Review by nastynate3118
A game called "Sonic Chaos" shouldn't be this mediocre or bland...
Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos is a 1993 platforming game on the Sega Game Gear and another addition to the Sonic 8-bit series. This game doesnt come anywhere close to the high quality achieved by the games on the Sega Genesis and offers very little to a series already so well-renowned. This game is nothing more than a time passer for Sonic completionists and honestly has nothing to offer you cant find in the other Sonic games (which are far better).
Sonic Chaos follows the usual Sonic 2D platforming formula of Sonic exploring various zones collecting rings and trying to reach the goal or defeat a boss. As with other Game Gear games for this franchise speed is not really a factor and instead the game relies on more traditional Mario-esque platforming to navigate through levels. The difficulty is pretty enhanced due to the fact that when Sonic is hit, only one ring appears on screen to save your life as opposed to a pile of rings that would appear in the other games. Similar to the rings, other classic Sonic gameplay elements are present but simply are not executed well. The camera is zoomed in very close to Sonic and as a result attempting to go fast usually leads to certain death. Other areas are simply bland and uncreative paths that feature barely any enemies at all and are padding for the zone. Jumping on enemies to defeat them is nothing new but this game does suffer from collision detection issues.
There are a few features the gameplay has to add some variety but none of them are executed particularly well. For starters, you have the ability to choose between Sonic and Tails (a good thing) and use a pogo stick (also a good thing but sadly only appears once). There are some neat bonus stages that appear as well and chaos emeralds that can be collected although finding them is pretty murky. As I stated before, this is simply a handheld shadow of the Genesis masterpieces and does not have nearly as good of execution as those games had.
Sonic Chaos has pretty average interface. The only menu you have to deal with is a simple character select screen and besides that there isnt much to say. A few things that worked well in the series were changed for this game; the one ring rule that I mentioned above, the lack of check points and the spinning sign at the end of stage that apparently does nothing are all unnecessary changes to a successful formula. Another interesting twist is the fact that collecting 100 rings leads to a bonus stage and an automatic win. Aside from these changes, there isnt much else to say other than the HUD is pretty clear and simple and tells you everything you need to know.
I dont really expect much of a narrative from a Sonic game but I was pretty disappointed with the lack of any attempt at presentation. There are bits of it here and there with the demo and boss battles but there just isnt nearly enough Dr. Robotnik rearing his ugly head trying to ruin Sonics day. Instead, you get forgettable villains that Sonic must defeat for no apparent reason. When you finally do find Robotnik at the end of the game his appearance is underwhelming and you earn an awful ending if you didnt take the time to find all of the chaos emeralds; even though they have a good/bad ending system the bad ending leaves a pretty sour taste in your mouth and feeling like you just wasted a good two hours of your life.
The graphics in Sonic Chaos are decent. The environments are colorful, varied and detailed and for the most part look great. There are a few ugly textures that pop up and a couple of instances where you cannot tell what is part of the background and what is a hazard; these problems do not take away from the overall accomplishment of the visuals. As I mentioned above, the biggest problem with the visuals comes with a camera that is zoomed in very close to Sonic and takes away from getting a bigger picture of the land around you. The sprites are decent; Sonic and Tails look great and are animated well. The enemy sprites are very generic and lack detail but they too display good animation.
The audio of Sonic Chaos is hampered a bit by the Game Gear hardware but the designers made the best of what they had. There are a handful of catchy tunes that are typical of a Sonic soundtrack but they suffer from a fuzzy sound that you must bear. I was pretty disappointed with the lack of effort with the sound effects. You get nothing but uncreative beeps and boops that add nothing to the atmosphere and come off as lazy.
Play Time/Replay Value 8/10
I completed my play through of Sonic Chaos in 1 hour and 18 minutes, a time consistent with the rest of the 2D Sonic games. I will say that some levels are a bit too short and others a bit too empty. There ultimately isnt enough variety to replay this aside from collecting chaos emeralds and playing as Tails but even that doesnt offer much in terms of a different experience.
+Lots of variations to gameplay
+Simple status display
+Variety of detailed backgrounds
+Sprites are animated well
+Play time consistent with other games in series
-Lack of good execution
-Uncreative level design
-Changes in interface have mixed results
-Lack of presentation
-Not enough Dr. Robotnik
-Some textures look bad
-Simplistic enemy design
-Disappointing sound effects
-Underwhelming replay value
The legacy of Sonic Chaos is that its just kind of there, not doing much. It is a pretty mediocre platformer that happens to star the most famous hedgehog of all time. Without Sonic, this game wouldnt amount to anything special. Hardcore Sonic collectors and Game Gear enthusiasts might get a kick out of this title but otherwise you can do yourself a favor and play one of the Genesis games instead.
Final Score: 6.7916666667/10 rounded to 7/10
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos (US, 11/23/93)
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