Sonic The Hedgehog (GEN) Retro Review
The Sonic the Hedgehog series has been running since 1991 when the first game debuted on the Sega Genesis. This was Sega’s idea of a mascot. A blue hedgehog, with spikes on its back and red shoes. Sega created a platformer with this character, made him run very fast in colorful levels with lots of enemies, power-ups and bosses. This was a winning formula. It was the game that got the Sega Genesis up on its feet. Nowadays Sonic is on par with Mario when it comes to popularity but in the last 10 years we have seen a decrease in quality when it came to Sonic games. None the less, Sonic is still loved by many and his old games will always be cherished by Sega fans everywhere.
Sonic The Hedgehog was the first 2D platformer to feature a character so fast. At the time, Genesis owners were amazed at the speed that Sonic ran. He still runs fast nowadays but it won’t blow your mind like it did back in the 90s. This contributed to fast platforming and an incredible flow that made Mario and other platformers seem sluggish. The main antagonist is Doctor Ivo Robotnik who was snatching animals and transforming them into evil robots. It’s up to Sonic to defeat Robotnik and save the day. Sonic 1 features 6 zones with 3 acts each. This means that it has 18 playable levels with a special stage that can only be accessed in the first two acts of every zone. While most of the levels are pretty solid, I found the pacing to be poor. Let’s see. The game starts of with the infamous Green Hill Zone. It’s a fast and short level just like it should be. The second level is called Marble Zone. This is a platform heavy zone, so it’s naturally quite slow. I personally find it fun but Sonic is not about slow platforming. All of the levels after Green Hill except Starlight Zone don’t capture the feel of speed the first zone manages to achieve. Even so the platforming in these levels still managed to keep my attention and are pretty challenging.
Every zone has a boss of its own. The boss is always Robotnik with a new machine wreaking havoc upon Sonic. Once you get the patterns down, the boss fights are laughably easy, they’re still fun to go through though. The levels are packed with rings, enemies and power-ups. Rings are very important. Sonic doesn’t have the usual health system found in most platformers. If Sonic doesn’t have any rings and gets hit by an enemy he will die. But if Sonic has one or more rings on him and gets hit, Sonic will simply drop all his rings. It’s a great system and it helps keep the action fast. There are other things that the rings can do. If Sonic collects a 100 rings in one act than he gets an extra life. Rings are also necessary if the player wants to access the special zone. If Sonic collect fifty rings, a giant ring will appear at the end of the level. When Sonic jumps through it he’ll be teleported to the special stage. Sonic will need to traverse a maze with multi-colored blocks while collecting rings. Collecting another hundred rings here will grant the player an extra life and a continue. But the main reason why the special stages exist is the Chaos Emeralds. If Sonic collects all the emeralds in all the special stages, a different ending will play instead of the normal one. These special stages get annoying sometimes, although the background and the music are kinda trippy. Keep in mind that special zones are not available at the end of act 3 of every zone, as a boss is present.
A bevy of power-ups are available, they can usually be found in computer monitors. There is the Super ring, which rewards Sonic with 10 rings, the Speed shoes, which make Sonic run even faster, a shield which grants Sonic an extra layer of protection against enemies, Invincibility, speaks for itself and a 1-up, extra life basically. Also keep in mind that invincibility won’t help if Sonic falls on spikes or a pit. Sonic has a few attacks up his sleeve. He can jump on enemies or use the spin attack in which Sonic rolls up into a ball and charges his enemy. Speaking of enemies, theirs a plethora of enemies which are all Robotnik’s robots. Theirs a couple of annoying enemies here and their but I think they look cool and most of the time they’re fun to stomp on. Sonic has very simple controls, D-pad for movement and the A button for jumping. Simplicity at it’s finest. The 16-bit sonic games are all beautiful to look at, and this is no exception. The colors are simply amazing, everything just pops out of the screen. It’s ironic that a game this old can still wow gamers with its colorful graphics while newer games like Battlefield 3 can bore me to death with its various shades of brown. Also the infamous soundtrack for Sonic, unbelievably catchy and just a joy to listen too, truly a gem.
What can I say more? The original Sonic the Hedgehog is something that everyone must play, most of you must have already played it. It’s available on tons of platforms but if you want to be a purist and buy it on the original console then it’s not a problem at all. The Sega Genesis or Megadrive, depending on where you live is very easy to find, the sonic games are quite easy to find aswell, they were best sellers on the console after all.