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Sonic Labyrinth (ソニックラビリンス Sonikkurabirinsu?) is an isometric puzzle video game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series that was developed by Minato Giken and published by Sega for the Sega Game Gear. It was released in October 1995 for the United Kingdom,[5] and November of the same year in the rest of the world.

In Sonic Labyrinth, Dr. Robotnik has created the Slow Down Boots, which strip their user of both their speed and agility. The doctor manages to trick 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, lack of speed, and the controls.

Plot

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

The title screen of Sonic Labyrinth.

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 subsequently claim the world as his own. He complains about how Sonic always defeats him using his speed when suddenly, 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.[9]

Sonic realizing that he is wearing the Slow Down Boots.

On that same day, Sonic wakes up from a nap in the afternoon. With Tails having gone who-knows-where on his own journey, Sonic has been left all to himself. Absentmindedly, Sonic puts on his favorite shoes, only to discover that his feet feel heavier than usual. Getting a bad feeling, Sonic carefully looks at his shoes and discovers Robotnik's mark on the soles. With Sonic having fallen into Robotnik's trap, Robotnik proclaims to all of South Island that he has arrived and acquired the Chaos Emeralds. He then proceeds to gloat, without realizing that he is giving away his secrets, to Sonic about how he is wearing his invention, the Slow Down Boots, that were made with the power of the Chaos Emeralds. Robotnik then states that only the Chaos Emeralds' power will let him take them off.[9]

Sonic tries to reach Robotnik, but finds himself unable to run or jump because of the Slow Down Boots. Meanwhile, Robotnik has begun constructing the Super Labyrinth, a massive maze-like fortress, with the sounds of the construction resounding throughout South Island. Despite the situation he finds himself in, 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 the Super Labyrinth to recover the Chaos Emeralds.[9]

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. After eventually reaching Robotnik himself, Sonic drives him out of Super Labyrinth and reclaims the last Chaos Emerald, which Robotnik had dropped during his escape. With his speed restored, Sonic proceeds to run out of the Super Labyrinth.

Characters

Image Character Biography
Sonic 49.png Sonic the Hedgehog The world's fastest sonic-speed hedgehog. This time, Dr. Robotnik's evil plan has prevented him from using his prized legs. But don't worry, he's got a rolling attack! He'll be able to spin around and take out Dr. Robotnik in a matter of seconds... maybe.[10]
Dr-Eggman-Sonic-Labyrinth.png Dr. Robotnik He is an evil genius scientist who is planning to take over the world today and tomorrow. He thinks that Sonic is his eternal rival. This time, he plans to target Sonic himself for his evil scheme. Will Dr. Robotnik's plan succeed? He'll probably fail again anyway... maybe.[11]

Gameplay

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 Slow Down Boots. However, he can still perform the Super Sonic Spin Dash, a technique where he curls himself into a ball and launches himself at high speed. Sonic Labyrinth features four Zones, each divided into three stages along with 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, and if hit by a Badnik the player 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 Keys and gets hit by a Badnik, ten seconds are removed from the timer. Destroying Badniks, along with collecting Keys and Hourglasses, 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, such as not having a Timer. Every fourth level starts with a giant ramp that takes the player to the boss room, with Rings appearing along said 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 SLabyrinth-Life.png Movement
Controlpadds.png Move
Game Gear I Button.png/Game Gear II Button.png Spin Dash[12]
Start Pause

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 4.75/10[3]
Famitsu 22/40[1]
GamePro 4.125/5[13]
Mean Machines Sega 76%[5]
Nintendo Life 4/10 (3DS)[14]
Sega Power 82%[15]
Sega Pro 59%[16]
Mega Fun 59%[17]
Sega Magazin 81%[4]

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".[5] Electronic Gaming Monthly disliked the game's isometric perspective, stating that it contributed to the problems with controlling Sonic around.[3] GamePro wrote that the small camera made it difficult to see upcoming obstacles.[13]

In a more positive review, Mega Fun thought that Sonic Labyrinth featured innovative gameplay,[17] while GamePro and Famitsu compared the game to Marble Madness.[13][1] Sega Magazin thought that Sonic Labyrinth was challenging with its sophisticated level design.[4] GamePro said that it was one of the most interesting Sonic games in the Game Gear library.[13] 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.[5] 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".[3]

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.[14] 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".[18] Nintendo World Report called the game a worse version of Sonic 3D Blast, noting similarities with the isometric view.[19] Official Nintendo Magazine thought that Sonic Labyrinth was "a dreadful game with an identity crisis" and concluded by calling it "one of the worst Sonic games ever".[20]

Re-releases

Sonic Labyrinth is also playable in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut on the PC and GameCube, along with on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC editions of Sonic Mega Collection Plus. A demo of the game that features the ending can also be played in Sonic Gems Collection on PlayStation 2 in Europe and Japan, and GameCube in all regions.

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

Staff

  • Director: Noboru Machida (N. Machida), Hideaki Katagiri (H. Katagiri)
  • Planner: Kazuhiro Tanaka (K. Tanaka)
  • Programmer: Kenichi Iwanaga (K. Iwanaga), Y. Kataoka, Akira Inoue (A. Inoue), Takashi Ueshima (T. Ueshima)
  • Designer: Keiko Kayajima (K. Kayajima), Kazuhiro Tanaka (K. Tanaka), Keiko Tamura (K. Tamura)
  • Sound Programmer: Atsuko Iwanaga (A. Iwanaga)
  • Special Thanks: Nobuo Matsushima (N. Matsushima), Shōji Yoshihara (S. Yoshihara), Kenichi Kumakura (K. Kumakura), Noriyuki Tabata (N. Tabata), Masako Araki (M. Araki), N. Gotoh, Yōko Yanagisawa (Y. Yanagisawa), Akemi Matsumoto (A. Matsumoto), Michiyo Morohoshi (M. Morohoshi), Nobuhiko Honda (N. Honda), Kaori Hijiya (K. Hijiya), Masayuki Oota (M. Ohta), Kouhei Mine (K. Mine), Hiroshi Ozaki (H. Ozaki), Takashi Takinoue (T. Takinoue)

Trivia

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "New Games Cross Review - ソニックラビリンス" (in Japanese). Famitsu (362): 31. 24 November 1995.
  2. 2.0 2.1 ソニックラビリンス (Japanese). Sega (JP). Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved on 24 February 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Review Crew: Sonic Labyrinth 48,78 (January 1996). Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Review: Sonic Labyrinth" (in German). Sega Magazin (26): 83. November 1995. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018.. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "Game Gear Review: Sonic Labyrinth". Mean Machines Sega: 88. November 1995. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016.. Retrieved on 17 August 2016.
  6. Sonic Labyrinth. Nintendo (US). Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved on 10 January 2022.
  7. Sonic Labyrinth. Nintendo (UK). Archived from the original on 12 August 2019. Retrieved on 10 January 2022.
  8. Sonic Labyrinth. Nintendo (FR). Archived from the original on 12 August 2019. Retrieved on 24 February 2022.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Sonic Labyrinth (Sega Game Gear) Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 4-7.
  10. Sonic Labyrinth (Sega Game Gear) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 8.
  11. Sonic Labyrinth (Sega Game Gear) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 9.
  12. Sonic Labyrinth (Sega Game Gear) United States instruction booklet, pg. 4.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "ProReview: Sonic Labyrinth". GamePro (78): 112. January 1996. Archived from the original.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Review: Sonic Labyrinth (3DS eShop / GG). Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  15. Mortlock, Dean (December 1995). "Sonic Labyrinth". Sega Power (73): 57. Archived from the original.
  16. Pilkington, Mark (November 1995). "Review: Sonic Labyrinth". Sega Pro (51): 68. Archived from the original.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Text Mixed: Sonic Labyrinth" (in German). Mega Fun: 72. January 1996. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018.. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  18. Gotta Go Fast: Ranking All of the Sonic the Hedgehog Games. USgamer. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved on 7 August 2018.
  19. Grinding Game Gears: An Overview of Sonic's Portable Origins. Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved on 10 August 2018.
  20. Sonic Labyrinth review. Official Nintendo Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012.
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