Review by ZFS
"Watch out! When he comes through -- Sonic the Hedgehog!"
A hedgehog? Who was this character that was busting his way onto the gaming scene? Sonic, Sonic the Hedgehog that's who. Back in 1991 SEGA decided they needed someone to represent them as a company, what Mario was to Nintendo and what Mega Man was to Capcom. SEGA needed a character that was not only appealing visually, but had to have the attitude to back it all up. Make no mistake; this character was Sonic the Hedgehog. When SEGA announced and released the game little did they know he would go own to become the second most recognized character in gaming, and only fall short of the legendary Mario. SEGA was in business once the Blue Blur hit.
Sonic had the look, the attitude, but he needed something that really separated him from the rest of bunch. What was that you may ask? Speed. Unlike most of the platforming titles around at the time, Sonic did something completely different from the rest. With the main element of the game being that you were moving really fast and cutting through enemies it only made sense that people would take notice. Sonic wasn't your usual runner with his slow step and then shoot, oh no, once he started going you couldn't stop him (unless of course your name happens to be "spikes" or "wall").
The game had a theme, it had a cool character, now it needed a story that would bring you in and hook you. Basically, Sonic the Hedgehog is based around a mad scientist who is bent on taking the peaceful land in which Sonic lives and turn it into nothing but a robotic wasteland! Dr. Ivo Robotnik is snatching up the animals and using them makes his minions that go to try to stop Sonic. As heroic as a hedgehog can be, Sonic steps up to the mound to free all of the innocent animals and make sure Dr. "Robuttnik" is brought to justice.
While the story is certainly nothing that will have you on the edge of your sit waiting to hear what happens next, the gameplay should give you that fix. Like I said before, the main focus around Sonic games is the speed. That's what this game is all about; while you are playing the game you're pretty much given the boost of excitement. Sonic will whip through there and be finished with a level before you can even blink (hence why they call him the Blue Blur). As with any platforming title you'll run into many different sorts of jumps and leaps that can be performed. Although, not to unlike Mario, Sonic's only means of attack is through jumping. He'll spin into a ball and deliver a painful blow to the enemies.
Sonic the Hedgehog also has another game trademark that we've come to love over the years. Like Mario's coins, Sonic has rings in which he must collect throughout the game. These rings are his source of life; every time Sonic gets hit all of the rings he's collected will be sent out of him. They are easy to collect and come in major abundance, however, if he ever gets hit without a ring he'll be fried on contact with the next enemy.
The level design in Sonic the Hedgehog is pretty nice as well. A wide assortment of "futuristic" type locales while still having a more down to earth kind of feel about them. Green Hill Zone is a perfect example of this; it's lush with green grass, flowers, hills, etc. but has a very robotic like feel to them. I did enjoy the wide variety that SEGA had included in them such as the more forest like levels, lava, etc. All of them filled with obstacles that no normal animal (*cough*hedgehog*cough*) should be able to overcome, but what can you do. It's all in the shoes. One of the coolest implements per level though was the loops, feeling much like a Hot Wheels set, the loops in the few levels that they were in really gave a sense of how the "speed" theme was played out. Doing a "rollercoaster" as I liked to call it every few stages helped the game out a lot in pure excitement.
Among other things Sonic the Hedgehog included an assortment of power-ups including an invulnerability item, on in which makes you glow with sparkles coming off of you, a shield that encased you and allowed you to take three hits, the classic 1-UP life, and Super Ring that gave you around 10 rings. All of those aside, the coolest power-up in the game was the Power Sneaker. It allowed Sonic to move even faster than he already could. Talk about crazy, when you hit this item it would send you zooming through the level in a matter of seconds. As it stands today, it still happens to be one of the coolest power-ups in a platformer. One could say there isn't a wide selection to pick from, and really there isn't, but each of them fit into the world of Sonic perfectly. There could have been more variety, but what was given did the job.
Now, graphically I don't there is anything problem with how detailed the graphics are in this game. The environments were so rich with detail and color that it amazingly pulled off some of the best graphics of the 16-bit era. Backgrounds has plenty of animation to them, whether it be through water flowing or flowers looking like they were dancing to some 80's rock, it was a treat to see. One thing I did notice about most of the game was the "spiky" type visuals all of the levels seemed to portray. Flowers, trees, ground, enemies, etc. all seemed to sport the "spike". Then again, SEGA was always into the "hip" thing and spiking 'things' was just their way of showing it.
Character and enemy sprites on the other hand looked just as impressive. Both were given plenty of detail, Sonic's red and white shoes for example could be noticed clearly. Enemies had eyes, faces, and those funny little robotic bodies that could also be seen noticeably. As it stands, the coolest two things about the graphics, by far, was Sonic's animation. Once he was at top speed in running his feet would go away and become little red circles. This was to show that he was moving exceptionally fast, it doesn't stand out to much but is hilarious to see nonetheless. I mean, how can you not enjoy feet that are going faster than your brain can process? The other being his little sassy stare when you would leave the controller alone for a moment. He would stare directly at the screen, cross his arms, and tap his foot just waiting for you to resume play. Even when not playing Sonic was more than willing to show you his infamous attitude.
Like with any good game it is an absolute must to have a solid soundtrack that goes along with it. Luckily, Sonic the Hedgehog delivers in this area as well. Many of the scores in the game are either fast or... fast. I imagine your kind of seeing the trend here with Sonic? He loves his speed! Anyway, the music in the game adds to the nature of the game. The songs have a more rock-ish type beat to them and they all remain fast. I've found that on more than one occasion the music that plays fits right along side Sonic when he's dashing through a level. It certainly had one of the better soundtracks during the time of release. The boss music was always a treat to listen to, and why wouldn't it be when you're taking down a mad scientist named Robotnik?
After all of this there is even more to the game, yes, yes I know "More?!", but sit tight I'm almost through. The length and or difficulty of the game also give Sonic the Hedgehog more shine than it already has. There are a total of 6 Zones and 3 Acts within each Zone. You can take the "Zones" as more of worlds and the "Acts" as "stages". It comes out to roughly 18 total stages, and that really isn't too bad. What really makes this game long, or seem longer than it is, is the challenge you're presented with per Zone/Act. The enemies are well placed throughout each, and just design alone makes it hard to get around in the latter levels. To further this along, you also have no way of saving your data. This game has to be beaten in a one time sitting, that's one of things I truly wasn't extremely fond of. I'm never a fan of sitting down and beating a game in only one sitting. Replay value also remains high for the game, because there is no save feature playing through it many times isn't uncommon at all. Sheer enjoyment alone makes this game worth running through time and time again, but for those of you who need a reason to do so there is the secret Chaos Emeralds that are hidden in each Bonus Level. Aside from that not much else.
All in all, Sonic the Hedgehog is truly a spectacular title. SEGA's answer to a mascot, the second biggest Icon in gaming, etc. all came from this one little packaged title called Sonic the Hedgehog. If you're looking for an awesome experience that breaks away from the norm and focuses on another element all together (few platformers have seen) definitely give it a whirl. The Blue Blur is here to stay, baby!
Final Score: 10.0
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/14/04, Updated 05/30/06
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