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Sonic the Hedgehog

The classic 1991 Sega Genesis video game featuring the popular character of Sonic the hedgehog.

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One of the Definitive Games of the 16-Bit Era

  • Apr 21, 2011
  • by
When gaming fist got off the ground again Nintendo pretty much dominated the world of gaming and Mario had become a more recognizable icon than Mickey Mouse at that time.  Seeing an opportunity to really add to variety of gaming, Sega developed Sonic the Hedgehog.  Notably enough (at least to most gamers) the entire conception of Sonic and Sega, for that matter was just done for the sake of competing with Nintendo.  That doesn't mean they didn't set out to make a fun game.  Clearly they did (and succeeded).  What I'm suggesting is that Sega REALLY knew what they were doing with the classic Sonic games better than we know.

In the first place, Mario was a platformer filled with lots of running jumping and intricate level designs that, for the most part, were easy to pick up on.  Sonic took the element of simplicity but made sure to do something different.  In the first place, they specifically made Sonic Blue as to be a polar opposite of Mario's red attire.  Likewise they did the same thing with the logo.  It's no secret that Sega had originally done this for that specific reason.  The idea was to show that they were the opposite of Nintendo and that they were to be Nintendo's competition.

But how would they make Sonic different from every other platformer was the question?  The answer came with speed.  Sonic was a fast paced gaming adventure that was mostly comprised of speed.  Instantly the most gracious thing Sonic has going for it are the incredible level designs.  Loops, tons of jumping and the best part about it is you can do much of it with so much ease while going fast as hell through all of it.  It can be a bit much on the eyes at first, but the further you get into the game, the more surprising each new level gets.  As you play the game you'll go into different "zones" that are comprised of a couple of levels.  At the end of each zone you'll fight a boss.  Nothing short of anything any game was doing at the time.  The year was, after all, 1991.

There are other things that keep Sonic going besides it's incredible level design.  It also has some simple mechanics that made it accessible to just about anyone.  In most games made in the early 16-bit era you either had a certain number of hits you could take before you died or you had a life gauge of some sort.  Instead of doing this, Sonic collected rings as he sped through levels.  When you took damage you lost your rings, but could easily get them back as they spilled out around you.  As long as you had one ring you wouldn't lose a life. 

You might be tempted to think this makes Sonic the Hedgehog a rather easy game, but it actually doesn't.  There are still pits you can fall in and levels in which the design makes it tough to actually recover all your rings.  You're not invincible.  But there was more to collecting rings than just keeping your health.  If you finished an act with more than fifty rings you entered a special stage where you had a chance to retrieve a chaos emerald.  The game was, for the most part, simple in design but brilliant in execution. 

Sonic the Hedgehog is easily one of the best games on the Sega Genesis (possibly one of the greatest games every made, in fact).  It takes the visual flair of the Genesis to heart as well to showcase some vibrant colors that also went along well with its level design.  In short, the artistic style of Sonic the Hedgehog gave it a pulse.  It had a unique art style and design that made it fun to play and to watch other people play.  If anything, what might make Sonic a drag is that the game isn't that long.  Where as games such as Super Mario World had to implement a save feature because they were so big, Sonic was a fairly short game.  There were six zones comprised of three acts each, but the stages went by rather quickly (they were probably supposed to, however). 

On the other hand, Sonic the Hedgehog is one of more popular games made for "speed running" as a result.  And the game has a way of encouraging such from the player.  Sonic the Hedgehog may be short but it's replay value is through the roof.  Twenty years later and it's still one of the greatest games you'll ever play.

Sonic also has a legacy.  When the Sega Genesis first came out it was a hard sell at first because the games it showcased at launch were not up to par with some of the built in fanbase of the Super Nintendo (albeit the Super Nintendo didn't have a fantastic launch either).  When Sonic the Hedgehog came out, it was suddenly worth getting a Sega Genesis JUST for that game alone and it launched the Sega Genesis up as a powerhouse console to own.  Despite that Sega lost the war in the end, there was a time when Sonic the Hedgehog boosted the Sega Genesis so much in popularity that it overtook the Super Nintendo for a while (and would hold onto that thanks to a little game called Mortal Kombat that showed up on home consoles in 1992 after making a big splash at the arcade). 

Sonic eventually became the mascot of Sega as a result.  Sonic has gone on to sell more than 40 million games as a result.  Although I'm only a fan of his 2D outings they were games that helped to further shape a genre.  Needless to say, if you ever had a Sega Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog is probably in your library (or your memory) somewhere.  And it should be.

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April 27, 2011
Sega's flagship character!! Crash Bandicoot still around?
More Sonic the Hedgehog reviews
review by . May 24, 2011
posted in Siliconera Bounce
Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.... Wait, those last two are no good. So how about this: Sonic, he can really move, Sonic, he's got an attitude, Sonic, he's the fastest thing ALIIIIIIIIIIIIVE! Now, since I just scared myself out of any sleep for the next month, I might as well kill my newfound spare time by writing about the game that made everyone's favorite speedy blue hedgehog famous.    Sonic the …
review by . June 06, 2012
posted in Siliconera Bounce
I'll admit that whenever I think of this game, I do get pretty nostalgic over it since this was really the first videogame I ever got heavily engrossed in, since I got this at the age of four on Christmas Day of 1991 (I honestly don't remember much of my life before then). However, the nostalgia factor does NOT influence the rating I have for this game, I'm strictly rating this game on how much quality I think it has. Anyway, on to the review.         STORY …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


Sonic the Hedgehog is a platform game developed by Sega and published by for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis system. It is the inaugural game in Sega's flagship Sonic the Hedgehog video game series, and was the first title developed by Sonic Team. The game was released in 1991 in North America, Europe, and Japan. It is sometimes retrospectively referred to as Sonic the Hedgehog 1 or Sonic 1 to differentiate it from both its main character and sequels in the same series.
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Number of Players: 1
Publisher: Sega
Console: Sega Genesis
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 1991
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