Title :Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure
Platforms :Neo Geo Pocket Color
Publisher :SNK
ESRB Rating :Everyone
Game Rating :9.0
Review by :Robert Boyd

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of Sega's biggest series, so the latest Sonic game might come as a bit of a shock: it's for a game system that is not made by Sega. Instead, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, a portable system created by SNK. 

If you're not familiar with the Neo Geo Pocket Color, you're not alone, as the system hasn't seen much advertising. It's a portable video game system similar to Nintendo's Game Boy Color. However, it has several improvements over Nintendo's system. It's lighter, more comfortable to hold, has a slightly bigger screen, and a more powerful CPU (16-bit compared to the 8-bit Game Boy Color). 

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is essentially a portable remake of the Sega Genesis classic, Sonic 2. Sonic games are all about exploring chaotic levels at breathtaking speeds and this portable version does an excellent job of doing just that. The music isn't as good as the Genesis version and the graphics have been scaled down so that they're playable on the NGPC's smaller screen, but the game is just as fast and fun as ever. 

In fact, I had more fun with this new version of Sonic than I did with the Genesis version. Sure, the graphics aren't quite as good (although they're very impressive for a portable game), but the game has exceptional design. All the game's 12 main levels are based on levels in Sonic 2, but have been completely redesigned for the better. And there are some new features that take advantage of the excellent level designs. First off, there are nearly 100 puzzle pieces hidden throughout the game's levels. There really isn't any reward to collecting them all (just a few pieces of Sonic artwork), but finding them is a fun and satisfying experience as many of them are very well hidden. 

Also, there's a new Time Attack Mode. Your goal here is simple: complete a level as quickly as possible. There's also an advanced Time Attack mode that requires even more speed and skill (you need to end the level with at least 50 rings). A medal will be awarded if you're fast enough, and if you manage a near perfect performance, you can even win the coveted Platinum medal. 

My number one problem with the original Genesis Sonic games was that there really wasn't any reason to explore or race through the levels as opposed to merely completing them. The Time Attack Mode and puzzle pieces in this new version eliminate that problem. Also, the game contains an automatic save feature — a standard feature in today's games, but one that was frustratingly not present in the Genesis version of Sonic 2. 

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is available separately or in a special bundle package with the Neo Geo Pocket Color system. The combo package isn't much of a deal (at $99, it's only $5 cheaper than buying the system and game separately), but either purchase is worthwhile; Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure is an excellent game. 

This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 10-Apr-00