Tuesday 23 January 2018

Sonic Blast (Master System review)

Developer: Aspect
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1997

Sonic Blast is a platform game that was originally released on the Sega Game Gear in 1996.

Once again, the objective is to foil Dr. Robotnik's plans for world domination. There's five Zones and you can choose to play as either Sonic (has a mid-air Boost Blast), or Knuckles (has a Sliding Attack and can climb walls). While Sonic didn't exactly whizz through his previous 8-bit outings, here he moves along like a pensioner who's just had a hip replacement; attempting to Spin Dash through loop-de-loops is painful, and it's almost sad watching Sonic struggle to complete this usually trivial task. On occasions, the game doesn't even let you finish the loop and will instead drop you downwards or stop your momentum mid-spin. The collision detection is also inconsistent, resulting in difficulty collecting rings! Bizarrely, the developer's even removed the time counter from the top of the screen, something that's vital for speed runners. The Zones are mostly terrible, but at least the maze-like Yellow Desert Zone switches things up by placing the goal on the bottom-left of Act 2. Blue Marine Zone is a complete shambles, due to its slow, underwater gameplay and confusing series of pipes that you need to navigate to reach the exit. The final Silver Castle Zone is just as bad and sees you trying to find the correct transporter out of the many scattered around. However, the final boss is surprisingly fun, as you need to move a platform from left to right to deflect Dr Robotnik's lasers he shoots from above. Overall, playing as Knuckles is more satisfying than Sonic, mainly because he can climb walls to skip through many tedious sections. The pre-rendered graphics are interesting, but they lack in detail, resulting in everything having a blurry look. What's most unforgivable is that the Special Stages are still in the tiny Game Gear screen resolution!

Sonic Blast is a neat curiosity for Sega fans, but it's a complete mess of a game that fails at almost every turn. It's slow and buggy (some would say unfinished), with sub-par level design, and personally I find it puzzling how Aspect were allowed to keep making 8-bit Sonic platformers after several previous failures!

Random trivia: This Sega Master System version was only released in Brazil.

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