Sonic the Hedgehog

In a bid to compete with the popularity of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., The early nineties saw Sega introduce a new hero for their latest console, the Sega Mega Drive. Whilst it was still a platform game with a recurring antagonist, it was different enough so as not to be accused of copying Mario’s format. In 1991, Sonic burst onto the scene and has maintained a place in the hearts of retrogamers everywhere.

Copyright © Sega

Sonic the Hedgehog is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was released on the Sega Megadrive in 1991, spawning one of the most successful videogame franchises of all time. This review is based on the Mega Drive version.

Sonic is a blue hedgehog who has the ability to run at incredible speeds. This speed, and ability to attack enemies by curling into a ball, allowing his spikes to damage his enemies, is put to use when the evil Dr. Robotnik arrives in Sonic’s homeland. He proceeds to steal the Chaos Emeralds (which have the ability to warp time and space), and captures the local wildlife, transforming them into evil robotic animals. Sonic must navigate through six zones, evading Robotnik’s minions, collecting rings (they act as health), and attempt to steal back the Chaos Emeralds which are found via special stages.

Screenshot from retrogames.cz

We bought our Sega Megadrive for Christmas 1991, and Sonic came with the package. I have very fond memories of this game and have spent many an hour playing through it (it only takes about 25 minutes to complete). Its an easy game to play but still challenging when trying to attain all Chaos Emeralds, and the game appeals to all ages of gamer.

This game really was revolutionary for its time, and still holds up well today. The sprites are beautifully illustrated and coloured, and are all unique. The music is very recognisable and even when I hear it now, I can recite every note. There are two endings depending on if you manage to collect all the Chaos Emeralds which adds a little replay value, and the high speed at which Sonic can achieve makes for exciting gameplay.

Did I complete the game?

Over the years I have completed Sonic the Hedgehog many times without the use of cheats, and will no doubt re-visit the game in the future to make sure I still can.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines:Yep, it’s true – Sonic is really great! I can’t think of a Megadrive game with more spectacular graphics…”. Overall score 92%.[1]

Entertainment Weekly: “Dazzlingly fast yet never chaotic, consistently challenging but never impossible, Sonic the Hedgehog is quite simply one of the best video games I’ve ever played. A+.”[2]

Mean Machines Index: “Sega’s hyped-beyond belief character stars in a game inspired by Nintendo’s Mario platform game series. It’s very addictive with brilliant graphics and speed. However, the gameplay is frustrating at times and experienced gamers should have this one licked within days. Overall 90%[3]

Sega Power: “World famous and rightly so. This is almost certainly the game that has sold more Sega systems than anything else. It’s a bit easy and looks slightly dated now, but it’s still one of the best games around. Overall 5/5”.[4]

Sega Power: “Sega’s answer to Super Mario Bros, Sonic is the fastest parallax scrolling collect-‘em-up ever! A stunning rotating bonus round and a feast of visual effects – a classic. Overall 5/5”.[5]

Awards:

Overall Game of the Year – Golden Joystick Awards

Game of the Year – Electronic Gaming Monthly

My verdict:A revolutionary riposte to Nintendo’s Mario franchise. Every gamer should play this game as a rite of passage.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Sonic the Hedgehog? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Facebook.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (July 1991). Issue 10:42-44. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-magazine-10/page/n43/mode/2up Accessed 10th December 2019).

[2] Strauss, B., (August 1991). ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Entertainment Weekly. (https://ew.com/article/1991/08/23/sonic-hedgehog/ Accessed 10th December 2019).

[3] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:140. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-sega-magazine-01/page/n139/mode/2up Accessed 16th February 2020).

[4] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:98. (https://retrocdn.net/images/b/b9/SegaPower_UK_46.pdf Accessed 17th February 2020).

[5] Jarrett, S., ‘The Hard Line – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Sega Power. (April 1991). Issue 23:54. (https://retrocdn.net/images/8/89/SegaPower_UK_23.pdf Accessed on 29th July 2020.

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