Review by TKDBoy1889
The beginning of a legend.
In 1991 Sega gathered some of it's best members to create a new mascot for the company and then develop a game with that mascot. And what did Sega decide was the best way to compete with a plumber that jumps on turtles? A blue hedgehog who can run super fast and does battle with a maniacal mechanical genius. Thus, Sonic the Hedgehog was born. And as a result, one of the best gaming series to ever grace the gaming universe. The Sonic games are nothing short of classic. And the beginning one got the series off to a fantastic start.
The story is basic but fun. Sonic is a humanoid hedgehog out to stop the ruthless plans of the evil Doctor Robotnik, who plans to control the powerful chaos emeralds while enslaving animals within robotic shells to do his bidding. A pretty ruthless villain, to be honest. Simple story to tell the game but it works.
The graphics are stellar. I remember the very first time I played Sonic, when I started the first level one of my first thoughts was "Holy crap, this game looks beautiful!" And it does. The game is colorful, detailed, and looks amazing. The background sprites are detailed and colorful. The shifting water in the background of the first level along with the transparent mist of the waterfalls just blew my mind, and still look great. Then the second level came with some of the most colorful and dangerous looking lava I'd ever seen. The enemies are nice too. Being that they are animals enslaved in robotic shells, they look like.... robotic animals! Very well designed and unique. Overall, stellar graphics. There a few moments when the backgrounds and walls look a bit bland and lacking but these sections are not common.
Sonic easily has some of the best music on the Genesis I've ever seen. The soundtracks for the first two levels, and the music for the final boss are no doubt among my favorite videogame music ever. And the rest of the soundtrack is definitely up there. I've often liked the distinct sound of the Genesis sound ship and it definitely made the music for Sonic amazing. Each level has very fitting music. The music definitely helps immerse you into the atmosphere, and gives each level the proper feeling for it's design and look. The music for the boss battles and the final boss are incredibly epic.
The sound effects are classic. I've always liked the sound Sonic makes when he jumps, as well as the sound that happens when you get hit and rings scatter everywhere. Then the sounds of hitting enemies, pushing objects, and spinning in a ball.... it's all classic. It's just amazing to listen to.
Of course the main thing that Sonic is known for is his speed. And sure enough, Sonic sure can move. His standard max running speed was beyond anything I'd seen at the time. It really gave me a sense of speed and it amazed me how the game managed to move quickly and yet still feel so smooth, hardly any lag or loss in performance. That's what Sega referred to as "blast processing", basically a marketing ploy that revolved around Sonic's fast and smooth speed. And there are moments that burst Sonic into even faster speeds.
But at it's core, Sonic's isn't just good for it's speed and quick gameplay. At it's core, it's good because it's 2D platforming at it's finest. There are many moments where you aren't moving fast, but it doesn't matter because it's a fun and challenging platforming game. It comes complete with spikes, lava pits, fireballs, bottomless fans, columns that can crush you, all the good platforming hazards. Then it has good platforming elements to enhance the gameplay like teeter totters, moving platforms, etc. The level design is superb. Each level is unique and has it's quirks and challenges. Many levels introduce more and more enemies too, and the enemies are well made. From simple basic enemies to more challenging enemies, they're designed well.
Sonic's gameplay is the epitome of making something amazing out of simplicity. All the buttons do the same action: jump. That's it. Incredibly basic but it works because of the design and the mechanics around it. And the controls are fluid and responsive, you really feel in charge of Sonic. Sonic ducks, jumps to attack, and can duck while running to curl into a ball that hits enemies. Simple but incredibly fun thanks to the design. The combined immersion of graphics and sound also make the gameplay that much more enjoyable. Every level is broken up to 3 acts, and every level has it's own quirks and unique design, not to mention new enemies. The boss battles are also incredibly, incredibly fun and well done. The game felt and played like nothing before in it's time and it still holds up to this day.
There is no multi-player, nor are there different level routes to be taken. A couple of the levels, however, can branch and feel like they can be traveled in different ways. There are also interesting bonus levels you can enter if you finish a level with enough rings. The bonus rings revolve around acquiring the six chaos emeralds (It would be 7 later on), to prevent Robotnik from getting a hold of them for himself. Doing so gives the good ending. Overall, the gameplay is fluid, well designed, and incredibly fun.
Sonic was, and still is, an amazing game. Simple but addicting and fun platforming, fantastic musics, fluid controls, and great graphics. The is a pretty challenging game, easily the hardest of the Sonic games on Genesis. But it's the good kind of challenge. Even if you throw your controller against the wall you immediately pick it up and play again because the challenge is all in the levels, not the controls, and it's the kind that makes you want to beat the game. It's easy to see why Sonic became so popular, and the game was more than suitable to compete with the Mario series from Nintendo. If you haven't tried this classic you definitely should, it's a brilliant game.
Replay value: 8/10
Final score: 9/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Sonic the Hedgehog (US, 06/23/91)
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