Another try at making Sonic more than just a platform game, this time for the Game Gear, and we must say that it is pretty addictive. And slow. The basic plot is that Sonic’s speed shoes have been stolen and replaced with super slow sneakers… essentially, some confusing tripe trying to convince us that Sonic needed to be put in a puzzle game.
Obviously, Eggman’s done this, and the only way for Sonic to avoid slowness forever is to get the Chaos Emeralds, and face a labyrinth trap. Can Sonic survive?
Platform: Game Gear | Developer: SEGA Europe
EU Release: 17 Oct 1995 | US Release: Nov 1995 | JP Release: 17 Nov 1995
Sonic Labyrinth, then. The graphics are 2D but are isometric, creating a 3D effect. Magic! If only the gameplay could be described in the same way… In this game you play as Sonic, collecting keys within stages to exit levels. And you do this very, very slowly. The reason? Apparently, because Robotnik’s stolen Sonic’s famous speed shoes. And absolutely not because the Game Gear couldn’t handle the game going any faster or whatever.
So away you go, plodding about gathering keys within maze-like courses to reach a goal marker. But as always, it’s not quite so easy – there are certain enemies that try to stop you from getting those keys, and they range from normal badniks to spikes and bumpers. You have a time limit to reach the goal, and if you get attacked then you lose the keys you currently hold and you must collect them again.
At the fourth stage of every Labyrinth level, there is a robot boss to contend with. This is shortly after a special level, where you can gain a few things before the trip to the big bad boss. Defeat the boss and you gain a Chaos Emerald, yeah! Your aim is to collect all of these, so get used to it!
There are many items you can collect during a stage. They appear as arrows that change colour every second or so. Run up to the arrows when they have changed a certain colour and you will get a corresponding power up, like red for Invincibility. Before you ask, yes you can do the Spin Dash in order to get such prizes more quickly, but hitting bumpers and the like while spin dashing screws you up divinely.
Although it’s original, it’s a bit of an oddity, this one. It’s exciting to play but there’s an element of tedium here. All it seems to be at the end of the day is running about a bit (slowly) collecting keys and heading for an exit. Seeings as the speed of the game is immensely slow, it doesn’t help matters. But for what it’s worth, it’s a different title, maybe for the purist Sonic fan perhaps, and worth a bit of a look. Don’t expect to come back to it though – no save functions at all help push this game to a lower level in the Sonic games pile.