A Review of Sonic Drift (Game Gear)

1994

———————————————————-Spoiler Alert—————————————————–

————————-But if you cannot guess the spoiler, seek medical help urgently———-

The Story

In the middle of a field, Sonic stands by a large, red car at the side of a tarmac race track. He watches as Eggman, Tails and Amy drive past him on the road. He looks round and then jumps into his vehicle, he faces the camera and makes a thumbs-up sign with his left hand, signalling his readiness to start racing.

Sonic, Tails, Amy and Eggman all entered a driving competition. They competed in a series of four races, which each competitor accumulating points based on performance. At the end of the races, three flags were raised on flag poles showing which driver was the winner, the runner-up and third place.

The Review

This review was based on the version of the game released as an extra feature as part of the Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut game and not the game originally released on the Game Gear.

The story for the game was non-existent and had little impact on the game. The story was, like many racing games, based on the characters competing in a series of races and a winner being decided. The story ends with a short animated sequence showing flags raised on flag poles, which displayed the characters who reached the first, second and third positions. There were also short animated sequences to show how the winner’s story ended, based on which character the player was controlling. The story was very light, but this was expected for this genre of game as the focus was on the player racing against other opponents and reaching the first position, rather than an adventure to defeat an enemy and undo evil actions.

The gameplay of the game was similar to other racing games. The player competed against other opponents (which could be computer-controlled or controlled by another player) to follow a track and reach the finish before the other competitors. The race tracks also formed a loop so that the races consisted of multiple laps to extend the time spent racing. To increase the difficulty, the player’s speed significantly reduced if they attempted to drive on ground outside the track and they stopped fully if they collided with an obstacle placed at the side of the track. The game also placed power-ups on the tracks to help the player, these power-ups were always placed on the centre of the road and mimicked power-ups used in other Sonic games. These power-ups included invincibility (the player’s speed increased and they were not delayed if they collided with obstacles), fast speed (the player’s speed greatly increased), springboards (which caused the player to rise into the sky and spin, which somehow increases their speed and ability to follow the track) and rings (which allowed the use of the character’s special ability).

An unique feature of the game was the use of the “drift” ability. This ability (utilised when the player pressed the button to turn in a direction and then pressed the button to accelerate in quick succession) allowed the player to turn corners tighter. This allowed the player to turn corners at a faster speed, which helped reduce their racing time.

The game had three difficulties: Green, Yellow and Red. Each difficulty used the same stages and obstacles, so I was unsure what made each difficulty harder. My only assumption was that the player competed against faster opponents during the harder difficulties and less power-ups were available for the player to use. The player could only view the animated sequences that completed the character’s story by finishing first during the Red tournament.

The game used four characters: Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Eggman and Amy. The four characters presented with the same racing technique and controls, although I was not sure if the characters had different abilities (such as increased speed or better control). The computer-controlled characters appeared to have a set hierarchy in terms of ability, Sonic was usually the fastest, followed by Eggman, then Tails and then finally Amy.

There did not seem to be much difference playing as the different characters, other than each character had an unique special ability. The special abilities could only be used if the player had collected at least two rings, but the player could not activate them themselves, instead it seems the character used the ability when they felt it was necessary. Sonic’s special ability was that his speed increased, Tails was able to jump into the air and spin for a few seconds, Eggman launched bombs that stopped the opponents and Amy threw small hearts that did not seem to do anything. I found the special abilities useful in the races, however, they would have been more useful if the player could control when they were used.

There were a number of different gaming modes. The main mode was Chaos GP, which consisted of the player competing against three computer-controlled opponents in a series of six races to win the most amount of points and come first. One mode was Free Run, where the player can select a character, stage and difficulty and achieve a best time. The final mode was Versus, where two Game Gears could be linked together and two players raced against each other.

I, personally, did not enjoy the gameplay. One reason that my enjoyment was hindered was personal preference. I can understand the appeal and feel limited pleasure competing in racing games, but I generally feel that these games are not as exciting and involving as other games.  Another major reason that this game contained limited appeal was because of a needlessly difficult aspect of the gameplay. In racing games, being able to see the road ahead was vital in allowing the player to understand the layout of the track and drive their vehicle to follow the road. With this game, however, the player was only shown a little of the upcoming track, which meant they could not react sufficiently to any turns in the road. Road signs were used to alert the player to any turns, but these were only used for sharp turns, were confusing if there were a series of turns up ahead and also acted as an obstacle if the player collided with them.

There were six stages in the game: Green Hill, Marble, Spring Yard, Labyrinth, Star Light and Scrap Brain. The differences between the race courses were largely aesthetic (the backgrounds and designs for obstacles were changed to reflect the theme of the level), although the later levels were more difficult to follow. Interestingly, a large portion of the screen featured a background image to represent the horizon. Green Hill resembled a race on a bright Summer day in front of a clear ocean, large mountains and beautiful waterfalls. Marble was a race in front of rocky mountains, with small, stone ruins at the base, underneath a purple sky. Spring Yard was set near orange buildings, with tall mountains in the distance, seemingly during dusk. Labyrinth was set, while the sky had an orange glow, in front of a range of buildings built with yellow squares and decorated with red crystals. The Star Light race took place in front of green grid-like structures, with distant lights brightening the black sky. The background to Scrap Brain featured grey and red industrial buildings that seemed to reach into the distance.

There was little difference between the three levels, other than changes in designs, except the race course for the later levels were more complicated, with more turns. There were no themed obstacles or changes to the gameplay in the different levels. The caused the game to feel more like a straight, realistic racing game, rather than a fantastical competitive game (like the Mario Kart series of games). Weirdly, the names for the race courses resembled the names for the levels from the first Sonic game released on the Mega Drive, although the “Zone” part of the name was removed. I, personally, enjoyed the different designs for the racing levels and the increase in difficulty, however, I felt the game could have expanded on the themes of the levels to make the races more playful.

The graphics for the game were fairly low quality. The backgrounds and character designs were quite heavily pixelated and the bright colours used to decorate the tracks felt a little blinding. There were also a number of strange visual effects, such as the obstacles at the side of the road seemed to move in weird ways as the player drove past. The background does not increase in size as the characters drive towards them, but it did scroll sideways as the player turned, giving the impression that the characters were racing in a large round container, rather than in an actual environment. The game was, however, effective at showing the objects get nearer as the player followed the track and the other racers did appear to change in size based on the player’s distance to them. Some of the graphical limitations, however, could have been caused by the way I played the game and the game’s graphics could have been better when played on the Game Gear. I, personally, found the graphics low quality, despite some good effects.

The music for the game was fairly low quality. The music was quite high pitched and did not have much impact on the game.

In conclusion, I did not find this game enjoyable. I, personally, did not enjoy the gameplay, although this was due to a mixture of personal preference and limitations in the design of the game. I enjoyed the level designs, although I felt that the game could have used the themes of the levels to inform the individual level designs in a more effective manner. The graphics were fairly low quality, despite some good effects, and they did make the game blinding during play. The music had little impact on the game.

In my opinion, I did not treat this game in the way that would be the most suitable. Rather than try to experience the game fully and complete it fully, it would probably be better to treat this game as some quick enjoyment for a few minutes. There were some elements of the game that were frustrating when I was trying to come first, but I found I enjoyed the game more when I took a more leisurely approach. The Grand Prix mode only took around ten minutes and there was the option to compete against a second player. I would suggest that any players who try this game should just try to enjoy it as a race, either alone or with another player, and treat it as a fun excursion for a little while.

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Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear) (Part 1)

1992

————————————–There should spoilers here, but there aren’t——————————–

The Story

One evening, Tails was running at a fast speed. As he ran past tall palm trees and across a field of light green grass, Dr. Robotnik (flying a small, mechanical machine) slowly gained on him, closely followed by Sonic the Hedgehog. As he reached Tails, a yellow pincer at the bottom of Dr. Robotnik’s aircraft started to open and shut quickly, like a mouth eagerly awaiting a meal. Dr. Robotnik accelerated and flew downwards towards Tails and used the pincer to grab the tips of the fox’s twin tails, before lifting him into the air. Sonic, who had been running below the machine, was able to reach his friend while Tails was hoisted in the air, but he could only watch and look round hopefully as the fox was suspended in front of him. Dr. Robotnik suddenly flew upwards, leaving Sonic to continue the pursuit on the ground.

Sonic passed through the Under Ground Zone and defeated a large robot. He entered the Sky High Zone. On a cliff edge, situated high among the clouds, Sonic grabbed a hanglider and positioned himself inside. He leapt off the cliff edge in a desperate attempt to continue his mission, before realising that he did not know how to use the equipment and falling though the sky to his death.

The Review

This review was based on the version of the game released as an extra feature on the Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut game and not the original game released on the Game Gear. Much of the game would be the same, but the review avoided parts of the game associated specifically with playing it on the Game Gear, such as using the controls. This review was only able to cover the part of the game that I was actually able to complete and was less of a review of a game and more of an appreciation of it’s difficulty.

The story for the game seemed to resemble the story from other Sonic games. I could not comment on the entire story as I was only able to play through the beginning, but it did seem to consist of Sonic travelling through a series of locations to reach a final battle with Dr. Robotnik, leading to a conclusion of the story. One difference in this game was that Sonic’s motivation was much clearer. Unlike the other games, where Sonic wants to defeat Dr. Robotnik for a mysterious reason, in this game, the player was shown Tails being kidnapped and Sonic’s unsuccessful attempts to free him. This slightly developed and improved the story.

The gameplay for the game was similar to other Sonic games released at the time, although there were some additions to the gameplay. Much of the game consisted of the player travelling across stages to reach the end destination, with the player being able to run and jump to reach the goal. The player also needed to collect gold rings to allow Sonic to survive attacks and increase the number of lives. The rings also spread out when Sonic was harmed. The player could also roll into monitors to obtain power-ups, which included extra rings, invincibility, extra life and larger amount of extra rings. Like the previous game in the series, the Chaos Emeralds were found hidden in the levels, rather than requiring the player to complete a special stage.

Despite the little amount of game completed before this review was written, it was obvious that this game used techniques to alter the gameplay. The player needed to use a number of fast-moving mine carts to progress through the first level, but the player was not able to fully control the cart. Part of the second level required the player to find and equip a hang glider that Sonic could use to travel across a gap between two platforms. The player could use the hang glider by using controls different to the controls used for the rest of the game. The gameplay for the game was enjoyable and it was interesting that different gameplay methods were used as it caused the player to develop different skills.

As mentioned previously in reviews of other games, I have observed that the Sonic games released on the Game Gear used some bizarre features and some unnecessarily difficult aspects.

The way Sonic lost rings in this game added more difficulty to the game. When Sonic was harmed in other Sonic games, the rings he lost spread out and the player could collect them. In this game, Sonic would lose all his rings and a solitary ring would bounce up and down, this meant that the player could only retrieve one ring. This effect severely limited the player’s ability to regain a comfortable level of health after being harmed.

The lack of shield power-ups also increased the difficulty of the game. In many Sonic games, the player can obtain shield power-ups. These power-ups protected Sonic and prevented the player losing rings if an enemy’s attack was successful. The shields could only prevent one attack from harming Sonic and, in some games, presented Sonic with extra abilities. In this game, there were no shield power-ups, which meant the player lost an extra layer of protection, making them more vulnerable. This effect made the game more challenging.

In this game, the first boss was a surprisingly difficult enemy to defeat. This boss was the only boss I was able to encounter while playing the game, however, I felt that fighting this boss was highly challenging. The boss itself consisted of a head, situated in the ground at the foot of a steep slope, with attached pincers that constantly opened and closed. Any contact with the boss resulted in Sonic’s death (as there were no rings the player could collect to protect Sonic when they faced the creature) and they could only be harmed by some small, grey balls that bounced down the slope. The balls, however, also harmed Sonic and they could either bounce high or bounce low. To complete the boss, the player had to manage to work out whether to jump over a low bouncing ball or move underneath a high bouncing ball, while trying to move along a slope that impeded walking uphill (which was the safest area), but caused the player to slide towards the enemy. Because Sonic was unable to run up the slope, the player could only avoid being hit by the high-bouncing balls by either standing at a position which caused the ball to bounce over them or by rolling into the boss, which catapulted the player up the slope with it’s opening-pincer motion, but, if the roll is mistimed, Sonic could hit the boss while the pincers were closed (which killed Sonic) or he could roll into the ball (which also killed him).

There were also a number of bizarre aspects of the game. Each level began with a title card to display the name of the level, along with a small picture to represent it. Despite the story of the game showing Tails being kidnapped, Sonic’s sidekick could be clearly seen on the title cards following Sonic on the adventure. Before facing the first boss, the player was required to roll down a slope that led to Sonic falling into a pit of lava, however, Sonic was saved from death by Dr. Robotnik, who grabbed Sonic using a pincer and transported him to the boss’ slope. It seemed unusual for a Sonic game to show the hero being saved by the villain, although it did seem like Dr. Robotnik was taunting the player as he rescued Sonic to face a highly difficult boss.

The graphics for the game were fairly high quality. The colours were bright and the designs were not overly pixelated. The backgrounds also used some shading effects, that improved the aesthetics for the game. Sonic also had a more cartoonlike look due to the bright colours and solid outline used in the design. I felt the graphics were fairly good and some interesting effects were used.

The music for the game was fairly good. The quality of the sound was quite good and the soundtrack used some enjoyable melodies.

In conclusion, the part of the game reviewed was enjoyable, but highly difficult. The gameplay was enjoyable and used some interesting ideas, however, an explanation was needed on using the different objects found in the game. The game was also difficult, particularly the first boss. The graphics for the game were fairly high quality. The music for the game was quite good. I, personally, enjoyed the part of the game I played and would like to continue it once I have mastered using the hang glider object.

10 Weirdly Terrifying Moments in Computer Games (Part 2)

This year, to celebrate Halloween, I have decided to write this post to list some strangely frightening moments in computer games. The list included only moments that were scary in a strange way, such as horror-themed levels in family friendly games, elements of games that seemed more frightening than intended and weird glitches that created a terrifying image. I did not include purposely scary moments, such as horror games.

This list only included moments I, personally, found frightening, so the games mentioned will be ones I have played and the sense of fear will be personal to me. If there are any moments that you have found scary and fit the description for a weirdly terrifying moment, please comment below.

5. The Frantic Factory Boss from Donkey Kong 64

The Kongs explored the anarchic Frantic Factory, fed Scoff the required amount of bananas and opened the portal that would take one of them to the boss. The portal invites Tiny Kong to enter.

The portal leads to a dark, metal room, containing a slightly raised platform, with a large number of blue and white squares on top. One of the squares becomes illuminated by a bright light and Tiny walks over to it. After touching the flashing square, all the squares suddenly rise up to form a collection of towers. A jolt signals that the platforms have reached their full height and Tiny looks around in shock, the bright light below her illuminating her frightened face. Sirens flash and wail next to the exit of a chute, labelled REJECT, while loud banging and rumbling can be heard from within.

A small, brightly coloured box falls from the chute and lands on one of the platforms. It jumps from platform to platform, leaving a shower of sparks in it’s wake. Suddenly, a creature, consisting of a green duck’s head and hands connected by springs, is ejected from the box to scare Tiny, before disappearing back into it’s container.

Donkey Kong 64 was a very colourful and child-friendly game, where even giant spiders had a cartoonlike, innocent look. The Frantic Factory boss, however, had a more disturbing design. He seemed very neglected, with a grim colour, injured eye and rusted springs, which made him look even more disturbing. The fact that he came from the REJECT chute also possibly suggests he underwent some psychological trauma due to this rejection. I also remember this boss was irritating to fight against, mainly because it was very easy for him to knock Tiny off the platforms and into the chasm.

4. Dancing Re-Deads from Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

In Ikana Valley, Link finds the entrance into Ikana Castle. Opening a large door, Link enters a room to find four Re-Deads waiting. Forgetting that he is still wearing the Gibdo Mask, a mask resembling the bandaged face of a Gibdo, he runs forwards, expecting his enemies to attack. Instead of fighting, the Re-Deads (with skin the colour of dry mud, long limbs like rubber, visible ribs and dead eyes) inexplicably start dancing.

Two Re-Deads fold one leg underneath their bodies and twirl in a circle to music no-one can hear, yet in perfect synchronicity with each other. Two of the creatures cover their mouths and fall to the floor, folding their bodies until they become a heap on the ground, in a silent, macabre imitation of ecstasy, before rising to their feet. They repeat these strange movements in an endless loop, seemingly unaware of Link or any of their surroundings.

While there were a few scary moments in this game (particularly in the part of the game set in Ikana Valley), none of them were as strange as the dancing Re-Deads. I did not expect the Re-Deads to act this way and they seemed to be committed to their actions, even while being attacked. There was no explanation for their behaviour or if this was actually supposed to be a weird joke by the developers.

3. Mrs Cutter from Okami

Amaratsu, the goddess resembling a large white wolf, enters the Wind Valley. The area is lush and verdant, with bright sunlight illuminating the green grass covering the valley floor and the steep, rocky valley walls. Amaratsu lightly runs through the peaceful area, enjoying the calm and beauty of her surroundings.

While running through the valley, Amaratsu notices a small path that leads through a narrow passage into a small hollow. As she follows this route, Amaratsu finds that her surroundings have darkened and the light has a purple tinge. She enters the hollow to find it contains a small pool of water, a few trees, a dilapidated house and an elderly woman.

The old woman, dressed in traditional Japanese clothes and carrying a large pack on her back, is pacing around the hollow. When she sees Amaratsu, the pack on her back starts to move violently, as if something alive is contained inside and wants to be released. The woman, now obviously insane, starts to chase and attack Amaratsu, until the heroic dog can escape back to the verdant valley.

Amaratsu later returns to the Mrs Cutter’s house during the night and enters it while she is asleep. Amaratsu reveals the monster hiding within the disturbed woman and defeats it.

This game was very effective at changing the atmosphere from comedic and light-hearted to frightening and threatening (particularly though the use of music). While there were many moments when a horrifying event was mentioned or terrifying monsters appeared, they were not as scary as Mrs Cutter. This was possibly because this character was more human and realistic than the fantastic creatures encountered in the game. The way the atmosphere suddenly darkened in her presence, the captive (which, to me, hinted at cannibalism), the disturbing rumours that the player can discover about her and her obvious insanity all helped create a human monster. In fact, I was actually relieved to find out that she was not a disturbed woman, but was a fantastical beast.

2. The Music from Labyrinth of Time

You are in an old-fashioned hotel, with a corridor stretching out in front of you. You walk forward, your footsteps unheard over the ambient music that seems to be playing. You keep walking, silently passing empty rooms. Suddenly, the sound of heavy footsteps can be heard, cutting through the calming music, as if carrying a sense of dread. You turn, expecting to see a purposeful visitor, but no one is there, the corridor remains the same as if nothing has happened, but the footsteps have stopped and the music continues.

You continue on your journey, believing that you were mistaken about the footsteps, thinking that they were another rhythmic sound or they were the echo of someone else walking far away. You suddenly enter the offices of a private detective during the 1920’s, before reaching a deserted town from the Wild West. As you enter the buildings, your slight confusion at the strange events becomes replaced by apprehension as you hear the mysterious footsteps again. You are aware that you have not met another person while travelling and everywhere you have been looks as if it has been abandoned for some time. You continue on your journey with the feeling that some unseen person is stalking you.

You continue further into the Labyrinth of Time, becoming more aware that the maze itself is completely devoid of life, yet the strange footsteps still periodically haunt your journey.

This effect used to scare me when I was young, to the extent that I would play with the sound muted to avoid listening to the music. While progressing through the game, it became obvious that the setting for the game was devoid of life, but the loud sounds of footsteps could be heard. This caused the feeling that either some unseen person was observing the player for unknown reasons or there was some invisible spirit haunting the labyrinth. This added a frightening atmosphere for the game.

1. The Swimming Beast from Super Mario 64

Mario is exploring the Hazy Maze Cave. Reaching another room with rocky ceiling and walls, he sees a lift in the floor. Standing on the top of the lift, it slowly moves downwards through the roof of a large cave.

As he sinks into the dark cave, he notices that there are few metal structures or manmade objects in the room, unlike the rest of the Hazy Maze Cave that was filled with built areas. He also realises that the walls are much rougher than before, with the floor consisting of a rocky path. The cave forms a tunnel, that follows a gentle downward path and curves round to the left. As Mario runs along the ground, he wonders what happened here to make a seemingly industrious group suddenly abandon the excavation of the cave and disappear, leaving no trace of existence, except for the remains of their metallic constructions.

As Mario follows the path round the bend and down the slope, he sees that it ends in a huge cave filled with a pool of water. An opening in the cave wall allows a shaft of bright sunlight to illuminate the room, showing an island in the centre of the lake. Shining in the light was a golden star, floating in the air above the island.

Feeling excitement that his goal is within reach, Mario dives into the dark water and starts swimming to the island. As he swims through the lake, he sees a large monster swimming round the island, the shafts of sunlight illuminating it’s blue skin. Mario watches as the creature swims towards him, unsure if it is friendly or deadly.

This is another aspect of a game that used to terrify me when I was younger. It may have been because of the low lighting of the area, the unsettling music or the design of the beast (which was less cartoonlike than other creatures in the game and resembled the Loch Ness Monster), which made it a strange and frightening experience among the jolly levels set in the clouds and friendly races against various characters. I am also aware that there were other, more obviously scary parts of this game (such as the ghost’s taunts, the haunted merry-go-round in Big Boo’s Haunt and the abandoned town in Wet Dry World), but this creature caused me to avoid the entire Hazy Maze Cave level.

What parts of games caused frightened you for strange reasons? Please comment below to share your experiences.

Ten Weirdly Terrifying Moments in Computer Games (Part 1)

This year, to celebrate Halloween, I have decided to write this post to list some strangely frightening moments in computer games. The list only included moments that were scary in a strange way, such as horror-themed levels in family friendly games, elements of games that seemed more frightening than intended and weird glitches that created a terrifying image. I did not include purposely scary moments, such as horror games.

This list only included moments I, personally, found frightening, so the games mentioned will be ones I have played and the sense of fear will be personal to me. If there are any moments that you have found scary and fit the description for a weirdly terrifying moment, please comment below.

————————————————–Spoiler Alert——————————————————————

10. Egyptian from Goldeneye

James Bond walks through the Egyptian ruins, holding the golden gun in his hand, ready to fire at his enemy. He enters a long room with columns lining the edge. Walking through the room, he suddenly hears a menacing laugh and sees Baron Samedi (dressed in a ragged jacket and trousers) firing his guns at him. Bond fires a single shot, which instantly kills his attacker. Bond continues to explore the ancient structure, before hearing the same loud laugh as he enters another room. Baron Samedi attacks Bond with submachine gun fire until Bond fires another golden shot that sends Samedi falling to the floor.

Suddenly, the sky darkens, causing shadows to engulf the area and forcing Bond to walk through pitch black ruins to find his enemy. After following a secret passage, Bond reaches a dark room. He hears the terrifying laugh again and sees a barrage of laser projectiles fired at him. Bond shoots and kills Samedi a third time. Bond calmly walks along a corridor in the ruins, feeling confident that his attacker was now dead, but Baron Samedi suddenly appears again, silently running towards Bond from behind with bare feet. He stops and laughs the menacing laugh, as if victorious in battle.

Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 was a very popular game and the Egyptian level was well-known for being a difficult secret level to unlock (as the player needed to complete the entire game on the hardest difficulty). While the rest of the game consisted of the player fighting enemies in levels mostly based on the Goldeneye film, the Egyptian level felt more similar to a horror film than an action game. Baron Samedi being able to return to life following death, the sound of Samedi’s terrifying laugh and the environment darkening towards the end of the level all contribute to the frightening atmosphere, with Baron Samedi continuing to menace Bond after the end of the level adding to the horror theme.

9. Lara Croft’s Haunting Scream from Tomb Raider The Angel of Darkness

Lara Croft sees her goal on a platform across a gap. She lines up her body to face her destination, runs towards the edge of the precipice and makes a powerful jump. Flying through the air, she realises she has misdirected her jump and falls into the abyss. She lets out a high-pitch scream as she falls though the air and then lands in a heap, a sickening crunch signalling her death. As the screen fades to black and the player re-loads their game, the terrified scream is suddenly repeated by the game. When the scream ends, the unsettling noise is repeated continuously until the player can reload the game and resurrect Lara.

I added this event to the list because I was sure it was actually a mistake in the programming, rather than a deliberate attempt to frighten the player. Hearing the scream without the context of seeing Lara falling or while watching a black screen emphases the terror in her voice and the clarity of the sound. It also seemed like a way of making the player guilty for allowing Lara to die.

8. Moon of the Dead from Star Wars Bounty Hunter

Jango Fetts’ screams echo through the stone corridors of the mountain fortress. While tied to a post, a strange device (containing pointed needles that crackle with red electricity) is positioned close to Jango’s face and is used to harm him. The machine lowers and two strange figures, both with glowing red eyes, scaly skin and wearing dark hoods, start inspecting it. Jango uses the break from his agony to regain his breath and reflect on his journey to this place.

Jango landed in a ruined building far away from his current location and travelled through abandoned graveyards, mist-covered swamps, rocky mountain paths and large, stone buildings. He even navigated a series of rocky platforms that led across a deep chasm. Everywhere he went, he faced the Bando Gora (the creatures that were now torturing him). These enemies, almost unseen in the little light that illuminated the moon, appeared out of the darkness, attacking in huge hordes and moving with inhuman movements, despite their human-like bodies. On this graveyard moon, they were everywhere and he had already seen how they can violently kill someone.

The Bando Gora suddenly stop their examination of the machine and look at the entrance to the room. A woman, silhouetted against the green light from the other end of the hallway, laughs menacingly as she examines the captured Jango. Komari Vosa, leader of the Bando Gora, dressed in a skimpy leather dress and leather gloves and a shock of short, white hair, taunts him about the many Mandalonians slaughtered by the Jedi. She straddles Jango as she alternates between interrogating and threatening him with torture, using her unsettling, low voice. Suddenly Zam appears and frees Jango, allowing him to force Komari back down the corridor.

Jango hunts Vosa through the many rooms of the fortress, fighting against the swarms of Bando Gora that inhabit the narrow corridors and dark corners, while hearing the menacing taunts from Vosa.

The Star Wars Bounty Hunter game was slightly odd as it featured a thriller-like story in a Star Wars setting. This meant the player explored a series of diverse locations, such as the seedy criminal underworld of Coruscant, a luxury apartment complex in Coruscant, the high security prison called Oovo IV, a drug factory hidden in a jungle on Malastaire and a mountainous path leading to a gangster’s lair on Tatooine. The final three levels, called Moon of the Dead, more resembled a horror film, than a thriller. The setting is supposed to be a huge graveyard, with the player exploring gothic tombs, weird statues, a deadly swamp, shadowy mountain paths and dark, stone buildings, with parts covered in a fine mist. The enemies in these levels resemble shadowy, hooded figures that seem to bound towards the player and attack in huge numbers. There was even a scene where an old rival of Jango’s was defeated in a battle with the hero and seemed to be eaten by the Bando Gora.

7. The Demons from Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Link is running through a dungeon. Link opens a heavy door and enters a dark room built with stone. The door closes with a loud, low rumble and Link is alone in the near blackness. Suddenly, Link hears a strange noise which sounds like someone singing. The unseen person is singing the same note in a high-pitch, which makes it sound like they are taunting the hero. The singer appears and, with it’s sharp horns, goat legs and coloured body, resembles a demon. A wide grin, revealing many sharp teeth, adds to the sense that the creature is playing a terrifying game with Link. Link strikes the monster, which kills it instantly, but he is still not safe. The singing grows louder as more and more of the creatures appear, attacking and seemingly mocking the swordsman. Soon, Link is slashing at an overwhelming amount of them as an army appears out of nowhere.

Despite the cartoonlike aesthetic of the game, I always found these enemies creepy. I think it was partly due to their design, which was very similar to a devil, and also due to the way they seem to be taunting the player as they attack them, judging by their wide grins and constant singing. They also seem to suddenly appear in large numbers (making them an irritating enemy to defeat) and keep smiling despite being attacked (as if they know that the player may not survive the onslaught). They do not seem to fit in such a cheerful game, although the ghost ship also provides a spooky sight during the story.

6. The Phantom from Dragon

Bruce Lee is fighting someone, either a sailor at a party, a chef in a kitchen, an actor on the set of a film or anyone else he engages in hand-to-hand combat with. During the fight, his opponent strikes Bruce with a blow that causes him to fly across the air and land on the ground. As Bruce loses consciousness, a line of sacred mirrors appear and the third one cracks, showing that all of the mirrors have now been damaged and Bruce has lost his final life.

The surroundings become bathed in dark blue shadows as Bruce Lee jumps from the side. A figure, dressed in Samurai armour and wielding a bladed weapon, appears to fight Bruce. The only visible parts of the creature’s body are the feet, which are blue and have long, sharp claws. If Bruce is victorious by causing the phantom to leave in a bolt of lightening, he returns to life with the sacred mirrors intact and faces his previous opponent again. If Bruce is defeated by the phantom, he falls to the ground heavily and never regains his life force.

When I was younger, this character used to frighten me so much that I would switch the Mega Drive off as soon as I realised as I had lost three lives, preferring to begin the game from the beginning rather than face the Phantom. I could suggest some reasons why this creature was scary, because they were closely associated with death, the way the environment becomes darker before they appear, their unnatural design and their use of a deadly-looking weapon. They also exhibited strange behaviour. During one fight, the creature just stood and stared at Bruce, until they decided to leave the area in a bolt of lightening.

What do you think should be in the second part of the list? The merry-go-round from Super Mario 64? Mafu Island from Goemon 2? The Metroids?

A Review of Sonic Blast (Game Gear)

1996

The Story

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A large crystal rotates alone in darkness. It’s colour changes constantly, illuminating the blackness with bright light that constantly changes colour. Suddenly, it smashes into pieces and five Chaos Emeralds (coloured green, red, blue, gold and white) are released.

Sonic (or Knuckles) travel to reach the Silver Castle Zone. Inside the Silver Castle Zone, they find Dr Robotnik and defeat him. The game ends with the hero standing on a rocky outcrop, watching as Dr Robotnik’s vehicle (resembling a huge egg with eyes and moustache and coloured red by the setting sun) falls into the sea. Depending on their success, the hero throws and catches a collection of tiny gems as the machine sinks below the waves.

I suppose the player has to guess how the shattering crystal was related to the rest of the story.

The Review

This review was based on a version of the game found online, rather than playing the game on the Game Gear. Many aspects of the game were similar, but I could not comment on aspects directly related to playing the game on the Game Gear (such as using the controls or the performance of the hardware).

The story for the game was slightly more bizarre than other Sonic games released at the same time. Like many of the games in the series, it featured Sonic exploring a number of levels to reach a final battle with Dr Robotnik, with little explanation to his motives or how the different levels were linked. In this game, however, the game began with the crystal (which I believe may be the Master Emerald from other games) shattering to release the Chaos Emeralds. This would have actually hinted at a motivation for Sonic’s mission and a sense of jeopardy as Sonic would need to prevent Dr Robotnik using these powerful objects, but, because of the little explanation of the effect this had on the story, it just seemed like the game began by showing an unrelated event. Showing the hero watching as Dr Robotnik’s machine fell into the sea did provide a satisfactory conclusion to the story.

The level designs for the game were quite interesting. There were five levels in the game: Green Hill Zone, Yellow Desert Zone, Red Volcano Zone, Blue Ocean Zone and Silver Castle Zone. The Green Hill Zone resembled some rolling hills next to dark blue water on a bright morning (which was similar to the first level of many other Sonic games). The first part of the Yellow Desert Zone was a journey through a desert, while the second part was an exploration of an ancient structure. The Red Volcano Zone was set in a volcano, coloured purple, with the player avoiding pools of lava and navigating an area of openings that pulled and pushed Sonic in different directions. The Blue Ocean Zone resembled some underwater ruins, with the player using metallic tubes to explore the structures and having to lower the water level to progress. The Silver Castle Zone was a huge machine, where the player used some floating platforms to give power to some teleporters that they can use to travel through the level. I enjoyed the different designs for the levels and that each level used unique features so the player needed to develop different strategies to progress.

The Special Stages also used an interesting design. The ground was hill-like and the background featured distant mountains and a sky streaked with clouds. Each level used an individual Special Stage, with different colours used in the background.

The gameplay for the game was fairly simple. The player could select a character (Sonic or Knuckles) and explored levels to reach the end. Like many platformers, the player made the character run along the ground and jump to reach platforms. The player also collected rings, which spread out when they were hurt, and, if the player did not collect any rings when they were hit by an attack, they lost a life. One aspect that caused this game to be slightly easier than other Sonic games was that the player did not lose all their rings if Sonic was injured, instead, only a set number of rings were lost. The player attacked enemies by hitting them while Sonic was curled into a ball, either by jumping on them or rolling into them. They only differences between the Sonic and Knuckles characters was that, after pressing the jump button twice, Sonic performed a double jump, while Knuckles glided through the air. Knuckles could also climb walls after gliding into them.

There were some aspects of the gameplay that made the game unnecessarily difficult, which I found to be common among the Sonic games released on the Game Gear. If the player jumped onto a springboard, the springboard would catapult the character through the air at a fast pace. The player, however, could not curl into a ball after leaping onto the springboard, so they could not prevent Sonic becoming injured if he collided with any enemies in their path, leading to them sustaining unavoidable damage.

The game also used Special Stages, which altered the gameplay. The character entered the Special Stages after touching giant rings (with one located in the first and second acts of each zone) and these were used to obtain extra lives (if entered during a zone’s first act) or Chaos Emeralds (the player found it during the zone’s second act). The Special Stages consisted of Sonic running along a gentle slope and collecting rings to obtain the correct amount needed to successfully complete the stage. There were also other items to help or hinder the player’s progress, such as making the character jump high, increase their speed or cause them to walk backwards. If the player is successful, a short animated sequence showed them collecting the reward, otherwise, Dr Robotnik was shown to steal the item. I found the gameplay for the game to be enjoyable, despite some irritating aspects, and I liked the way the Special Stages introduced a new gameplay method.

In the past, I have noticed that many Sonic games available on the game gear exhibited some bizarre elements. The story for this game was slightly strange (as mentioned previously) and the levels seemed to have a weird colour-coded naming system.

The strangest aspect of the game, however, was the bosses that featured in it. The first boss resembled Dr Robotnik’s Egg-O-Matic aircraft and used a boomerang-like weapon to attack the player. The boss for the second level, resembled a mechanical professional cleaner (with arms, legs and a ponytail) standing on a cloud and attacked by flying across the screen, jabbing a stick at the ground. The third level boss required the player to stand on a small, floating platform and avoid a weapon (similar to a mace) fired from a one-legged machine, which seemed to be wearing a large, yellow bowtie. The fourth boss was fought underwater and used an attack that was easy to dodge, however, the player had to periodically cause the boss to fire at the floor to release bubbles of air to prevent Sonic from drowning. The final boss just fired single shots downwards and the player had to run to move a wheel, which caused a platform above them to move and block the attack, which prevented Sonic being hurt. Despite the strange nature of the bosses, they were actually quite enjoyable to fight and presented with some unique challenges.

The music for the game had a little impact on the game. The soundtrack was very high pitched and repetitive, although there some good melodies used. I, personally, did not enjoy the music used in the game.

The graphics for the game were fairly advanced. Rather than using the 2-dimensional graphics found in previous Sonic games, this game used 3-dimensional designs in a side-scrolling game. Parts of the design, such as Sonic, Sonic’s enemies and the background, used 3-D graphics, while the gameplay and the player’s viewpoint was 2D. Unfortunately, possibly due to technical limitations, the enemies and Sonic had a heavily pixelated look, while the background had a very simplistic layered design. Sonic was also a larger size than the opening to the pipes (which created a weird effect when the player entered them), some of the spinning rings overlapped in Special Stages and Sonic, when running into the background, just became noticeably smaller in size. I, personally, felt these effects adversely affected the graphics for the game, despite the 2D aspects looking effective and the bosses using some good, interesting designs. This effect, however, may be caused by the method I played the game and may be non-existent when played using the Game Gear.

In conclusion, the game was quite enjoyable. The story was simple. The gameplay was enjoyable and easy to learn, even though there were some negative aspects. The level designs were interesting and used some good challenges. The bosses were enjoyable to  fight and presented with some interesting ideas. The music had little impact though and the graphics did present with some technical limitations.

A Review of Tails’ Adventures (Game Gear)

1995

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The Story

One peaceful morning, Tails was lying on a tree trunk in the Poloy Forest, sleeping deeply. His orange fur was illuminated by shafts of bright morning light and the sound of Tails’ gentle breathing filled his surroundings. Two small, blue birds flew among the branches of a nearby tree, emphasising the tranquillity of the dark wood. Suddenly, Tails woke and quickly rose to his feet.

A large green and grey airship left a nearby island to fly across the sea to reach Poloy Forest on Tails’ island. The serene forest suddenly burst into flame, with Tails running in a panic among the burning trees. A machine, piloted by a large blue bird and walking on two mechanical legs, appeared nearby, launching balls of fire at the forest for no reason.

Tails explored the different areas of the island. He climbed the exterior of Mount Polly and found a green bird. He pursued the bird up the mountain and, upon reaching the summit, the bird flew away to another island floating in the sea. Tails piloted a submarine underneath the mechanical island and infiltrated a docking bay at the base to enter Coco Island.

Inside Coco Island, Tails met an elderly bird and used a large rock to knock them unconscious, before escaping the island (he is supposed to be a hero). The island then rose into the air, revealing itself to be the Battle Fortress. Tails flew to the Fortress and landed on the top of it. Inside the mechanised island, Tails fought and defeated the green bird and a tall, grinning bird. Tails left the Battle Fortress and returned home, leaving the flying island to fall into the sea and sink below the waves.

The game ended with Tails building a mechanical fox while being hindered by a small bird, his own urge to sleep and his incompetence.

Finally, a game with a beginning, a middle and a weird end.

The Review

This was a review of the game available online and not the version of the game released on the Game Gear. The versions of the game were identical, but the methods of controlling the game varied between the two versions.

There were two games released on the Game Gear which featured Tails (Sonic’s sidekick) as the hero and, interestingly, the two games were very different. This game, Tail’s Adventures, was the more complicated, darkly coloured and in-depth game of the two.

The story for the game was more complex than other games in the Sonic series. There were animated sequences during the game to describe the story and suggest how the player should proceed, which was different to the sequence of levels used as a story in the previous games. The story was still quite simple, unexplained and used no dialogue, which seemed to consist of Tails fighting an army of strange, bird-like creatures that invaded his island for unknown reasons. The more developed story was most likely used because this game was a role-playing game, rather than a simple platform game like other games in the series. I, personally, found the story, while more complex, had little impact because there were few animated sequences in the game and there was little explanation of the events.

The gameplay for the game required skill and was explorative. In the game, Tails could run, jump and briefly fly, although his movements were slower than Sonic in other games in the series. The amount of time Tails could fly was presented as a meter and his stamina increased as the player collected more Chaos Emeralds, which were hidden  throughout the game. In some levels, Tails used a submarine to travel underwater. While using the submarine, one button controlled which direction Tails faced and the player could only move while facing that direction (so he could move up, down, forwards and reverse). The submarine also moved fairly slowly and used it’s own weapons and equipment. One level used the submarine as an aircraft, but the controls were the same.

There were 12 levels, including an area called “Tails’ Home”, which became accessible as the player progressed through the game. The Tails’ Home area served as a base of operations, which allowed the player to select equipment to use, activate a vehicle or display the password. Before entering the levels, the player could select up to 4 items to take into the level, with each item having a use that either allows the player to reach an inaccessible area or alters the gameplay. During the game, the player was also able to obtain a submarine that allowed the player to access underwater levels and this machine used separate equipment. Part of the games’ difficulty was knowing what items to equip when entering a level to proceed through the game.

There were also a number of hidden elements within each level. Some of the levels used different pathways (which only be followed if the correct items were selected) that allowed the player to reach different levels. The items were hidden in blue containers within the levels, so the player needed to collect items to be able to obtain other items. Some of the levels contained a single path that lead to a boss.

Many aspects of the gameplay contrasted with the more familiar Sonic games. The enemies in the game could not be defeated by colliding with them at speed or jumping on top of them, instead the player had to use a weapon to attack them (the default attack was throwing a small, cartoon bomb). Rings were used as a health meter in this game, but functioned differently to the rings found in other Sonic games. In the game, Tails could only accumulate a fixed number of rings (the maximum amount he could carry increased as the player collected Chaos Emeralds) and, if hurt, the player only lost a set amount of rings. This was different to the unlimited rings the player could carry, which all scattered when harmed, in the other Sonic games.

I, personally, enjoyed the gameplay for the game. The gameplay was easy to learn and worked well. I liked the puzzle aspect of the gameplay and using the objects to progress through the game. I also thought the changes to the gameplay for the other Sonic games was appropriate for this type of game. There were, however, some negative aspects of the game, such as Tails only equipping 4 objects and the submarine was difficult to control properly.

Another negative feature of the game was it was also difficult to know where the player needed to go next after Tails completed a level, as the player can obtain an item without being informed which level contains an obstacle that can be overcome by the item. Another example occurred after I completed the first Battle Fortress level, as the animated sequence showed Tails entering his submarine to indicate the next level used that machine, but I did not realise that I could select the Battle Fortress again after equipping a Rocket Booster and Proton Torpedo. As a result, I explored all the levels which used the submarine to find a hidden path to the next level, rather than choosing the appropriate level.

One of the irritating aspects of the game was the little information provided about the objects. This was possibly due to the version of the game I played, but there was no way of knowing what each object did. This resulted in me obtaining an object, entering a level with it equipped, finding an obvious obstacle and using the object on the barrier to see if it helped me progress. I actually had to resort to using a guide available online to find out what each object’s function was (it actually turned out that many of the objects had the same function or were almost useless).

The level designs for the game were fairly interesting, but repetitive. There were 12 levels in the game: Poloy Forest, Volcanic Tunnel, Polly Mountain part 1, Polly Mountain part 2, Caron Forest, Lake Rocky, Cavern Island, Green Island, Lake Crystal, Coco Island and 2 Battle Fortress levels. Each level appears to resemble either a forest (Poloy Forest, Caron Forest and Green Island), a cavern (Volcanic Tunnel, Cavern Island and Polly Mountain part 2), a mountainside (Polly Mountain part 1), a mechanised structure during evening time (Coco Island and Battle Fortress), an aerial assault (Battle Fortress) or an underwater cavern (Lake Rocky). As a result of the limited settings for the levels, each level shared common objects and backgrounds with other levels in the game, with only the level’s colour scheme differentiating it from similar levels.

While the designs for the levels were quite similar, there were some interesting ideas used in the game. I enjoyed the Polly Mountain part 1 level as it resembled a climb up the side of a mountain and it was challenging fighting enemies positioned on higher platforms. Cavern Island seemed to consist of a cave filled with water that the player had to explore by navigating the underwater currents. Lake Crystal was also unique as the player had to follow a river flowing down a mountainside and had to jump to each cliff to progress.

The graphics for the game were satisfactory. The game did use some interesting designs and all the objects were recognisable, although the graphics were a little pixelated. There were no effects in the game. I felt the graphics were better than other games on the Game Gear and were able to create some interesting visuals.

The music for the game was fairly low quality. The music used a lot of high notes and had an artificial sound. The music also quite repetitive, with each soundtrack consisting of repeating a few bars and the same soundtrack was used as background music to multiple levels. The music did, however, manage to convey some interesting atmospheres, such as one that created a feeling of spirited adventure, another formed a sense of jeopardy, another created an atmosphere of fearful danger and a menacing score was used for the enemy’s headquarters. I found that the music had little effect on the game, despite the atmosphere it created, due to it’s repetitive feel.

There were also some definite problems with the game. The game used a password system to allow the player to resume playing from specific points in the game. Passwords could be entered after selecting the Continue option on the main screen, however, the player could not navigate back to the main menu and had to either enter a password or reset the game when this screen appeared. Another problem was that, after entering a level, the only way to leave it was to walk through the entrance or one of the exits of the level, however, if the level contained a boss, the player could only leave the level through the entrance. I can remember exploring a level with a defeated boss to find secrets, but, after fully searching the level to no avail, having to travel to the beginning of the level just so I could leave the area. Also, a small mistake was that the radio item was called a “raido”.

In conclusion, the game was very enjoyable. The gameplay was unusual for a Sonic game, but was enjoyable to play, despite some obvious deficiencies (such as the ease of getting lost and not being told how the items were used). The story had very little impact on the game. The level designs were good, but were repetitive. The graphics were satisfactory. The music was slightly atmospheric, but had little effect on the game due to the repetition of the soundtrack.

A Review of Tails’ Skypatrol (Game Gear)

1995

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The Story

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.

The Review

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.