Well guys, Happy 2014 to every one of you! And I figured, what’s a better way to start our reboot than to review Sonic the Hedgehog! So nearly 23 years after this game has been released (D*mn I feel so old), is it still a good game to be had? Well, let’s get down and dirty with the one that started it all.
SONIC the HEDGEHOG
Ah, Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s been quite a long time since the Blue Blur debuted on the SEGA Genesis, so let’s hop into that time machine of ours, shall we? It’s the year 1991, and the console war was in full swing. The SNES and Genesis were dead locked in battle, neither above each other. SEGA needed a mascot to compete the already dominant Super Mario Bros. franchise. Designs were sent left and right, consisting of, but not limited to, a dog, a cat, a Theodore Roosevelt in PJ’s, a rabbit that can pick stuff up with his ears, an armadillo, and a spiky blue hedgehog. It eventually boiled down to the armadillo and hedgehog, and I think you guys know who won out. It was the spines. They looked so cool. However, SEGA didn’t want to just throw away the other designs they liked. The bunny eventually became the blue prints to Ristar, the armadillo would transform into the character Mighty the Armadillo, and the Theodore Roosevelt would become Dr. Ivo Robotnik. The Hedgehog went through some modifications to fit SEGA, and soon, a legend was born. HIS fur, colored blue to match the sega logo….
His shoes, inspired by Michael Jackson and Santa Claus………
His inability to swim, given to him when Yuji Naka had an idiot moment and thought hedgehogs can’t swim……..
His name……. Mr. Needle-mouse. Huh? Oh, ahem, his name, Sonic the Hedgehog. And thus, we were introduced to one of the most important characters in the history of, well, history. But the game and character wasn’t enough! No, they needed commercials, and GOOD SATAN’S BEARD AND TRITAN!!!!!!!!! Sorry, but I mean REALLY! Sonic spawned some of the weirdest and most bizarre Japanese commercials I have ever seen. But anyways, Sonic the Hedgehog was released in 1991, alongside his to be rival Super Mario World. The game was a massive success, and it soon replaced Altered Beast as the Sega Genesis killer app. But now that it’s been 23 years, how well does Sonic the Hedgehog stand up?
Well, story wise, it’s pretty good for a typical 2D side scroller. Dr. Robotnik has kidnapped all the furry critters of West Island, and it’s up to Sonic to free them and stop Robotnik’s nefarious schemes. The game takes you through six zones, seven if the Final Zone is included. Each zone (excluding the final zone) is split into 3 acts per zone. You control Sonic with the D-Pad, pushing left and right will move Sonic in said directions. Pressing up will cause Sonic to scope out the higher views, while pressing down will make Sonic crouch to avoid projectiles, as well as zooming to lower regions of the level. If you press down while on the run, Sonic will curl into a spiky ball of death, which could be used to attack enemies. Hazards come in all flavors, ranging from common spikes, bottomless pits, and elemental hazards like lava, or Badniks, creations made from the captured critters. You can attack them as long as you hit an undefended are of their hide in your spin jump or roll attack. However, this is no Mario clone. Sonic has speed on his side. And with that, the whole gimmick of the game and many others comes into place; momentum based platforming. Going down slopes and hills is great, and because of this games wonderful physic engine, everything works just how it should. Inside the levels you can find a variety of things to help you. There are your yellow and red springs, which can send you to another part of the stage, or into a booby trap. Scattered through the worlds are golden rings. Think of them like insurance. If Sonic is hit without one, he loses a life. If he has at least one ring and is hit, he will survive at the cost of losing all his rings. Item capsules will also be located in remote areas of the map, which could contain rings, a shield, speed shoes, or invincibility. The levels themselves are also no pushover.
Green Hill Zone: A very bright, vibrant and fast paced zone with the iconic BGM and shuttle loops of checkered floors. The zone gets you quickly acquainted with the gameplay in general, and is a blast to speed through.
Marble Zone: And there goes that fun we had in Green Hill. Here, we focus more on platforming, of which takes advantage of the physics engine to create block-riding segments, and plenty of obstacles. I’m not calling it a bad zone overall, but I’ve had my fair share of rage quits. At least the music is awesome.
Spring Yard Zone: A somewhat hybrid of Green Hill and Marble. You’ve got plenty of speed, but some platforming as well. Sadly, this zone looks and sounds awful. And that’s a shame, as one of the defining ways to tell if a Sonic game is a Sonic game is it’s great OST. But hey, there are a few good remixes.
Labyrinth Zone: If Marble Zone was slow, Labyrinth Zone was at a complete halt. It’s here where we learn Sonic can’t swim. Not only that, but Sonic also has a time limit under water. And while they can be extended by inhaling bubbles, I hate this zone.
Star Light Zone: I don’t even need to play the zone to be happy. Just play me that kick a*s BGM and I’m all good. It is a great Green Hill style of gameplay, and I almost always have fun with this one.
Scrap Brain Zone: …….. Send…… in…….. EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Granted, it IS the final zone of the game, but there’s more than 1 million ways to die here!
Final Zone: The final encounter with Robotnik. There’s no rings, shields, just you and Robotnik. It isn’t really hard once you get the strategy, but prepared to have you’re a*s kicked if this is your first play through.
During Acts one and two in a zone (minus Scrap Brain and Final Zone), if Sonic has 50 rings or more, a giant ring will appear at the end of the stage. This is your gateway to a Special Stage, a place where Sonic has a chance to win one of the six Chaos Emeralds. In them, you have to guide Sonic through acid trip mazes, and I’ll say that these are some of the worst special stages ever. The controls are awkward, physics messed up, and it’s easy to hit an exit. Getting all six of them alters the ending, tough I’ve never done it thanks to the a*s-inised Special Stages.
With gameplay out of the way, let’s take a look at the presentation. I will say that these graphics have aged REMARKABLY well, and they still look great today. The animation quality is also great as well, and I think this game has some of the best framerate I’ve seen on the Genesis. Really shows off the Blast Processing.
As for the music, come on. It’s Sonic the Hedgehog! Classics like Green Hill will forever be remembered, and the well composed ones like Marble or Star Light are absolutely wonderful. Not all the tracks are great, but a good chunk of them are a joy to my ears.
The game overall is also pretty smooth, and while it is very rough on the edges, it’s still a great game.
Well, that wraps things up. Sonic the Hedgehog introduced my favorite franchise of all time, and created the greatest rivalry ever. SEGA needed a lot to fight Mario, and they succeeded. It is a fight that drags on to this day! There was a time that if you didn’t own a SEGA Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog, you were considered a pussy. But as of now, let’s get to the scoring chart!
Story = 10/10 Simple and engaging, enough to spur me to play
Structure: 10/10 I have no need to justify myself
Execution: 8.5/10 Glitchy at times, but still holds true
Controls: 10/10 I always blame my slow thumbs and level design for deaths
Levels: 9/10 Marble, Spring Yard, Labyrinth, and Scrap Brain test my patience
Aesthetics: 10/10 Aged beautifully, never hard to look at
Framerate: 7/10 Can be choppy at times, but over all very smooth
Smoothed Edges; 8/10 Glitchy and rough at times, but overall good.
VERDICT: 9.1/10 “It’s Amazing, Don’t Deny It”
After all those years, Sonic the Hedgehog is still a great game, and is definitely one of my favorite Sonic games of all time. If you haven’t played this game yet, WHAT’S YOUR DAMAGE?!?!??!?!?????!!???!???!?!?!?!??!???!?!?! I’ll leave it at that. So next time we meet, we be looking at the (Obvious) sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2.