Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developer:
    • Aspect
  • Publishers:
    • Sega
    • Brazil Tec Toy (SMS)
  • Released:
    SMS
    • UK 10/25/1993
    • Brazil 1993

    GG
    • JP 11/19/1993
    • US 11/23/1993
    • UK November 1993
Score: 75%

This review was published on 03/21/2018.

Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos, known in Japan as Sonic and Tails, is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Aspect and published by Sega for the Sega Master System and Game Gear. The Master System version was originally released in Europe on October 25, 1993, whereas the Game Gear version was released in Japan on November 19, 1993, North America on November 23, 1993, and Europe in November 1993. As its title implies, this is part of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, which began in 1991 on the Sega Genesis and got countless other games on other Sega hardware. Despite beginning on a 16-bit home console, Sonic eventually made his way to 8-bit hardware, such as the aforementioned Master System and Game Gear. This is the first 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog game not to share a name with a 16-bit one, making it abundantly clear that this is its own thing. While it's easily bested by most of the 16-bit titles, Sonic Chaos isn't bad for an 8-bit game starring the blue blur.

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Dr. Eggman, who was known as Dr. Robotnik in most parts of the world at the time, is the rotund antagonist of the whole Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Determined to conquer the globe, Eggman is always up to no good, usually imprisoning harmless critters inside robots that are programmed to do his bidding. He frequently torments the furry denizens of South Island, but a speedy hedgehog, the titular Sonic the Hedgehog, always foils Eggman's plans. In Sonic Chaos, Eggman returns to South Island once again, and this time he wants to steal the mystical Chaos Emeralds. The emeralds are the source of vitality for all living things, but in the hands of rotten Eggman, they could be turned into weapons of mass destruction. Eggman has already snatched the red Chaos Emerald, which is causing the other emeralds to lose balance and fly into a parallel universe. As a result of that, South Island is sinking into the ocean. Now Sonic and Tails must save the day with their super speed and super stunts.

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As its Japanese title implies, this game has two playable characters: Sonic and Tails. Both characters can run real fast and they curl up into balls during jumps. When in ball form, Sonic and Tails can damage most enemies and destroy destructible blocks. If you press the jump button while ducking, you'll also trigger the Spin Dash. Having made its first appearance in the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, this is the first 8-bit Sonic game to contain the mighty Spin Dash, which causes you to roll along the ground at high speeds. Unique to Sonic is the Super Peel-Out, a move he had in Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Performed by pressing the jump button while holding up on the d-pad, the Super Peel-Out enables Sonic to go from standing still to running at full speed in an instant. The Super Peel-Out can't safely smash through most enemies or destructible walls like the Spin Dash can, but it's slightly faster. That's all for Sonic, but what can Tails do?

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While Tails was first made playable in the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Chaos is the first 8-bit Sonic title to feature Tails as a playable character. Tails controls mostly the same as Sonic, Spin Dash and all, but he lacks the Super Peel-Out. Instead, doing the same input for the Super Peel-Out as Tails allows him to fly for a short period of time. Even though Tails could fly in the 16-bit incarnation of Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos is the first game in the series to allow you to control his flight yourself. During flight, you maneuver Tails in eight directions with the d-pad. The sole caveat is that he can only take off from the ground, so you can't fly after jumping like in future games. Due to his ability to fly, completing the game is much easier as Tails. This is further cemented by the fact that Tails starts out with more lives and continues than Sonic, plus he doesn't have to worry about gathering Chaos Emeralds. Basically, Tails is this game's "easy mode."

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Like in most of the series, power-ups are found within CRT monitors. These power-ups include the typical temporary invincibility and speed shoes that make you run faster for a short while, but this game introduces two new ones: the Rocket Shoes and Pogo Springs. The Rocket Shoes are exclusive to Sonic, and they allow him to fly at high speeds for a brief period of time. On the other hand, Pogo Springs extend your jumping height. Unlike most power-ups, Pogo Springs aren't found inside monitors, nor do they expire after a predetermined amount of time. Rather, Pogo Springs only go away if you touch walls or get injured. Rocket Shoes and Pogo Springs are both pretty fun to use, so they're great additions to the power-up lineup.

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You'll be speeding through six stages on your way to stop Eggman. The first one is Turquoise Hill Zone, which is the obligatory Green Hill Zone stand-in that almost every Sonic game has. You've also got a futuristic city known as Gigapolis Zone, a hilly area with many destructible blocks called Sleeping Egg Zone, a mechanized version of Green Hill Zone unsurprisingly named Mecha Green Hill Zone, a watery wonderland titled Aqua Planet Zone, and a sci-fi base armed with countless weapons referred to as Electric Egg Zone. The stages are all solidly structured, often presenting you with the choice between blasting through them in record time and thoroughly exploring them for secrets. Unlike the previous 8-bit Sonics, you're allowed to have rings during boss battles, so the difficulty is far more manageable. However, like the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Eggman won't actually face you himself until the end of the game.

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As is usually the case with Sonic games, the whole world is littered with rings that you collect, and having them prevents you from dying when you take a hit, though you do drop them all if you take damage. Rings have other purposes, though. As Tails, collecting 100 rings simply nets you an extra live, which is consistent with most of the series. However, as Sonic, gathering 100 rings instantly transports you to a Special Stage for an opportunity to obtain a Chaos Emerald, which is unlike the previous 8-bit Sonic games. The objective of these Special Stages is to find the Chaos Emerald before time runs out, but the interesting thing is that each one is entirely different. Most of them look similar to regular stages, but with maze-like layouts. The sixth and final emerald is automatically obtained after defeating Eggman at the end of the game. Sonic needs all six Chaos Emeralds in order to see the good ending.

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Sure, this game doesn't hold a candle to most of the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games, but it's a significant improvement over the previous 8-bit titles and an overall good time. If you're a Sonic fan or simply someone on the lookout for some 8-bit goodness, then Sonic Chaos is worth checking out.

Word Count: 1,198

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