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Titannel avatar 12:34 AM on 08.14.2013  (server time)
Game Gear Quick Look: Sonic 1 & 2

My first Game Gear game that I remember playing was Sonic 2. I believe it was bundled with the console, but I can't be too sure.

I haven't really grown to love that game too much, unlike the Genesis version. The Game Gear had a few problems that prevent full enjoyment of the games you play on it. The screen's far too blurry for action games and fast-paced platforming. The terrible battery life would abruptly end any extended gaming session.

It's a shame, because there are some very nice games on the Game Gear.

Here's a look at two of the most well-known games on the console: Sonic 1 and Sonic 2.

(For the sake of clarity, I've taken screenshots of gameplay in Kega Fusion. Yes, these are ROM images. Be aware that I own both of these games. Hell, I think I own duplicates of them. Know that it would be nigh-impossible to actually record footage from a Game Gear.)

Yay! Sonic! The Fastest Thing Alive is lookin' pretty good on the small screen. This title screen isn't nearly as detailed as the Genesis version, but what are you going to do?

Sonic The Hedgehog starts off in Green Hill Zone. An 8-bit rendition of the iconic theme plays throughout the level, and it's quite nice. The entirety of the music for this game is very nice, as well. The game plays just like the original Sonic game: Run, jump, collect rings, beat down badniks...

Check out that dithering effect that you get when Sonic's underwater. That's only noticeable on the emulator, though. On an actual Game Gear, it would look much more like Sonic was actually underwater. The enemies you encounter are mostly identical to the ones from the Genesis version, but there's a difference in how Sonic reacts when he gets hit: You can't re-collect rings that you've lost. This makes it a bit more challenging, and you need to plan things out a little better.

Here's a little difference: This monitor is your checkpoint system in this game. No checkpoint posts here. Also, Chaos Emeralds are scattered throughout levels instead of being locked away in special stages. The special stages in this game are only for extra lives and rings.

This game actually works quite well on the Game Gear, since it's fairly easy to tell where you are relative to enemies and obstacles.

Sonic 2 for the Game Gear came out around the same time as the Genesis version. While the Genesis version is an absolute classic, the Game Gear one is... not so great.

Like the Genesis title screen, the Game Gear iteration prominently features Tails in the artwork. Unfortunately, Tails is nowhere to be found in the actual game. Why is that?

Because Dr. Robotnik is kind of a jerk.

Sonic Team made sure to feature Tails in the title screen of the game, in the title cards for each zone, and they even made an in-game sprite for him, simply to use in an opening cutscene. Something tells me that Tails was cut from the game for one reason or another.

Okay. You see all of this? You do? Great. That's because this is being shown on an emulator. If you were watching this on a Game Gear, Sonic would be a blue blur, and I don't mean in a "Fastest Thing Alive" sort of way. This game moves way too fast for its' own good.

See this? Normally, you're moving so fast that that little, uh, snail...squirrel...thing wouldn't even register to you until after you've hit it and lost all of your rings. This game is full of death traps and cheap shots like this.

On top of all that, the camera likes to pan up when you jump, making it impossible to see the platforms under you. Judging from this screenshot, it's impossible to tell whether or not you're going to hit a platform or the lava in-between the platforms. With Sonic being the blurry mess he is, it's hard to re-orient yourself correctly if you think you're going to miss a jump.

This boss is especially difficult because of the screen zoom and the Game Gear's blurry screen. The object of it is to dodge the balls that are being thrown at you and let them hit the set of claws at the bottom-right. This is made difficult by the fact that you don't have a ton of room to move around in, and the fact that you're permanently sliding towards the boss. Try to jump out of the way, and you'll hit either the ball or the boss. The blurry screen makes it hard to see the ball coming at you, since on a backlit LCD screen it would more or less blend into the background.

The later levels don't fare much better. Some of the items are hidden in obscure places, and a lot of the enemies come out of nowhere, even moreso than in the first zone. It's a very frustrating game, and that's unfortunate.

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