Review by discoinferno84
"And it moves us all..."
Dr. Robotnik is either highly intelligent, or incredibly stupid. It's hard to say which description fits him better. After getting his ass kicked by Sonic at least four or five times, you think someone of his mental caliber would just give up. Or try something new, at least. Despite his repeated failures, the evil doctor hasn't learned from his mistakes; he's on yet another quest to recover the six Chaos Emeralds and use them to further his devious plans. During his latest excursion, however, something happens that he didn't intend. Upon stealing one of the Emeralds, it sets off a chain reaction that sends the other gems into another dimension, which causes South Island (aka Sonic's homeland) to begin sinking into the ocean. Satisfied with a single Emerald, Dr. Robotnik is now developing another weapon of mass destruction. Faced with the sinking island, missing Emeralds, and a plot for world domination, Sonic and Tails must save the day yet again.
Don't let the plot overwhelm you, however. A slightly twisted storyline aside, Sonic Chaos operates just like any other game in the Sonic series. Our hero will have to dash through various levels in order to catch up to Dr. Robotnik. This will usually involve some platforming around ledges, and barricades, using springs to reach higher ground, zooming down hallways and passages, and overcoming the winding and looping paths that cover each area. Also, each level is sprinkled with some of the evil doctor's baddies, which can range from laser-spewing mechs to armored turtles to giant centipedes. It doesn't help that the levels are filled with bottomless pits, spiky traps, and plenty of other hazards. Since Sonic can be killed by a single unfriendly hit, he'll have to collect the golden rings that are floating throughout the stage in order to be able to take another hit.
Such aspects are what typical Sonic games are made of; any veteran of the series will find Sonic Chaos to be an incredibly brief cakewalk in comparison to some of the other titles on the Sega Genesis and Game Gear. In order to make the game seem like a fresh experience, the game includes Tails (Sonic's hapless decoy/fearless sidekick) as a playable character. Unlike Sonic, however, this two-tailed fox comes equipped with moves unlike anything ever seen in the previous games. While Sonic may be able to break the sound barrier with his mind-boggling running speed, Tails can use his appendages as makeshift helicopter propellers to fly around the stage before resting for a few seconds. You'll need his powers, too; in order to find the missing Chaos Emeralds, you'll have to collect 100 rings, and then play through various bonus rounds to get the hidden gem. This process involves a painstaking search of a level's every nook and cranny, a task well suited for the new hero. If anything, being able to fly is a hell of a lot cooler than Sonic's stale moves.
Despite the new feature, much of Sonic Chaos comes off as lacking. The game boasts some averaged sized levels at best, areas that can be cleared in mere seconds if you're not into collecting rings. It's not like you'll really miss anything though. The game makes little use of the Game Gear's graphical capabilities. The Turquoise Hill Zone does little justice to its brethren, featuring only blocky ledges, colorful streaks to represent flowers and palm leaves, and mere slashes of green to render grass. Though you'll get to zoom through a metropolis under a starry night sky, the dots of color don't portray the office building windows very well. None of the character graphics are particularly impressive, either; Sonic and Tails look like pixilated caricatures of their much more detailed and sharper counterparts found in other games. All of the enemies look like giant blobs of color, with little detail as far as armor and mechanical parts go. Considering what can be seen in other Sonic Game Gear titles, there's little excuse for such a mediocre presentation.
Sonic Chaos has a few great ideas, but fails to implement them well. While other Sonic titles can enjoy lengthy levels, great details, and challenging gameplay, this humble little title offers little to the seasoned Sonic fan. The areas lack any kind of difficulty whatsoever, allowing you to breeze through the game without breaking a sweat. The presentation is bland at best, making games like Triple Trouble look like artistic masterpieces by comparison. The inclusion of Tails as a second playable character was a wonderful idea, considering that most gamers would have been sick of playing with usual Sonic moves. If anything, this game is more of an exercise in ring collecting and level exploration than it is about action; with Tail's handy abilities, it might take you a while to find all the Chaos Emeralds. In any case, this isn't a horrible game. It just could have been a whole lot more.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 01/16/07
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