Review by Super Mario
In 1991, as a countermeasure to rival Nintendo's ever-so-popular Mario character, Sega unleashed their new mascot upon the video-gaming public. A hyper kinetic blue bundle of energy with an attitude, Sonic the Hedgehog not only used his super speed to thwart the evil plans of mad scientist Dr. Ivo Robotnik, but also to introduce some of the most revolutionary high-speed graphics ever utilized for a 16-bit system. The game became a huge hit, and several sequels followed over the years, but none (with the sole exception being Sonic the Hedgehog 2) were able to recapture the freshness and excitement of the original . . .
The effects of Sonic zig-zagging back and forth like a pinball and even defying gravity by racing up looped tracks were considered mind-blowing during the time the game was first released, and still look quite impressive even today (although they pale in comparison to the later games in the series). The character graphics are detailed, and the animations are more than adequate for 1991, such as when the rescued animal friends scurry off to safety at the end of each level. Sonic looks especially impressive, particularly when the player chooses not to move him for an extended period of time (Sonic takes up a frustrated stance while glaring at the player and tapping his foot angrily on the ground). The backgrounds, for the most part, are also of high quality, although decidedly less awe-inspiring; the mountains in The Green Hill Zone look awfully pixilated, but are balanced out nicely by some very realistic-looking clouds, glistening water effects, and flowers blowing in the breeze.
One of the game's high points--infectious tunes which match the overall tone of what occurs onscreen perfectly while remaining memorable long after it all has ended (Green Hill Zone, Marble Zone, and Star Light Zone immediately come to mind). The effects sound authentic, particularly the jingling of lost rings when Sonic takes a hit.
Very basic stuff. The arrow pad moves Sonic right and left; buttons A, B, and C all cause Sonic to jump. A little slippery here and there, but very responsive overall.
Sonic is timed in each of the game's eighteen levels; after ten minutes, he loses a life. His energy level depends upon the number of rings in his possession. Without any rings, Sonic will lose a life after taking a single hit. While holding any number of rings, Sonic can take a hit and survive, but he drops all of rings in his possession and becomes vulnerable again until he grabs at least one of them back (which can sometimes be difficult, as they will vanish after only a few seconds). The Badnik's (Sonic's former pals turned evil robots) come in many different forms, but all of them take only 1 hit to defeat. The zone bosses (Robotnik, appearing six different times and using six different methods of attack) take 8 hits, but their patterns are simple to figure out, even for younger gamers. In fact, collecting all six Chaos Emeralds from the 360-degree spinning mazes in the Secret Zone (which may be accessed only after collecting a certain amount of rings) may be the most daunting task in the game.
This game is great fun, especially since there isn't an annoying little shadow of a sidekick mimicking your every move.
This is a very good game. Yes, it could've been a little more challenging and maybe even a little bit longer, but there are so many admirable aspects about this game, that it's easy to overlook a scant few flaws. If you own a Genesis console, but somehow missed out on getting this awesome game, then go out and buy it already! This is a classic that would do any gamer's collection proud.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/10/01, Updated 06/14/01
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