We had a Game Gear pretty close to when it was released. As an arcade kid I naturally ended up with all of the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2 iterations on our Genesis and SNES. Only the first Mortal Kombat ended up at home in our Game Gear though. Many years later I've gotten to try the other fighters available on the Game Gear. They have not impressed very much.
Then I acquired the Takara release of Samurai Showdown. Now I've played many SNK fighters in the arcade, PC Engine, AES, mini Neo Geo, SNES, probably a few other places. For only having 2 action buttons and limited graphics capabilities this is a pleasant surprise.
Firing it up the first time, you're greeted to actual music and animated petals during the text crawl. Not normal Game Gear music, actual decent music for this system. No voice samples or fancy zooming camera in this but that's ok. Backgrounds are interesting and colorful, and some are animated. Now the fighting, the meat & potatoes. Far better than anything else I've played on Game Gear.
The collision detection and hit animations feel like an actual fighting game from a console, not a handheld. Even with 2 buttons I was quickly able start pulling off moves. The Ai is pretty good and you have to mix up your tactics and blocks. And know when to unleash your power meter.
It is a slower experience than it's big arcade and console cousins, that's expected on an 8-bit handheld though. It gives it the charm of having an extra few seconds to decide my moves instead of twitch muscle memory I normally use in fighters.
Mortal Kombats I always felt like my moves weren't connecting. The animation was choppy and slow. Primal Rage was the same way. Graphics looked great, but not in motion. V.F.Animation was too simple even if the story was long and interesting. Samurai Showdown is balanced. The graphics are nice, has real music, and the fighting feels like a fighter. Next up will be Fatal Fury Special on Game Gear. I have high hopes for that one now.