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Sonic Pocket Adventure


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The Neo Geo Pocket Color was a brave venture for SNK, and one that delievered the goods in terms of software quality. Yet SNK made the fatal mistake of not backing the console up to the hilt with effective marketing and launching when the Pokemon franchise had really started to take hold on not only the limited handheld market but it was also out performing the Dreamcast's best efforts and many PlayStation titles.

1999 and 2000 were both, in my opinion, strange years in the console market. It was marking the end of the 32 and 64 bit era and the industry was a buzz with what 128bit generation was going to bring. The fact the the Dreamcast was a 128bit console did little to gain interest from consumers who didn't view it as a true next generation console. And mainly because it launched in those fuzzy years. The Neo Geo Color has a lot in common with the Dreamcast in terms of performance in the west. At the machines launch I remember going into a local MVC and seeing it on sale and within three months it was taken off the shelves. HMV and Virgin followed suit when the software dried up. The only places you could still grab hold of the titles was at larger GAME stores and independent stores. The latter days of the console brought some of the most classic titles available for the console, the Capcom vs SNK titles, Gal Fighters and Metal Slug 2nd.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Way back in December 1999 Sega and SNK released Sonic's first Sega developed handheld title (the first was a lincened out version of Sonic Jam on Tiger's terribly performing Game.Com) Sonic Pocket Adventure was in fact the first new 2D Sonic titles since 1995.

The minute you turn on the game you are greeted with what is my earliest memory of console gaming, the cool MegaDrive originating SEGA logo and digitised "Say-Gah!!"chime... ahh the memories. From the off it is evident that this is Sonic at his most pure and classic. After the dilution of the franchise in Sonic Adventure, where Sonic was relegated to share the lime-light with a series of soul-less additional characters. It would be more appropriate to call Sonic Pocket Adventure a 'best of..' collection. Taking the initial addrenaline of Sonic 2, adding some of the more technique based gameplay and bosses of Sonic 3 and a hint of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. But the even tho' the stages share alot graphically with previous stages from the Sonic series, the level layouts have been altered to make best use of the Neo Geo Color's screen and capabilities.

As before all the stages are broken down into two 'acts'. As in all of Sonic's true 2D games the main aim is to get from one end of the level to the other, while spin attacking any 'badniks' you come across and collecting as many rings as you can. The speed of title is also really impressive, if it wasn't for the limited colour palette this would be even more impressive than the MegaDrive titles.

To add even more depth to the titles there is a puzzle game option. Within each level there are diamond pieces that you have to find and collect. Each piece is part of 4x4 grid that ends up displaying a Sonic related image. This extra side of the gameplay gives the game a completly different perspective from which to be played. The original idea of the gameplay is to get from points A to B but in this mode it makes the gameplay more exploration based. This really does make you view the stages differently and it really does make you appreciate the structure of the levels.

The game also supports a link-up mode (altho' both of you will need a copy of Sonic Pocket Adventure altho' there is now NO reason not to pick another copy up as it retails sooo cheaply on lik-sang and play-asai.) The two modes available are 'Sonic Rush' and 'Get The Rings'. Player 1 will take on the role of Sonic, the other will be Tails (Sonic annoying "sidekick" altho' the beauty here is that he is rendered mute by the lack of voice acting ohh praise be to the consoles limitations!) While both are adequate and enjoyable by todays standards back in 1999 they felt so totally new and exciting but Sonic and extra mulitiplayer gubbins on handheld consoles are now the norm and in some cases over hyped (and given un-warrented attention by developers *cough*NINTENDO*cough*).

The graphical look and feel of the game made this and the other European SNK developed launch titles feel like viable games in there own right. From my memories of the original GameBoy, I remember enjoying it massivly but my older teenage brother and sister found the games far to limited and un-varied. The Neo Geo Color's SNK games have a depth and varied amount of gameplay that only became more evident in games when the 16bit era got into it's heyday. Since 1999 Sonic has been on two other 2D outings on a handheld console, namely the Gameboy Advance. These game tho' have become more stylish in presentation but have gone down the route of the Adventure series of Sonic titles, and due to this the levels are fun a couple of times but once the thrill has worn off they feel lackluster and repetative. This Neo Geo Color version maybe subtitled in the same vein as the Sonic Adventure series (but this is mainly due to the fact that Sonic Adventure was fresh on western Dreamcast's and it was a success so retailing another game in the same vein was both Sega and SNK's plan, also the game was originally titled Sonic Pocket Color but due to many Gameboy Color titles being given the prefix of Color under their titles ment to aviod confusion it would have to be changed.) it is very far away from the Adventure series. This classic, unaltered and instant Sonic gameplay which has been given extra depth and enjoyment thru' newer features and the thrill of Sonic in your pocket.

This is a game that should have shifted the Neo Geo in massive bulk but history cannot be changed and nor can the fact that this is the best Sonic title since "Sonic 3 and Knuckles". It is both a gift and a curse for it to be on the Neo Geo Color because many won't get to enjoy it but it will be remembered as one of the best titles to grace the handheld.

The fuzzy era of the Dreamcast and the Neo Geo Color will be remembered as a time when two mighty companies tried to push the envelope and move the gaming world in a new direction when it evidently wasn't ready for such change.

A true classic in terms of Sonic gameplay and Neo Geo Color titles but in a true overview of games it can be remembered as just a really great little title which will probably be forgotten as Sonic moves further away from his routes and insists on 3D graphics and 80's rock style.






(in no way an average)

I don't like giving scores but I have to say that a 6, for example doesn't mean 60%.

1: Disgusting, Unplayable

2: Playable but to the point of desperation

3: This game will stand up against the best 3DO titles in terms of quality, not good!

4: Below Average

5: So Average

6: A Solid title, with a few nice parts

7: A well put together title that will keep you engaged and playing

8: Very Good

9: Amazing, a definate buy


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