Review by Dogg

"Faster then a speeding bullet and beloved jewel of Sega. His name is Sonic (the Hedgehog, that is)"

Well over 10 years ago Mario the Plumber was the man. He even carried his mushrooms with him in his latest adventure—Super Mario World—and this adventure of his had surprised everyone, everywhere. Sega also felt the heat and the power of success of Nintendo’s old and renowned mascot. So Sega concocted a plan. With its Genesis system in its crowning years, they proved to stop Mario with a mascot of their own. And they almost did (keyword: almost).

You see, Sega wanted to simply make a prevailing hero—one with extraordinary power and strength. An astonishing hero who would soar above all and sell millions of the already bought Genesis systems and most importantly they wanted to make a hero who would become a mascot. A mascot who will be celebrated with festivities and parties, and above all they wanted a mascot who will be remembered forever. After the millions and millions of concept drawings, Sega had found that special-someone; and this special-someone didn’t come in the form of a plumber, instead it came in the form of a hedgehog—a blue hedgehog. Its name: Sonic (the Hedgehog, that is).

Sonic the Hedgehog is everything that one can expect from a platform mascot. He is cute, he’s lovable, and he takes on the hordes of evil with his greatest talent, his speed. While I myself don’t know much about hedgehogs, I do know this, though. Sonic is the fastest hedgehog to ever grace video games, and with his cute and loveable self it seems that almost everyone is attracted to him; even the D&D freaks, who spend countless hours burning their eyes off in whatever they see that’s so special. Sonic is like a savior to his land, Mobius; much like Mario with Mushroom Island. In this game it seems that evil Dr. Robotnik has kidnapped the animals all over the world and has turned them into evil robots that have only one objective: to destroy. And destroy they will unless Sonic stops the robots and turns them back to their original cute and cuddly selves. But wait! There’s more! It also seems that the evil doctor has taken hostage other animals and has locked them up in a huge safe. And if they’re not released in time it is goodbye to the animals. However, this task isn’t as easy as it sounds. These animal safes are hidden far, far away and Dr. Robotnik has each of these safes carefully guarded.

But this game just doesn’t put you in a quest to save animals. Oh no. This game is much more focused on Chaos Emeralds. Chaos Emeralds are powerful artifacts that Sonic must collect. In order to get a Chaos Emerald you will have to pass a regular level with a lot of rings (which I’ll get to soon). By getting enough rings, a giant ring will then appear and by walking into it you will be whisked away to a psychedelic bonus area. Complete this area and as a gift you will be rewarded with these elusive and hard-to-get Chaos Emeralds. And by getting all of these Chaos Emeralds you will get a ‘refined’ and an ‘extended’ ending as a reward. Now isn’t that special?

Nonetheless, Sonic the Hedgehog is made up of well over 10 zones; and each zone has three acts, which you must pass. The 1st zone, set in a green, heavily watered forest, as it looks like sets the mood for this game. ‘Cause once you pass the first act of this zone—and the rest as well—you will be taken to a place filled with lava and a nighttime setting that is very magical. Pass this zone and you will come across an area very reminiscent of a very slummy Vegas, literally. You got your shiny lights and your eye-popping gizmos that all impress and entertain the person who is playing.

By passing the third zone you’ll come across the next one, the self-titled Labyrinth Zone. This one is far different then what the poor little Hedgehog has seen and endured. Here Sega’s young mascot has to succumb to the restrictions of the water. He knows that without enough air—he’s doomed. In this zone some serious thinking comes into play. Should you take everything very hastily without looking at the oncoming obstacles, or should you take your time till you finally pass the specific act. However, good old Sonic won’t be able to breathe forever so make sure you find oxygen bubbles to take yourself away from any life-threatening hazards. By passing the water levels tucked beneath the Labyrinth Zone you will go the much more safer and brighter area, the Star Light Zone. The star light zone has got this space-looking thing going on, and the background pretty much signifies that; green colored walls, bright floors, et cetera. By passing this you will go to a zone much tougher then the Labyrinth Zone, and that’s the Scrap Brain Zone.

The Scrap Brain Zone has got everything that will surely challenge you; slippery platforms and level annoyances that will surely get you killed easily if you don’t pay good enough attention. By proving the impossible you will go to the Final Zone that is amply titled well… ‘The Final Zone.’ Here you have no rings (which I promise I’ll get to soon) and have to go through a level and with one mistake you will be dead. Advance pass it, though, and you will engage in a one-on-one battle against Dr. Robotnik; a fight that easily surpasses the many chicken fights between Mario and his dinosaur fiend Bowser.

To help you survive these levels are the rings (see... I got to it). Rings are like what coins are to Mario; but these serve a little bit of a different purpose. Once rings are picked up they’ll protect you from harm’s way. Meaning if you don’t have any rings and then you get hit, then you die. But if you get hit with rings in your disposal, then you won’t die—instead you will lose all of the rings in which you collected. And if you lose a lot of rings—don’t worry—levels are filled with them. Levels are also filled with power-ups. These power-ups can boost Sonic up for a limited time or until Sonic takes damage. The speed shoes, for example, will make Sonic go faster for a short point in time, while the Shield power-up will protect you till you get hit.

Sonic the Hedgehog uses up all three buttons from the Genesis controller to do the same move: to jump. And by using the D-Pad you will move Sonic around left or right. By pressing the UP button on the D-Pad you will see all the enemies that are coming your way. And by pressing DOWN on the D-Pad, Sonic will see all the enemies and such underneath him. SO, there’s not much of a big confusion control-wise in this game. They are easily learned and one can even master them right away… so yeah no problem here.

But there kind of is a problem… you see once Sonic starts to get faster and faster his momentum is hard to stop; and this can sometimes lead to your downfall. What I mean is, when you try to stop Sonic from going any place further, it will be hard to ‘actually’ stop him; instead of stopping, Sonic will lose his energy and will start to slide thanks to some of the platforms being kind of slippery. This isn’t a small problem because it can make you lose a life and that’s pretty harsh since extra lives aren’t easy to come by in this game.

What’s also pretty harsh is the fact that this game doesn’t come with a save feature. That’s right—you must beat this game without losing all your lives and if you do lose all of them you will have to start over. This is another pain in the ass because this game can get really boring if you have to keep playing it from start to end without saving each time. This game isn’t that long, but it is challenging and the thought of having no save feature—no password system—is really unforgiving.

What aren’t unforgiving however are the game’s graphics and audio score. The graphics are just too impressive for a game that came out well over 10 years ago. The animation is superb and is still great looking even compared to some of today’s standards. And the backgrounds are just luscious and set the kind of mood a game of this type should set. What more can you say about this game’s graphics—they’re simply amazing, as is the music, which is very upbeat and cheery. The music for this game is not perfect, but it’s pretty damn amazing—especially once you get the invincibility power-up. Woo!

Finally, Sonic the Hedgehog is a great game, which, with a few faults keeps it away from attaining perfect status. But the fact of the matter remains, though, that this game was the epicenter of all of Sonic the Hedgehog’s future success. Had it not been for this game, then the whole world will have forgotten about Sega and will then have been admired by Nintendo’s plumber; a smelly, flatulent little guy who yells ‘Mario’ continuously. All I’m saying is that you should play this game or at least admire it for what it really is; a great 2-D side-scrolling platform game that really heated some serious competition and ‘upped’ the chances of the Sega Genesis back against their 'huge war' thing on the Super Nintendo. HUZZAH!

Gameplay: 8
Presentation: 10
Graphics: 10
Audio: 8
Control: 10
Replay Value: 8
Lasting Appeal: 9
Final Score: 9

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/28/02, Updated 09/03/02

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