Review by Mister Sinister
"The game that started the highly-rated series on its course, and it is easy to see why !!"
One of the initial launch titles for the Megadrive/Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog started the ball rolling (no pun intended) on a BIG series of games that are still being released today, over 15 years later !!
"So tell us of the game that started the legend" I hear you say ? I'd be happy to ... read on :)
OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME
You play Sonic, a small blue Hedgehog that has the ability to run at extraordinary speeds, and curl up into a ball (like a regular hedgehog would do) when jumping and running, to smash through obstacles and enemies. Your nemesis is a big fat mad scientist called Dr. Robotnik, who has kidnapped all of your little woodland friends (the rabbits, fishes and so on), and trapped them in robots of destruction throughout the game.
You must free them by destroying the robots that they inhabit, whilst collecting gold coins, and ultimately doing battle with Dr. Robotnik at the end of every stage of the game.
... no ... I'm not smoking anything.
GRAPHICS - 8/10
The graphics in this title are really very, very impressive for a launch title I must say. The Sonic sprite is big, well-drawn and well-animated. If you leave him standing still for too long a period of time (just a few seconds will do - he's a rather impatient little dude) he will begin tapping his feet and quizzically turn to ask you what the heck you think you're playing at.
The game moves along at a near-blistering speed when Sonic is steaming ahead at full pelt, and there is no evidence of slowdown, and only ever-so-occasional sprite flicker to contend with.
The boss fights with Dr. Robotnik are very impressive, as each time you face him, he finds a brand new and exciting way of trying to put you out of his misery, from giant swinging balls to fireballs, you name it, he's ready to try it.
The stages themselves are beautifully drawn, and absolutely FULL of colour and depth. They really are very pleasing on the eye.
This game represents a graphical treat, which I was bowled over at, considering it IS a launch title, and I am accustomed to them not really showing off the capabilities of the consoles they are released for.
SOUND - 8/10
Whilst the sound effects are plentiful, some of them are a little frustrating over time. Every time Sonic jumps, for example, there is a certain noise that he makes which is a bit shrill after you have heard it for the 1,000,000th time (it is a platform game, so jumping is a BIG part of it). However that is but one sound among many.
The noise the game makes when you collect golden coins is pleasant, and the music is really something else. It feels very professionally done throughout the game.
Each stage has its own musical score, and each is very catchy - so much so that you might just wind up using the sound test screen to play them whilst you're not playing the game - they really are THAT good !!
There is no speech in the game, which isn't something that really detracts from your enjoyment of it (I for one would rather they didn't include any than try to and botch it up), so there is nothing really to complain about in the sounds (bar the occasional frustration at his jumping noise).
CONTROLS - 8/10
Sonic is a pleasure to control 90% of the time. He responds well to your commands for jumping and you can control his motion in the air, so you can reach hard-to-access places and, once you get the timing down, bounce off multiple enemies with very little problem.
The 10% which causes a problem is when you are moving at full-speed. The game's designers have tried their very best to make sure that you are able to zoom through the levels (which is a pity as they are so very very nicely drawn), but every once in a while you will find that if you try and stop yourself from whizzing past (like, for example, you happen to see something you want to stop and go back to look at), then when you are slowing down you might find yourself skidding off otherwise well-placed platforms in the game. If you drop off the bottom of the screen (which DOES happen unfortunately), you will die automatically.
In order to prevent premature death when you are higher up the screen, you will find that if you collide with an enemy and you are NOT rolled up into a little ball, the first hit will rob you of any rings you may have on your person (and yes, you do have a second or two to try and grab a couple back). It is only if you take a hit whilst you have zero rings on your person that you will die.
Generally-speaking then, Sonic is very easy to control (all three buttons do the same thing - jump), and this adds to your enjoyment of the game considerably.
PLOT - 3/10
The plot is not really all that deep to be honest. Dr. Robotnik is after a number of gems called the Chaos Emeralds (they are a recurrent theme throughout the Sonic series, so you'll get used to this), and Sonic can prevent him from getting them by winning bonus stages in the game.
Quite what Dr. Robotnik wants them for is something I have never fully appreciated - however I am sure it is not to fashion them into sharp and snazzy pieces of jewellery.
GAMEPLAY - 8/10
It's very simple, but it's very enjoyable, as are so many titles from my youth I find. Look back at Tetris, or Columns, or Chinese Chess ..... ok maybe not that last one ... but yeah - simple games keep you coming back for more, as you always remember how to play them, and you always remember the enjoyment you derived FROM playing them.
Sonic the Hedgehog boasts a ridiculously simplistic set of controls (run, jump, roll, jump, duck, jump, etc., etc.), and this makes it instantly easy to pick up and play.
The action is compelling, and whilst the game is thin on the plot side, the sheer speed with which you move around the levels picking up rings and destroying robots to free your little woodland friends is really quite addictive indeed.
The boss fights are enjoyable, and the characters are big, well-drawn, and well-animated throughout the title.
It really is one of the plug 'n play titles :)
REPLAY VALUE - 8/10
Not only is the game visually very impressive, and acoustically stunning, but there is actually a code you can input to pick which level you want to play, so the mid- to longer-term replay value of this title remains really quite high, which is nice.
In this game you really do have a title that should remain in your possession as long as you have a Megadrive/Genesis (and beyond to be honest !!).
VALUE FOR MONEY - 9/10
Whilst it may be difficult to find, this is a CLASSIC Megadrive game that really should be in the repertoire of most Megadrive owners. It's like owning an original copy of one of your favourite books - this is where it all started, and respect should be given for that :)
OVERALL - 9/10 (This is NOT an average)
Whilst it's thin on the ground when it comes to its general options and plot, Sonic the Hedgehog is a big, bright, fun and addictive title that even now has the ability to make me want to play it for a while, and how many games from your childhood can you say that about these days ??
For the first title in the series, which are often not the best, AND for one of the very first titles to be released on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, I think it represents an outstanding piece of programming, and reminds me of the good old days when Sega were a serious force to be reckoned with in the console market.
MAIN GOOD POINTS
* Great action at speed
* Well-drawn graphics and good animations throughout
* Fantastic musical score through the entire game
* Excellent and memorable boss fights
* Simple and easy to play
MAIN BAD POINTS
* Occasional difficulty in controlling (read: stopping) Sonic at high speeds, which can cause him to drop off the screen and die
* Not a fantastically deep or inspiring plot
* Occasional sprite flicker
* Not a whole heck of a lot of options
SO SHOULD YOU GET IT ?
By all rights you should probably already own a copy, so yes - if you can find a copy I would suggest you get it and keep it (as long as you have a Megadrive/Genesis to play it on, obviously !!). This is a truly classic title that ably demonstrates the power of the Megadrive, and WHY it was one of the best consoles to own in its hay day.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 08/14/07, Updated 08/15/07
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