Review by seebs1
"It's Sonic, what's to say?"
Sonic the Hedgehog remains one of my favorite platformers ever.
As you might expect, the Wii's virtual console emulation is pixel-perfect, even including some of the noticeable graphical glitches of the original Sega Genesis implementation. (Mostly, this manifests as some sprite objects fading out when others cross the same scan lines; this actually reveals a secret passage in one case.)
The game looks a little dated by modern standards, but it still has excellent controls and responsiveness. The "spin dash" feature of later versions (where Sonic could spin up from a standing start) was not yet implemented; you have to be moving pretty fast to start spinning. Also, checkpoints can be very bad; if you hit a checkpoint with very little time left for a level, there's no way to recover. Everything else is what you'd expect from a game that has spawned something over a dozen sequels.
The level design of Sonic is excellent, with a very carefully balanced theme of gradually increasing darkness as you get closer to Robotnik's lair; the difficulty curve is fairly well-balanced, although I honestly found the 4th zone (water-themed) boss fight much harder than any of the others. Still, nearly any player should be able to clear the first level fairly easily, but even skilled players can have a hard time clearing the game with all 6 chaos emeralds.
The sound and graphics, for all that they reflect the limitations of a 16-bit console, are nonetheless beautiful. Later Sonic games have often fallen short of the clear and simple feel of the original. The graphics, especially on the early levels, are bright and clear, although they are more subtle than they look at first. While Sonic doesn't have the sheer depth of hidden stuff that some games have, there are plenty of hidden things; a skillful player can stock up on hedgehogs on the third level of the first zone, picking up four in about two minutes, then suiciding, over and over. (Past 255, the game wraps around.)
Oh, and a tip: If you just do nothing in the first chaos emerald maze until you get to the gems right around the emerald, you'll just fall there naturally. It's actually very hard to get there by doing anything, but fairly easy to end up there by being patient.
If you don't already have an emulator that plays the original Sonic, get the download; it remains an iconic example of console platformers. You can pick it up also for the gamecube, along with a couple of other early sonic games.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/25/06
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