Sonic the Hedgehog: Chaos, known as ‘Sonic and Tails’ in Japan, is one of the final 8bit incarnations of everyone’s favorite hyperactive blue hedgehog, and the first 8bit appearance of his unassuming fox-that-flies-for-some-reason, Tails. Released in late 1993 for both the Sega Master System and the Game Gear, Sonic the Hedgehog: Chaos (or just ‘Sonic Chaos’ as it is normally called) was met with positive, yet unenthusiastic, reviews. Kind of like a hungover father, half asleep at his daughter’s ballet recital and giving her a thumbs up with one hand while using his other to cover up a yawn.
Sonic Chaos is one of the easiest games I have ever played, ever. It’s easy to the point that you can’t help but think there was a reason for it. As if there was some kind of pressure from someone at Sega to make sure this game was easy enough for even the youngest of kids and the most retarded of teens. I’m not even joking in saying that a seasoned 8bit gamer could make it to the end of this game in their very first try will very little difficulty. While there are a few tricks and traps throughout the game, as well as some sections which need to be memorized, the sheer amount of extra lives and continues that the game throws at you will keep you coming back long enough that nothing short of physically pulling the plug on your Master System will stop you from kicking this game’s ass. The lack of difficulty was one of the major points of criticism for Sonic Chaos. Despite the game having Tails as a playable character, allowing tails to fly as a gameplay mechanic, finally bringing Sonic’s super-dash and super-spin to an 8bit platform and being graphically bright and vibrant, the sheer simplicity of the game eclipsed all of the positive points earned a lukewarm reception.
The story is the same as most other Sonic games of the time, before the characters and fandom of the Sonic universe went full-retard. Basically, Sonic was running around nowhere in particular for no apparent reason when Dr. Robotnik decides to steal and Chaos Emerald because maybe, just maybe, this time Sonic won’t blow him and whatever predictably moving vehicle into smithereens. It kind of makes me wonder why that fat maniacal bastard doesn’t just napalm the whole of the continent, grab the chaos Emeralds and call it a day. Or why, after all these games he doesn’t just hang up his hat and admit defeat. You tried, Eggman, you tried.
So you play as either Sonic or Tails, with sprites slightly bigger and more detailed than previous Sonic games, and get down to some serious power ring collecting. In order to finish the game ‘properly’, you need to collect all of the other Chaos Emeralds which were scattered all over the place when Robotnik stole one of them, because the creators clearly don’t give a fuck and just needed a plot device. In previous 8bit sonic games the Chaos Emeralds were hidden within the levels themselves, but in Sonic Chaos the Emeralds are only accessible from within secret levels. The secret levels themselves aren’t really secret because they aren’t hidden; once you collect 100 rings you are automatically pulled out of the current level and thrown into the secret level (don’t worry you still gain a life as well). The secret levels pose slightly more of a challenge but they are doable in a couple of tries if you don’t manage to nab the Chaos Emerald on the first try. The odd thing about there secret levels is that you are transported to the next act once they are over regardless if you actually get the Emerald or not. This means that you miss a great deal of the game proper as you spend most of the first half of the game collecting rings, doing secret levels and thus skipping half of most of the levels.
Easiest bosses in any game I have ever played, hands down. It’s insane. The bosses in Sonic Chaos are like the first wave of a Robotnik attack before he comes back in his final form in other games. The final boss fight is the only one which poses any real challenge, but by that time you have so many extra lives and continues that you become like a small blue Highlander with a mean case of the quickening.
Choosing to play as Tails actually makes the game even easier, as he is awarded more lives and continues, and can also fly. While Tails can’t fly forever, he does get a decent amount of air-time which can get you out of most sticky situations. Hitting a wall from the side won’t cause Tails to crash either, though having his spinning tails hit a ceiling will send the little fox tumbling downwards. More or less the only reason to play this game at all is to play around as Tails so you can see what the other 8bit Master System games would have been like had he been a playable character.
All in all, Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos is a perfectly playable affair with the difficulty turned down to zero. This makes it ideal for younger kids or people new to retro gaming, while the rest of you should at least give it a look to see what Tails looks like as a 8bit playable character.