Sonic the Hedgehog
System: Genesis :: Rating: N/A :: Players: 1
Genre: Platformer :: Released: 23 June 1991
By Kellen Scrivens
This is what I hope will be the first of many classic game reviews that I will be writing, and for my first game I shall review Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis — a game that I have played many times over the last decade.
The game was released for the Genesis in 1991, and, in case you just got back from Mars, you know that Sonic was a huge success. Was this success warranted? Well, in my eyes it sure was.
The story in this game is very simple, to the point, and virtually nonexistent — and you've heard it already. Dr. Robotnik has enslaved all of Sonic's furry forest friends by roboticizing them, and you need to defeat the evil Doctor to save them. As much of a fan as I am of stories in games, I've played Sonic a countless number of times without even noticing it.
The gameplay was at first what drew me in as a five-year-old kindergartener, and still keeps me playing it to this very day. It delivers on what it promises — the game is incredibly fast paced and most importantly fun. Nothing is more fun than running at top speed through loop-de-loops, hopping from ledge to ledge, collecting rings, and defeating Robotnik over and over again.
The levels themselves are great. There are 19 of them in all, spanning seven different Zones (even though one is just the final boss battle), and each is unique in its own way. The Zones are incredible and have since become the oft-used themes for many of their newer games. Many have been overlooked throughout the years (if you can find a Scrap Brain Zone clone, tell me) — they were designed beautifully, and each has a successive challenge factor to it.
The graphics were incredible for their time and continue to stand up pretty well today. The sprites for Sonic, the baddies, Robotnik and all of the items in the game are detailed perfectly and all look great.
My skin still tingles every time I hear the sounds and music. Easily the Sonic jump and the curl and roll are two of my favorite video game sounds ever. Also, things such as hitting an enemy or gaining a Chaos Emerald fill the moment with the perfect sound. Now as for the music, this stuff is incredible considering the Sega Genesis' sound card — which wasn't very good. The theme for every level makes me want to turn up the volume because not only do they have a nostalgic feel, but they're also really, really good. Whoever composed this game (I'm sorry I don't know who) deserves a medal because I actually prefer the songs in this game over most of the other 16-bit Sonic titles.
And let's not forget the special stages, which are also probably my favorite of all of the 16-bit Sonic games. In order to get to them you must collect 50 rings or more in any non-boss stage (essentially any Act 1 or 2), and at the end of the level there will be a giant ring above the turnstile. Jump in and there you will be sent. The original special stage is basically a rotating maze. You must find the Chaos Emerald while making your way through the maze without touching the red sides. The music for these stages adds a nice touch and the background effects are great — although pointless.
The boss battles in this game are classic. At the time they were all very unique, although some have since been done to death. They all offer a certain amount of challenge, but at the same time none of them are deathly hard either. You feel a sense of accomplishment whenever you beat one of these bosses, because the first time you face them you'll probably have a little trouble.
The overall challenge to this game, as I said above, is on a perfect learning curve. The first level is set up to be easy so you can adjust to the game and learn the basic tricks. As you progress, they get a little bit harder with the only exception being the final boss battle. (The level directly before the boss is pretty hard, while the final boss is pretty easy.) After you beat the game the first time, during the ending cutscene you may see Robotnik still holding all the Chaos Emeralds — and that can be a challenge you may wish to take on and accomplish. It really does feel like you accomplished something after you have.
One thing I really need to touch on is just how much of an impact this game made on the video gaming world in general. This was the game that put Sega (both as a hardware and software developer) on the map, and created all of the Mario vs. Sonic, Genesis vs. SNES, and Nintendo vs. Sega rivalries that did nothing but help the gaming industry no matter how you look at it. I'm not going to say Sonic saved gaming, but you have to admit, he really helped it along.
Whenever I play this game on my emulator, I have an incredibly fun time. It is a game I would recommend to any gamer. And for its great gameplay, music and impact on the gaming world, I give this game the best rating on my scale — 5 out of 5.