Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Gear
  • Developer:
    • Aspect
  • Publisher:
    • Sega
  • Released:
    • JP 11/11/1994
    • US 11/15/1994
    • UK November 1994
Score: 80%

This review was published on 03/23/2018.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, known in Japan as Sonic and Tails 2, is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Aspect and published by Sega for the Game Gear. It was originally released in Japan on November 11, 1994, North America on November 15, 1994, and Europe in November 1994. This is the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos, which is simply known as Sonic and Tails in Japan. Despite being a portable, the Game Gear's inner workings are nearly identical to that of a Sega Master System's. Because of that, many of the previous 8-bit Sonic games were on both the Master System and Game Gear, though the Master System versions usually only got released in Europe and South America. However, Sonic Triple Trouble is exclusive to the Game Gear. In any event, while it's nowhere near as good as the best 16-bit games in the series, Sonic Triple Trouble is the best 8-bit Sonic game.

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Known as Dr. Robotnik outside of Japan at the time of this game's release, Dr. Eggman is an evil genius and the main antagonist of the Sonic franchise. At the start of this game, Eggman had gotten his grubby little mitts on the six mystical jewels referred to as the Chaos Emeralds. However, while Eggman was testing his new ultimate weapon, the "Atomic Destroyer," an accident occurred that scattered all the emeralds across the land. Eggman reacquires the yellow emerald, and he hatches a scheme to get the rest. He tricks the guardian of the Chaos Emeralds, Knuckles the Echidna, into believing that Sonic and Tails are out to steal the emeralds. Due to that, Knuckles aims to stop Sonic and Tails as opposed to assisting them. Meanwhile, a treasure hunter named Nack the Weasel is also after the emeralds. Now Sonic and Tails must contend with Nack, Knuckles, and Eggman on their quest to save the day. It's for this reason that the game's subtitle is "Triple Trouble."

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Having made his first appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and later becoming playable in Sonic and Knuckles, Triple Trouble is the first 8-bit Sonic game to feature Knuckles. Unfortunately, he isn't playable here, as he only shows up during cutscenes to mess with Sonic and Tails. This is pretty similar to what he does in Sonic 3. As for Nack, this is the first game he's appeared in, period. He was initially going to be named Nack in Japan, too, but the development team decided to change his name, because Nack sounded too similar to Knuckles in Japanese. Therefore, Nack is known as Fang the Sniper in Japan. Regardless, Nack isn't playable in this game, either. Even though he's got a cool design, Nack didn't appear in very many other games outside of this one. Triple Trouble was basically the biggest role he got.

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As indicated by its Japanese title, you can choose to play as either Sonic or Tails. They control the same as they did in Sonic Chaos, running fast and turning into spheres of destruction whenever they jump. Both characters are still capable of executing the Spin Dash if you press the jump button while crouching, which causes them to spin along the ground at the speed of sound. As with Sonic Chaos, pressing the jump button while holding up on the d-pad makes Sonic do the Super Peel-Out move that gives him a quick burst of speed, and the same input makes Tails fly with his two tails. A new thing both characters can do in this game is curl up into a ball after bouncing off of a spring or falling off a platform. Tails can even fly for a tiny bit after doing that. This is also the first game in the series where you don't lose all your rings upon getting hit. Rather, you lose fifty rings if you're injured by spikes and thirty for almost everything else. That's important to note, because as with most of the series, you die if you get hit sans rings.

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Power-ups are still primarily located within CRT monitors like most of the series. Most of the mainstays of the series are here, like 1ups, temporary invincibility, and the Power Sneakers that briefly increase speed. The checkpoint monitors from the first 8-bit Sonic game are back, too. All the power-ups introduced in Sonic Chaos also make a return, such as the Rocket Shoes that allow Sonic to fly at high speeds for a short period of time, and the Pogo Spring that extends the jumping height for either Sonic or Tails. Triple Trouble also introduces its own slew of power-ups. These power-ups are exclusive to specific characters, like one that doubles Tails' flying speed for a brief period of time, a Jet Board that allows Sonic to zip across snow and ice, and Propeller Shoes that enable Sonic to swim underwater for a little while. Speaking of, Tails later gets access to the Sea Fox, a submarine that allows him to endlessly breathe underwater, drill through destructible blocks, and shoot torpedoes. Additionally, the Sea Fox lasts until you take damage or enter a pipe. This is one of the coolest power-ups in the whole series.

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Six stages await your presence in Triple Trouble. The first one is the typical green starter stage that is standard for the series, but things get interesting as early as stage two. Going by Sunset Park Zone, the second stage is a multiple story railway with little carts you ride across the tracks. The third stage is Meta Junglira Zone, a sprawling rainforest with viscuous mud that slows you down, basket-like plants that launch you skywards, and bouncy fruits that push you away if you touch them. Stage four is titled Robotnik Winter Zone, and it's a predictably cold area filled with snow, ice, and robotic penguins. Tidal Plant Zone is stage five, and it's an underwater level where Sonic and Tails navigate around spikes from within air bubbles, similar to the 8-bit version of Sonic 2. Like most of the 8-bit Sonics, the majority of bosses aren't Eggman. Some of the bosses are fairly interesting, though, like the massive robotic cargo train. Another boss fight takes place against Knuckles, who operates a deadly machine like Eggman. Metal Sonic, Sonic's robotic doppelganger from Sonic the Hedgehog CD, also makes a notable appearance near the end of the game.

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In Sonic Chaos, Sonic automatically got teleported to Special Stages after amassing 100 rings, presenting him with an opportunity to earn a Chaos Emerald. In Triple Trouble, Sonic and Tails only need fifty rings, but the catch is that they must also find a hidden Chaos Emerald monitor. There are two types of Special Stages in this game: ones where you must navigate a tricky maze in the regular side-scrolling viewpoint, and ones where you collect rings while piloting an airplane known as the Tornado in a behind-the-back perspective. Both Special Stage types are timed, so you'll get kicked out if you fail to meet the objective before time runs out. Most of the Special Stages conclude with a boss battle against Nack, who'll be piloting a machine like Eggman, and you earn the emerald if you defeat him. Like Sonic Chaos, the sixth Chaos Emerald is automatically acquired when you clobber Eggman at the game's finale, and you get the good ending if you have all six by then.

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Out of all the 8-bit Sonic games, Triple Trouble is the closest to reaching the quality of the 16-bit titles. Whether you're a diehard or casual Sonic fan, this game is worth playing. The only issue is that the game has occasional bouts of slowdown, because the awesome graphics and stellar soundtrack were too much for the Game Gear to handle. If you can handle that, then you'll have an entertaining experience with Sonic Triple Trouble.

Word Count: 1,316

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