Sonic the Hedgehog
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Ancient
- Master System: October 1991
- Game Gear: December 1991
- Wii (DLC): August 2008
- Genre: 2D Action
- Players: 1
- Game Gear: Very common (US$1-5)
- Master System: Moderate (US$5-10)
- Wii: N/A (US $5)
The funny thing about handheld video games based on, but not direct ports of, console game is that the end result often turns out to be something almost, but not entirely, unlike the source title. Maybe I should explain better: I was thinking primarily of Super Mario Land for the Game Boy when I said that. It's a different game from Super Mario Brothers, what with having completely different (and fewer) levels, but some of us treat it as a port of the latter. This practice was more commonplace - and justified - during the first wave or so of handheld game systems. The processors for those early handhelds didn't have the power to fully recreate a console-based title, nor did their downsized cartridges pack enough space to hold it all. Also following this trend is none other than Mario's rival: the first Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Sega Game Gear.
Although it is separate from its big brother, the developers of the Game Gear Sonic went the extra mile to include a couple of similarities. One, there are three environments present in both versions: Green Hill Zone, Labyrinth Zone, and Scrap Brain Zone. Even though the levels are completely different, that's more than can be said of other Game Gear Sonic titles. Two, this is one of the few Game Gear Sonics that have Shield power-ups, letting Sonic take a hit without losing any rings. The only other game that used it was Sonic Blast, and that sucked... but we'll get to that issue later. There are even Special Stages in this game, but you don't get Chaos Emeralds in them this time around (they are found in the main zones themselves, and unlike Sonic 2 may show up in either Act 1 or 2 of each zone). Rather, the Special Stages in this game are just opportunities for you to stock up on rings, lives, and continues. There's a time limit on the Special Stages, but with all the bumpers and springs knocking you about, you may occasionally get stuck in a (seemingly) endless loop and want the time limit to take you out of there.
|The aptly named... Bridge Zone.|
|Underwater areas ruin the frame rate.|
I suppose I could give this tame experience a little benefit of the doubt. It may not have much of a Sonic feel to it, but if one were to ignore that possibly, this is a perfectly serviceable platformer. It's also on the easier side of Sonic games, except for the fact that there are no rings to protect you during boss stages, where you'll go down with one hit. But to be fair, this was among the first games made in the franchise, so the developers may not have known what to aim for just yet. It would be wrong of us to write this game off as a failure for not adhering to a formula that was unbuilt at the time, but that still doesn't make this game any more of an exciting ride.
Control: 3 Chaos Emeralds out of 5
Design: 3 Chaos Emeralds out of 5
Graphics: 3 Chaos Emeralds out of 5
Audio: 3 Chaos Emeralds out of 5
The Call: 60% (C-)