I first played Sonic at my babysitters house when I was 6 or 7. My parents were gone for a weekend with friends, so they sent us to stay with one of their friends’ kids – his name was David – and he was an awesome baby sitter. We played a bunch of different Sega games including Golden Axe and Golden Axe 2, by my favourite of the bunch of definitely Sonic the Hedgehog. The lush graphics of the first level and the speed with which Sonic moved was something my naive gamer eyes had ever witnessed. Sonic was and still is the Sega mascot, and this game introduced him to the world!
Story-wise, Dr. Robotnik has captured animal critters and put them into evil robots in order to gain access to the 6 Chaos Emeralds. It’s your job to free the animals and take care of Dr. Robotnik for good! At its core, Sonic is a quickly-paced platform game. The goal is to run from one side of the level to the other, all the while collecting rings (which keep you alive) and destroying enemies. If you have more than 50 rings at the end of the stage, you get to enter a bonus level where you can find one of the Chaos Emeralds. These levels are extremely strange and very hard. To properly beat the game and get the “good” ending, you need to collect all 6 gems plus defeat Dr. Robotnik – something I have never been able to complete.
In terms of gameplay, this game is fast! I really liked this emphasis on speed as it was fun making Sonic run through loops upside-down and have him break through walls in his speed ball! Controls are simple but responsive – hold a direction and Sonic starts to run in that direction. Hit one of the action buttons, and sonic jumps into a ball – if he lands on enemies, they can be dispatched. A quick tap down on the gamepad while Sonic is running also sends him into speed ball which can dispatch enemies and some walls!
Graphics are fantastic and have aged extremely well. Each of the six worlds have a very distinct visual style that makes each of them fun to get through. I particularly impressed with the second world as the environment constantly reacted to Sonic by throwing lava at him! Green Hill Zone will always be my favourite though – just playing through the colourful intro levels brings my back to my youth. At the end of each world, Sonic faces off against Dr. Robotnik in one of his many forms – these bosses are fun but nothing to write home about. I often found the levels much more challenging than the boss encounters. The last boss is particularly easy and somewhat disappointing.
The music is fantastic and is instantly recognizable – even after not hearing it for years. The sound effects are also great – especially the sounds of collecting rings, and loosing them! Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog is a graphically impressive, speedy, platform game! If you own a Genesis, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try – it’s the game that gave Nintendo a run for its money! The only thing that I was not completely sold on was its bosses; they could have been more interesting and a tad harder! Overall I give this game a 8/10. The 16-bit sequels get even better!
FINAL SCORE: 8/10