Monday 2 May 2016

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (Neo Geo Pocket Color review)

Developer: SNK
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1999

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is a platform game that's exclusive to SNK's handheld.

Playing as Sonic (no option for Tails) your mission is to defeat Dr. Robotnik and stop him from taking over the world. The level design is heavily inspired by Sonic 2 (1992, Mega Drive) but most of the zones have been redesigned to work better on the handheld. The game plays well and while it never reaches the breath-taking speed of the Mega Drive versions it's certainly fast enough to provide a few thrills. Each zone is dramatically different which keeps things interesting and I love that you can either speed through each level or explore its many secrets. The controls are superb but a downside is that a few leaps of faith are required due to the small screen. Later in the game the Sky Chase Zone adds some nice variety and sees you leaping off a plane to kill enemies. There's also an unlockable (and exclusive) Chaotic Space Zone where you fight Dr. Robotnik in the air by deflecting his ship's missiles back onto itself! You can save your progress and continue at a later date which is neat but it does make things a bit too easy. The bosses are enjoyable (again, some of which are exclusive) and while the Bonus Stage is the same 3D half-pipe as in Sonic 2, the frame-rate is much smoother. Additional modes include Trial (time trials), Duel (race against a friend using the Link Cable) and Puzzle (complete a picture using puzzle pieces you've collected in the levels). They're not too interesting but I did like the Advanced Trial option which challenges you to get the fastest time through a level and collect 50 rings. Overall, the music is outstanding and really shows the quality of the system's sound chip.
Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is one of the series finest handheld games and it does an amazing job of cramming in most of what made the console versions so great. It's a huge technical achievement and despite its lack of difficulty it's the sort of game you can play through several times and still have a blast.
Random trivia: Yugi Naka (creator of the Sonic character) acted as Supervisor during this game's development.

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