Retrospective: Sonic’s Weird Sega Game Gear Games

There’s really not a lot to say about Tails Skypatrol, due in part to how short it is. The entire adventure can be completed in around twenty minutes if you know what you’re doing. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, though. However, the only releases it’s had in North America have been via Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Gems Collection, so if you want to give it a shot, you’re best off hooking up a GameCube instead of importing a cartridge.

Tails’ Adventure

Tails’ Adventure (1995)

Tails was lucky enough to have not just one, but two different spinoffs featuring him in 1995. Tails’ Adventure was developed by a studio called Aspect, and features the titular fox going on a slower-paced adventure through an island in which he has to learn abilities and collect items along the way.

I’m inclined to call this more Metroid-esque than the other Game Gear titles, partially thanks to its seemingly non-linear nature. Yet, it’s also a good bit slower than your average Metroid game. That’s not to say it’s bad, though. Perhaps methodical is the word I’m looking for.

The game looks and sounds excellent and Tails himself is fun to control. The story here also changes a bit depending on the region. In the English version, the game is set after Sonic 3 and involves Sonic and Tails being on vacation. In the Japanese version, though, this is a prequel to Sonic 2 and is Tails’ first canonical appearance, which explains why he has to learn several of his standard-seeming abilities throughout it. Both versions take place in a place called Cocoa Island, and for perhaps the first time in the series’, Tails’ knack for creating inventions and solving puzzles is at the forefront here.

This is a truly different Sonic game, and it’s one that I feel is criminally underlooked. It’s not one I’d call a hidden gem per-se, as I feel it won’t be many Sonic fans cup of tea. However, it is definitely unique enough to at least be worth giving a shot.

Sonic Labyrinth

Sonic Labyrinth (1995)

Sonic Labyrinth is a game that gets a bad rep. It’s an isometric puzzle platformer where, thanks to Dr. Robotnik sabotaging Sonic’s running shoes, Sonic has to move at a shockingly slow pace through dungeons where he can’t even jump.

And really, it’s a game that deserves that bad rep. Sonic Labyrinth is dreadful to play. The isometric puzzle-solving is awkward. The presentation is underwhelming. Despite having Labyrinth in the title, David Bowie is nowhere to be seen. Worst of all, it’s sluggishly slow. The only way to get a boost of speed is to use Sonic’s spindash move, and that’s so unwieldily that you may as well ignore it most of the time.

It’s baffling that anyone at Sega thought this was a good idea. Seeing as it was released in November 1995, perhaps they just hoped it could sell a few more Game Gears that Christmas season, even if the quality was abysmal.

But for as awful as Sonic Labyrinth is, it’s at least memorable for how terrible it is. Clearly, Sega is at least somewhat proud of it, too, as it would later also get a re-release on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Sonic Blast

Sonic Blast (1996)

There’s a saying I like to use when talking about games: The only thing worse than a bad game is a boring game. And I think many will agree with me there.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Game Gear was painfully frustrating, but I remember those frustrations and can talk about them at length now. Sonic Labyrinth was slow and clunky, but it’s so legendarily slow and clunky that it’s become the butt of many jokes within the Sega fanbase. But what about Sonic Blast?

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!