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Video Game / Sonic Labyrinth

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Released in November 1995, Sonic Labyrinth is the eleventh title in the Sonic series released on the Sega Game Gear.

Pondering alone in his lair after suffering yet another defeat, Dr. Robotnikaka Dr. Eggman — has an epiphany; if Sonic's speed could be taken away from him, then conquering the world would be like taking candy from a baby. So, later that night, Robotnik has one of his robots sneak into Sonic's home and replace Sonic's normal sneakers with a pair of near identical-looking Speed Down Boots.

The next morning, Sonic wakes up, slips on the shoes and soon finds out that he can't run or even jump. Robotnik makes himself known and gloats that the boots can only be removed by Chaos Emerald energy, and that the miracle gems are all hidden in the Super Labyrinth, his latest base. Thinking quickly, Sonic realizes he can still use his Spin Dash, so he sets off to retrieve the Chaos Emeralds and put a stop to the dastardly doctor's latest scheme.

As far as gameplay is concerned, the game is viewed from an isometric overhead perspective. Sonic can't run or jump, only walk and his only means of fast locomotion and offense is the Spin Dash. There are four "worlds" in the Super Labyrinth: Labyrinth of the Sky, Sea, Factory and Castle, and they each have three acts and a boss battle. The main objective in each main act is to collect three keys and make it to the goal in three minutes. Get hit, and you lose time and the keys fly out of you; don't grab the keys in time and they'll pop right back in their original spots. Fall down a pit or run out of time, and you die. With boss battles, rather than collecting keys, you must first go down a chute and collect rings on the way down. Once you reach the end, you'll actually fight the boss. Get hit once, and you lose all of your rings — even if you manage to get 99 rings in the tube — get hit again, you lose a life. If you lose all of your lives, you must start from the beginning of the game.

This game provides examples of:

  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Spin Dash can be charged up to four levels, but at that point it just makes Sonic too fast, and sends him bouncing all over the place. The game can be played just fine by doing small Spin Charges and braking when you need to make a hard turn.
  • Big Fancy Castle: The Labyrinth of the Castle, the fourth and final world of the game, is set in an ancient castle that's rigged all over with booby traps, Bottomless Pits, and Robotnik's more dangerous robots.
  • Boring, but Practical: Robotnik slowed Sonic down by nabbing his shoes and swapping them for ones that slow him down while the hedgehog slept. Why he didn't do this more often — instead of, say, creating robotic duplicates and rousing ancient beings from their slumber among other things — we'll never know.
  • Boss Corridor: The fourth act of each Labyrinth only consists of a long slope with rings and hazards, then a hole at the bottom of the slope that takes Sonic down a metal wire chute to the Boss Room.
  • Boss-Only Level: The fourth acts all start with a long but quick slope which you roll down to collect lots of rings, before immediately dropping down another chute to that Labyrinth's boss battle.
  • Bottomless Pit: Falling off the stage is the only way Sonic can immediately lose a life in the first three acts of each Labyrinth regardless of time; falling into a pit shows a cutscene of Sonic falling through a chute similar to the boss chutes, and then slam-dunking into a pool of lava with spikes in it at the bottom.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Played with; thanks to Robotnik's Speed Down Boots, Sonic is unable to move at any more than a snail's pace and cannot jump. Fortunately, he can still use his Spin Dash.
  • Continuity Nod: A suble and interesting one. The Japanese manual's story section states that Tails had recently gone on a "self-interested journey" alone. Earlier that year had been released Tails' Skypatrol, whose manual stated that Tails was on a "self-interested journey alone".
  • Diagonal Speed Boost: Sonic walks slighty faster if he moves horizontally.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Eggman successfully cripples Sonic's speed with Speed Down Boots as a means of inhibiting the blue hedgehog from interfering with his plans.. and then forgot entirely that Sonic can curl up as a Hedgehog for his Spin Dash move, a trait seemingly inherent to all the woodland creature characters of the series. While some obstacles and the labyrinth can punish Sonic for reckless usage of it, the Spin Dash is instrumental to navigating beyond a walking pace and taking down Eggman's machines, so this slip-up is the lynchpin to his defeat.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Japanese manual, the "super labyrinth" is known as Eggmanland.
  • End-Game Results Screen: After the game ends — win or lose — you see your final score and the game grades you on your performance, with higher scores given for completing levels quickly, and whether or not you beat the game and/or found the Bonus Stage.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Anytime a item is in use. In some levels, getting a invincibility or speed power up makes the game practically unplayable due to the background flashing wildly for a long period of time. Fortunately, the flashing was removed in the 3DS Virtual Console release.
  • Eternal Engine: The Labyrinth of the Factory, the third world of the game, is set in a robot factory.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: The game's manual in both the Japanese and Western releases has Dr. Robotnik come up with the idea for the Speed Down Boots this way:
    Robotnik: There has to be a way to defeat that pesky Sonic The Hedgehog! No matter what I try, he always manages to outrun my traps! Hmm... wait a minute. He outruns my traps. He uses his fantastic speed to defeat my minions. What if I take his speed away?
  • Evil Overlooker: The Japanese cover art depicts Robotnik looking down at Sonic. The same cover art is used for the game's North American release, although Robotnik's face is obscured by the game's title.
  • Excuse Plot: Dr. Robotnik slowed Sonic down with heavy boots. You must go through his Super Labyrinth and collect the Chaos Emeralds to remove them.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Dr. Robotnik tries to do this to Sonic by removing his speed, but Sonic gets creative.
  • Four Is Death: There are 4 Labyrinths, and the 4th stage of each Labyrinth is a boss stage.
  • Game-Over Man: At the continue screen, Sonic lays on his side in a prison cell while looking bored. By choosing to continue, he easily breaks the gate with a Spin Dash. If you don't, he stays imprisoned; presumably for good.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Labyrinth of the Sky is the basic first world, but oddly enough, the third act of the final world is what uses the Green Hill color scheme.
  • The Hero: Sonic the Hedgehog, naturally.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The Twinkle powerup makes Sonic immune to damage even when he is not curled into a ball.
  • Isometric Projection: The game is built on this perspective, making it sort of the Game Gear equivalent of Sonic 3D Blast.
  • Law of 100: Collecting 100 rings in either a boss act or the Secret Level will grant you an extra life.
  • Level in the Clouds: The Labyrinth of the Sky, the first world of the game, is set high above the clouds.
  • MacGuffin: The five/six Chaos Emeralds. Sonic cannot remove the Slow Down Boots unless he collects them.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Dr. Robotnik's minions, including all of the bosses. Robotnik himself doesn't appear in-game until the ending cutscene.
  • The Maze: The game is called Labyrinth, you know. A few of its levels involve mazes of teleporters or gates.
  • Multiple Endings: Two, depending on whether or not Sonic accesses the secret level in Zone 2-3.
    • Ending 1: You've cleared the game, "BUT IT IS NOT PERFECT!" Even though Sonic looks like he can run normally again, the game implies that you missed something in Zone 2-3.
    • Ending 2: You've finished the game and got through the secret level. "IT IS PERFECT! WONDERFUL!" The ending is pretty much the same, but you get the Level Select code and no "TRY AGAIN" message.
  • Oddball in the Series: A Sonic game where the titular protagonist can't even run. Instead of being a side-scrolling platformer, Labyrinth is a mini golf-like game with puzzle-solving elements, where Sonic Spin Dashes around looking for keys to unlock the levels' goals.
  • Pinball Zone: The whole game consists of this type of level, seeing as because he can no longer run or jump due to Robotnik's Slow-Down Boots, Sonic must instead use his Spin Dash to get around quickly. Some levels also use pinball flippers as gimmicks.
  • Power Up Letdown: The Twinkle gives Sonic temporary invincibility, and the Sneaker increases his walking speed. However, since Sonic should mainly be moving around stages using the Spin Dash — which already makes him invincible as long as he's rolling — and is faster than the Sneaker's walking speed, neither help that much.
  • Rolling Attack: Sonic has his Spin Dash, as usual. With his running speed being taken away, the Spin Dash is the only way of getting around quickly.
  • Secret Level: Hidden in Zone 2-3, and required to get the Good Ending.
  • Slide Level: The prologue to each boss level has Sonic rolling down a huge slide and collect as many rings as he can before he fights the boss at the end. While they all have things to slow Sonic down — which can actually help, seeing as it aligns Sonic with the trails of rings — later ones also include dangerous hazards on the way down.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Sonic's Spin Dash is the only way to get around quickly in this game, and as such, the player is encouraged to use it as much as possible.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: Springs and equivalent objects can be used to send Sonic to closed-off tracks.
  • Sprint Shoes: The Sneakers power-up. It temporarily makes Sonic walk a bit faster when he collects it.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The Labyrinth of the Sea has Sonic walking and rolling around under the sea with none of his usual issues with breathing underwater. Taking into account how frustrating the rest of the game can be, not having to contend with an Oxygen Meter for once is a welcome change.
  • Super-Speed: Played with. The whole plot centers around Sonic's forced inability to run fast and his quest to regain it by rolling fast.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Unlike many other platformers, this game shows what lies at the bottom of its seemingly Bottomless Pits, a lava pool with Spikes of Doom sticking out of it. One of those alone would have been enough, but Eggman obviously wasn’t going to take any chances with Sonic.
  • Timed Mission: The first three acts of each Labyrinth give Sonic a minute and a half to find the three keys and hit the goal; destroying robots and picking up the keys will extend the timer, while getting hit will decrease it. Run out of time, fall off the stage or get hit by a boss enemy with no rings, and you lose a life.
  • Under the Sea: The Labyrinth of the Sea, the second world of the game, is set underwater.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The game ends with Sonic chasing after Dr. Robotnik, but when the doctor drops his Chaos Emerald, Sonic turns towards an exit and leaves him alone.
  • A Winner Is You: Clearing the game after seeing the Secret Level in Zone 2-3 just makes the credits congratulate you for it, as well as providing you with a level select code.