Genre: Platform Developer: Dimps Corporation Publisher: Sega Ent./SNK Players: 1 Released: 1999
Do all of you remember the days prior to the demise of the Dreamcast when Sega’s coveted franchises would never appear on anything but a Sega console? This was just the case, and we all dreamed of what it would be like if we ever saw Sega give its blessing on porting a game to another competitor’s platform. Well, despite what you all might think, Sonic The Hedgehog did actually appear on two different systems not created by Sega itself. Sonic’s first adventure on foreign hardware was on Sonic Jam for the Game.com in January of 1998, and that turned out to be horrible and unplayable in a best case scenario. Almost a full two years later in December of ’99, Sonic made his way to the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and the outing was good enough to make it well worth tracking down the obscure handheld just to play the game.
The Neo Geo Pocket Color had a really limited run, and SNK didn’t seem to sell very many units. However, it turned out to be a really competent 16-bit portable game console, and Sonic The Hedgehog actually feels like he belongs here on the system. SNK took the best of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles and blended them all together into one collage of a game. Each of the eight stages have new and original names, but they are all themed after stages of the above-mentioned games. They are all laid out completely different, and the Robotnik battles are all completely changed. The music is all toned down versions of the themes from the stages they were taken from, and what’s here sounds really nicely done, though not up to par with the Genesis originals since they are on a system without as nice of a sound chip. I never had trouble discerning where they were taken from, and tunes are quite enjoyable in their own right. The sound effects are also toned down to work on the system, but again, I can’t say anything bad about them.
All of you who are tired of the quality of Sonic’s current 2D outings will be happy to know that this game is of the same quality as its Genesis/Mega Drive counterparts. Sonic controls and handles exactly as he does in the Genesis versions, and the NGPC’s overly sensitive thumbstick rarely hinders the control of the game. The bonus stages are entered just like they were in Sonic’s first outing by collecting fifty rings and jumping into the giant ring at the end of each stage, and the stages themselves are taken straight from Sonic 2 but with a slightly different feel to the handling. In my opinion, they’re a bit tougher this time around. In order to see the whole game you’ll need to collect each of the seven chaos emeralds in order to turn into Super Sonic, and then you’ll enter the final stage where you battle Robotnik, very similar to Doomsday Zone in Sonic and Knuckles.
Everything about this game feels like the programmers cared about what they doing and it has the markings of a great Sonic The Hedgehog game. My one complaint is that it doesn’t contain any truly original content at all, and it feels slightly rehashed, but it’s still fun to play through. The game features a battery back-up to save your games, which is great as the game is a bit long and daunting to play through in one sitting.
The big question you’re all asking me now is whether you should start searching for a Neo Geo Pocket Color just to buy this game. The answer is yes and no. Yes if you’re huge into classic gaming, since the cost of the game and the console won’t upset you. You’ll enjoy this game as well as plenty of the NGPC’s other games it has to offer. I’d say no if you’re just a casual gamer, as you’ll have to fork out about fifty to sixty bucks for the system and game and can get all of the content of this Sonic game and more in the Genesis originals. Sonic The Hedgehog Pocket Adventure as a whole is a very solid entry into the Sonic series and worthy of the Sonic title. It is far more playable then Sonic’s more recent 2D offerings, so for me it was worth the money.
Rating (out of five):