Sonic Triple Trouble (3DS Virtual Console)

Sega have taken AGES to get their Game Gear games onto the 3DS Virtual Console. A quick browse of the options however is all it takes to realise that they’ve been hard at work making the emulation as authentic as possible.

There’s a choice of screen sizes ranging from full screen to pixel perfect with the latter also having a choice of different borders to give the illusion that you’re playing on one of the rare coloured Game Gear systems. The ability to turn a blurring effect on to simulate playing a game on the Game Gear’s less than brilliant screen is also present. We’re not quite sure why anybody would choose to do so though. Machismo, perhaps?

Whereas Nintendo have been releasing Mario’s Game Boy adventures in order, Sega has decided to release Sonic Triple Trouble – the 4th Game Gear Sonic game – first. It’s a little bit of an odd thing to do but there are no grounds for complaint here. Triple Trouble isn’t a perfect game – not by a long shot – but it was as close to perfection as Sega got as far as the 8-bit Sonic games were concerned.

Sonic’s first Game Gear romp was, and still is, a brilliant game but it was slower paced than the Mega Drive original and had a bigger focus on exploration. In comparison, Triple Trouble looks and feels more like one of the later 16-bit Sonic games as is all the better for it.

It starts off with rolling green hills, just like every Sonic game should, while the boss battles show a degree of imagination. They aren’t tough but they may take one or two lives off you before learning their attack patterns. Each level offers something new to play around with – be it a new mode of transport or a power-up unique to that stage – while the level design still manages to impress in more than a couple of places. The music remains catchy with Sunset Park’s boss battle being something of a fan favourite.

Eyes may roll when first seeing the Labyrinth-alike Tidal Plant zone but Sega was even able to make this slower paced underwater level fun by giving Sonic the chance to propel through water with a pair of jet boots. The fact that the snowboarding stage – titled Robotnic Winter – is far more interactive than the snowboarding stage in Sonic 3 is also noteworthy.

The only real complaint is that it only takes around an hour to finish. It’s doubtful though that you’ll get to see the best ending first time round. That’s unless you played it to death back in the ’90s and can remember where the chaos emeralds are hidden. Tails is playable too, who as you may expect has the advantage of shooting lasers out of his eyes (flying).

For Sonic fans it’s something of an essential purchase. Newcomers on the other hand are likely to be surprised by how similar it is to one of the Mega Drive Sonic games. Considering the Game Gear was hardly a technical powerhouse, that’s high praise indeed.

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