(Game Gear)

Sonic Labyrinth (Game Gear)

Game Review

Sonic Labyrinth Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Maze craze

Failed game pitches from the 1990s: Madden without the ball. Mario without the jumping. Sonic without the speed. Except someone at SEGA must have thought the last one was a good idea, and gave Minato Giken the go-ahead to develop Sonic Labyrinth for Game Gear.

As the story goes, Dr. Robotnik has tricked Sonic into wearing special shoes that slow him down, and the hedgehog has to collect Chaos Emeralds across four worlds to get his speed back, or something.

If the lack of speed wasn't enough to make you aware this is not your average Sonic game, the isometric viewpoint will do the trick. In each Act you have to collect three keys and take them to a goal gate to advance; after three Acts you face a boss who usually crumbles without opposition. Four worlds and an hour or so later and you've finished the game, save for retrying it in Time Attack mode for fun.

Sonic Labyrinth's big problem isn't that it's slow for a Sonic game — it's pretty slow for any game. Sonic has uncharacteristically stodgy handling too: he doesn't accelerate on his own, so you have to spin dash to build speed and stop in place by pressing a button. Its stop-start nature is an acquired taste, and while there's some smart use of it to push you along narrow paths it feels like a hindrance to live with rather than a skill to master.

Level design doesn't do much to outweigh that feeling, with stages rarely challenging or stimulating. By the time you reach the fourth labyrinth the game falls back on the staple of inter-dimensional doorways, linking doors with no logical reason. We get that they're supposed to be labyrinths that require brainpower to work out, but this is lazy design.

Conclusion

Sonic Labyrinth isn't the total disaster some would have you believe, but it's also not worth £4.50 of your money. Robbing Sonic of his speed, while baffling, could have worked well with better level design, but Sonic Labyrinth is still far from the hedgehog's best.

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User Comments (60)

Reala

#4

Reala said:

Definitely the worst Sonic game I own or have played thankfully I skipped most of the 3D ones I'm sure some of those might actually be worse, in terms of spin offs I still like spinball personally but not really much else definitely not labyrinth.

Knux

#7

Knux said:

The worst ''classic'' Sonic game ever made. I can't believe Sega rereleased this cr*p.

@Kyloctopus: Sonic 3D Blast might have been a lot different and not as good compared to the Genesis 2D platformers, but it was still a pretty good game. Sonic Labyrinth however, is not.

Geonjaha

#9

Geonjaha said:

Problem is that Sonic fans point out a majority of Sonic games as 'far from the hedgehog's best'.

Kyloctopus

#13

Kyloctopus said:

@Knux There are plenty of games that are out of the series' norm that in my opinion are good, (Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Spinball, Sonic Chronicles) I just never got into 3D Blast as well as other Sonic titles.

Samholy

#14

Samholy said:

please someone tell SEGA they should stop with their gamegear thing and simply forget about this device.

they c=should concentrate their efforts into their next tiles. or bring dreamcast games on the 3ds :-D

DerpSandwich

#16

DerpSandwich said:

Ganon has stolen Link's sword, and he has to traverse Hyrule to get it back!

Bowser has tricked Mario into wearing shoes that make him unable to jump and he has to do a lot of walking to get his old ones back!

These all sound like great games.

TKOWL

#19

TKOWL said:

Out of all the Sonic games that could be released, why this.

Just why.

I probably won't be surprised to see that Sonic 06 will be ported to 3DS soon.

Knux

#20

Knux said:

@Kyloctopus: LOL no, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Chronicles are utter cr*p. Sonic 3D Blast is at least good fun. Shadow the Hedgehog was a mess while Sonic Chronicles was too dull and boring to finish.

3DSLUIGI

#21

3DSLUIGI said:

While I know and understand that Sonic Labyrinth is a HORRIBLE Sonic game, I still want to try this out despite that fact. Like Kyloctopus said earlier, this games does look like Sonic 3D Blast. But to me, with the way how the game is described in it's Acts, it sounds a bit more and more like Sonic 3D Blast with the way of you going around collecting keys to advance. Sounds almost like collecting the Flickies in Sonic 3D Blast.

Reala

#24

Reala said:

@3DSLUIGI Actually if you where to buy this expecting a lesser sonic blast game you'd most likely be disappointed; the fact you can't jump really lessons the gameplay a lot more than you might first think, probably be better trying to get in a collection if you have a PS2 as either mega collection or gems collection has it can't remember which; but if you found that cheap at least it would have a ton of other games to go with it.

SomeBitTripFan

#25

SomeBitTripFan said:

Now you have heard it from THE Sonic fan. James great review from my experience with the game I felt the same way. Also, I liked 3D Blast, it was different but the game was worthwhile.

Bubbab5

#26

Bubbab5 said:

I actually kinda liked this game maybe not for 3DS but I played it on GameCube and thought it was fun

gyyrro

#27

gyyrro said:

Behold! The beginning to Sonic's demise, now ported to the 3DS.
What's next? 06?

3DSLUIGI

#28

3DSLUIGI said:

@Reala

Thanks for the advice. I'll remember that. TBH actually, I couldn't care less if this was a lesser kind of Sonic 3D Blast OR Sonic Blast game. But with me, in the way how you're saying that he can't jump is like a challenge to me. That and when you also add the fact that he can't run fast in this game like other Sonic games and he can only rely on practically nothing but his Spin Dash is awkward. All in all, I welcome a game like this. Even if it is one of the worst Sonic games that was EVER made. I missed out on this when I was a kid and when it does come out in North America on the eShop, it will be a nice little try out for myself to experiment with.

RadioShadow

#29

RadioShadow said:

The sad part is users will take that "pathetic" review seriously.

First you have not mentioned the music or the graphics. The music is actually quite nice to listen to and this is one of the Game Gear games that takes advantage of the palette, which makes a nice detailed and colourful game.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE LEVEL DESIGN! The review mentions that it isn't challenging, well the keys are hidden quite well, especially in the later levels. It would be boring if the keys were not hidden. <_<

The controls actually work really well. This excuse for review didn't mention you hold the button to make Sonic spin into a ball and you aim which way he goes (use the arrow on the ground) and then let go. I have never felt that I didn't have control of Sonic, except when he spin dashes off (but then that could be said any of Sonic's games). I will admit that having to keep spin dashing and stopping can get a bit boring at times, but I would put that as a minor issue.

The review doesn't go much into detail on the bosses. While they are are fairly easy to beat, you have to remember this is a 8-bit game and I think they did a good enough job. Why not bash the 8-bit Mario games for having easy bosses? :P

To be honest, this game is an interesting idea and one of the better Game Gear games. If you are looking for a traditionally 2D Sonic game, then stay away from this. Otherwise, it's not a bad game, if you want something different for a 8-bit game.

The point I'm trying to bring is, that review needs to go into the topics I have mentioned a bit more. That is all.

EDIT: I will agree £4.50 for a Game Gear is a bit too much. But I dislike how each VC game is priced separately while the Wii VC games have a fixed price (most of the time). To me, £3 would have been a better price for the game.

RevolverLink

#32

RevolverLink said:

I'm generally not a fan of isometric viewpoints being used in platformers or any other action-focused genre, and I have a hard time thinking of a worse franchise fit for it than Sonic.

Knuckles

#33

Knuckles said:

I'm getting this when it comes to America. Why? I want to own all of the sonic games, and play all of them, [gulp] I'm in for a downhill experience...

Kage_88

#35

Kage_88 said:

I don't know what SEGA was smoking when they decided to make this...

Still, I may grab it anyway, just for the sake of expanding my Sonic collection. Hell, I even own Sonic 2006 :P

3DSLUIGI

#36

3DSLUIGI said:

@Knuckles

I kind of have the same vibe you do about wanting to own all the Sonic games. But to me, I want a chance to own ALL the portable titles from the 3DS VC when it all comes down to the selection that the eShop has so far. Heck, with Kirby's Block Ball making it's debut this week in the North American eShop, that's just another game to go to my growing collection.

Bass_X0

#37

Bass_X0 said:

@DerpSandwich Mario & Wario on the Super Famicom. Wario drops a bucket on Mario's head and now Mario can't jump.

@RadioShadow It would only have been £4.50 due to the Sonic name. If it were the same game but featured an obscure character, it would likely have been £2.70 or £3.60

Samholy

#40

Samholy said:

@Mickeymac
good games on game gear ? you gotta be kidding me. i had one when i was kid, and it was the biggest disapointment. else than being in color, the console was bad.
maybe dr robotnik mean bean machine had a little something. (still a port of a better game) elseway....man it was bad.
My gamegear ended up being into a pouch doing nothing because it either sucked the last batteries i had or the game i had or rented didnt even came close to what my gameboy was playing.

and no, i dont expect dreamcast games on 3DS, it was just a utopic hope.

3DSLUIGI

#41

3DSLUIGI said:

@Samholy

Ya, I don't expect any Dreamcast games AT ALL myself to hit until probably when the Wii U launches tbh. What REALLY could have been nice to have saw on the Wii VC would have been maybe a couple of SEGA CD games or SEGA SATURN games. But with the way of how the Wii is made, I said this before and I'll say it again. I don't think it would have done Nintendo any good because they would have gamers buying digital games that would constantly freeze on them due to the full motion cutscenes from some SATURN games. That and also, you never know. Point and click based games like Jurassic Park say for example would have killed it. Heck, it could have maybe got stuck a few times and just stopped working. Not to say games like Sonic CD or Sonic R would have not worked OK, but I'm just saying when you look into a deep possible theory of what could have been on Wii if they went ahead and released SEGA CD and SATURN games. But all in all, like I said before in the beginning of my post, Dreamcast games could probably work really well on a console like Wii U when the time comes.

eleven59

#42

eleven59 said:

The problem with these eshop games isn't that they aren't focusing on new games, it's that they're focusing on releasing the wrong non-classic games

Bass_X0

#44

Bass_X0 said:

Well, who would download this after the good Sonic games come out? Releasing it now ensures some downloads. Even if the people who do are disappointed with it and feel like they wasted their money.

CanisWolfred

#45

CanisWolfred said:

@Samholy "I had one as a kid"

I had a Gameboy as a kid. Guess what I played? Pokemon and crumby licensed games. Am I gonna say the Gameboy had nothing good besides pokemon because that's all I experienced, though, in light of the dozens of good games on the system? No. I know better than that.

Look, I've played dozens of Game Gear games, probably some you haven't even heard of. I know there are still good ones out there, heck, we still got some that were recently rated that we still need to get. You didn't have the internet when you were a kid. You didn't know what was good back then. And I'm sure you didn't have the whole library of games at your disposal at that rental store. Rather than remain ignorant, how about you educate yourself instead?

NeoShinobi

#46

NeoShinobi said:

I.... actually kinda sorta like this game. Not so much for the gameplay, but simply for the nostalgic feeling I get playing any gamegear Sonic game.

It really isn't very good and I wouldn't re-buy it on the 3DS. However, I really don't think a little, obscure, handheld game can be the worst in this series when massive, critical flops like Sonic '06 exist.

TheDreamingHawk

#47

TheDreamingHawk said:

I actually am probably the only one excited for this game to come to America. I played it before and thought it was a very fun game compared to other Game gear spinoffs.

If you think this game is bad, then you should see Sonic Spinball on the Game gear. That game is even SLOWER than this one! At least this one is decent.

TerrapinJess

#48

TerrapinJess said:

I would have loved if they scrapped this for the game "Tails' Adventure". If anyone has played that, you'd know that that game was really good for its time. Metroid/Blaster Master elements are present. Nintendo/Sega, please release Tails' Adventure!!

Beau_Skunk

#49

Beau_Skunk said:

I actually like this game better then most of the other Game Gear Sonic titles personally. (Though, I will agree the Metroidvania-ish "Tails Adventure" is probably the best Game Gear Sonic title.) I kinda liked the gimmick of relying on the spindash to get around, or bouncing off walls, and bumpers, and plowing through enemies. While collecting keys, and such almost made this feel like a puzzle action game in away. Also, why are people complaining about this being so "slow?" I felt you moved pretty swiftly with the spindash for an 8-bit Sonic game. (Some like Triple Trouble, GG Spinball, and GG Blast were even more sluggish, and harder to control, if you ask me.)And the game is ALOT less frustrating then Game Gear Sonic 2, as well which is a plus for me, but I felt it wasn't to easy either. I don't see why this game is so hated, there are worse games out there. My only critique is once you beat it, or get the extra stage, you might not come back to it very often, unless you're a fan of old school games. I'd give it a 6 or 7 personally.

mayhem13

#50

mayhem13 said:

Just my opinion like anyone else, but this is a good game trapped in quicksand or a good game trapped in a seizure. I played the Genesis Sonic 3D Blast version and while it wasn't a masterpiece, I didn't feel like I was walking in slow motion or spin dashing with total lack of control either. The Game Gear version feels that way to me. That's not difficult, that is just downright frustrating. Playing this game when Sonic walks is like watching grass grow, playing this game when Sonic spin dashes is like shooting Sonic out of a rubber band, you have no idea where he may go and you can't control it. Zaps all the fun out of the game to me. Had he moved faster like the Genesis version, had the spindash been more controllable, it may not have been a perfect game but it would have been alot more enjoyable. As an idea, a 3D isometric pinball-esque sonic adventure game seems awesome, portable version on the go is even better, but as they execute it here in the game gear version. Awful. For me, it's 3 out 10 and the requirement of alot of patience.

Sqirm64

#52

Sqirm64 said:

Remember people, this was sega's first attempt at an isometric sonic game. Plus it's on the game gear, which has less power than the genesis.

Sqirm64

#57

Sqirm64 said:

Who here has ACTUALLY PLAYED sonic labyrinth? I have. I beat it. I had a good time.

DinoandAllen

#60

DinoandAllen said:

The Dino and Allen slightly-biased rating system reviews:

Game name: Sonic Labyrinth
System: Sega Game Gear
Release year: 1995

Gameplay 12.5/25
Sonic is in some easy mazes, none of which stick out. Sonic controls fine, but he can only spindash. No jumping. Arrows give you almost pointless power-ups, but it's somthing?
Graphics 9.5/10
The graphics are the highlight of this game. All of them look great, some of the best the game gear has to offer.
Story 6/10
The story is stupid and plot holed, but charmingish.
Soundtrack 10/20
No song really stands out, but it's not terrible.
Controls 9/15
They're sluggish, but work fine. Though you have no control when you're in a spindash.
Replayability 6/20
No real point in playing after playing it and getting the chaos emeralds.
Final Score:
2.65/5
5.3/10,
53/100
This game is about as average as average can get. Get it if you want an easy game. Or for a review.

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