Format reviewed: Game Gear
Submitted by: Matt Gander
Sega’s decision to bundle Sonic with every Sega console, be it Mega Drive, Master System or GameGear was a brilliant business move – the blue spiky chap was a thoroughbred system seller. In the GameGear’s later years though Sonic was no longer packaged with the handheld and this 4 in 1 pack came as standard. It’s a tough to comprehend why. Perhaps Sega thought that the consumer would find a 4 games in 1 cartridge better value for money?
After a colourful and attractive title screen you’re presented with four icons and the rather polite words “Select One Please”. The games themselves don’t have names, although Wikipedia refers to them as Columns Flash, Penalty Shootout, Rally and Tennis.
Rally plays a bit like Outrun, only with a colour pallet made up of mostly red and brown hues. It’s a functional 8-bit racer, but nothing special and a little dull. Penalty Shootout doesn’t fair much better – interaction is a complete minimum, almost to the point where this could have been recreated as an LCD game. When shooting you’re given a choice of three icons to select to choose where to shoot (left, right or centre) and then another three icons (bottom, middle or top) as to where you want to aim the ball. It’s completely random as to whether the CPU controlled keeper will save it or not. After a few shots it’s then your turn to be goalkeeper, which is a simple case of staying put or pushing left or right to block the ball. Five minutes of this and your brain will feel numb.
It’s not all bad though – Columns Flash and Tennis are both pretty good. Columns Flash has the best music of the bunch, with the idea being to clear the screen of blocks – which starts off half full – to get to the flashing gem at the bottom. Unlike the original Columns the shapes are not sparkly gems and jewels but rather random shapes like hearts and crosses.
Tennis is the real ace of the collection – it’s fast paced, addictive and the animation is smooth. Sonic makes a cameo appearance as the umpire too, keeping an eye on the ball at all times. It not a game that would be strong enough as a full price release, but its enough to turn this collection from a mediocre one to an above average one.