For whatever reason it is considered cool to bag on the Sonic series, and it’s fans in particular. While I will say the fandom around the Sonic series has gotten a bit out of control, and the worst ones make the entire community look awful. But fandom aside, I personally have always enjoyed the Sonic series. I grew up with Sonic and the original Genesis games are always fun to boot up and even listening to the soundtracks lead to a good time. Fan games for the series have also become more prevalent as the series continues to put out less and less of what the fanbase wants. So the fans themselves continue to make the games that they want to see Sega make.
Triple Trouble was a game that came out on the Game Gear, and while I never owned a Game Gear when it originally was out, I do remember renting one, or borrowing one from a friend and having some fun. One of the big ones was Sonic Triple Trouble, a made for Game Gear game, and all I remember from it was there was a “mine cart” level. Other than the mine cart, I don’t remember anything else, and I always wanted to play through the other Sonic games I never got a chance to play, like the game gear, or even the GameBoy Advance series that I’ve heard so much about. Finally, a fan took it upon themselves to “re-imagine” the Triple Trouble game into a 16-bit version that looks like it came right from a Genesis cartridge. This seemed more like a full game, than a remix of stages like a lot of fan made games are, so I decided to download it and give it a try.
Triple Trouble basically does feel like the classic 2D, 16-bit Genesis games, and it’s really nice to play a game that doesn’t concern itself with trying to make some grand story or anything like that. And that’s partly because there is a full game layed out already. The fan-devs just took it as a blueprint and enhanced it so much more than I would have thought. There is a small storyline about Dr. Robotnik getting the Chaos Emeralds and Knuckles trying to stop Sonic from interfering. The interesting thing is this is a sequel to Sonic 3 that introduced Knuckles, and at the end of that game Knuckles becomes a good guy. So it’s a bit weird to see Knuckles revert to his bad guy ways.
The main villain that shows up to thwart your efforts is a new character called Nack the Weasel and he continually shows up as a miniboss, and in the Giant Ring bonus stages to race Sonic to the Chaos Emerald. The bonus stages are split into two different parts, if you have less than 50 rings at a checkpoint you’ll get a sonic spinball/slot machine mini game, and if you have 50 or more rings at a checkpoint you’ll get a Sonic 3 reverse pachinco mini game. But then there is the Giant Ring bonus stages hidden around each level that will let you race against Nack to the Chaos Emerald.
Everything about the game is exactly what you expect with a 2D Sonic game. A large issue I have with Sonic games, is the insistence on such verticality to level design. Levels are massive with what seems like several dozen different branching paths in each level. Which I can see would lead to hundreds of different playthroughs, but really there is very little incentive to go out of you way to try different paths, as they all lead to the same ending. It’s just one of the things that becomes frustrating as the branching paths always seem like the major focus of development, and take away from making the level as best as it can be in certain aspects.
Sonic games are platformers, and you get plenty of platforming here, which always feel precise and a great joy to play. Speed is always at the forefront of these games, and Sonic has several instances of where he goes speeding across the level for 15-20 seconds without stopping, recreating the sense of “Blast Processing” in the original Genesis titles, but the game does go out of it’s way to make it much deeper with it’s platforming segments. It’s an excellent balance between the two.
For all the times over the years we have heard from Team Sonic that Sonic’s 2D physics were impossible to re-create, the fans over the years sure have been able to replicate it without any issue. Fan made games always give me a bit of a pause, on one hand, you get a new game that the original creators would never make. But on the other hand, you don’t get a “real” game either; so I’m always wary of Fan Made Games. But this is one of those rare times that I decided to weigh the value of the game and try it out, and I’m glad I did. For a 2ish hour experience, this is an unbelievable way to see what a port of Triple Trouble would have been like on the Genesis. It’s faithful to the original game while at the same time expanding it out to a much more full experience and making it look and play just like a original Genesis title that I would have loved to open on Christmas morning in 1994.