Sonic the Hedgehog
Reviewed by Michael LoCascio
For Sega, it was never enough just to be able to match
Nintendo. The only satisfaction that Sega could ever get
would only come if they were able to wallop Nintendo to such
an extent that the creators of the world's most successful
system could do nothing more than cower in awe and fear of
what they were up against. So when Sega set out to create a
new mascot for the Genesis, they weren't willing to settle
for any character that was merely cute or charismatic. They
wanted someone who could take a certain plumber and shove
him down a toilet - and subsequently do something else on
that toilet just to rub it in. What they come up with was
Sonic, one of the most well-known video game characters to
ever exist. No one will ever accuse Sonic of being the most
polite mammal that's ever lived. But, for a hedgehog, Sonic
has certainly got style.
Something else that Sonic has is speed. Sega's hasty little
hedgehog could outrun - or outspin - any other protagonist
that had appeared in a video game up to that point in time.
Sega used this as the game's main attraction - and it
worked. Players everywhere were astounded by the speed with
which Sonic could traverse the colorful land he lived in.
Particularly amazing were the scenes in which Sonic was
simply allowed to roll at top speed through all sorts of
loops and curves. Such celerity had never before been
witnessed in a video game, and Sega definitely took
advantage of it.
Sonic basically plays like a high-speed Bonk's Adventure.
The spunky hedgehog must make his way through a wide variety
of lengthy levels, all in an effort to save his wildlife
friends from the sinister Dr. Robotnik. Sonic has a special
spin attack that he can use to destroy the mechanical
menaces that oppose him. Also available for Sonic's use are
shields, invincibility icons, and, of course, rings. One
touch from an evildoer can send Sonic to his grave unless he
has at least one ring in his possession. Upon being hit,
Sonic will lose all of his rings, but he will still be
alive. He then has a few seconds to gather up as many of the
rings that had just been knocked away from him as he
possibly can. I feel that this is one the game's strongest
features - I definitely prefer it to the "mushroom system"
of Super Mario Bros. It's good to know that you have some
margin for error when you have rings in your possession
(allowing you to take the kinds of risks you might try to
avoid in a Mario game), and even if you don't have any
rings, you can rest assured that you will stumble upon
plenty more very shortly.
Control in Sonic the Hedgehog is as simple as can be. All
three buttons perform the exact same action, so there really
isn't anything to possibly be confused about. Sonic does
move a bit too quickly for his own good sometimes - thin
platforms can seem awfully slippery when you're trying to
jump on them and contain Sonic's momentum at the same time.
But with a little bit of practice, Sonic will be completely
under your control in no time.
Sonic the Hedgehog isn't all about high-speed fun, however.
While you're allowed to run rampant through the first zone,
the rest of the game requires a great deal of patience and
precision. To be frank, when Sonic isn't moving at high
speeds (which is actually most of the game), the cart plays
like your run-of-the-mill platformer. You know how these
titles work: stand in place for a few seconds waiting for
some moving platforms to get into ideal position, jump on to
and past the platforms, kill a few enemies, collect some
coins (uh, rings), and repeat the process. It's the basic
Super Mario formula with pretty graphics and a spirited
hedgehog. Unfortunately, while it's leaps and bounds ahead
of most games in the genre, there aren't nearly as many
secrets to discover or worlds to explore in Sonic as there
are in Super Mario World.
The graphics in Sonic are generally very impressive,
particularly in the game's bonus stages. There are some dry
spots: almost all of zone two takes place underground, where
the dull blues and grays don't exactly add to the game's
appeal. For the most part, however, Sega did a fine job with
the visuals in the game, as well as with the music.
Sega essentially accomplished what they set out to do with
Sonic the Hedgehog - they created a unique, popular mascot
who drew a great deal of attention to the Genesis. But while
Sonic certainly looks like he could wipe the floor with
Mario, I'd take the good old reliable plumber any day when
it comes to the depth and replay value of their respective
Overall: 8 / 10