A Sonic game... ON A NON-SEGA SYSTEM?!?! Ok, ok, so maybe that is not so unheard of nowadays, but back in the 90s, that meant something. In this case, it meant for whatever reason, Sega saw a lot of promise in the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Thus, Sonic Pocket Adventure was born. Of course, the biggest question is does the NGP have enough blast processing to handle Sonic's blazing speed?
Yes, actually. Sonic Pocket Adventure's most standout feature is that it actually plays how you would expect a Sonic game to play. The smoothness of the Genesis games returns in full blast. I encountered no slow down at all while playing this game. Even more impressive is that Sonic actually feels fast. To contradict myself though, his intense, "console-like" speed is a bit of a downfall. Of course it is technically impressive, but because of the small screen of the NGP, it is very hard to react to incoming enemies when you're running at the speed of sound. This is just a minor complaint, though, because overall the game plays almost identically to the Genesis games, and it also looks similar. The graphics are some of the best on the NGP, with vibrant colors, stylish sprites, and several different animations. The game's levels are also very intricate, with several paths to choose. Tons of different enemies appear, and bonus stages with a decent 3D effect return as well. Sonic Pocket Adventure feels more like a Genesis game than a handheld one, which is a good thing. Gameplay is fun, and what you would expect from a Sonic game. You will be running around loops, skyrocketing off springs, jumping on the heads of enemies, and more, all at crazy speeds. Not exactly the best platforming ever, but some of the best on the NGP.
The biggest problem with this game is the fact that it really is not anything special. The Game Gear Sonic games were worth playing because they often starred tails or were not even platformers. Sonic Pocket Adventure is, for lack of a better word, boring. There really is nothing to make this game stand out, besides the fact that it is a Sonic game. However, if you have played any Sonic game on the Genesis, you have played Sonic Pocket Adventure. It is not an exact port, but it is close enough. If you are a hardcore fan of the series, obviously this game is an option for a car ride (in the daytime due to the NGP not having a backlight), but nothing more. No new enemies, no new boss-fights, all the levels are just recycled from the Genesis games, and not a single gameplay mechanic was added. It is a very basic, run of the mill Sonic game.
Sonic Pocket Adventure is still fun, but it is just too basic. Yes, it is a Sonic 2D platformer, and I realize it is hard to go wrong with that, but this is not Sonic Generations. It should have its own unique levels, but it does not. Instead, Sonic Team took a bunch of Genesis levels, threw them on a cartridge, and called it a whole new game. It is a good portable game, and performs quite well and does a good job matching Sonic's speed, but unless you badly need a Sonic fix, just play Sonic 1, 2, or 3 on the Genesis.
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Publisher: SNK, SEGA