Forgotten Gems: Gain Ground

By Jennifer Calheiros-Martin

In Forgotten Gems, we look at some of lesser-known classics of console, computer, and arcade gaming. First up, SEGA’s ahead-of-its time action/strategy/puzzle hybrid Gain Ground!

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I’m a SEGA girl. I have always been a SEGA girl. I got my first console, a sparkling Sega Genesis, for my birthday in 1993. I’d played the Mega Drive/Genesis and especially the Master System at my cousins’ places in Brazil, and I was so excited to be able to play all those great games I’d seen in Brazil and at home — Sonic! NBA Jam! Aladdin! Space Harrier 2! Ports of my favourite arcade games, like Outrun and Super Hang-On!

What was not among this list, either from the arcades or its Genesis port, was Sega’s Gain Ground. Released in the arcades in 1987 using its Sega System 24 architecture to little fanfare or acclaim, the game arrived first to the Master System in 1989, then to all glorious 16-bits in the home with its release on the Genesis/Mega Drive in 1991.

And in spite of the lack of any hype for the game, when I first deigned to pick up a used copy around 1995, I was blown away. Here was a game that went above and beyond, merged action and puzzle games with something that’s almost akin to proto-RTS game.

I can’t possibly go into the details of what make this game so damn special mechanically, but check out these YouTube longplays and you’ll get a sense of just how fiendish it is!