 (EU)
ALSO ON: MSX 2
Psychic World is not another tarot game for the Game Gear, thank God. But main character Lucia does have psychic powers, courtesy of a helmet given to her by a mad scientist in order to save her sister. Lucia’s powers are limited to small blasts at first, but as she ventures deeper into the so-called “psychic world,” she acquires more powers – ice waves, flame bullets, screen-clearing explosions – to take on increasingly stronger beasts.
Psychic World‘s level design and gameplay structure feels incredibly similar to the original Mega Man games. Each screen gives you 2-3 enemies, some platforms, and an item (or items) to collect in difficult-to-reach locations. Psychic powers can be changed at any time via an item menu at the bottom of the screen. New powers are received after every boss battle. Also, the enemies are aggressive jerks and the hit detection is iffy – just like Mega Man! The Blue Bomber’s formula is successful here too. Learning which power works best in each scenario is incredibly satisfying, and you never know what terrors/rewards await you on each subsequent screen.
Despite the many similarities to Mega Man, I hesitate to call Psychic World a rip-off. The additional content featured in both the MSX2 original and the Master System port make Psychic World feel like a completely different game. And even though Psychic World (or Psycho World as it’s known on the MSX2) released in 1988 – one year after the first Mega Man/Rockman in 1987 – I doubt Hertz ripped ideas from Capcom’s playbook; particularly since the first Mega Man didn’t sell that well in Japan or America.
Alas, just as Lucia’s breaking in that psychic helmet, the game’s over. Four stages, boom, done. The MSX2 original and Master System port have additional levels with more screens, so the dearth of content is not Psychic World‘s fault. Perhaps the Game Gear couldn’t handle an extra stage or two? Or perhaps Sega just didn’t want to bother.
Psychic World on Game Gear is playable and enjoyable, despite being the least of the three iterations of the game. Still, the game couldn’t have emerged on Sega’s handheld at a better time. Dragon Crystal aside, the Game Gear was hurting for larger games in its first year of release; one can only play so much Pengo, Columns, and whatever this is before you crave something with more depth. To wit: Revenge of Drancon (aka Wonder Boy) was the only other platformer available on the Game Gear when Psychic World released in early 1991. If you were an early adopter of the handheld and craved games with more substance, spending time with Lucia in her psychic realm likely made you pretty happy.
DEVELOPER: Hertz (port by Sanritsu)
RELEASE DATE: 1991 – (EU)
If Psychic World on the Game Gear felt like a Mega Man adventure with psychic powers, the Master System port bears more of its own identity. Yes, the power acquisition is still reminiscent of Mega Man, but the improved and expanded level design gives Psychic World an epic adventurous feel that the Blue Bomber’s adventures lack.
Indeed, each of the five levels are larger and even non-linear at points, with vastly different layouts. Enemies are harder and more are featured on-screen at any given time. Even though the Master System and the Game Gear share the same hardware, somehow the colors are sharper here. Lucia even has a face (poor girl was missing one in the Game Gear version)!
Psychic World only released for the Master System in Europe and Brazil. Understandable, given the Master System was dead in the US around the game’s release, but a shame. For US Master System owners still clinging to their consoles in 1991, Psychic World would have been a breath of fresh air.