For those who don’t know, the Sega Game Gear was Sega’s first handheld system that was meant to compete with the Game Boy. And whilst it did well sale-wise, it couldn’t compete with the juggernaut that was the Game Boy. It’s also the one handheld console that’s difficult to find fully working since the hardware had issues in that it will no longer work unless you know how to fix it.
So why am I talking about this console now? Mostly because of Sonic. I’m kind of surprised of the amount of Sonic games on this system…whether that’s a good or bad thing, that’s for me to find out. Yep, I’m taking a look at the Sonic games on the Sega Game Gear, though there will be some games I’ve already reviewed but I have to take into consideration that I played some on the Sega Master System at the time of the already published reviews, since that’s the console I own (albeit Model 1 & Model 2).
*And just as a notice, I will only acknowledge Master System ports by some differences and release dates.*
Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Sonikku za Hejjihoggu), developed by Ancient and published by Sega, it was first released for the Sega Master System in 1991 in the US and Europe. It was released on the Sega Game Gear in 1991 in Japan and in 1992 in the US, Europe and Australia.
The story is near enough the same as the Sega Mega Drive original so let’s move on.
You play as Sonic as you travel to various levels, but let’s look at the differences between this and the Mega Drive original. Green Hill and Labyrinth are in both games, the 8-bit version have different levels to the 16-bit version and vice versa, this 8-bit version has Green Hill, Bridge, which is Green Hill with more bridges, Jungle, and what I got to so far, the dreaded Labyrinth.
The level design is completely different to its 16-bit counterpart which is to be expected but just like the 16-bit version, most of the levels do not involve running fast but precise platforming which meant that if you were expecting something like what we were promised, expect to die a lot because precise platforming will be your enemy.
But the one issue I had with the Sega Game Gear was the screen crunch, since the Master System was zoomed out due to big TV screens. On the Game Gear, you get a small screen that’s so zoomed in. However, I managed to get used to it and it’s not too bad but it may increase difficulty a bit. But the Game Gear version was tweaked for the console to make it at least playable for a small screen and I think they did a good job, though screen crunch can be an issue, I slightly remember some glitches and slowdown occur but that’s only minor. Also, the Special Stages are just a complete mess in terms of physics due to the fact that you’re going to bounce everywhere trying to collect rings for lives and maybe a continue box but it’s nearly uncontrollable when the odds are against you.
So I guess it doesn’t matter which port you play, they’re both decent in their own ways, so I recommend both, especially the Game Gear port.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ2 Sonikku za Hejjihoggu Tsū), developed by Aspect and published by Sega. The Sega Master System version was only released in Europe in 1992, the Game Gear port was released worldwide that same year. This was released months before the Sega Mega Drive original, meaning that this was Tails’ true first appearance.
So in my opinion, this game takes what worked in the first game and makes it ten times worse, it’s not a very good game at all. The gameplay when Sonic is running and all that jazz is very good, not too much of a problem. But then we get to the gimmicks and they’re so bad and they absolutely kill the game as if screen crunch didn’t make you want to jump out the flaming window. First, we have the hang glider, it’s so poor to control and can be a brain teaser to figure out. Though I did manage to figure out how to do it, just make sure when Sonic is in the air, make sure to tap left to balance yourself.
The bubble shield in the water levels isn’t too bad but the water levels themselves are awful, at times Sonic is uncontrollable. The bosses are good but of course you don’t get any rings so you’ll never beat most of the bosses because the controls and physics are broken. Then Mt. Gimmick is awful with the wheels to spin on, it’s a complete mess. Though the graphics are great for a Master System game and the music is superb but the gameplay is a near hit and miss. NEXT!
Sonic The Hedgehog Chaos, developed by Aspect and published by Sega with the Master System port was only released in Europe in 1993. The Game Gear port was released that same year in Europe, North America and Japan as Sonic & Tails (ソニック&テイルス Sonikku to Teirusu).
Sonic and Tails hears through the grapevine that Robotnik returned to South Island and stole the Red Chaos Emerald, because of this, the other five Emeralds have gone off-balance and scattered all around the island, if Sonic and Tails don’t collect the Emeralds in time the island will sink…so reverse Angel Island?
It’s a Sonic game, nothing more, nothing less. But there are some features that stand out. There is the spin dash from Sonic 2 but includes the Super peel-out from Sonic CD. There are the usual power-ups but there is a new one, the Rocket Boots, where you fly on rocket boots and you can pretty much skip most of the levels if you find it.
There are special stages that consist of flying on rocket boots, and you can collect Chaos Emeralds, getting a good or bad ending depends on collecting the Emeralds, though the best ending you do get is very underwhelming. There are many Zones in the game: Turquoise Hill Zone, Gigalopolis Zone, Sleeping Egg Zone, Mecha Green Hill Zone, Aqua Planet Zone, Electric Egg Zone, most are both memorable and forgettable. The bosses are surprisingly challenging but some are quite easy but they can be a bit annoying at times.
It’s a decent enough Sonic game on its own but it’s not the best in terms of 8-bit Sonic but there are worse. The gameplay is Sonic and I did enjoy some moments, but I can’t remember most of the levels because you can finish them in less than 30 seconds. It has framerate issues, odd physics, forgettable music and all around the lack of anything to make it the least bit fun because I wouldn’t play it again. But for all the negatives like once again, screen crunching, it functions and it’s a good enough Sonic game that fans could enjoy.
To be continued next week…