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Sonic Labyrinth (ソニックラビリンス Sonikkurabirinsu?) is an isometric puzzle video game for the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was developed by Minato Giken, and published by Sega for the Sega Game Gear. It was released in October 1995 in the United Kingdom, and during November of the same year in the rest of the world.

In Sonic Labyrinth, Dr. Robotnik has created the Speed Down Boots, a pair of boots which strip their user of their speed and agility, which he manages to get Sonic into wearing them. Seeking the stolen Chaos Emeralds to remove Robotnik's creations, Sonic heads into Robotnik's labyrinthic fortress, the Super Labyrinth, to get his speed back and foil the evil doctor's ambitions.

During its release, Sonic Labyrinth was received with mixed-to-positive reviews, having been compared with Marble Madness, and was considered an innovative Sonic game in the Game Gear library. However, in retrospective reviews, the game was panned by critics. Its main points of criticism were the small camera, the lack of speed, and the controls.

Plot

Spoiler warning: Plot, ending details or any kind of information follow.

Feeling cranky over how Sonic the Hedgehog keeps foiling his plans for world domination, Dr. Robotnik brainstorms for new ideas on how to defeat his nemesis and claim the world as his own. As he complains about how Sonic always defeats him using his speed however, Robotnik has an epiphany: Sonic's speed is the key to the hedgehog's success. With an idea in mind, Robotnik gloats loudly as he prepares to carry out his plan to ensure his victory over Sonic.[4]

Sonic realizing that he is wearing the Speed Down Boots.

On that same day, Sonic wakes up from a nap in the afternoon. With Tails have gone who-knows-where on a self-intereted journey, Sonic has been left all to himself. Absentmindedly, Sonic puts on his favorite sneakers, only for then to discover that his feet feel heavier than usual. Getting a bad feeling about this, Sonic carefully looks at his sneakers and discovers Robotnik's mark on the soles. With Sonic having fallen into Robotnik's trap, Robotnik proclaimed to all of South Island that he has arrived and acquired the Chaos Emeralds. He then proceeds to gloat (without realizing what he was saying) to Sonic about how he is wearing his invention, the Speed Down Boots, shoes made with the power of the Chaos Emeralds, which Robotnik proclaims that only the Chaos Emeralds' power will let him take them off.[4]

Sonic tries to reach Robotnik, but finds himself unable to run or jump because of the Speed Down Boots. Meanwhile, Robotnik has begun constructing the Super Labyrinth, a great labyrinth fortress, the sounds of the construction resounding throughout South Island. Despite the situation he finds himself in though, Sonic refuses to give up, as he can still use his Super Sonic Spin Dash technique. As such, Sonic gathers up his resolve and heads into Super Labyrinth to recover the Chaos Emeralds.[4]

Braving the great labyrinth, Sonic fights his way through its various contraptions and Badnik guards. Along the way, he also manages to find all but one of the Chaos Emeralds. Eventually finding Robotnik himself, Sonic drives him out of Super Labyrinth and reclaims the last Chaos Emerald, which Robotnik dropped during his escape. With his speed restored, Sonic proceeds to run out of the Super Labyrinth.

Gameplay

An example of Sonic Labyrinth gameplay in the Labyrinth of the Sky, the first Zone of the game.

Sonic Labyrinth is an isometric perspective action and puzzle game. In the game, players control Sonic the Hedgehog, who is much slower than usual due to him wearing the Speed Down Boots. However, he can perform the Super Sonic Spin Dash, a technique where he curls himself into a ball and goes at high speed. Sonic Labyrinth features four Zones, each divided into three stages and a fourth, shorter stage with a boss fight.

The main objective of Sonic Labyrinth is to get through the Zones before the time runs out. To do so, the player needs to find three Keys in each level to unlock the exit door. In the game, the player will fight Badniks. If the player gets hit by a Badnik, they will lose all their Keys and some time. When the Keys are dropped, the player has a few seconds to collect them before they disappear and return to their original locations. If the player does not have any Key and gets hit by a Badnik, ten seconds are removed from the timer. Destroying Badniks and collecting Keys and Hourglasses all add some extra time to the Timer. Should the time run out, the player will lose a Try, or get a Game Over if they do not have any Tries left.

The gameplay is slightly different in the fourth stages, though some elements remain the same. Unlike previous stages, fourth stages do not have a Timer. Every fourth level also starts with a giant ramp that takes the player to the boss room. Rings appear along those ramps. Similar to previous Sonic games, collecting one-hundred Rings will give the player an extra Try. During boss battles, the Rings also protect the player from the Boss' attacks; if the playable character is hit by the Boss while having at least one Ring, they will stay in the game without losing a Try. However, if Sonic is injured by a boss without having any Rings on him, the player will lose a Try. Upon defeating the boss, Sonic is awarded a Chaos Emerald.

Controls

Button formation Movement
Controlpadds.png left/right/up/down Walking
Game Gear I Button.png/Game Gear II Button.png Super Sonic Spin Dash

Objects

Items

Gimmicks and obstacles

Characters

Playable characters

Non-playable characters

Enemies

Bosses

  1. Mecha Gorilla (Labyrinth of the Sky) (only appearance)
  2. Kani Pearl (Labyrinth of the Sea) (only appearance)
  3. Needle Man (Labyrinth of the Factory) (only appearance)
  4. Smiley Bomb (Labyrinth of the Castle) (only appearance)

Zones

  1. Labyrinth of the Sky
  2. Labyrinth of the Sea
  3. Labyrinth of the Factory
  4. Labyrinth of the Castle

Bonus Stages

Sonic Labyrinth features Bonus Stages, which can be accessed through two special doors hidden within the game.

Reception

 Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
Electronic Gaming Monthly See note[note 1]
Famitsu 22/40[1]
GamePro See note[note 2]
Mean Machines Sega 76%[3]
Mega Fun 59%[5]
Sega Magazin 81%[2]
Nintendo Life 4/10[6]

Sonic Labyrinth received mixed critical reception. Mean Machines Sega said that "you can get through each level with a bit of practise but you're left wondering how you did it".[3] Electronic Gaming Monthly disliked the game's isometric perspective, thinking that it contributed to the problems with controlling Sonic around.[7] GamePro wrote that the small camera made it difficult to see upcoming obstacles.[8]

In a more positive review, Mega Fun thought that Sonic Labyrinth featured innovative gameplay,[5] while GamePro and Famitsu compared the game to Marble Madness.[8][1] Sega Magazin thought that Sonic Labyrinth was challenging with its sophisticated level design.[2] GamePro said that it was one of the most interesting Sonic games in the Game Gear library.[8] One reviewer at Mean Machines Sega thought it was a good puzzle game to play in short segments, and may be worth the time for fans of Sonic games, pinball, or puzzles. However, another critic from the same magazine thought the game was frustrating and repetitive.[3] Electronic Gaming Monthly also thought the game became repetitious after a few levels and would be boring for more experienced players, although Sonic fans may enjoy it. They concluded their thoughts writing: "This title overall tried to mix the standard side-scrolling Sonic game with a worthless pinball title and failed. In turn, this one just comes up short in both playability and enjoyment, causing boredom after the first few stages".[7]

In retrospective, Sonic Labyrinth was panned by critics, some considering it one of the worst Sonic games ever made. In their retrospective review, Nintendo Life gave the game a "poor" 4 out of 10 score. They criticized the controls and level design, as well as the start-stop nature the game had. They also thought that Sonic's lack of speed was "baffling" for a Sonic game.[6] USgamer called Sonic Labyrinth "a poor man's version of Marble Madness, taking the worst of that game and the worst of Sonic and cramming it into one title. Absolutely dire".[9] Nintendo World Report said that it was "a demented version of Sonic 3D Blast" noting similarities with the isometric view.[10] Official Nintendo Magazine though that Sonic Labyrinth was "a dreadful game with an identity crisis" and concluded by calling it "one of the worst Sonic games ever".[11]

Re-releases

Sonic Labyrinth is also playable on Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, on the PC (disc version only) and Nintendo GameCube, and on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC editions of Sonic Mega Collection Plus. A demo of the game (featuring the ending) can also be played on Sonic Gems Collection (on PlayStation 2 in Europe and Japan, and Nintendo GameCube in all regions).

Sonic Labyrinth was also released on the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console on 28 June 2013.

Staff

  • Director: N.Machida, H.Katagiri
  • Planner: K.Tanaka
  • Programmer: K.Iwanaga, Y.Kataoka, A.Inoue, T.Ueshima
  • Designer: K.Kayajima, K.Tanaka, K.Tamura
  • Sound Programmer: A.Iwanaga
  • Special Thanks: N.Matsushima, S. Yoshihara, K.Kumakura, N. Tabata, M.Araki, N.Gotoh, Y.Yanagisawa, A.Matsumoto, M.Morohoshi, N.Honda, K.Hijiya, M.Ohta, K.Mine, H.Ozaki, T.Takinoue

Trivia

Notes

  1. Four individual reviewers at Electronic Gaming Monthly gave scores of 6.0, 4.0, 4.5, and 4.5 out of 10.
  2. GamePro gave component scores of 4.5 graphics, 3.5 sound, 4.0 control, and 4.5 fun factor out of 5.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 New Games Cross Review - ソニックラビリンス. Famitsu. No.362. Pg.31. (Japanese) 24 November 1995.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Review: Sonic Labyrinth" (German) (PDF) No. 26. pg. 83. Sega Magazin (November 1995). Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Game Gear Review: Sonic Labyrinth" (PDF) pg. 88. Mean Machines Sega (November 1995). Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved on 17 August 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Sonic Labyrinth (Sega Game Gear) Japanese instruction manual, pg. 4-7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Text Mixed: Sonic Labyrinth" (German) (PDF) pg. 72. Mega Fun (January 1996). Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Review: Sonic Labyrinth (3DS eShop / GG)". Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Review Crew: Sonic Labyrinth" (PDF) No. 78. pg. 48. Electronic Gaming Montly (January 1996). Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "ProReview: Sonic Labyrinth" No. 78. pg. 112. GamePro (January 1996).
  9. "Gotta Go Fast: Ranking All of the Sonic the Hedgehog Games". Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved on 7 August 2018.
  10. "Grinding Game Gears: An Overview of Sonic's Portable Origins". Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  11. "Sonic Labyrinth review". Archived from the original on 27 July 2012.
Sonic the Hedgehog handheld games