I've played a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog games in my day. The good ones, bad ones, even the bestiality alluding one. However, I never knew anyone with a Game Gear (much less had one myself) so I never played Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble. So when 1994's handheld Sonic title hit the 3DS I thought I'd give it take it for a spin.
I was rather excited about getting my hands on one of the few retro Sonic games that I had missed. It is my opinion that Sonic's glory days ended after Sonic CD and after that the closest we've seen have been narrow glimpses greatness at best. Unfortunately, my excitement was short-lived because Triple Trouble simply isn't good.
In this installment, the 90s' favorite blue rodent and his sidekick Tails are up against a plethora of villains; Knuckles, Metal Sonic, Dr. Eggman, and Nack the Weasel (had to look that one up). That's probably the most anyone could gather from the game itself and you'd never know it until the end. Unlike other Sonic titles from Sega's glory days, most of Triple Trouble's boss fights don't include any of these characters at all. It doesn't help that these boss battles lack finesse and feel completely unintuitive.
Chaos Emeralds, the standard fare of collectables in Sonic games, are up for grabs again, but unlike many of the others titles in the series they are not accompanied by a mini-game. Instead, they are just strewn about the levels. There would be nothing wrong with this if the levels were designed remotely well. To great dismay, we get clumsy level design that ranges from confusing to frustrating. I found myself ignoring the collectables altogether and just desperately attempting to find my way to the end.
Right out of the gate, the game struggles to keep up on a technical level. Triple Trouble slows down to a crawl at the under the slightest pressure. I'm going to have to assume this is a remanent from the Game Gear's stone age hardware, but it could have been fixed for the 3DS at least. The 3DS version does grant you the ability to minimally tweak the performance in the Virtual Console menu, but I didn't notice any effect on the slow down.
As if the slow down wasn't enough, the controls are simply not responsive enough. Most of us have come to expect Sonic games to feel a certain way, and while Triple Trouble looks like a sonic game, it absolutely does not feel like a Sonic game. You can tell that the labor intensive nature of rocketing Sonic through a level was too much for the poor Game Gear. Jumping feels delayed and floaty (especially during slow down) and the signature spin-dashing has conflicting issues with Sonic's momentum.
The one glimmer of success, in this otherwise messy game, is the soundtrack. The tunes don't feel distinctly like those in other Sonic games, but they are catchy and fun. Is it worth five dollars? Definitely not. However, chiptunes aficionados will likely appreciate it.
The bottom line with Sonic: Triple Trouble is that the game is simply subpar. Even if you are the kind of longtime fan of the series who thinks Sonic can do no wrong, I still couldn't recommend this game. If some of the technical problems had been cleaned up, it could earn some merits for novelty's sake. My suggestion is don't bother with this one. Odds are that Triple Trouble won't provide you with the fun you are looking for if you missed it in 1994 and if you did happen to play it eighteen years ago, I wouldn't get your nostalgic hopes up.