Sonic the Hedgehog

Reviewed by Kyle Bell, Posted on 2007-07-04


Developer: Sonic Team Publisher: Sega
Release Date: June 23, 1991 Also On: Master System

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most iconic video game figures in history, perhaps only after Mario. There have been literally dozens of games featuring the blue hedgehog on countless platforms dating back to the Genesis and Master System to as recently as Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. If Nintendo is the house that Mario built, Sega is the house that Sonic built. Not only did he accomplish millions of units sold, claim legions of fans and make Sega a household name, he drove the Genesis ahead of the Super Nintendo.

Truth be told, I was more of a Sonic fan growing up during the days of the Genesis than I was a Super Mario Bros. fan. While I am far more inclined to play a Mario 3D game than Sonic, the side-scrolling action found in Sonic on the Genesis was irresistible. Even today I find myself clamoring for old-school Sonic, be it on my GameCube in Sonic Mega Collection or the actual Genesis cartridges that I recently reacquired after years of being without.

I remember very well growing up on this game. My dad purchased it when it was a pack-in with the Genesis. I would usually get past the first three levels, then have difficulty in the Labyrinth Zone (the water level for those of you not familiar with the game). Even though I was only four or five, I loved zooming through the early levels of Sonic. The graphics seemed stunning at the time, bright, colorful and full of life. The music in Green Hill Zone was perky and at least for me, one of the more memorable tunes in a video game.

Pretending that you have never played a Sonic game before, I'm now going to describe how the basic idea of Sonic the Hedgehog plays out. You play as Sonic the Hedgehog, our fury friend who tries to save his world from Dr. Robotnik. The heavyset villain has turned animals into destructive robot creatures who will attack Sonic in each zone. When Sonic jumps on them in ball form, destroying the robot shell, he releases the animal. Aside from freeing the animals and defeating Dr. Robotnik, Sonic has the optional task of collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds.

While Sonic the Hedgehog does play out as a side-scroller (ala Super Mario Bros.), Sonic is all about vertical gameplay exploration. There is not one set path to take (at least for the most part) in each level of the game. Some levels have two or even three different paths that you can take, which can be reached by jumping, running up a ramp or bouncing on springs. Aside from the enemies, there are many hazards to be wary of in Sonic the Hedgehog. Look out for spikes, lava pits, moving walls that may crush you and gaps. Be sure to collect rings along the way, as this is Sonic's form of life. If he runs out of rings and you hit an enemy or hazard, you lose life and have to either restart from a checkpoint or the whole level over again.

The game has six zones, which are nothing more than unique level designs for the three levels within each zone. These include the Green Hill Zone (the green level with loops, waterfalls and hills), the Marble Zone (the lava level and one of the more difficult in the game), Spring Yard Zone (this reminds me of the casino levels which would later appear in most Sonic games), Labyrinth Zone (the underwater level), Star Light Zone (one of the easier levels in the game, ironically) and Scrap Brain Zone. After you beat all six zones, you move on to the Final Zone, which is a boss fight with Sonic's nemesis, Dr. Robotnik.

Sega almost tried to be everything with their mascot that Mario was not. They made him fast, athletic, slender and an anthropomorphic animal. He had an edge to him that differed with Mario's "anything goes, just don't mess with my princess" attitude. Sonic set the stage for a historic collision of two video game titans. At the time, you were either a Mario or Sonic fan. The 16-bit generation would be the only generation in the industry's history that was so closely divided. While you may dispute whether Sonic the Hedgehog is the best platformer ever made or even the best in the Sonic series, one can not deny the impact that this game had on the future of video games.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 10
Written by Kyle Review Guide

Reviewed by Kyle Bell