Saturday 28 December 2019

Sonic Blast (Sega Game Gear review)

Developer: Aspect
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1996

Sonic Blast is a platform game that was later ported to the Sega Master System in Brazil only (1997).

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. The collision detection is inconsistent, resulting in difficulty collecting rings, and even the time counter has been removed from the top of the screen! 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 blurry, but at least they have more detail and colours compared to the console version. However, the action is excessively zoomed in on this Sega Game Gear version which can result in perilous leaps of faith and unavoidable collisions.

Sonic Blast is an unremarkable platformer that's completely devoid of any compelling ideas or gameplay hooks. The weak level design would be bad enough on its own, but when you throw in the various technical deficiencies and cropped field-of-view you have the makings for one of the blue hedgehog's worst outings.

Random trivia: An unused animation sprite in the game's code suggests that Sonic was originally supposed to have a Strike Dash move.

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