Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Miss When Sonic Only Had Triple The Trouble

Back in the 90's there were quite a few Sonic The Hedgehog games that not many people played. No, I don't mean Knuckles Choatix or Sonic's Schoolhouse. I am referring to the various Sonic games for the Game Gear and Master System. These 8-bit versions of Sonic were something like second-class citizens compared to the Genesis titles, but considering they were released for a portable system and a dead console, it's not hard to see why. Sonic The Hedgehog Triple Trouble is the fourth Sonic game for the Game Gear, the second that wasn't a port of a Genesis game, and one of many developed by Aspect, the people responsible for that terrible Game Boy version of The King of Fighters '95. Based on the quality of this game, I think I'll lay the blame for that game on Takara.


The game is called Sonic Triple Trouble because Sonic has to deal with three separate antagonists. Obviously there is Robotnik, then there is the popular Knuckles hot off his debut in Sonic 3, and then there is this other purple guy with a funny hat, Nack the Nobodygivesafuck. The structure of the game typical for a Sonic game. You run though levels, collect rings, jump around, get emeralds from bonus stages, and beat robot bosses. One odd difference is that there is no unusual way to enter bonus stages like in other games, and all you do is collect fifty rings and hit a TV with a chaos emerald on it. The bonus stages themselves are also weird in that they aren't just one minigame that gets progressively tougher, but various different ones that end in a boss fight with Nack.

The most impressive thing about this game is the way it very accurately recreates the graphics of the Genesis games. It's not perfect, but the sprites are big and retain most of their animation, and the levels look pretty good as well. The main issue is the speed at which everything animates, as it seems that the pace of the game has been slowed in order to maintain a large number of animated frames. Don't get me wrong, it's not just a mini Genesis game, there are quite a few cut corners, like the animations of blocks breaking and enemies moving. Still, it's nice looking Game Gear game.

The slower pace is not too bad, but it is noticeable. Maybe it is a good thing that it is slower because with the smaller, more compact screen it is harder to see what's coming ahead. I'm not one of those people that claims speed is the only important factor to a Sonic game, in fact I think generally interesting level design that moves the player in unexpected, but controllable ways is a big factor. Triple Trouble does that pretty well. Comparing it to the games in the series I know well, I'd rank the levels somewhere between Sonic 1 and 2.

I like being given the choice to play as Tails. This is probably because I'm a younger brother, so I had gotten pretty well acquainted with playing Tails and Luigi as a kid. Sure, Miles isn't as fast as Sonic, but I find that the ability of flight comes in handy when a level gets annoying. The controls in this game are a bit finicky, so when I first started playing I couldn't even get Tails to start flying. For some reason you can't, or maybe just I can't, get Tails to begin flying from a jump. You need to actually completely stop moving, then press up and then jump, which is a bit too strict for my tastes.


Sonic also has an attack he can do by doing the same thing, though I can't know the use of it as it just seems like a slower spindash to me, so I just used that instead. Another weird thing about the controls is that you you're always in a ball with an attack hitbox when using springs, and you actually have to press jump again while in the air to start spinning. This wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for the fact you fall out of the spin after a short amount of time and you can't re-initiate it. It becomes pretty annoying during the first boss fight, in which you need to use this technique to defeat it.

So, Sonic Triple Trouble is a decent little Sonic game. It's nothing amazing, but I suppose it isn't a bad way to blow through 20 AA batteries in an hour.

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