Sonic Triple Trouble 16-bit is a free fan game – and a worthy successor to Sonic Mania

It’s been a year of ups and downs to be a Sonic fan. sound borders looked bright and troubled in alternate media drops, and Sonic Origins gave fans the definitive versions of the 2D classics they’ve been asking for – except they were riddled with bugs and weren’t exactly final. But now Sonic fans have another reason to celebrate: the release of Triple Sonic Trouble… but in a new format.

For those of you who aren’t a thousand years old, Triple Trouble is a classic 8-bit Sonic game. Because 8-bit games were released around the same time as 16-bit games, they’re rightly not as revered or loved – but they’re still, on the whole, lovely little platformers that try. to adapt the Sonic formula to much weaker games. platforms. A few of these games were loose adaptations of their Mega Drive counterparts – but a few were entirely original affairs.

The most notable of these is Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble. This 8-but title is actually older than other classic 2D Sonic adventures, released for the Sega Game Gear handheld a few months after Sonic & Knuckles hit Mega Drive. This placement in Sonic’s timeline got some fans thinking: what if this game had been 16-bit, what if it was a sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles? What if it was essentially Sonic 4?

That’s what Triple Trouble 16-bit is all about – a fan-made game that reimagines the entirety of Triple Trouble as if it were made for Mega Drive/Genesis, in the wake of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Along the way, you can see the key inspiration for another big Sonic revival in recent years: Sonic Mania.

This 16-bit reimagining of Triple Trouble is ultimately still a fan game. It doesn’t necessarily have the polish of an official release and falls on a few of the tried and true pitfalls of fan gaming – but damn it, it feels close to official quality and, most importantly, it’s well worth your time. Especially if you consider the price of entry: free.

No Mega Drive emulator is required, as this is a PC executable coded from scratch that will run on even weaker PCs and run like a dream on the Steam Deck. As far as legality goes, Sega has generally been happy to turn a blind eye to the community of Sonic game fans so long as they don’t charge for their efforts – indeed, it’s that community that raised key personnel who have then worked for the publisher. on Sonic Mania, Origins and several other ports of classic games. When it comes to this sort of thing, Sega is pretty cool.

16-bit Triple Trouble immediately skyrocketed in my top Sonic fan games, up there with titles like Before & After the Sequel and the immortal Sonic Robo Blast 2. It’s a hell of an achievement, but it also something these titles don’t have. t quite: it feels more authentic, in a way.

That authenticity comes from the fact that it’s a remake of an existing Sonic game – even if the similarities between the original Triple Trouble and that remake are really rather superficial. Some original gimmicks and stage ideas are intact, as are the sets themselves and the overall story. But, really, the creative fans of this project, led by director and designer Noah N. Copeland, twisted and manipulated recognizable elements of the original game to fit a glorious new purpose.

Even the art is top notch, right?

Primarily, this lens is a vehicle for vast helpings of delicious fan-service. The game is now billed as a direct sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, picking up right where that adventure left off. That means there’s a new introductory stage, a moody cinematic mini-level where Sonic and Tails race through the rubble of the Death Egg to find where Robotnik has crashed. Stage transitions make the adventure seamless, as do new boss mechanics and new gimmicks like a snowboard stage that’s more reminiscent of Sonic Adventure’s take on the Ice Cap area.

You’re constantly bombarded with new mechanics, as well as old stage gimmicks repurposed in interesting and inventive ways. Along the way, the experience is peppered with dialogue-free 2D cutscenes, where lovingly crafted sprite work tells you everything you need to know – just like in Mania and S3K. The cinematic flair on display, especially towards the end of the game when the story picks up speed, is brilliant. He does more with less.

The soundtrack is excellent too. It mixes new versions of the music from the Game Gear version with new melodic additions and elements borrowed from other games. Again, that’s the kind of fan service these obsessives are best at delivering – culminating in an insanely good Metal Sonic boss theme that weaves together every bit of music associated with the classic Sonic-era character, including understood the theme from the original Triple Trouble.

The color palette is impeccable.

It’s just a brilliant experience. It also reminds me of an idea: maybe a Sonic Mania 2 could actually be based on that kind of experience – reimagining non-Mega Drive 2D Sonics in the style of the 2D series entries that really matter. There are a lot of specific things the publisher could take from this game, really. As always, Sonic fans are leading the way, and Sonic stewards would do well to pay attention.

If 16-bit Sonic Triple Trouble was a true full game released by Sega, it would teeter dangerously close to a 5-star VG247 review. It’s not as good as Sonic Mania or S3K – but it’s probably now my third favorite 2D Sonic. Which is sure to say something. Kudos to those fans. You have to play it.

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Sonic Triple Trouble 16-bit is a free fan game – and a worthy successor to Sonic Mania

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