Thursday Jun 27, 2013
We’re happy to present another three Game Gear titles available for the Nintendo 3DS eShop: Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Crystal Warriors!
And just so it doesn’t get buried in these write-ups, I want to point out that Crystal Warriors features a bonus feature for the 3DS of local multiplayer! Now, on to the pondering.
Writing these posts for the recent influx of Game Gear titles into the 3DS shop has been an unexpected lesson in the uniqueness of portable systems: because they could never sell themselves as being technically superior to their console counterparts, they have often — from the Game Boy and Game Gear to the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS in all its incarnations — been homes for unique games and unique takes on genres and franchises.
It makes it easy to relive these titles, both as little lessons in the experimental history of gaming, and as delightful games to be explored in their own right.
Oh right! The games. Here’s a look at what’s available now — stay tuned, because we have still more on the way!
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
As with the other Sonic games that appeared on both 16-bit and 8-bit systems, Sonic 2 was a unique take on the game instead of just a half-the-bits adaptation. There were unique levels, different music, and a challenge suited for a portable system. Notably, Sonic 2 also had unique boss enemies — instead of fighting incarnations of Robotnik, Sonic did battle with unique robot enemies, before facing down the bad doctor in a climactic battle worthy of the epic end-encounter of the Genesis version.
If there’s one thing I hate — just one thing — it’s when an ambiguously named evil mastermind replaces my favorite shoes with a pair of cursed sneakers. Next thing you know all your friends are robots of some kind and you’re rolling around trying to free them from eternal metal servitude while collecting rings and power-ups. With all our social progression and whatnot that may seem pretty outlandish these days, but back in the 90s that kind of situation was called a “weekday”.
It is also totally what happens in Sonic Labyrinth, where Dr. Eggman (née Robotnik) has taken Sonic’s shoes, but look, Sonic can tuck-and-roll faster than most Olympians can sprint, and that’s what you’ll be doing, while collecting chaos emeralds and navigating your way to glory. This game falls into the category — like Sonic Spinball or Mean Bean Machine — of applying the Sonic characters to a different sort of game idea, experimenting with the maze-and-puzzle format which was a natural for the portable console.
Crystal Warriors finds Sonic and his friends trapped in — no! Wait! There is no Sonic in this game. Crystal Warriors is in fact a marvelous little turn-based fantasy strategy game, something that strips the tactical elements of games such as Shining Force or the Fire Emblem series down to their basic combat elements and lets you play through those, kind of like chess if your pieces leveled up between matches and were trying to take over an enemy castle.
Additional features include the ability to do reconnaissance and arm your warriors in town. Fight and tame beasts to use against your enemies, and take advantage of six unique classes to train and deploy.
Bonus feature! You can now play this game over local multiplayer on your 3Ds (both players need to have a copy of the game).
Stay tuned, we have yet another batch of Game Gear classics on the way soon …
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