1991 Blog Game Gear Games

Slider (Game Gear, 1991)

Monstrous enjoyment awaits.

Peace be the journey!
The journey is canceled!

PUBLISHER: Victor Musical Industries (JP), Sega (US, EU)

DEVELOPER: Loriciel (port by Victor Musical Industries)

RELEASE DATE: 04/26/91 – (JP), 10/1991 – (US)

If you’re reading this review from the beginning, you’ve already laid eyes on the grotesque Western artwork for Slider. Why don’t you take a look at it again? Really drink it in. I’ll wait.

I don’t want you to get nightmares by looking at that cover, I really don’t. Sega does, though, apparently. That yellow plushie Muppet demon thing is supposed to be the main character, Slider. It looks like nothing like the Slider sprite in the game. The cutesy Japanese cover where Slider (or “Skweek,” as he’s known there) is a fun-loving koosh ball comes close. The real in-game Slider, however, resembles a melting peanut who’s just really, really happy. He’s a delight. This other Slider, this fake Slider… he’s pure evil. Not just because of his thick eyebrows and menacing grin. No, fake Slider deceives. He tricks kids into thinking his game will be edgier than it actually is. He makes parents think twice about buying an otherwise good-hearted puzzle game for their children. No one wins, least of all Sega’s accounting department. Fake Slider does not need to exist, yet exist he does, scaring grownups and children alike over three decades after the game’s original release.

Nothing but clear skies and pink tiles.

Forgive my preamble. The Slider cover is the worst I’ve seen in awhile and I couldn’t jump into the game itself without discussing it.

With all that said, ignore the cover. Slider, like Shikinjou before it, is another ace puzzle outing that’s ridiculously well-suited to the Game Gear. The game’s 99 levels, endearing main character, and addictive tile-touching gameplay hooked me for hours.

Ice tiles are a thing, long may Slider slide.

As Slider, your objective is to turn all the blue/green tiles in any given level, to pink tiles. You turn tiles pink by walking over the blue/green tiles. No tricks, no gimmicks. Just stroll over the tiles and watch them pink-ify with ease.

But, of course, life is never that easy. Enemies obstruct your path or chase after you to kill you. Walls prevent access to other tiles, forcing you to find hidden ways to reach them. One-way tiles fling you in their pointed direction. The clock is always counting down. Slider’s equipped with a front-firing attack initially, although different power-ups enable him to shoot out walls, fire in four or eight directions, and even freeze enemies. Those tiles will pinken, or Slider will die trying.

He’s a ghost, Sega promises.

Slider‘s premise is so simple, and yet, the game continually surprised me. In one level, I was forced to cross over an enemy-generating tile on the tile’s edge in order to walk over the rest of the tiles. In another level, the enemies generated tiles simply by walking over dark un-tiled areas. The goal then became walk over all the tiles, as normal, but kill all the enemies as you go, lest their tile-making steps prolong the stage. Creative gestures like the aforementioned are thankfully the norm in Slider, not the exception. As such, I felt invested to keep going, to see what other unique ideas the developers would implement.

Never again.

Normally, older games are far too difficult for modern sensibilities. Slider is the opposite. The game gives you four lives, ten continues, and a password system between each stage. A bit overkill, even in our modern “lives don’t matter anymore” era. The password system is appreciated, as some of the stages are quite challenging, but otherwise, the game is too generous. There is no reason anyone, of any skill level, can’t complete Slider unless they really hate controlling a melting peanut.

Now, that‘s a pickle.

Am I crazy, or is the Game Gear killing it lately? The GG Shinobi, Shikinjou, and now Slider all released within a similar time frame, and all are excellent portable experiences in their own right. I know the Game Gear’s future holds many a crappy, watered-down licensed game. For now, it’s nice to experience this gentle wave of goodness, however long it may last.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.