Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (NGPC): COMPLETED!

It has been a long time since I played a Neo Geo Pocket game, but having figured out why they hadn’t been working on Retropie (games have to be .ngc files, if you’re interested) I got stuck into Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure.

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Hammer! Hammer! I am! Hammer! They put me in the mix!

I remember being slightly disappointed when I bought it for my Neo Geo Pocket Colour back in the day. There I was expecting a new 2D Sonic platformer, perhaps a 2D version of the excellent Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. After all, it shares the same art style as that title, on the menus and box and stuff. Instead, what I got was a rehash of the Mega Drive version of Sonic 2.

As it turned out, that was awesome.

And it still is. Certainly, each level looks like a level from Sonic 2 – there’s your Emerald Hill zone, and your Aquatic Ruin zone, and your Metropolis Zone, but for the most part the levels have different layouts. They also all have new bosses, and Knuckles makes an appearance too.

"Knuckles you eediot!"
“Knuckles you eediot!”

There are reworked versions of the music from several different Sonic games, not just the second one, and the final stage more like the end of Sonic 3 and Knuckles than Sonic 2. Add to all this the hidden puzzle pieces hidden round the levels which you can collect and complete, and you can see why I loved it so much all them years ago. I think, bar remakes of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure might be my favourite handheld Sonic title too.

Click to view slideshow.

Oh, and yes – I got all the Chaos Emeralds. I totally forgot the final one though, and had to redo the end boss to get it! That unlocked the final, final stage, which I also finished. Phew.

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Super Fantasy Zone (MD): COMPLETED!

More Fantasy Zone! Only this time, Super Fantasy Zone! Yes, it’s more of the same, but that is no bad thing at all. It is most similar to the arcade version of Fantasy Zone II, sharing a handful of baddies and of course a similar level of graphical fanciness.

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Paint the whole world with a Rainbow!

Oddly, there are no permanent “gun” power-ups, unlike all the other games, and since the temporary ones run out so quickly they’re mostly useless: You’d benefit most from being able to use them on bosses, but of course they expire well before you make it that far.

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Shop ’til you drop.

One of the permanent “bomb” upgrades effectively makes the entire game a walkover too – the four-shot homing missiles. Constantly firing it invariably wipes out all the stray enemies, leaving you just the bases to destroy. These missiles also work on most of the bosses, allowing you to concentrate on avoiding their attacks while it automatically kills them for you.

In the dark, dark night
In the dark, dark night…

So yes, it’s probably the easiest of all the Fantasy Zone games (I didn’t mention, but money is no object in this one either), but it is still a lot of fun. I particularly liked both the nods to Space Harrier in the final boss rush, and lots of bosses from previous games in the background. Easter eggs!

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3D Sonic the Hedgehog (3DS): COMPLETED!

You may be aware that I have completed the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game a number of times in the past, but the 3D version, on the Sega 3D Classics Collection? Nope.

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OK, I lie. I have. Sort of. You see, I already own 3D Sonic the Hedgehog – buying it when it appeared on the 3DS eShop as a single title. That was about three years ago though, despite me thinking it was actually earlier this year. I completed it back then, and today I completed it again via the 3D collection.

There’s little more to say. It is still an excellent game. It’s still very easy, and I obtained all the Chaos Emeralds. I did choose the “bulbous CRT” 3D effect to play through with which was pretty cool, if pretty pointless. Um, that’s it.

Click to view slideshow.

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3D Galaxy Force II (3DS): COMPLETED!

Now you see, you look at Thunder Blade and see how it’s technically quite clever, but gameplay-wise it’s awful, and then look at Galaxy Force II and see the correct way to use the technology. It’s fast, looks incredible, has very varied levels, and there actually seems to be a point to shooting down the enemy rather than just flying past them.

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You’ve an energy reading which constantly counts down, dropping in big chunks if you get hit or fly into a wall or something. You can refill it by destroying enemies, with the total “collected” added to your counter after every section of a level.

Galaxy Force II is a tricky game, too. You have to accelerate through it as much as possible so your counter doesn’t drop before the end of the game, but have to weigh up the danger that causes – especially in enclosed areas. Pelt to the end, or slow down and try to wipe out as many spaceships as you can in order to “refuel”?

The 3D adds a huge amount to the game too. With it off, the game actually looks wrong, as if it was supposed to be 3D all along. Fantastic.

Click to view slideshow.

Only a handful of games left to complete on this 3D Classics collection now!

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3D Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa (3DS): COMPLETED!

I’d actually started working through the Master System version of Fantasy Zone II, which is also on the Sega 3D Classics Collection, but after pausing the game on one of the final bosses, then saving the game state so I could play it later, I found I was left in an impossible situation and the only way out is to start the game again.

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Under the sea. Under the sea! Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from me.

So instead, I started playing the 3D port of the original arcade game! It’s superficially the same, with similar levels, enemies and bosses, but the warping around system is totally different. Whereas in the Master System version the warps exist mainly just to split the level into four or five sections, here the flip between Light and Dark versions of the level. It seems that you can get different endings if you run into the bosses on just Light or just Dark areas of each level, but I pretty much just alternated between the two.

Another difference is that in the Master System Fantasy Zone II, Opa-Opa has an energy bar (which can be extended with power-ups), but in this version one hit and you’re dead. Well, one hit and you might lose your weapon, then with the next hit you’re dead.

I really enjoyed the game. Any blue skies game is always welcoming to play, and having enjoyed the first 3D Fantasy Zone a while back (which surprised me) I was pretty sure I’d like this. Now to tackle the Master System one again, I think!

Not the game's most attractive colour scheme, it has to be said. Return of the Spiders. From the first game, remember? There is a plot, but I've no idea what any of it means.

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3D Power Drift (3DS): COMPLETED!

Despite having played this before, a long time ago (on the Spectrum and Amiga at least, maybe once in the arcade), I was half way through Power Drift before I realised you could, well, drift. Round corners like, you know? The clue is right there in the name of the game but for some reason it never occurred to me to try.

power driftThat’s probably why I found the later tracks, on routes C, D and E, easier than the earlier ones, I suppose.

As for how the game plays, it’s incredible. Sure, the graphics look a bit rough now, and the way the road appears to be made out of various coloured logs is a little weird, but it is a lot of fun. The 3D is excellent, the faux-cabinet tilting effects add a surprising amount, and it’s so very, very fast. I think it may even be better than the 3D Out Run remake, although there’s no Magical Sound Shower so perhaps not.

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To count as completed, I finished all five stages on all five courses (so 25 in all), plus two Extra Stages (where you race as the Afterburner plane!?) I unlocked. I think the lowest I placed was 2nd.

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3D Power Drift (3DS): COMPLETED!

Despite having played this before, a long time ago (on the Spectrum and Amiga at least, maybe once in the arcade), I was half way through Power Drift before I realised you could, well, drift. Round corners like, you know? The clue is right there in the name of the game but for some reason it never occurred to me to try.

power driftThat’s probably why I found the later tracks, on routes C, D and E, easier than the earlier ones, I suppose.

As for how the game plays, it’s incredible. Sure, the graphics look a bit rough now, and the way the road appears to be made out of various coloured logs is a little weird, but it is a lot of fun. The 3D is excellent, the faux-cabinet tilting effects add a surprising amount, and it’s so very, very fast. I think it may even be better than the 3D Out Run remake, although there’s no Magical Sound Shower so perhaps not.

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To count as completed, I finished all five stages on all five courses (so 25 in all), plus two Extra Stages (where you race as the Afterburner plane!?) I unlocked. I think the lowest I placed was 2nd.

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3D Altered Beast (3DS): COMPLETED!

No, you shut up. It’s my game. I’ll play it if I want. I said shut up. Stop laughing.

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One credit. Start to finish. Bosh. Done.

We shall speak no more of it.

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3D Thunder Blade (3DS): COMPLETED!

It was never the best of Sega’s arcade games. Impressive as it was, with the hydraulic cabinet and fancy (at the time) scaling sprites, I never really found it very much fun. I bought the Mega Drive “Super” version, which had neither of those selling points and it was dire. I wasn’t expecting much from the 3D update.

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And I was right. It’s pretty poor. The 3D works well, and it has all the nice touches other games in the 3D Classics series have, like tilting display and “cabinet noises”, but it’s short, easy, and boring.

Much easier than Super Thunder Blade was, in fact. Not sure why that might be, but I’m sure that was a lot longer. I certainly never completed it, anyway. I don’t think I’ll be playing this again – the into the screen levels are fun but very short, and the vertically scrolling bits aren’t a patch on other shoot ’em ups.

It’s no Afterburner.

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3D Fantasy Zone (3DS): COMPLETED!

No, not 3D Fantasy Zone for the 3DS, 3D Fantasy Zone. For the 3DS. This one is one of the ten games on the Sega 3D Classics Compilation, just like the other one is, but this one is a 3D port of the Master System version of Fantasy Zone, whereas the other was the arcade version.

Still with me?

fantasy zone

Thankfully, the Master System version was much, much easier and instead of taking eight hours to complete, it took just one. It’s almost the same as the arcade version, only with a couple of boss changes and seemingly a lot more money to collect – which made stocking up on lives and heavy bombs simple to do.

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All of the bosses seemed easier as well, especially the final one which took me $hlmun tries before, but just two here. It’s much slower, I think, so easier to avoid and attack.

Now to finish the other nine games! Even though I have half of them already.

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