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Back in the early 90s SEGA were releasing their new flagship console the 16-bit Mega Drive, and they needed a new mascot to increase their commercial profile. Enter Sonic the Hedgehog.
Released in 1991, (and ported to the amiga not long after) the original Sonic the Hedgehog looked nothing short of breathtaking, and it still looks nice today. The game is a side-scrolling platformer, but with a difference- unlike Mario Bros and its associated clones, Sonic relies heavily on speed, with the eponymous blue hedgehog racing through the levels at Speedy-Gonzalez speeds, traversing ramps, jumps and even loop-the-loops, whilst collecting as many rings as possible in the process. There are also numerous enemies to be disposed of by jumping on them, each of these consisting of a harmless animal trapped inside a menacing robotic machine, with the animals running off to safety when their outer shells are destroyed.
The general idea is to race through the levels as fast as possible, although there are the usual array of deadly traps, rising ceilings, and moving platforms to be traversed as well. There are even underwater sections, where Sonic must keep himself alive by swimming from one air-bubble to the next.
There are six level types or 'zones' in all, and these are varied and lovingly created, whilst the graphics themselves are colourful, crisp and possessive of their own unique style and charm. The animation is excellent too, making the visuals even more impressive, whilst the music is icohighly memorable, and brilliantly devised. If enough rings are collected, the player is transported to a mini-bonus round; a third-person, 3d-tunnel-network in which, as before, Sonic must collect as many rings as possible, recieving one of a number of rare emeralds for his trouble if enough rings are collected.
A true landmark in the platform game genre, the original Sonic is an iconic and timeless game that still possesses the ability to impress and entertain nearly twenty years after its original release.
Sonic The Hedgehog (or Sonic 1) released in 1991 on the Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis if you're living in America) set the foundation for one of the most endearing gaming franchises of all time that now 18 years on is still around. As one of the early games on the Mega Drive to really earn the console some kudos in it's battle with the Nintendo system of the time and as Sega's answer to Mario the blue hedgehog was one of the most important gaming characters of the 1990's. Though Sega had been looking for a mascot for a while they settled on Sonic (though the title character from the late Mega Drive game "Ristar" had almost been picked as the character for this game). A blue hedgehog that was incredibly fast ("Super Sonic" of course meaning quicker than the speed of sound). With the protagonist sorted next came the antagonist who became a cross between an egg and Theodore Roosevelt (not sure why) who was called either Dr Robotnik or Dr Eggman (in Japan).
The games story revolves around Robotnik trying to collect the 6 Chaos Emeralds on South Island to rule the area and as part of his plan he turns all the animals there into little robots (Badniks) which act as Sonics general enemies through the game. As a result the game, as a platform game (in the Mario/Alex the Kidd type mould) sees the player controlling sonic as he races from left to right across the levels collecting rings and destroying badniks on the way. The rings pose multiple uses throughout the game but are generally to be see as the games collectables (like Coins in the Mario series and Notes in the Banjo and Kazooie games), when 100 have been held at any point the player is gifted an extra life and if 50 are held at the end of the level (acts 1 and 2 only) the player can jump into a bonus stage. They also act as a form of protection, as long as Sonic holds a ring he can take a hit from an enemy, though the rings he holds will be scattered and the player should rush to get as many of them as possible.
Starting with the title screen which at the time had the then trademark Sega ribbon ring and star design (as seen in Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy III) with Sonics face popping out. The green and blue background of the opening level visible behind Sonic setting the tone for the games starter. The game begins on what would be a Sonic staple, Green Hill Zone a tropical paradise with a picturesque skyline and a generally green theme to it all. All the further 2D Sonic games in the series (Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles) copied the idea to have a primarily green theme for their opening levels. The opening act (of 3) is simple and despite having a couple of routes through parts of it, they level is pretty linear and simple, though it is best known for loop-de-loops and speed tunnels throughout the entire zone. The following 2 acts are the same same sort of thing, simple with a rather easy learning curve allowing the player to know how to play before throwing them in at the deep end. The final boss of course is one of the most infamous and parodied battles in all of video games as Robotnik (making his first appearance) in a flying machine with a huge swinging ball hanging from the bottom. The player (as is the case through the game) much hit Robotniks machine 8 times to destroy it and pass onto the next level.
The following level is the Marble Zone a typical Lava level with lots of the red stuff acting as the main obstacle and moving platforms being a key to the players success. As well as the lava a lot of large medieval looking large spikes are spread through the level trying to damage the players chances of success. Although the Zone is only the second in the game it's a large step up in difficulty from the previous one and is actually one of only a few lava levels in the entire series with the other being Lava Reef from Sonic and Knuckles (through the Game Gear version of Sonic 2 and a level from Sonic Spinball do both have levels with Lava neither of them are as far as I'm concerned in the same line). The level is designed to allow the game to slow down as the first level seems to be all about speed this is a much more cautious and means the player can't go all speed no skill. The boss again is simple and easy to beat taking 8 hits to complete and help you to enter the next level.
The third Zone is Spring Yard Zone which is based on a casino type theme much like the Casino Night zone from Sonic 2, Carnival Night from Sonic 3 and the bonus stage from Sonic & Knuckles. With a Pinball feel underneath the Casino theme with bumpers, large springs and bouncing balls. The level is a vast step up in complexity when compared to the previous levels with secret areas and infact the second act in the zone has multiple ending locations (one of only 2 acts in all of the Sonic 2-D games to be like this). The final boss is again simple when you find him, though the level is quite easy to get lost in like Mystic Caves in the second game.
The fourth Zone is Labyrinth Zone which was the first water zone in a Sonic game and introduced the idea of air bubbles underwater, the water theme had been continued in the following two games in some form in Aquatic Ruins in Sonic 2 and Hydrocity Zone in Sonic 3. Though due to possible routes through them it's almost possible to avoid water all together (except the boss battle at Act 1 of Hydrocity and the start of Act 2). The level is a significant increase in difficulty with act 3 being an infamously complex maze with a boss battle that sees the player not needing to hit Robotniks machine at all just merely follow it out of the level. For those interested in the map the level can be found as a PNG on http://info.sonicretro.org/images/5/51/Lz3.PNG.
The following level wasn't much easier as the game effectively found top gear was the Star Light zone an industrial level with a night based background the levels playable surface was a green colour and the level featured a vast array of obstacles. With things like saw blades and huge drops leading to the players death the level doesn't contain many Badniks but a lot more level traps than some of the others. Though with all the traps the acts do again have vast amounts of routes through them from end to end where the play can often take a low or high route through the level with the Loop-de-loops again making a return from the starting level. The level also contain steps that move when the player jumps on them allowing the multiple routes to be explored which on act 3 include a triple loop-de-loop. The boss at the end sees Robotniks machine dropping little bombs at the player with see saws being used to launch them back at the evil innovator of silly machines.
The final three act Zone and the penultimate zone is the Scrap Brain zone, dubbed by the some of the Sega team involved in the game as Basement level of Robotiniks lair. The level is similar to the Labyrinth zone in that it's effectively a giant maze like level that full of traps thankfully however the level doesn't have the water that made it Labyrinth so difficult. Instead however the zone has saw blades, conveyor belts and other factory themed traps. At the end of the second act Robotnik sends Sonic back to the bottom meaning there is no final boss battle (the level leads straight into the Final Zone however). The third act however does bring back the dreaded water from the Labyrinth zone and is by far the most difficult level in the game despite the fact there is no boss battle. Though using glitches it is possible to skip almost the entire level as opposed to going through the whole maze like structure which despite having multiple (none glitched routes) is still a night mare. For those wanting to see how the glitch worked here's a youtube video of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOkB9C3sSk0&NR=1 (the Video is not mine though I'm fairly sure the creator, Spinballwizard will not mind the publicity of the link).
The Final zone sees the player having a rather easy battle with Robotnik in a piston like machine that after the Scrap Brain zone seems rather anti climatic and easy.
The game also features "special stages", to get the chaos emeralds the player must finish a level with over 50 rings and jump through the giant ring at the end to enter these zones. A swirling maze which sees the player controlling the rotation of the screen more than Sonic as such and was similar to the casino themed special level in Sonic & Knuckles.
Along the way as well as rings the player will see lamp posts which are effectively "save" points for when the player dies (extremely useful later on in the game) restoring them to the same point as the post they ran past. There is also blue shields that protect the player from single hits, these have been a Sonic staple ever since through took on a dramatic change in Sonic 3 when elemental shields we're brought in to replace them. Boxes containing 10 rings, extra lives and stars (invincibility) also pop up throughout the zones much to the players advantage, though the stars and shields do seem rare later one.
Though the graphics we're simple, even for the Sega Mega Drives (especially when compared to the lush textures of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles) you have to remember this was really early in the machines life span. The programmers had been learning through out the development of the game and by the time the later levels we're being put in place the developers had started to use ideas that they didn't realise we're even possible when they started. This obviously lead to advancements shown in the follow up games where the graphics got more complex and the almost monotone levels of this game we're hugely improved up on. As in fact we're the sounds which went from really simple to simple but yet catchy with the "hey" and "go" stylings that had Sonic 3 link with the Michael Jackson producers of the time.
Yes these could be seen as flaws but they we're with out a doubt the foundations that one of the greatest 2D gaming series of all time was developed upon. Sadly the 3D Sonic games seem to have forgotten the magic and playability of these older games, instead using a poor control system and trying to do things they shouldn't have bothered with. 3D platform games can work, look at the Mario games such Mario 64 or the Banjo and Kazooie series, the Rachet and Clank games or the Jak and Daxter series. Just a shame team Sonic can't remember how to make great Sonic titles.
Overall a brilliant start to the Sonic series that was followed up by 3 brilliant titles in the same line (again I'm not including Spinball, Mean Bean Machine or the none Mega Drive games here) that really helped keep me, and many others entertained throughout the 90's. A symbol of our childhood that saw Sega suddenly become one of the gaming powerhouses to rival Nintendo, of course this lead the fierce video game wars that have helped us to where we are now, and forced the Mario series to step up to the plate. Despite being a Sonic fan myself due to the speed and the multiple routes, the Mario games after the demise of the Mega Drive have definitely been the stronger of the two series. If Sega could replicate this sort of form again however, we may well see another magical game that will hold a generation of gamers under it's spell.
Time for another game review! This time I have decided to review an old classic game known as Sonic the Hedgehog on the Mega Drive.
*** In The Beginning ***
The Sonic phenomenon started way back in the early '90's when Sega first released the Mega Drive and not long after that the hand-held Game Gear. To this day Sonic games are still being released and Sonic is now Sega's best known mascot. Since the first release many Sonic games have been made and released, some a bigger success than others, but all (in my opinion) great!
The review I am writing for you today is about the first ever Sonic game: Sonic the Hedgehog.
*** Who is Sonic? ***
If you don't already know who sonic is then read on, if you do then skip to the next bit! Sonic is a little blue hedgehog who has big superhero powers! He can jump mega heights, run faster then possible, smash through walls and save the world!
Sonics mission is to save the world after it is being threatened by the evil Dr Robotnik who has turned all the woodland creatures into mini robotic animals who are sent out to stop Sonic who has discovered Dr Robotniks plan and must now try to stop him and free all his friends.
There have been a number of Sonic games released, and they are sill being released to this day, he has also had his own TV series and is now available on DVD and Video too!
*** The Game ***
The Sonic the Hedgehog game was released on the Mega Drive. The game was in a box in between DVD and Video box size. The box contained an instruction book and a game cartridge.
The cartridge simply slots into the Mega Drive, then when the Mega Drive is switched on the game will come on straight away. The introduction shows Sonic bouncing across the screen to reveal the Sega logo accompanied by a vocal "Sega", then almost instantly the first screen with Sonic waving his finger to the cheesy but catchy music. The only option at this screen is to press start to instantly begin the game.
The first stage is Greenhill Act 1. The game starts with Sonic standing waiting for you to control him. Controlling him is easy, simply use the directional button to move him and to make him jump press buttons A, B or C. To pause the game press start.
The idea of the game is to work your way through the levels freeing your little woodland friends along your way. To free your friends you need to simply jump on the robot animals which will pop and release your friends. At the end of each zone (3 levels) you will be challenged to defeat Dr Robotnik, each time he will have had time to invent a new machine to kill and protect him from Sonic. To defeat these machines you must jump attack them usually around 8 times until they start exploding and Dr Robotnik moves off with the wreckage, you then proceed ahead to jump on a big metal container containing a load of your trapped animal friends, after doing this you will then proceed to the next Zone and continue to free your friends and save the world from Dr Robotnik.
There are 3 levels to each Zone and as I have never managed to complete the game I am unsure of how many zones there are!
The music in the game is pretty basic but also very catchy! The sound effects are also basic, but still good and add to the appeal of this game.
*** Recommended? ***
Yes! I would defiantly recommend this game. It is easy to play, not so easy to complete so you have a bit of a challenge on your hands! This game is extremely hard to put down, but this is probably partly due to the fact that you cannot save your game and return to it at a later date because back in the Mega Drive days there was no way of saving your game unless the game you were playing had a built in memory chip (not many did!) unfortunately this led to game addictions and hours of game play as you didn't want to have to do everything again!
*** Availability ***
Due to the age of this game you may find it hard to get hold of a copy for the Mega Drive unless you search somewhere like eBay. However if you are the owner of a Playstation 2 or an X Box then you should buy The Sonic Mega Collection as this game is on there!
The price of this game really will vary; I would think it would be anything from the usual eBay 0.99p to a few quid from a games collectors shop. The PS2 and X Box versions are usually £15 - £25.
*** Be Naughty! ***
Just a little naughty note to end on:
If you have the original Mega Drive game and would like access to all of the games levels then use this cheat:
On the start up screen (the one with the catchy music and sonic in the ring) press the following buttons in time with the music to be led to a stage selection screen:
Up, down, left, right, up, down, left, right, then press button 'A' and 'Start' together. If it has worked you will hear a little bell and get to choose your level, if not then keep trying as it does work!
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Dooyoo have this game listed as an Amiga game, but it was never released on the Amiga!
Sonic The Hedghog is the first Sonic game ever made. It came out in 1991 - 1992, It struck the world, now everyone knows the character Sonic The Hedghog. Sonic first became the sponser for Sega (the creaters of sonic and his gang), in this game, it is just Sonic the hedghog. No friends involved what so ever.
Dr Robotnic, Sonic's Arch enemy, is trying to get the 7 chaos emeralds, before Sonic got them, there was no such thing as Super Sonic in this game, it was known that who ever had the 7 chaos emeralds together, they can have absolute power.
Sonic is a blue hedghog, who can talk, a run as fast as the speed of light, if you wanted to race this hedghog, you will need to have teleportation powers, and even then I dout you could beat him.
The playabity of the game is great, you could play this game forever, shame that it is shortish, only because it is such an old game, but it is so great. I like it, and so will you if you like Sonic, even if you dont, might as well give it a try?
The graphics of the game is not really that good, as it is an old one, but for when it was made, it looks pretty impressive. The sound of the game is great, it has great music, you can get midis and MP3's of it off the net. The background music of the levels is great, especially the second level, the malton lavar one.
The voices in the game is in English, even though it is a Japenese game, like all of them. The sound of the jumping, and the puffing is great, all that a game needs, of this type of game anyway.
The game is not really difficult, the only thing that is, is the levels that have water or lavar, and Dr Robotnic sometimes. Other than that, its not hard. The game is great value for money, its like £2 now, so if you have a megadrive, go buy it quick. I give this game a 5 star, as it is the original of a great franchise of the Sonic games.
AD 1991 was perhaps the most influential and enjoyable year of my life, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I was six years old. I remember the summer holiday from school, my first of these annual events, being hot and very long while it was also the first time I went on a holiday that I could actually remember. But this isnt a review of 1991 in general, that would be insane this was also the year that Sega introduced the first game in the continuing Sonic the Hedgehog franchise to the MegaDrive public.
For some reason, Sonic 1 (as it unofficially became known among those who owned at least one of the sequels, but that Dooyoo seem content to officially name it) captures the spirit of that excellent year and makes it all the better. Its a shame I didnt play it until about 1993 but then again, I always was more of an Amigan.
> NOTE: For some reason Dooyoo list this game under Amiga Games even though this was only available on the Sega MegaDrive. I dont know who was responsible for that weird mistake.
PREMISE & GAMEPLAY
Sonic the Hedgehog was based on the fairly standard fast-paced cool animal character platform game format and is surely the definitive example of this genre, much better than Crash Bandicoot and all that new rubbish. The player controlled the eponymous hedgehog who was blue and very fast, and who soon developed a cult following and thereby an official backstory involving a speedometer explosion mutation. The same accident transformed the friendly and stupidly-named Doctor Ovi Kintobor into the evil, bloated and more appropriately named Doctor Ivo Robotnik. This nasty fat man proceeded to build himself a large mechanical base to produce robotic badniks and use the tiny animal populace as living batteries.
This basically means that Sonic travels through a number of fairly random but enjoyably diverse levels to reach the final boss, destroying mechanical enemies along the way. Each level is littered with golden rings that can be picked up and act as an extra hit point for the player while also allowing for further bonuses such as extra lives and entry to the Secret Zone. The two-dimensional levels conformed to a general head to the right style but some involved large distances up and down that could add extra depth. Not real depth though, they werent clever enough to try this out yet.
Sonics movements were fairly limited and controlled by the Sega MegaDrive joypad (or corresponding keyboard keys if you use a modern emulator). The left and right buttons on the [directional] D-pad move Sonic in those directions, the up button looks upward and the down makes Sonic duck and look downwards, both of which are largely unnecessary, although pressing down while Sonic was in motion would cause him to spin on the ground in order to kill some enemies or break boxes. The MegaDrives A, B and C buttons all performed the same jump function, the easiest way to destroy enemies and break the monitor boxes to receive bonuses. Finally, the start button paused the game when in play and began the game from the title screen.
The programmers occasionally make the player resort to different techniques by making some enemies invincible from the top side, therefore requiring a less effective spin attack to be dispatched, but the gameplay was very straightforward. Heading eastwards, trying to stay as close to the top of level as possible to avoid the pits and knowing when to stop and wait meant that each level could be memorised after a couple of plays. It was still fun though.
The style and order of levels on this game set the style for the four successors (Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles) in terms of beginning with a green and pleasant land, throwing in an underwater level for good measure and contrasting all of this with industrial techno horror. With the exception of the last areas, each zone was divided into three acts acts one and two were of moderate to long length and ended once Sonic passed the spinning sign on the far right, while the third act hosted a brief bit of level leading up to a confrontation with Robotnik in one of his elaborate mechanical devices.
1. GREEN HILL ZONE
An uncomplicated level to begin with, Green Hills crab- and insect-based enemies and inexplicably chequered loop-de-loops became the backdrop of choice for virtually all Sonic merchandise thereafter. The waterfalls on this level were a nice touch and it served as an excellent, upbeat introduction that still featured several dangers such as spiked areas and some secrets in the shape of breakable walls.
Boss: Robotnik flies about in his craft, dangling a huge spinning ball and chain that completely fails to hit the player once they realise they can stand in each bottom corner.
2. MARBLE ZONE
This level is made automatically more dangerous through the addition of flowing lava covering a lot of the ground. These levels mainly take place underground in a mysterious, purple-walled structure and this level also features some of the most annoying enemies in the form of nimble bats and armoured Catterkillers.
Boss: Sonic has to leap between two platforms over some boiling lava to hit Robotnik as he flies about. The Doc also sprays fire on to the platforms sequentially.
3. SPRING YARD ZONE
Without a doubt the most irritating level with all its springs and bumpers bouncing Sonic around and seemingly endless rotating spiked balls to navigate around. The colour scheme of orange and purple is quite nice, but this is mainly a level to get over with quickly.
Boss: The only platforms are squares forming a floor, each of which can be removed by a spike on Robotniks flying machine thing. He can be hit when he descends, as long as Sonic doesnt fall to his death.
4. LABYRINTH ZONE
An underwater level that isnt based on the David Bowie film of the same name in any way. Large bubbles need to be inhaled every so often to provide oxygen and prevent Sonic from drowning, while there are also plenty of switches and alternate routes to be taken. This is a perilous and very enjoyable level that involves a lot of movement up and down as well as to the right.
Boss: Robotnik doesnt actually do anything bad, he simply flies upwards. Sonic has to rush up a passage past dangerous obstacles, avoiding the rising water, and the Doc flies off crying at the end. Very hard, if a little disappointing.
5. STARLIGHT ZONE
This relaxing level is based on a cityscape which moves from clearly defined buildings at the lowest points, a suggestion that the player should move upwards away from the pits, to the night sky at the top. Plenty of invincible enemies that either kill themselves or protect themselves far too well, but this isnt as difficult as the previous level.
Boss: Three see-saws. Robotnik drops spiked balls on each one in turn. Bounce them onto him. Easy.
6. SCRAP BRAIN ZONE
The last proper level and also the hardest, based in Robotniks mechanical factory I assume. Rotating circular saws, electric shocks and trapdoors compliment the enemies here in making it even more difficult to survive until the third level, which is based on the style of Labyrinth but with silver platforms and purple water. A set of springs provide an exit to the final showdown
7. FINAL ZONE
The easiest level on the game and a very disappointing fight with Robotnik, but its still the level everyone skipped to once they learned (or guessed) the level select cheat. Four crushing devices press down in turn and are incredibly easy to avoid occasionally Robotnik will be in one and can be hit. Game over.
If the player collects at least fifty rings when they reach the end of a level with a spinning post (acts 1 and 2 of every zone), they can jump into a large rotating ring and enter the weird Secret Zone. There are six of these and they boast increasing difficulty in reaching the target, the chaos emeralds at the end. The only difference in completing the game with all six emeralds is a different end sequence, although later games would introduce more incentive to catch em all.
I consider this an all-time classic game and I still play it often, both on the Sega MegDrive system and the excellent Gens emulator on my computer. This game is fast, happy and fun and contains some excellent music in its 16-bit capabilities, some of which reminds me of guitar solos on Metallicas classic black album (also released in 1991). The sequels on the MegaDrive were better programmed and more diverse in terms of the number of levels, their size and the option to play as different characters, but this is still my favourite through its simplicity.
Yuji Nakas creation of the blue hedgehog with attitude (a personality trait that doesnt exactly shine through on this game, except when Sonic is left stationary for a while and begins tapping his foot impatiently) captured the imaginations of many young console owners and provided effective competition to Nintendos Super Mario. Of course Sega were eventually buried by Sony and Nintendo and the recent games Sonic Heroes and Sonic Advance have been released on Nintendos GameBoy Advance and GameCube respectively. How they long for the glory days of 91