(Sega, Summer 1991)

Here it is! My Game of the Month this time is none other than the original blue dude with those super sneakers. This is the original Sonic the Hedgehog by Yuki Naka that became famous for taking the world by storm and Sega finally had a weapon powerful enough to take on their rival Nintendo way back in 1991. Who could forget the fight between Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World and even the intense fights between the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo that ensued afterwards? "Blast Processing anyone!?" The first Sonic is a simple 4 meg platform game with excellent presentation thanks in part by it's killer graphics, easy to learn gameplay, and cool music in most of the 6 levels. See why Sonic is a still a great and fun game to have around.

The game stars an aggressive and quick blue hedgehog named Sonic and he's on a mission to stop the evil mad scientist Dr. Robotnik. Dr. Robotnik is so wicked that he is trying to capture innocent animals and turn them into vicious robots to serve his own evil purposes. Dr. Robotnik also waits at the end of each world (in other words he's the boss) to attack Sonic with his latest robotic device. Sonic's secret weapon is his super sneakers that make him run super fast and he gonna need all the speed he has because there are 6large worlds in the game to master each with 3 levels.

The each world as something cool or weird about it that makes it a challenge like the Green Hill Zone is filled with easy landscapes and simple enemies which is perfect for gamers to practice the basics. It is especially good to master the game's cool sonicspeed through the cool loop te loops. Also who could forget the awesome transparent waterfalls, the totem poles, and even the huge twisting spike belts either. The first few levels are really impressive here.

The Marble Zone forces Sonic to slow down a little to solve some puzzles and time some more difficult jumps through the underground corridors. The Marble Zone is also filled with dangerous lava and giant spiked bricks, but you got to love the lush colourful graphics here. The Spring Yard Zone is a fun looking pinball like world with bumpers at every corner and some nasty new enemies like the Roller that attacks from behind and the metal lobster that fires two shots to non suspecting players. This world also has new tricky platforms to watch out for.

The Labyrinth Zone is a underwater temple filled with more puzzles and deadly jump then any of the past worlds before it and these are easily some of the toughest levels in game. It doesn't help matters when Sonic has to go in the water which not only slows him down but he needs to find large pockets or bubbles of air to survive because unlike other video games like in Super Mario World, it only takes about 30 seconds for Sonic to lose air. If you’re good enough to beat the Labyrinth Zone then you off to the Star Light Zone next. These levels are easier than the Labyrinth's in my opinion but since you're high in the sky here, if you're not careful than you could lose a lot of lives fast because of all the pitfalls. Speed in these levels is necessary and hopefully you have mastered the Sonic Spin Attack that can unlock some secret areas hidden away too. Finally there is Dr. Robotnik's hideout, the Scrap Brain Zone. Scrap Brain has loads of deadly obstacles like buzz saws, trap doors, bomb throwing robots, and much more here plus you can forget about going to the bonus worlds too even if you have the right amount of Rings. If the first two levels of the Scrap Brain Zone were not bad enough but you also have to survive another one of those annoying water based levels to reach the evil doctor for the final showdown.

The game play is as easy as it gets
. The A, B, C buttons are all used to jump and spin plus that D pad is used to move Sonic around and that's it. Sonic can take only one hit and then he's done for, but you collect magic Rings that are scattered on the worlds for added protection but if he takes a hit then he'll lose all the rings no matter how many you found. You can easily just get some more rings after you dropped them though and than you’re OK but not if you fall in a pit. Talk about originality, eh? If Sonic is able to keep at least 50 rings went he makes it to the end of the level then he has the ability to enter a weird but very cool looking 360 degree moving bonus universe to earn some extra points, more lives, and those rare chaos emeralds too. The controls are simple and that's why Sonic was so accessible to all types of gamers but you can't do the Spin Dash, Double jump, and other things found in the other Sonic's but the game still plays fine. Sonic can find special TV's (hidden or not) to get some much needed power ups like 1-ups, 10 rings, Temporary Invisible, Temporary Mega Quick Sneakers for added speed, and even Shields to protect him and his rings. Sonic could also do something I never seen in a Video Game, he can look and tilt the camera when he ducks into a ball and when he looks up to get a better view what's below or above, this is great for finding secret TV's or Rings.

Sonic the Hedgehog introduced us to some unique looks and the reason I think that this game has stylish feel is because Sega didn't try to hind the fact that this is a video game. Just look at those blight colours of the Green Hill Zone, Sega was clever enough to use a checked board design with two shades of greens for the glass for the foreground, plus the background uses multiple parallel scrolling to give the game a extra 3D feel, it still looks incredible to this day! The platform and foreground are kind of flat looking but that's the whole appeal of the video game design that Sega used. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the characters like Sonic, Dr. Robotnik and the enemies are all rendered and that was before Donkey Kong Country graphics here are better than Super Mario World's cartoon-like style in my view anyways. Sega wasn't afraid to push the Genesis to the limit and a great example of this was the rolling Bonus stages with the revolutionary spin rotation effect which really haven't been seen in games before. Not bad, uh?
Sound and Conclusion: Video:
The Sega Genesis has some sound issues I'm sure system owners know about especially compared the SNES's sound hardware but I still knew that this 16-bitter could produce do some great music like Sega was able to do in the Revenge of Shinobi. Although I didn't like the happy go lucky computer music of the Green Hill Zone too much, the sound track of the other worlds were awesome especially the new age music from the Scrap Brain Zone. The sound effects were so good and memorable that most of them were carried over on to the other Sonic games for 16, 32, and 128-bit machines. The sound effects in Sonic 2 are virtually identical to the original believe it or not.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a fantastic game but I would have liked a save feature or something like Sonic 3 and Super Mario World had but it's still very playable regardless. Sure the game may be easy enough for the casual gamer to be able to finish the game in a day or two but it may take a while longer to find all the Chaos Emeralds and thus unlock the secret ending and even Super Mario World didn't have a alternate ending now did they? Sure many say that Super Mario World was the better game because it was a much larger adventure than Sonic but I say that both games are different enough to warrant playing and are great games for different reasons. Sonic was fast, he had a attitude, game play anyone could master, plus graphics and sound that still hold up even in 2002. Sonic the Hedgehog also won the 1991 Game of the Year in such magazines like Electronic Gaming Monthly, Video Games & Computers, and more thus making the game the next big thing of it's time. The award winning original here is still a great game even by today's standards and it should be super cheap too. Sonic the Hedgehog should be in everyone's Genesis collection!
SONIC the Hedgehog
overall rating: 90/100

Find Sonic on eBay here!

For 1 player only
graphics: 9/10
sound: 9/10
gameplay: 7/10
replay: 8/10

(Ryan Genno) 2002

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