High Seas Havoc is a shockingly great Sonic clone
In the early to mid-90s, it was impossible for any gamer to escape the plague of terrible “animals with ‘tude” craze. From Awesome Possum to Rocky Rodent to the shockingly-revived Bubsy (author’s note: THE FIRST BUBSY IS NOT A BAD GAME!) there was a glut of mediocre Sonic knock-offs. However, there are some genuinely good exceptions to this subgenre.
In 1993, the always-dependable Data East released High Seas Havoc. High Seas Havoc plays very much like a Sonic clone, but it at least has an identity of its own by being about anthropomorphic pirates. It also contains some generally great level and character design and is just a fun, little platformer.
Unfortunately, the game’s similarities to Sonic may have overshadowed High Seas Havoc’s quality. Gamers are not too kind to games that look like rip-offs. Sales of the game, according to VGChartz, are unknown but one can figure the game wasn’t drawing huge sales.
Try not to think too hard about it, but in terms of just being a fun platformer for the Genesis, gamers can do a hell of a lot worse than High Seas Havoc.
YO-HO, YO-HO, A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR MEEEE!
Taking place in a world where pirates run amok, our game’s hero is a pirate seal named Havoc. In the game’s surprisingly engaging opening, Havoc finds a girl named Bridget who is carrying a treasure map. However, our villain, a pirate lizard/dragon-thing named Bernardo (great name…no, seriously!) kidnaps the fair maiden. In typical platformer hero fashion, it’s up to Havoc to rescue her and find the treasure.
Looking at the first level of High Seas Havoc, there is no way one can’t think Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s Emerald Hill Zone.
However, pushing right on the control pad, gamers will feel something different; the game is less about speed and more about jumping. Sure, Havoc does move fast, but gamers aren’t trying to break the sound barrier. His speed is there in the same way Mario’s speed is; to help out with jumps. There are also little gameplay tweaks that set it apart from the Blue Blur’s series. Havoc has a life bar as opposed to collecting rings giving the player more of a chance to survive.
Levels all have a (fittingly) nautical theme to them. High Seas Havoc’s graphics really shine in this department. Each is packed will tricky jumps, creative enemies, and an abundance of color. Havoc himself really stands out against the big blue oceans or massive wooden ships he’s jumping around on.
Finally, the boss fights. This is one feature High Seas Havoc does quite well. Granted, it’s still the same old “hit-them-three-time-to-win” most platformers use, but from an art standpoint, they are well designed. There’s evil pirate dogs, ghosts, and finally Bernardo himself. Most importantly, they are fun to play.
One of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures
High Seas Havoc is a standout amongst the surplus of Sonic copies. The game’s aesthetics and solid gameplay alone are worth checking out High Seas Havoc just once. Not every platformer needs to reinvent the wheel for it to be a fun game, and High Seas Havoc fits that description appropriately.
Sadly, since the game wasn’t a big seller, High Seas Havoc has become a relatively expensive collector’s item. Used copies on Amazon run more than 50 bucks a pop.