Retro Weekly: Sonic the Hedgehog

I remember the first time I got to play a Sonic the Hedgehog game, it was 1994, I was nine or ten years old, my father had just arrived home from work with a Sega Mega Drive 2 and a copy of Sonic 3. I remember him telling me that a friend from work had let him borrow the console and the game, however, the console and game still sit happily in my collection some 24 years later. The more I think about my father’s story makes me believe that he stole it from work, either way, I got a Sega Mega Drive 2 and Sonic 3, it was amazing.

 

Sonic the Hedgehog 1991

 

Sonic 3, in my opinion, was perfect, the speed of the game, the level design, the power-ups and hints of a story made it a game that I still enjoy playing. Needless to say, however, I played the rest of the Sonic games in reverse order, which recently I replayed and completed for the very first time Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic, released in 1991 was created to be the face of Sega, with the aim to be direct competition to Nintendo’s Mario. Both Mario and Sonic have very similar styles, both are platformers, both have one main enemy that you fight after 3 acts or in Mario’s case 3 levels, both have hordes of minions to jump on, but why does Sonic the Hedgehog suck so much?

 

 

The original Sonic game just isn’t that fun to play, I find it fails to achieve what it set out to do. The game had been advertised to be a speedy platformer, however, in playing the game there were very few areas where any decent speed could be reached, that and the obvious lack of the ability to use dash which came into action in Sonic 2 does make me believe they really did miss the mark there. The areas where you could actually reach top speed were usually interrupted directly after by a very slow and jarring, repetitive sequence of simple platform jumping usually over lave or spikes. Looking further into this repetition it’s clear to see the issues comes down to lazy level design to try and flesh out all 3 acts, something that had changed in the following Sonic games with Sonic 2, 3 and Knuckles having the majority of zones only contain 2 acts rather than 3, a much-needed improvement.

 

Sonic the Hedgehog 1991

 

The only element that really stood out to me in Sonic is the music, from the get-go there is a very cleverly crafted, feel good and I hate to say it, but punchy soundtrack, which I am glad the following games stuck with the same upbeat tones. However, the soundtrack alone isn’t enough to save this game for me, I am glad that he received iconic status after because this lead to the fantastic game that is Sonic Mania, which in my opinion is the best Sonic game since Sonic & Knuckles.

 

My final verdict is, Sonic the Hedgehog felt more of a preview than a game, it feels rushed, it feels unimaginative, it feels a wasted effort, the only saving grace is that only a year later the much-improved Sonic 2 came out where it is evident the developers learned from their mistakes.

 

 

 

My final verdict is, Sonic the Hedgehog felt more of a preview than a game, it feels rushed, it feels unimaginative, it feels a wasted effort, the only saving grace is that only a year later the much-improved Sonic 2 came out where it is evident the developers learned from their mistakes.

 

 

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