(Game Gear)

Sonic Blast (Game Gear)

Game Review

Sonic Blast Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

From the past, not a blast

Not to be confused with Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Blast only really shares a fondness for rendered sprites with its 16-bit namesake, sticking to more mainline Sonic staples like running, spinning and grabbing Chaos Emeralds.

The rendered sprites weren't particularly impressive back in 1996 and they don't stand up too well today either: muddy colours and shaky animation mean it's aged worse than previous Game Gear Sonic games, but on the 3DS screen at least things are clear and bright; if you play at its original resolution things almost look nice.

While Sonic plays pretty much just like his usual self, Blast introduces one big game-changer: a double jump. While Sonic the Hedgehog 3 had a double jump with a lightning shield, in Sonic Blast it's available as standard. The Game Gear's cramped screen dimensions mean it can be used to save yourself from an unexpected plummet if your reactions are up to speed, or to bump you up to a platform you didn't see when you took off. Sure, it changes how Sonic handles, but it doesn't cheapen things too much; it's a tiny safety net, not a huge parachute.

If you don't want to pick the blue blur, red rival Knuckles gets his only playable 8-bit appearance, and brings his famous gliding and climbing skills over. The difference between the two characters isn't as pronounced as in Sonic & Knuckles, for instance, but it's still enjoyable to discover new areas as Knuckles that you couldn't experience as Sonic. Sonic's double jump means there are a handful of areas only he can access, but explorers will want to plump for Knuckles.

Exploration is also key if you want to find the Chaos Emeralds, accessed through large gold rings tucked away in hidden areas rather like Sonic 3. The special stages themselves blend Sonic 3's spherical worlds with the "collect X rings" theme seen in almost every other Sonic game's special stage, and while their pseudo-3D effect won't blow you away at least the concept is fresher than the tired old tube stage.

So far so good, but it's a shame that some of the level design lets the game down. While some stages offer the series' trademark free-wheeling fun, others put you in cramped areas that you can only navigate through a series of tubes or transporters. Figuring your way through these mini-mazes is unsatisfying and too random: 3DS save states make it a less frustrating affair, but when all you want to do is stretch your legs it's irritating to come up against stop-start sections with no rhyme or reason.

Conclusion

Sonic Blast is a perfectly competent Sonic game that's worth a dabble for interested parties and hardcore fans. For anyone who only wants to pick up one 8-bit Sonic game, wait until SEGA inevitably drops the superior Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or its prequel on Virtual Console.

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User Comments (32)

BenAV

#1

BenAV said:

I think I'll pass on this one.
I had already planned to anyway.

CanisWolfred

#4

CanisWolfred said:

You almost make this game sound fun, James. Almost...

I didn't know about the double jump, but the feel and animation bring this game down hard. Then there's the afforementioned bad level design, which IMO also effects the freer stages. It really tries, but in the end, I felt that the whole game was just a mess.

TheConsiglio

#5

TheConsiglio said:

I am going to get this game just because I have nothing to play and I have way too much money on my eshop account. 100+

bahooney

#8

bahooney said:

@TheConsiglio Nothing to play?! I'm literally swimming in games I have yet to beat, it's almost overwhelming! You must be pretty hardcore!

eleven59

#9

eleven59 said:

wish this had gotten a 3 or an 8..it would've made a decision easier. I wasn't going to get it but better review than I thought. part of me thinks if you don't buy enough they wont release anymore! argh!!

Pichuka97

#10

Pichuka97 said:

I have this on Game Gear and I like it quite a bit. The final boss is a pain though. Insta buy on day 1 because I'm a huge Sonic fan and I need every Sonic game on every platform that I own!!

UnseatingKDawg

#11

UnseatingKDawg said:

Hmmm... this is debatable. I do have this via PC and GCN, and it's... OK, I guess. But, I think I'll save my 5 bucks until Sonic 2 comes out (which had better be pretty damn soon).

shinobi88

#15

shinobi88 said:

Gorgeous graphics, Knuckles as playable character, great music...PocketGamer gave this a 7 (which is much closer to what this games should be) and said "Short but sweet, Sonic Blast will be warmly received by the series' hardcore fans and, given half a chance, platformer veterans will find a lot to like too." Side-scrolling Sonic goodness with Vectorman graphics, don't call yourself a Sonic, Sega, or side-scroller fanboy if you don't pick this up.

3DiddyKong

#16

3DiddyKong said:

@Shinobi88 I totally agree despite the things people said about this game i tried it anyway and liked it. plus i love knuckles and the music so this is a must buy for me.

Firejonie

#18

Firejonie said:

It's probably the worst 2D sonic game to me, but it can still be fun. Already own this on the Mega Collection on PS2 and PC, so I will pass when it comes to NA in July. Might get it in the future though, but not a must buy.

SilverBaretta

#21

SilverBaretta said:

Eh, I've always considered Triple Trouble the best Game Gear Sonic anyway. Sonic 2 Game Gear was just way too unfair in the level design department for me.

zipmonStaff

#23

zipmon said:

I loved this game back on the Game Gear in the day - I can still hum the music to almost every stage! =D Can't wait 'til this comes to NA!

3DiddyKong

#24

3DiddyKong said:

Gonna play on my SADX until 3DS release gotta get it right after kid icarus of myths and monsters.

NeoShinobi

#25

NeoShinobi said:

It's... not horrible, not really all that good either. However, I still like to play this every now and then, not so much because it's a good game but because of the nostalgic feeling I get from playing a gamegear sonic game.

gojiguy

#28

gojiguy said:

no... wait. This reviewer actually recommended Sonic 2 on gamegear.

That game is TERRIBLE.

Austroid

#30

Austroid said:

A fair review. I personally thinks its an interesting oddball game in the series.

Beau_Skunk

#31

Beau_Skunk said:

Game Gear Sonic 2 was "superior?" I couldn't stand that game! (Especially the hang-gliding segments, and the trial-and-error style gameplay.) It was nowhere near as good as the Genesis one.

DinoandAllen

#32

DinoandAllen said:

The Dino and Allen slightly-biased rating system reviews:

Game name: Sonic Blast
System: Sega Game Gear
Release year: 1996

Gameplay 13/25
This game has nothing special zone wise. In this game, you don't save flickies, you just play a worse 8-bit Sonic 2 with a spindash. You can play a Sonic, who can now double jump, or Knuckles, who can glide. Sure, you can play as Knuckles, but his gliding is nerfed. But Knuckles fans might play as him. I prefer Sonic. There are special stages, but all you do is move Sonic or Knuckles in front of oncoming rings to get a chaos emerald. To access the true final boss, you need all the chaos emeralds. The hit detection is off too. Sometimes, I jump into rings, but only get SOME of the rings I touched, not all of them. Not much else to say.
Graphics 9/10
The graphics are great and impressive. 3D rendered sprites is pretty impressive for an 8-bit handheld.
Story 5/10
Robotnik's bad, stop him from making the death egg! That's the story. Sure, the intro shows a chaos emerald being destroyed, but that doesn't do much for us.
Soundtrack 10/20
Like Sonic Triple Trouble, the soundtrack is average. Nothing special, just average.
Controls 10/15
The controls work fine, but if you're too close to a loopdy-loop, and spindash, you won't go up it. Also, platform hit detection is only okay.
Replayability 5/20
There is only on reason you would replay this game: To play through the game as the other character.
Final Score:
2.6/5
5.2/10
52/100
The game is just like Sonic Labyrinth: Average as average can be.

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