Sonic Labyrinth
| Sonic Labyrinth

Here are two facts about the Sonic The Hedgehog series.

One: it's never worked in 3D... ever. Two: what always makes it stand out from the crowd is the titular hero's speed - Sonic can breeze through levels while plumbers, bandicoots, and time sweepers bumble forward.

Here are two facts about Sonic Labyrinth.

One: it is presented in isometric 3D. Two: the plot centres on Dr Eggman secretly replacing the Blue Blur's trademark red sneakers with Slow-Down Boots, a pair of loafers that bring Sonic's movements to a crawl.

Got my new shoes on

Sonic Labyrinth, therefore, bears all the hallmarks of a weak entry in the series, and for the most part those telltale signs are proven correct. But, there are some interesting ideas at play here, too.

You can still Spin Dash, which you'll need to zip about the levels to pick up the three keys and open the exit door, as well as to vanquish enemies. You can charge this move up as you see fit, handing you complete control over Sonic's high-speed rolling attacks.

Because of the low resolution of the screen on the Game Gear - the hardware on which this title first launched - the draw distance is massively compromised, so moving quickly through unknown areas will often find you coming unstuck due to an unseen level edge or Badnik.

The priority for new players, then, is to move slowly and memorise the level layouts. However, you're given a very stingy time limit on each stage, making this approach a dangerous one as the timer ticks away and you lose a life.

Puzzling platformer

As the game's name suggests, each area is labyrinthine in design: the small levels are complicated and confusing to mentally deconstruct. You'll go through some doorways to another section of a level, find a dead end, turn back, and exit out into a completely different area from the one you were expecting.

Without a time limit, this could have made for a more exploratory, thoughtful Sonic game, but the presence of the timer just results in a frustrating exercise in getting lost.

Bosses are equally bemusing. After barely reacting to the damage you are inflicting on them with your Spin Dash, they will suddenly give up the ghost and self-destruct. Your slow speed up against their projectiles also ensures that these encounters are massively weighted in their favour.

Enemy design is fine, but Sonic's foes in this adventure are nowhere near as iconic as the Buzz Bomber or Caterkiller. None of the Zones has any personality, meanwhile, and the music is wholly forgettable. There's a reason that this is one of the less well-known entries in the Sonic pantheon: it's completely unremarkable.

Hardcore Sonic fans who are yet to experience Sonic Labyrinth and who decide to download this version will discover it's a decent port, but aside from the novelty of playing as Sega's #1 mascot at his slowest speed, there's little to recommend here.

Sonic Labyrinth

Sonic Labyrinth is slow, confusing, and uninspired - only the most dedicated of the blue hedgehog's fans should consider purchasing this