Defunct Games
31 Bonus Levels of Christmas

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 31 of the best-known bonus stages in all of video games. Each day we're going to look at a different level and review it, while also trying to figure out what makes it tick. Join us as we post a new episode of the 31 Bonus Levels of Christmas every day leading up to the biggest holiday of the year!
Sonic the Hedgehog: Chaos Emerald Maze
[ Console: Genesis | Year: 1991 | Grade: B+ ]

This early 90s bonus stage makes absolutely no sense, but it shows that Sega isn't afraid to go out of their comfort zone!
The Rules: After being sucked into an extraordinarily large ring, Sonic is forced to make his way through a dizzying maze. The goal is simple, find the chaos emerald in the middle of the level. But now things are complicated by the level rotating, changing speeds and even switching directions at the drop of a hat. And did I mention that this is a maze? If Sonic can make his way to the emerald he'll be on his way to getting the most out of the game. Just don't let him get lost, because it's easy to accidentally take the wrong turn and exit the maddening bonus stage once and for all.

The Context: Before being sucked into that gigantic ring, Sonic was just minding his own business and collecting rings. He was also speeding through the level dodging enemies

In theory our beloved hedgehog will turn into this golden Super Sonic after collecting the emeralds!
and avoiding inconveniently placed spike strips. He's on an adventure to free his animal friends from the evil doctor. No matter how many sequels and spin-offs we endured, it was never revealed what Eggman intended to do with all of these critters.

The Verdict: There's no question that this bonus stage is marred by hardware limitations, I appreciate the strong effort by Sega. This was the Sega I loved, a company that would buck common wisdom and refused to be told what they couldn't do. The Sega Genesis isn't a hardware powerhouse, it didn't offer

If Dr. Robotnik was into collecting colorful emeralds, then why did he have a Mean Bean Machine?
many of the onboard effects the Super NES took for granted. But that didn't stop Sega from offering an impressive (albeit antiquated) rotating bonus stage. The stages are tricky and can really mess with your eyes, but they demonstrate a can-do attitude missing from the modern day Sega.

Completely Missing the Point: Here's what we know about Sonic the Hedgehog - he's fast and collects rings. You know who else does that? Jewel thieves! Could it be that Sonic is actually an accomplished criminal and the whole time he's been stealing from the nice, good natured Dr. Robotnik? Could it be that we have it all wrong and Eggman is just an eccentric millionaire that likes to give animals a new home? No wonder he's so pissed off about some spikey haired teen coming and stealing all of his jewelry. And to add insult to injury, Sonic is also going after those chaos emeralds. Who does this guy think he is?
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