Retrospective: Sonic’s Weird Sega Game Gear Games

Fang can only be fought in secret boss fights accessed in each of the special stages, which you once again must traverse to obtain the Chaos Emeralds. He’s also a wonderfully expressive character, too. For a game with zero dialogue, Sega’s development team managed to make both Fang and Knuckles feel lively, which makes it all the sadder that Fang would never be seen in a Sonic platformer again. Well, until he had a cameo in 2017’s Sonic Mania, anyways.

While the three previous games range from being enjoyable fast-paced journies to mediocre distractions, Sonic Triple Trouble is the one Game Gear Sonic game that holds a candle to the Genesis titles. It has an identity all its own and some solid platforming to boot. If you have a 3DS, definitely grab it from the eShop. And, if you still have a Game Gear, definitely hunt down a cartridge.

If one Sonic game desperately deserved a dedicated Game Gear Micro, it was this one. It’s a shame Sega opted for Sonic Chaos instead.

Sonic Drift (Japan)

Sonic Drift 1 and 2 (1994 and 1995)

After the excellent Sonic Triple Trouble, Sega’s plans for the Game Gear seemed to change. It was obvious by the mid-90s that, despite being more powerful and having a backlit screen, the Game Gear was not going to be able to sell better than Nintendo’s Game Boy. The Game Boy was just cheaper and had this wonderful ability to not suck six AA batteries dry in a couple of hours.

With one exception, there would be no new 8-bit Sonic platformers after 1994. However, there would be a plethora of different Sonic spinoffs. The most infamous of these are the Sonic Drift games, which were made as Sega’s answer to Nintendo Super Mario Kart on the SNES. Why Sega opted to put these on their handheld system instead of on the Genesis is beyond me, as the Game Gear is quite obviously technically weaker than the 16-bit SNES.

Like Nintendo’s offering, these games are kart racers involving you racing around flat tracks with a variety of characters. Unlike Nintendo’s offering, these are on an 8-bit handheld with tracks that feel flat and lifeless instead of wacky and charming. 

Sure, the Drift games seem good on paper. Even if some may question why Sonic would dare drive a car when he’s the fastest thing alive on foot, I think it makes sense, as he seems like the type who’d want to be a good sport for his friends. But that doesn’t change the fact the the Sonic Drift titles are just boring racing games.

The most interesting thing of note here is that the original Sonic Drift was Japanese-exclusive. Despite that, Sonic Drift 2 was still just titled Sonic Drift 2 when it was released in North America. I’m sure this caused confusion in at least two or three nineties kids.

In 2020, though, if you’re craving playing any Sonic racing game from this era, just play the weird and funky Sonic R on the Sega Saturn instead. That one, at the very least, is much more memorable and has an incredible soundtrack.

Tails’ Skypatrol

Tails’ Skypatrol (1995)

Tails Skypatrol is a rather short Japanese-exclusive on-rails shooter featuring Sonic’s two-tailed sidekick. In this title, you play as Tails as he goes through these sidescrolling stages to fight a one-off villain named Wendy Witchcart. You have a ring that you can use to both attack enemies and interact with stage obstacles, and it’s overall a rather enjoyable little playthrough.

About Jamie Christensen 12 Articles
Jamie Christensen is a writer, content creator, and social media marketing nerd currently residing in Victoria, British Columbia. He’s written about people, technology, and the environment, along with creating the online documentary series “The Art of Failure”. Feel free to check him out on Twitter and on YouTube!