Sonic Chaos holds a special place in my heart as a long time Sonic the Hedgehog fan. However, it would be remiss of me to mention that this game is on the bottom end of my list of favourite Sonic games, especially when it’s stacked against some of the best the series has to offer. It doesn’t mean I think of this game any less, not by any means. In fact, Sonic Chaos marks the first time I had ever 100% completed a Sonic game.
The game itself is known as Sonic Chaos only here in the West. In Japan, it was released as Sonic and Tails. It’s notable for being the first original Sonic title for the Game Gear system and was released on November 23, 1993. In this game, Dr. Robotnik has found one of the six Chaos Emeralds and takes it with the hope of finding the other five. However, his actions cause the Emeralds to become unbalanced and they scatter all over South Island. Without the Emeralds, South Island begins to sink into the sea and so Sonic and Tails have to retrieve the missing five Emeralds and recover the final one from Robotnik at his new fortress.
Sonic Chaos was developed by Aspect, the same company that handled the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Game Gear. With the success of the 8-Bit Sonic 2 game, SEGA handed Aspect more responsibility for the Sonic brand for the Game Gear and Master System. All in all, they would release several more well-received Sonic titles; not bad for a small and relatively unknown company at the time!
Taking what they’ve learned from developing the Sonic 2 title, Aspect made many improvements. For one thing, they cleaned up the display to give more viewing room for players to see. Next, they implemented Sonic’s Spin Dash and Super Peel-Out moves – both seen in the Genesis version of Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Knuckles and in Sonic CD. Aspect even added in some exclusive moves that could only be found in the Game Gear titles, like the Rocket Shoes which allowed Sonic to zoom through the skies! And last but definitely not least, they even managed to work Tails into the game as a playable character who also could fly! All in all, Sonic Chaos was packed with lots of new features in a fun-sized cartridge.
I remember getting this game on my birthday in July of 1995. While I loved it, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Game Gear was frustrating me to no end as I couldn’t find the fifth Chaos Emerald to unlock the final zone! I had gotten pretty good at the game too; I could get through that dreaded first boss fight without too much trouble and Green Hill Zone 3 was a mere nuisance at that point. However, I got bored. I only had one other game for the Game Gear and that was World Series Baseball. So, my birthday rolled around and in one of the presents, I got both a Sonic the Hedgehog comic (by Archie Comics) and a brand new copy of Sonic Chaos.
First chance I got, I slapped the cartridge into my Game Gear and went right to town. I remember being wowed by the visuals – they were so much sharper and vibrant than Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was! When I raced through Turquoise Hill Zone and I first hit the monitor containing the Rocket Shoes, I don’t remember if I was able to contain my excitement at the time! I was flying through the air, collecting tens and tens of rings until suddenly, I was transported away to a Special Stage after I picked up my hundredth. In this new level, I had to use the Rocket Shoes to zoom across an endless sky filled with giant Rings while a timer ran down. In my excitement, I didn’t see the Chaos Emerald at the end of the stage as the time expired and I was sent to the next Act of the level.
It was here I started to realize that I could actually beat this one – I didn’t have to find the Chaos Emeralds within the levels, I could just enter the Special Stages and find them there instead. I never fully beat Sonic 2 for the Game Gear, and I hadn’t beaten Sonic 2 for the Genesis on my own either (my older cousin would do it for me). But Sonic Chaos was a game that I could finally beat on my own! And eventually, I did! I felt pretty proud of myself, overall.
In retrospect, Sonic Chaos was a much easier game than Sonic 2 was. It was also much more bland, with the level design being more simple than the previous game. What did set it apart was its music selection. Gigapolis Zone remains one of my favourite tracks from Sonic Chaos and there were a lot of familiar tunes that were repurposed from Sonic 2, like Metal Green Hills Zone for instance. The variety of items was also a big plus, with the Rocket Shoes being the coolest item ever featured in a Sonic game.
A vivid memory I had with this game was around mid summer 1995, shortly after my birthday. My grandmother was visiting from the States and she was keeping an eye on my brother and I while my parents worked. I remember that I was curled up on an old armchair in the corner of my small living room in the morning. The Game Gear was in my hand and I was playing Sonic Chaos while my grandmother was watching “The Price is Right.” It was simpler back then, when the only worries I had were “What was gonna be my next adventure?” and “Who am I gonna play with later today?”
Sonic Chaos reminds me of those times. And though it doesn’t crack my list of top ten Sonic games, it’s still a title that I remember fondly.
This post is part of a collaborative Sonic retrospective based around the games on Sonic Mega Collection Plus. To read more, please head over to the central post!