This article is the second part of the Sonic on the Go series. You can find the first part here.
If Sonic Triple Trouble was the apex of Sonic’s Game Gear titles, its successor Sonic Blast was arguably the nadir. Aside from a few lousy spin off titles like Sonic Labyrinth and Spinball, no Sonic game on the system failed quite so hard as Sonic Blast did. Don’t get me wrong though, I still think Blast was a fun game personally. For all the hate I’ve seen the game get from retro fans, I don’t really think Blast is all that bad. Still, even if the game isn’t awful it was a huge step back for Sonic’s handheld adventures.
The game is slow and kind of ugly. Though the technically impressive pre-rendered sprites look pretty good, the levels themselves are almost completely devoid of charm or color. The level lay out is simplistic and dull, lacking multiple hidden paths and areas that made the stages in Triple Trouble so fun to explore. Finally, the game just moves too slowly, even for an 8-bit Sonic game.
Triple Trouble managed to blow this game out of the water in almost every way imaginable, which a huge disappointment given that this game was Sonic’s swan song on the system. It’s a shame that developer Aspect threw away everything they had learned about Sonic game design and the Game Gear’s limitations to create was is effectively a tech demo.
To Blast’s credit, though, it is an impressive tech demo. As the Game Gear counterpart to the Genesis’ technically impressive Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Blast was tasked with accomplishing something similarly impressive on SEGA’s aging 8-bit hardware. In this regard Aspect was reasonably successful, creating the one and only Game Gear game that utilized pre-rendered sprites by pushing the Game Gear’s color capabilities to their max. Unfortunately this game at the expense of the game design, but it’s still nice to see the Game Gear was capable of such a feat.
Blast also gave Knuckles his first handheld adventure. As a major fan of the character at the time, Knuckles’ inclusion instantly made Blast one of the most played games on my system. This game doesn’t disappoint either: Knuckles plays exactly as he should, complete with his gliding and climbing abilities. The bland level design does hold Knuckles back somewhat, but he does play well at least, and he’s a heck of a lot better than Sonic, who has lost his cool power ups from Triple Trouble and only got a double jump in return. After Triple Trouble constantly enticed me with the character’s presence, it was nice to finally play as Knuckles in the car in Sonic Blast.
In hindsight, I do have to acknowledge that Sonic Blast wasn’t all that good, but it doesn’t negate all the fun I’ve had with it over the years. So if you’ve got the money to spare and want another Sonic game to play, I think you should check out Sonic Blast. On the Game Gear it’s an interesting tech demo that demonstrates abilities no one thought the system had. On the 3DS it’s a mediocre Sonic game that can help kill an afternoon. Sonic has definitely done worse, both on and off the Game Gear. Even in terms of portable games, Sonic Blast would be followed up by what is arguably the worst Sonic game ever made: Sonic Jam on the Tiger Game.com.