In-between the Action and Adventure stages are sub-games, which are small little alternatives to the gameplay similar to the minigames scattered in Final Fantasy 7. Each have varying decrees of gameplay quality. The first is…
Twinkle Circuit: It’s Mario Kart but absolute garbage. Based on the mini racing portion of Twinkle Park, this minigame is that except going in a small circle and it’s really bad. the controls has this sluggish feel to it, making the kart have this strange weight to it that makes turns a chore. It’s like the controller became a dumbbell. There is no drift button, so you have to time the turn perfectly or else its straight into the wall. It’s essentially a time attack mode, so it doesn’t have the rush of beating other racers for the goal. You’re alone in space. Thankfully, you have to play this once with each character to get an emblem and its completely optionally, unlike the others, so you can play the better version in Tinkle Park instead.
Sand Hill: Based on the snowboarding section in Ice Cap, it’s Tails exclusively going through a sand world to get to Froggy. Basically a more fun Big story. This one is mandatory and alright. You go down a slope trying to pass under enough gates to get points for two emblems (this is given when replaying). The spectacle of it is its greatest boon, seeing these strange sand worms dig through the dirt and structures moving in and out of the sand. Other than that, it’s alright.
Sky Chase: Split into two acts, this one is my favorite one for thematic reasons. Piloting the Tornado and Tornado 2 as Sonic or Tails, you fly high in the sky to pursue the Egg Carrier. This nod to Sky Chase Zone, where the pair chased after another aircraft, you fly and blast Eggman’s airforce legion to find a way onto the Egg Carrier: the first was unsuccessful while the other pulled a Skywalker. Yeah, Eggman has a dedicated airforce, like robot jets instead of the robot birds and turtles that flew in Sky Chase 2. The objective is to get as many points by destroying stuff. Yellow planes give you 60 points while missiles only give 20. It’s a rail shooter, so you just move around the screen avoiding things.
It’s fun for what it is. Flying in space on a plane towards the Carrier is a thematic delight. I personally love the looming dark clouds in the 2nd act, but the sun shinning and causing a glare in the 1st is pretty good too. It doesn’t take much thought besides points for emblems. Blow up stuff, boom you’re done. In the 2nd act, you see the Tornado 2 transform into its battle mode (cause the first one wasn’t?). It changes nothing besides extending your targeting signal to do the same kind of homing missile attack. This sub-game doesn’t overstay its welcome but is still fun throughout, so it’s my personal favorite sub-game. Plus the music is killer.
(Btw, there was originally gonna be an Egg Dragon attacking you in Act 1, but got cut. At least it saw the light of hell in Sonic 06).
It’s all the stages in one mode. No running around the hub world, just in and out. It’s fun for quick plays if you just want stage level fun. I personally use it for emblem catching and boss rushes, since this is the only way to access bosses again. There’s nothing much too it, but I will talk about it later.
It’s the Adventure Mode but with no emblems and filled with missions. This was added in DX and is not that great. Scattered around the hub worlds are the ID models that access “fun” missions. Each character gets a few and they range from “baby easy” to “who tested this!” Some are find the balloon, put the statue from here to here, get the sign, get the medals, and find the Sonic X promotional images. Anybody remember Sonic X? But some are like “get all the flags in the Indiana Jones section of Lost World, except its trial and error cause you can’t see where they are so bye!” The flag ones are the worst ones.
I’ll be honest, I never completed this mode in any playthrough because some missions are just ridiculous and it starts becoming less fun after a while. Even if I did, I apparently get nothing worth wild besides another minigame for another mode. So, 10 years of that. So, what is this minigame?
Game Gear Games
Another addition to the DX version is a collection of 12 Game Gear Games. Included in it is the game gear versions of the Sonic 1 and 2, original games similar to the genesis games such as Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble, spin offs such as Sonic Spinball and Dr Robotnik’s Mean Machine (the most beautiful one), racing games such as Sonic Drift, and 2 Tails central games such as Tail’s Skypatrol. They’re all pretty alright. Reviewing each game separately would just be a full review of them, and that would really detract more time.
Rather, I’ll go over quickly how they are in DX. Every game is unlocked by collecting every emblem and beating mission mode. Unlike the Virtual Console that would later come to be on the Wii and 3ds, I never found a way to save my progress in these games. So, it will always restart whenever you leave and come back.
My biggest issue with the Game Gear games in general is the compression of the screen. For some, its not noticeable. But for Sonic 2, when you get stuck in the first boss because the stage is too short and you barely have room to avoid the boss and the out of nowhere balls, its frustrating. This is a problem with the games themselves, so they aren’t bad ports but ports of bad versions. It’s fun that its games within a game, but the screen compression can be hard to look at sometimes. At the very least, its cool that the DX version added these games as a collection, but any compliments and issues that were in the Game Gear are translated well onto here.
And Finally…Metal Sonic
…and I never got him because it requires all 130 emblems and I’ve never been able to get all of them. From what I’ve seen of the reward, its just a repaint of Sonic who can glide and can only be accessed in Trial Mode. Cool that he’s playable, but it would have been cool to have had a story of him instead of just a repaint of Sonic’s levels.
(The Chao garden, due to being really expansive and in-depth, will need a separate post to talk about in full. For now, I love it and its probably the only memory you have of the game.)