Wednesday 30 August 2017

Sonic Chaos (Game Gear review)

Developer: Aspect
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1993

Sonic Chaos is a platformer that was also released on the Sega Master System in 1993.

Your mission is to foil Dr. Robotnik's world domination plans, and locate the six missing Chaos Emeralds to protect South Island from sinking. There's six Zones (with three Acts each), and you can play as either Sonic (has a stationary dash) or Tails (can fly short distances). Compared to the Sega Master System version, the action feels much faster here (thankfully to the game's benefit), and the slowdown that hampered the console title is either non-existent or barely noticeable. Where things falter is in the level design, as each stage is short and most can be beaten in 30 seconds. Mecha Green Hill Zone might sound appealing to long-time fans, but instead it looks like a badly designed variation of a Sonic CD (1993, Mega CD) 'Future' level. Sleeping Egg Zone's attachable springs to reach higher platforms are a great idea but they're underutilized, making them more of a brief gimmick than an integral part of the action. Electric Egg is the only Zone that stands out, and it's generally fun choosing your route as you speed through pipes. The smaller screen doesn't cause any issues, but that's mainly due to the lack of enemies and bottomless pits, as well as the abundance of extra lives on offer. The Special Stages provide some enjoyment, and I like how each has a unique play mechanic to help you search for Chaos Emeralds. While Tails does provide some replayability, he's weirdly unable to access these Special Stages. The bosses are a real low-point and the fact that some can be beaten by repeatedly bouncing off their heads (without touching the ground) is a joke.

Sonic Chaos on the Sega Game Gear is incredibly lazy from a level design perspective, but at least it's a more polished version of the game. It certainly plays better too, and looking on the bright side, at least the all-too-brief stages fit better on a portable than they did on Sega's 8-bit home console.

Random trivia: A year later, a follow-up called Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble was released exclusively on the Sega Game Gear.

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