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Sonic Chaos (Game Gear)

Genre: Platform Developer: Aspect Publisher: Sega Ent. Players: 1 Released:  1993

I’ve come to consider the first two Sonic The Hedgehog games to be some of my favorite games for the Game Gear and even the Sega Master System. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is the better of the two for me, and I loved the variety in the stages and how each had unique despite difficult challenges. I also adored the soundtrack, and it’s one of the best in Game Gear’s library. Unfortunately, most don’t share my opinion. Many really loved the first game and have fond memories of it, but the second outing is hated by many for its brutal difficulty, blind jumps, and tricky gimmicks. Aspect must have really listened to gamers’ cries, as Sonic The Hedgehog Chaos, the third game in the series, has a vastly different feel to it than the first two entries in the series. For one, it has been toned down considerably in difficulty and is probably the easiest in the 8-bit series. Lesser difficulty isn’t a bad thing by itself, but on top of that, they created a game that, at least for me, feels totally watered-down and sterile, for lack of better words. Let’s dig in a bit deeper and see why this game feels like a step backwards for the series.

Sonic’s third outing is comprised of six zones, with each still containing three acts. Tails is along for the ride this time around and is selectable character when you start the game. The spin dash also makes its first 8-bit appearance here. Sonic, Tails, and many of the enemies and bosses are nicer-looking and have more detail than the earlier games, but the same can’t be said for the stages and backgrounds; they all feel pretty boring and repetitive. You need to collect 100 rings now to enter a bonus stage, which can only be done with Sonic. Because of this, much of each stage is devoid of enemies and anything else, asides from rings. All these areas just feel like they’re empty and padded with rings just so you have enough to get to each bonus stage. This really makes the game feel stale and boring very early on. Tails feels tacked on to the adventure just for the sake of having him. Completing the game with him will give you the ending, but if you play as Sonic than you have to finish every bonus round and find the Chaos Emerald (something which Tails can’t do, since he can’t enter bonus rounds) just to get the same exact ending. Each bonus stage is completed by simply finding the Chaos Emerald before the timer runs out, and they are probably the only real challenge in the game. Personally, I found it was just easier to play as Tails just so I could finish the game quicker.

As with the first two games, Robotnik is only fought at the end of the final round, and each of the bosses are other larger enemies. The bosses are decent and are nothing special. The second boss is the only one that stood out to me, maybe due to me not being able to defeat it when I played the game for the first time at my friend Ryne’s house. All the bosses are much easier this time around, yet now that you can find rings in each third act and no longer have to defeat each boss without dying, which seems to be the one reason many like this game more than part two. Only Robotnik offers any real challenge this time due to his ricocheting shot being hard to dodge, and he also takes way too many hits to defeat now.

I decided to hop onto YouTube and listen to the soundtrack once again for this review. While I find the music to be fitting and easy to listen to, much of it is average. There are only a few are ones that I really like, with Aqua Planet Zone being one that most comes to mind.

I know that I’ve probably come off as pretty negative throughout this whole review and I am, to an extent, but it’s still not a bad game at all. It is still a Sonic game and one that’s very playable, at that. No matter what way you look at it, Sonic The Hedgehog Chaos is a game that’s much more approachable for casual or inexperienced players, and that’s what’s going to win them over in the long run. That’s why I feel Aspect took such a different approach when it developed this game. I still feel like there could’ve been so much more to offer here, though. The soundtrack didn’t really shine when it should have, the stages feel too void and empty, and the game feels repetitive and slow, at least for me, but that’s coming from someone who claims Sonic The Hedgehog 2 as one of his favorite games and one who never minded the crushing difficulty either. Chaos is a game that, despite not being the gem it could’ve, is still a well-made title that’s not too difficult. It’s very approachable and is probably the title to start with if you’re just getting into the series. For those reasons, it’s a Sonic game that’s worth owning and playing.

SCORE: 6 out of 10

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