With a certain franchise that receives fame, it's no fluke that a different game company will find influence or inspiration to copy the formula and try to compete at making it just as successful. With the dawn of Sonic the hedgehog, we received games such as Bubsy, Aero the acrobat and, dare I say it, Awesome Possum. But there is one individual game that has never been as well known as those other three, but tends to try and be a Sonic clone in almost every way. Ladies and gents, I give you...

Socket: Time Dominator



To begin, I was given a trade out of this out of pure dumb luck from an old friend of mine. I don't recall what game it was that I traded him for since it was nearly two decades ago, but I had a dozen other Sega Genesis titles anyway.

Truth to be told, the game, let alone the instruction manual doesn't give any backstory on what this is all about, but basically you're this duck/robot with an electric plug for a tail, and your objective is to make it to the end of a stage before your energy is completely drained.



And for a Sonic clone, the gameplay and level designs are just flat out rancid. You have springs, which are sometimes set in the most random places, little lightning zaps that restore health and the most uncommonly horrid health bar ever in a video game. I say horrid because not only do you need health power ups from taking hits from enemies, but also because your health drains over time. What's even more annoying are the moving platforms that you'll come across. some take no time to think to time your jump, but others are so small that they require the best of precision to stay on. Now I know that Sonic the hedgehog had moving platforms, but they at least had more space to give you to land on.



Don't even get me started on the bonus stages. In this one you're given six different sets of paths to take, all the while staying on a line of strobe lights that move upward and change direction leading to the end of the level. However the stage is so unbelievably narrow that the screen only scrolls upward and the common hazard is a moving spiked ball, a few of them, in fact that are randomly placed. You have to have the best of luck making it past this stage if you can time it as it comes up from off-screen.

One crucial problem is the health bar, named "energy" for some reason. From time to time in a level, you'll find these little lightning zaps that restore your health. I say crucial because not only does it go down from receiving a hit, but because it drains over time. The levels have so much length that finding every last one of these are mandatory every step of the way. I often found myself dying because of this occurrence, and most of the time not even noticing that it was getting low. Whenever it hits the red section, prepare to hear constant beeping until you find more zaps.



Now I know that every Sonic the hedgehog game had a developed plot, especially for the characters and antagonist. I only say this because whenever I came across a boss I had no clue what purpose they had in the game. And those designs, it was as if the game developers took them out of the bin of recycled characters and just put them in. They're that bad.



And aside from that, the ending left me just as clueless. But I'll try to interpret. Socket's objective was basically to go to different times and places and to go back to his chamber to be left alone in a cryogenic tube for the rest of eternity. It didn't even hint me what was going on with that when I was just in my youth, but damn, all that platforming and challenge for a cryogenic sleep? Some hero, huh?

For a bit of trivia, the developers behind this also created the 1991 Sega Genesis title Decapattack, a game that was actually memorable opposed to this one. One small positive side that manages to save this title is the music composition. For its time, it had a charm that sometimes helped me forget about the dreadfully bad gameplay and just play a bit more casually as I played through. It's got nothing on the Sonic the hedgehog compositions, but they're still worth a listen.



Well that's Socket: Time Dominator. A forgotten obscure game that's best left in the sands of time. I hope you enjoyed the article, and I'll see you next time folks!