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Sonic the Hedgehog

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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 video games. Overall: 8 / 10

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