On a bright day, Tails was flying across a meadow in pursuit of a witch riding a mine cart. The witch accelerated to escape and a trio of enemies (consisting of a rabbit, dog and wolf) riding different flying vehicles appeared to taunt Tails before flying away.
Tails finds the witch in the Darkcastle Area. Tails defeated the witch, causing her to fly out of her mine cart, then Tails used his ring to grab her out of the sky and take her away. The game ends with Tails flying through the night sky.
I have no idea why Tails was chasing the witch or what happened to her after he apprehended her.
This was a review of the version of the game played on another source, not played on the Game Gear. Many of the features were similar, but this review did not discuss things directly related to using the Game Gear (such as the controls).
There were two games released on the Game Gear which featured Tails as the hero. Of the two, this game was brighter, more cheerful and seemed to be intended for younger players.
The gameplay for the game was quite unique. Throughout the game, Tails was perpetually flying forwards, while the screen continuously moved from left to right. If the player touched the ground, obstacles or any ceilings, it was fatal, forcing Tails to stay airborne and move forwards. The game also presented a meter, which was constantly being reduced and caused Tails to be sent hurtling to the ground if it ran out. Tails also held a single ring below his body, which had various uses in the game.
A large part of the gameplay was based around a ring Tails held beneath his body. Tails’ ring functioned both as a weapon and a way of interacting with the environment. The ring could be launched at enemies to kill them. There were also a number of objects spread across the levels that affected Tails’ motion when the ring came into contact with them, such as balloons that would cause Tails to float upwards, heavy weights that forced Tails to fall downwards, conveyers and bars that propelled Tails in a specific direction and poles that caused Tails to rotate downwards before being launched sideways. Holding down the button used to launch the ring caused the ring to loop around Tails, however, this manoeuvre had absolutely no use.
There were also a number of power-ups in the game. There were crystals (which added to the player’s score), sweets with green stripes (which helped recover time on the flying meter and were placed in piles of 1, 2 or 3), bells (which saved the player’s progress through the level), 1-up signs (which added an extra life) and signs with a star on them (which surrounded Tails with four balls and made him temporarily invincible). Weirdly, these items could only be obtained if they come into contact with Tail’s ring while it is next to his body, except for the bells, which can be activated by the player launching the ring at them.
I have observed that the Sonic games developed for the Game Gear use some very unusual elements and it has already been stated that some aspects of the gameplay were strange, but the weirdest part of the gameplay concerned Tails receiving damage. Tails could only be killed if he came into contact with the ground, obstacles or any ceilings. If the player collided with an enemy or was hit by an attack, Tails stopped flying and slowly fell to the ground, which was fatal if he hit it. If the player pressed a button, Tails moved in a large loop and resumed flying, however, the game seemed to use an unknown method of measuring how much time could elapse before Tails could recover. Sometimes, Tails could immediately resume flying after colliding with an attack, other times, he remained falling for a little while before he could recover.
A boss appeared at the end of each level. Three of the bosses were animals in flying machines, while the final boss was the witch riding a mine cart. The bosses would fly away from Tails and the player had to chase them and attack them using the ring, while avoiding the bosses attacks. The ring could be used a projectile to hit the boss and cause them to briefly pause, or the player could attach the boss to the ring and launch them into an obstacle.
Like many Sonic games released on the Game Gear, I found there were some unnecessarily difficult aspects of this game. There were items within the levels that the player could use to reach new areas, however, these items could also cause Tails to be harmed (for example, the player would need to use a heavy weight to drop vertically down a pit to progress, but Tails could be killed if the player was still attached to the weight when it fell beneath the screen). I found this part of the gameplay induced a feeling of paranoia as it became difficult to trust the objects I was using to progress.
Another highly difficult aspect of the game was avoiding a particular obstacle. During certain parts of the game, small circular objects would suddenly appear to block the player’s path. These objects were instantly fatal if Tails touched them, although they could be destroyed by launching Tails’ ring. The only way I could pass this challenge was to either activate an invincibility power-up to allow me to safely navigate the objects or by already knowing where the blocks would appear so I could quickly fly through the area before they could create a substantial obstacle.
I also wondered if the high difficulty of the game influenced other aspects of the game. As I played the game, I became convinced that the player had an infinite number of continues. Whenever I lost all of Tails’ lives, I would always be able to use a continue to return to the level, no matter how many continues I seemed to use, and it was not stated how many continues remained. There also seemed to be no repercussion to using a continue, other than restarting the previous level from the beginning, as the player’s score seemed to remain intact.
I, personally, felt the gameplay was quite enjoyable. The game used a very unique method of playing the game, which was very different to other games in the series. The use of the ring as a weapon did require the player to develop their aim and it was also particularly enjoyable to use during boss fights. I also enjoyed using the ring to interact with objects as it created a problem solving aspect to the gameplay because the player had to work out how to use the objects to progress. One of the problems I encountered with the gameplay was working out what objects affected Tails if he touched them. For example, in one level, there were archways, but only the top of the archway killed Tails, because he could pass between the vertical parts of the structure. In another level, part of the design included propellers which seemed harmful, until I realised that Tails moved behind them and would not get hurt.
The level designs for the game were cheerful and varied. There were four levels in the game, including a training area. The training area was filled with tall palm trees and used a background consisting of islands located across a sea. The second level was called Railcanyon Area and contained mine carts, which allowed the player to travel along rails in front of bright green fir trees and rocky mountains. The third level was called Ruinwood Area and seemed to consist of a flight through a dark cave filled with brightly coloured rocks followed by a structure, made of realistic looking bricks and cartoonlike blocks, situated above a wood (which had an interesting moving effect which made it look like Tails was flying over tree tops). The forth level was named Metal Island Area and used a bright blue background (which resembled the sky) and consisted of an assortment of floating, metallic platforms containing flight equipment, such as propellers and rocket boosters. The final level was the Darkcastle area, which was built using large stone bricks and situated across a sea from a city (with brightly lit buildings, neon lights and skyscrapers visible). The final level took place at night.
There were also some strange aspects of the level designs. The bright colours used in the Railcanyon Area level seemed to suggest this level took place during mid-morning, however, the shadows on the mountain rocks made it seem like early evening, which created a strange effect. The foreground for the Ruinwood Area used a shadowing effect which made it seem like a bright day, while the background used a colour scheme which resembled twilight. The Metal Island Area level did not seem to have a bottom, which made it fairly easy as the most prominent way for the character to die was to touch the ground after being hit, instead Tails fell through an endless loop of the environment repeating.
Many of the levels also seemed to use objects from the Sonic 2 game on the Mega Drive. The Training Area resembled a brightly coloured version of the Emerald Hill Zone, the fir trees from the Hilltop Zone appeared in the Railcanyon Area, the floating islands in the Metal Island Area looked like parts of the Wing Fortress Zone and the background for the Darkcastle Area was similar to the background for the Casino Night Zone. Some of the enemies from the Sonic 2 game appeared in this game, including the Whisp and Turtloid badniks.
I, personally, liked the level designs. I found them to be bright and colourful and used some interesting effects. I did feel, however, that the levels all felt similar to play and could have used features to add challenges and alter the gameplay in individual levels.
The graphics for the game seemed low quality. The visuals were quite pixelated, although the level designs did incorporate some animated effects in the background (such as moving clouds). This effect may be caused because the version of the game I played used a larger display than the one used for the original Game Gear.
The music for the game was low quality and repetitive. The music had a high-pitch and consisted of repeating a few bars of music, although it had an upbeat quality. I, personally, found that the music was of a low quality and had very little impact on the game.
A strange aspect of the game concerned the credit sequence. At the end of the game, the credits appeared on screen, however, the names of the people involved in the production of the game seemed to be either one word names (such as “Kazunechan”), obvious nicknames (including “Captain Alice”) or initials (such as “K3”). I have noticed this was a recurring theme in Sonic games available on the Game Gear, but I do not know the reason for it.
In conclusion, I thought the game was fairly enjoyable. The gameplay was enjoyable and interesting, although the levels felt similar to play. The game did has some difficult aspects, which could be more irritating than challenging. The level designs were bright and colourful, although a little childish. The music was of a low quality and was easily ignored.