The Mediocre

High Seas Havoc

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Year Released: 1993
Platform: Sega Megadrive

Sonic The Hedgehog plus pirates minus some speed equals High Seas Havoc. Developer Data East decide to go the methodical platforming route with some running for good measure, and for the most parts, it works. Captain Havoc (or Captain Lang if you’re from Japan) can run pretty fast, jump onto enemies, and do an air flash kick to defeat his foes and go through obstacles. There are actually some pretty cool ideas for stages and layouts here, especially one involving you running from Ristar’s bastard clone.

The problem? The game gets insanely hard after the first few levels. Enemies can hurt you badly and can spawn out of nowhere if you’re not paying attention, and some platforming bits require precise timing and perfect landings. I can understand pulling this nonsense off in the final stages, but in Act 2 and 3 when the going is supposed to be less rough? Balance is thrown out the window here.

Socket/Time Dominator 1st

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Year Released: 1993
Platform: Sega Megadrive

Ever wanted to play a bird-duck robot thing with a plug for a tail and careen across a futuristic city? Well, you can do that with Socket as you travel through time(?) to defeat some evil flying baron robot from messing up history. The catch is your robot will run out of energy if he lingers in the stage too long. You’ll need to both collect electric energy icons and not get hurt too often to survive.

It’s about as basic as you can get for a Sonic clone: you run, you navigate the wide-as-heck levels, and explore labyrinths. But the game controls great and has cool music. Barring a few complex labyrinth areas, this game can be quite a breeze. Plus, having your depleting lifebar as your timer is a cool mechanic that gives that extra challenge when you’re playing through this clone the first time around.

If only the devs could have made a better warning sound when you’re low on energy though.

Zool 2

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Year Released: 1993
Platform: Amiga, then ported to the Megadrive, SNES, etc.

Yes, the Amiga sometimes get second-rate platformers, but at the very least they’re pretty fun second-rate Sonic clones. Zool the ant and his female companion Zooz work together to defeat boss-type dude Mental Block to restore order in the Chupa-Chups-filled dimension they’re in.

Your ants can fire ninja pellets and spin jump, navigating the colourful levels while collecting candy & finding the exit. While it’s fun to control and jump around while a pretty spiffy techno soundtrack is blasting away, you had to switch off the SFX. Back then, the Amiga can only run the game with either the music or SFX, not both.

NEXT: The Best

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