Sonic Chaos (Game Gear/Master System)
No 'Sonic 3' for the 8-bit machines, probably because the 16-bit threequel was miles ahead of anything the Master System could even attempt to emulate.
But for the 8-bit machines, Sonic Chaos is a tour-de-force. The sprites are bigger and more detailed, there are new animations so Sonic can flip as he comes off angled springs… even the twisted ribbon bits from Sonic 2 are in, although Sonic automatically goes into a roll whenever he hits one.
The spin dash is also included for the first time and a smiliar, standing dash move is also available by pushing up and jump instead of down. Tails makes his 8-bit debut as a playable character, with virtually the same game route – just no special stages and therefore no emeralds to collect.
Above: Sonic on rocketboots. Why haven't these been revisited in 3D?
The game is notable for its special stages too, with a variety of gameplay twists, such as a series of seemingly unending pipes, and also time-limited jumping challenges. The emeralds are collected in these stages, although there's still no Super Sonic when you've got them all. Bah.
With well-designed levels, fun power-ups (like the rather daft spring shoes), and the closest emulation yet of the Sonic 2 Mega Drive experience, this is the most accomplished Sonic on the 8-bit machines. Perhaps it's lacking the personality of the original game, but it makes up for that with its ambition and smooth delivery. It's rather antiquated today, but there's still much to appreciate if you can put up with its appearance.