Monday 15 May 2017

Sonic Jam (Tiger review)

Developer: Tiger
Publisher: Tiger
Released: 1998

Sonic Jam is a compilation of three platform games that originally appeared on the Sega Mega Drive.

You can choose to play as the blue hedgehog, Knuckles or Tails, and your mission is to stop Dr. Robotnik and his plans for world domination. The cartridge consists of four levels each from Sonic 2 (based around Emerald Hill Zone), Sonic 3 (Angel Island Zone) and Sonic & Knuckles (Mushroom Hill Zone). For a series known for its blistering speed, the action here is slow as molasses and Sonic always wants to slide back down hills! Using your Spin Dash does help but if you're spinning up a vertical wall and start to run out of momentum the game will weirdly push you along the ground! Speaking of which, it's actually possible to Spin Dash through large portions of a level, as in some instances you'll just keep rolling non-stop! Slowdown is prevalent, but the worst offender is the shocking LCD blur which reduces the game to a slideshow as it skips large amounts of frames in between. The ghosting results in unresponsive controls too, and even forces the sound effects to play well before the action is even seen on screen! The camera is another constant source of frustration as many times it will lag behind, even though you're located towards the right-hand edge of the play area. The bosses are familiar, yet require zero strategy, as spamming the jump attack will quickly defeat them. The 3D bonus areas task you with collecting black spheres while avoiding white ones, but it's seemingly impossible due to the shockingly low frame-rate and motion blur.

Sonic Jam plays like it's a day-one alpha build that was programmed by an apprentice, and it's an absolute disgrace that it was released in this kind of state. It's broken, completely unfinished (three Zones, really?!), and is easily the sorriest excuse for a videogame that I've ever had the misfortune of playing.


Random trivia: Sonic Jam, an unrelated compilation of the blue hedgehog's 16-bit outings, was released on the Sega Saturn in 1997.

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