Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos (1993)
|Details (Sega Game Gear)||Supported platforms||Artwork and Media|
Country of Release:
Platform / 2D
USA, Europe, Japan
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
|Sega Game Gear||
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(Anonymous) (Game Gear review) 27th Mar 2012 10:26
"A turning point in the Sonic Game Gear saga"
This game marks an important moment in the chronology of Sonic The Hedgehog's Game Gear adventures. The moment where the great blue blur found himself confined to the realm of Mediocrity. Prior to this, our hero used his speed and jumping spin attack to thwart the maniacal Dr. Robotnik's plans twice. From this point on (and with the exception of Sonic Spinball, which wasn't very good), that lovable blue hedgehog was no longer the top hero of the animal world. He found himself badly marginalized by someone who is far more powerful.
Sonic Chaos introduces Tails as a playable character. The orange, two-tailed fox has an important ability that catapults him leagues ahead of his friend Sonic. Tails can fly. Albeit for a limited time, but still... Using his two tails much like a helicopter rotor, Tails can fly around. When he gets tired out, all he has to do is land on the ground; then he can get airborne again. Put simply, would you rather try to jump over that pit of lava or just safely fly across? With all due respect to Sonic, the one who started it all... I'm sorry, dude. Tails rules!
I don't know why the designers of the Sonic franchise created a sidekick character who can fly. The sidekick has a better ability than the main character. Tails can easily grab airborne rings floating high above the landscape, and he can make it to high places that Sonic can only dream of reaching. In a half-hearted attempt to compensate for this, the designers of Sonic Chaos gave Sonic some special power-ups. He can get rocket boots and speed through the sky for a ridiculously limited time. He can also get a pogo spring power-up that has some rather limited practical use. I'm sorry, but that's not good enough. Tails can fly by default. He doesn't need a power-up to do it. End of story.
Another attempt by the designers to keep Sonic on the throne of lead hero was their handling of the Chaos Emeralds in this game. Each one is sequestered in a "special stage", and only Sonic can enter these secret levels. At this point, I'm thinking "Okay, who cares about the Chaos Emeralds anyway?" Making matters worse, the way that we enter the secret levels is moronic. When Sonic grabs 100 rings, he's automatically whisked away to the secret level, where he can try to get the Chaos Emerald there before time runs out. Regardless of whether or not he succeeds, he completely skips over the level he was previously playing. He doesn't even get to finish the level he was working on. How lame!
The special stages are actually nothing special. Sonic uses his rocket boots to fly through the sky, grabbing large rings. He uses pogo-springs to bounce up to platforms he'd otherwise be unable to reach. To get the final Chaos Emerald, he has to navigate through a tricky network of tubes. The difficulty of these secret levels can make the game a frustrating experience for Sonic. We get one chance to get it right, then we're off to the next level of the game to try again.
At its heart, this is a Tails game. Forget about the Chaos Emeralds and the moronic special stages. Sonic is no longer the top dog here. He found himself marginalized the moment Tails became a playable character. Tails can do everything Sonic can do, plus he can fly.
In addition to the signature moves from Sonic's first two adventures on the Game Gear, our two heroes can now spin-dash. Push the directional pad downward while pressing the jump button to rev up, then let go of the directional pad to take off, spin-dashing across the landscape and up ramps at incredible speeds. Tails can fly by pushing the directional pad upward and pressing the jump button. If he remains aloft for too long, he'll get tired out and fall.
This game uses the same winning formula from Sonic's previous two Game Gear adventures. Side-scrolling action across six colorful zones, each with three levels (or "acts"). A boss occupies the third level of each zone. Unlike Sonic's previous adventures, we get some rings for the boss encounters here, although sometimes we have to go looking for them and find them. Good thing because some of these bosses are tough.
Some new elements are introduced here. The loops here are much better than those in Sonic 2, and we get different kinds of loops to speed through. There are also corkscrew speedways, which are always a treat. One level has numerous breakable walls and floors that our hero can smash through with a jump or spin-dash. The gratuitous underwater level features currents that will carry our hero through tunnels. The final level is filled with pressure plates that activate laser beams and other traps. The transport tubes from Sonic 2 make a reappearance here, presenting us with another intricate network of tubes to navigate through.
Also, a new hazard is introduced. A slanted walkway. If you don't run across it at a pretty good pace, you'll fall off (sometimes into an abyss below for an instant death). Spikes aren't as numerous here, but abysses are quite prevalent. Several new enemy robots make their debut appearance here. Ladybug-bots, pogo-spring-bots, turtle-bots, penguin-bots, and some others.
Much like Sonic 2, there doesn't appear to be a logical progression to the game. We start out in a Turquoise Hill Zone, which is essentially the Green Hills with a different name. Then we're in a city, running along slanted walkways and through skyways between buildings. Then we're in a strange level that looks like it might be ancient ruins or something. From there, we move on to the Mecha Green Hill Zone. Robotnik has been hard at work here, adding his unique artistic touch to what was once a tropical paradise. Finally, we tour the underwater zone and Robotnik's fortress.
The best parts of this game are the first two zones and Robotnik's fortress at the end. The Turquoise Hill Zone is solid fun, with loops and corkscrew speedways. The city is fun, as there are many rings there. And Robotnik's fortress is challenging but entertaining. The rest is standard platforming fare. One thing I like about this game is that the underwater regions are optional. If you stay on the high path during the underwater levels, you don't have to go underwater once.
Just like Sonic's previous two adventures on the Game Gear, the levels here are all just the right size. Not too large, not too small. There's plenty of exploration to be done as we search for all of those hidden 1-Ups and stashes of rings, but at no point does it become tiresome like it often did in Sonic's Genesis adventures.
The bosses here leave something to be desired. Robotnik is as inventive as ever, but I think he's starting to lose his edge here. Each boss contraption is a robot with his own unique style of attack, but none of them manage to be as interesting as the boss characters in Sonic 2. There are a couple that I can beat without taking a hit, but there are also some incredibly difficult ones. If I didn't have rings here, I'd be worried. As it stands, I can take a hit, grab a ring, and then keep grabbing that one ring every time I take a hit. Some of these bosses employ cheap shots (such as when the sphere explodes and rains down missiles in a last ditch effort to do our hero in). Robotnik doesn't show up until the very end. His boss contraption there is dopey, with an obvious weakness. He should know better than that by now. As one might guess, the maniacal inventor makes a deft escape yet again.
Visually, this game is right on target. Everything is colorful and well presented. It's got that Sonic quality going on. Sonic and Tails have great-looking animations. I really can't complain about the sound effects either. For some reason, they employed a different effect here for when your hero scores a hit on a boss. The rest is standard Sonic fare. The music here is pretty good. Quality musical themes that provide a fitting backdrop for each scene. Not as good as themes in the first two Sonic games. Still, most of it has a spirited feel to it in keeping with the fast pace of the game. I have to say, the theme that plays just before the final encounter with Robotnik is very fitting for that kind of scenario. It's high energy and does a great job of conveying that "on our way to confront the big bad guy" feeling.
This game is a mixed bag. In some ways it's an improvement over Sonic's previous outings on the Game Gear. Collecting plentiful rings in the various levels is a lot of fun. But I can't help but feel that the game could have been more creative (and more fair) with the bosses. The more important thing to consider is that this game marks the end of Sonic as the top hero of South Island. We can play as either Sonic or Tails here. Most of the time, I go with Tails.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10, Originally Posted: 02/24/05, Updated 08/19/11
Game Release: Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos (US, 1993)
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This title was first added on 12th March 2006
This title was most recently updated on 27th March 2012