Review by discoinferno84

"Ain't nothing gonna break my stride..."

The 1990's were a great time to be a kid. You weren't worrying going to a good college, finding a well-paying job, or any of the other problems that would eventually end up plaguing your existence down the road. The only thing that mattered was that you got the homework done on time to watch afternoon cartoons, had enough allowance to buy an ice cream cone, and you could hang out with the your buddies all summer. But for little gamer tykes like me, there was one more issue of infinite importance: Which video game system to buy. The Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis were raging against each other, pitting newly created video games against each other in an epic struggle for dominance. Many new franchises and characters were spawned from the conflict, but few have stood the test of time as the gaming community came of age. Thankfully, Sonic the Hedgehog still stands tall and proud, his humble beginnings on the Genesis still cherished.

As a new day begins, evil sweeps through the normally peaceful wilderness. Dr. Robotnik has begun a perverse crusade against nature, kidnapping helpless animals and turning them into his mindless robotic slaves. As forests burn and creatures are slaughtered, the innocent look for a hero to save them from utter annihilation. Their prayers are answered in the form of a blue ball fur with unrelenting speed and attitude. Sonic the Hedgehog rushes to the aid of his homeland, using his incredible speed to stop Dr. Robotnik from wiping out everything in his path. But despite Sonic's unprecedented agility, he still has one hell of an adventure waiting for him. With tons of levels and enemies preventing him from being a savior, he's got his work cut out for him. Thankfully, you'll be right there to help him through the danger and send the mad doctor running for his mommy.

Sonic's quest for salvation will take him through grassy woodlands, volcanic wastelands, and deep into watery depths. As you press forward on the control stick, our hero will start to pick up speed, eventually turning into a blur of blue fur as he dashes to and fro around the battleground. But while Sonic can keep moving at such a mind-boggling pace, he's still nothing more than a hyperactive rodent. While he can move at speeds far faster than any of his foes could ever dream of attaining, he still has his limitations. He still can't walk on fire, breath underwater, or get shot by unfriendly fire. The world ahead is fraught with spikes, lava, robot drones, and tons of other hazards just waiting to send Sonic to his untimely demise. While it may be fun having our hero zooming around at Sonic speed, you'll have to be wary lest you accidentally assist his suicide.

Thankfully, our hero isn't held back by his own mortality. While each level is filled to the brim with all sorts of deadly obstacles, there are tons of rings floating around the area. When Sonic picks up one of these, the trinkets act as a safeguard lest our hero gets into trouble. If he gets hit by an enemy, his entire collection of rings will go flying asunder, leaving him bare and defenseless against the horrors that await. You'll have to scramble around the screen and pick up at least one ring before an enemy decides to attack. Also, there are shields, power ups, and a few other pickups strewn throughout the level, giving Sonic a somewhat unfair advantage as he continues his crusade against evil. If you manage to play carefully, collect rings, and get him through the level unscathed, you'll be justly rewarded with a few special levels and extra lives.

But while speed is the key aspect of the game, don't rush around too much. Instead, you should spend some time exploring each of the levels, discovering all of their nooks and crannies and finding the massive array of hidden areas and passageways. As you spend time searching every inch of these massive levels, you can sit back and appreciate Sega's first effort with the Sonic franchise. All of the areas come with memorable music and are rich with color and vibrant animation, treating gamers' eyes to a feat that set a new standard for its time. You can see the sunlight reflecting off the watery background of the Green Hill Zone, the fiery kava pits of the Marble Ruin Zone, or even the psychedelic mazes that make up the special levels. You can almost make out the metallic armor of our hero's countless enemies, even Dr. Robotnik's devilish yet comical face. And through each level and obstacle, Sonic the Hedgehog stands tall and proud with his slick blue fur and stylish red sneakers marking his position on the ever-changing playing field.

It's a good start. In a world of new franchises, in a time of brutally tough competition, Sega's mascot contender keeps pace with its contemporaries, and then leaves them in the dust with his speed, style and overall appeal. Sure, it doesn't hold as much of a candle when compared with the games of the current generation. But for what it offered the gamers of yesteryear, it went far and above everyone's expectations for a video game console. While the most recent additions to the Sonic the Hedgehog series have proven to be less than stellar, fans of the blue hedgehog can always find solace in this old Genesis game, something to be truly appreciated and remembered fondly.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/06/05

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