Sonic the Hedgehog

This is where you can deliberate anything relating to videogames - past, present and future
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JaySevenZero
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Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for the original 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog (both 16-bit Genesis/Mega Drive and 8-bit Game Gear/Master System versions) for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Alex79
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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Alex79 »

Just checking, is this the Sega Master System version?

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ratsoalbion
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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by ratsoalbion »

Alex79uk wrote: January 18th, 2021, 12:12 am Just checking, is this the Sega Master System version?
Mega Drive and Master System versions.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Alex79 »

Thanks :)

My first exposure to Sonic was on the Sega Master System. At this point, I'd never played a Mario game, and my only platforming experience had come from old 8-bit computer games like Dizzy and Manic Miner. I remember being astounded by the graphics and the speed in Sonic and had hours of fun making my way through the various colourful stages. I never actually played the Megadrive version until a few years later, but even now I still prefer the Master System one. I thought the platforming was slightly more methodical and challenging, rather than just seemingly zipping through the stages at 100mph on the Megadrive. The Master System one had more interesting levels in my opinion too, especially the jungle zone. It's fair to say that in later years my love for Sonic gradually dissipated as more interesting platformers, and especially the Mario series, took my attention, but for a short while in the early 90s, Sonic was just about the coolest thing I'd ever played. I think its a shame the Master System version often gets overlooked in compilations or when people remember the series. I genuinely think it's the better game, and will always champion it over the Megadrive one given the chance. But, whichever version you prefer, I think it's fair to say Sonic was pretty groundbreaking at the time.

THREE WORD REVIEW: Toe Tapping Tornado.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Magical_Isopod »

As previously mentioned in the Sega Genesis console special, Sonic and Thunder Force II - another early Genesis title - were the first video games I ever owned, and I have a lot of fond memories. But I'll not retread old ground - definitely check out the Genesis console special, it's a good'un.

At time of writing, I JUST finished playing Sonic 1 on the Nintendo Switch, via the Sega Genesis Classics compilation. Not the ideal version, mind - the sound emulation isn't perfect, and there's definitely a small bit of lag in the controls, even with a wired controller. The cheap hotel TV I played on may be a factor too - alas.

But even without nostalgia goggles, it's just a solid all-around game. I was able to play it in a single sitting during an afternoon, and it completely held my attention. The rewind feature of the Switch version helped me in this feat, I admit. Nevertheless, it's just a fun little platformer with great music that doesn't overstay its welcome.

What I like about this Sonic, however, is the art direction... If you can really call it that. Being a platformer of the early 90s, a lot of the worlds and assets here are abstractions - not cohesive spaces, or even things we recognize... It's all a combination of shapes and assets cobbled together to be a video game. But that holds a certain appeal in itself - everything feels very ethereal, very alien - Sonic exists not in a world we can visit, but in some weird dimension. And it's little oddities - the purple water in Scrap Brain 3, the creepy faces in the background of Labyrinth Zone, the word "cope" scrawled randomly in Spring Yard Zone... This sort of artwork in games is almost lost now, as games try to build these cohesive worlds. Sonic, to me, always felt like those artsy graphics tech demos of early computing - just these weird abstractions that catch your attention. And I think Sonic - an anthropomorphic hedgehog with super speed - fits better in a world of abstractions that in, say, a scenario that resembles reality. And that's partly where the 3D games lose me completely.

Three Word Review: "GBA version bad".

(I'll be chiming in about the Game Gear version at a later time).

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by ratsoalbion »

Indeed, the best way to play Sonic on Switch is most definitely via M2's SEGA AGES version.

Just a heads-up: You might not have noticed this, but we have never (to the best of my knowledge) used a "Better than [game X]" Three Word Review in 452 shows.
:)

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Magical_Isopod »

ratsoalbion wrote: January 21st, 2021, 10:59 pm Indeed, the best way to play Sonic on Switch is most definitely via M2's SEGA AGES version.

Just a heads-up: You might not have noticed this, but we have never (to the best of my knowledge) used a "Better than [game X]" Three Word Review in 452 shows.
:)
Yessir, I'll think of something a bit more clever.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Alex79 »

Magical_Isopod wrote: January 21st, 2021, 10:38 pmThree Word Review: "GBA version bad".
I played the GBA game a bit back in the day, seemed alright although I'd already lost interest by then. Worth mentioning Sonic Advance is a completely different game to Sonic The Hedgehog though.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Magical_Isopod »

Alex79uk wrote: January 22nd, 2021, 9:52 am
Magical_Isopod wrote: January 21st, 2021, 10:38 pmThree Word Review: "GBA version bad".
I played the GBA game a bit back in the day, seemed alright although I'd already lost interest by then. Worth mentioning Sonic Advance is a completely different game to Sonic The Hedgehog though.
No no no. There's an infamously bad port of the Genesis original to the GBA called "Sonic The Hedgehog Genesis". From a cursory glance online it was only released in North America.

https://www.metacritic.com/game/game-bo ... og-genesis

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Alex79 »

Ah apologies, I had no idea such a thing existed!

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Magical_Isopod »

Alex79uk wrote: January 22nd, 2021, 7:45 pm Ah apologies, I had no idea such a thing existed!
In fairness, it would be better if it didn't.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Magical_Isopod »

I also started up the Game Gear version - which is a port of the Master System version - with the intention of finishing it... But I'm not sure I can manage that. To be sure, it's a well-made game. But it's also a very different game. It's much slower-paced, and obviously, has much simpler level design due to hardware limitations. And bearing those limitations in mind, it's actually quite impressive - it's a very fast game. But that's also kind of its problem, too. On the GameGear version in particular, the speed becomes an obstacle due to the narrower screen size... It's nearly impossible to see spikes and pitfalls and react in time to avoid them. While the Genesis version does slow you down, it also gives a skilled player enough time to react. Not the case here.

Further impeding the game is the slowdown, and it's tough to explain exactly why... Basically, too many sprites on screen will slow the game down, and in extreme examples - like the Bridge stage - the lag actually causes you to drop inputs, making timing jumps very difficult. In other cases, the lag will come and go sporadically, making it really difficult to control a landing on a floating platform.

In the context of 8-bit platforming, it's really quite an impressive little game, it plays faster than most 8-bit contemporaries and the use of colour is surprisingly lush. It's a shame the Master System and Game Gear games rarely get included in compilations. But I also think the technical limitations make it a hard sell in current year, to all but the most ardent enthusiasts.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by sheeldz »

For me, gaming begins with Sonic the Hedgehog. I remember seeing the Mega Drive I hooked up to a tiny telly in my Uncle's bedroom in my Grandparent's flat, and watching a cool cartoon that... wait, suddenly you could move the character around yourself? I was transfixed.

I distinctly remember, with clarity, the first time I held the Mega Drive controller and moved Sonic forward, and immediately freezing, worried that I'd make the spiky blue fellow die. It was a short horror, but it is one I'll always remember as my first memory of gaming.

Of course, I got over this worry and since then, Sonic the Hedgehog has been mind - and I still adore Sonic "1" to this day. I owned the game myself (and the sequels, the books, the Comic, the bed sheets, the pajamas...).

I have imprinted the music to my memory; I remember the feeling of elation when I finally beat Labyrinth Zone's boss and discovered Starlight Zone for the first time, and the utter panic when those blades whirred straight towards me in Scrapbrain Acts 1 and 2. I also vividly remember my curse words when I found out Act 3 was Labyrinth Zone again... but harder.

The sequels have added things that make it better - save data, multiplayer, and the spin dash, to name a few - and the ports and remakes that add these new features to the game are to be applauded, but whilst Sonic "1" is the first, and I still find it to be the hardest and most platformer-y - those sections in Marble Zone are as tricky as anything that would follow - I think it stands as the weakest of the original Mega Drive tetralogy, but that's a story for another time.

Gaming wouldn't be the same without the Hedgehog, and the Hedgehog wouldn't still be here without this game, and I think it still stands up today as a pinnacle of the untouchable nature that Sonic and SEGA were for that briefest of moments.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by MattL »

My first exposure to Sonic the Hedgehog was through the Sega Game Gear port of the Master System original, which I first played at around the age of 8 or 9. Having previously only owned the NES and having had most of platforming experience with Mario Bros. 2 and 3, I was immediately hooked. As a game, Sonic 8-bit is certainly primitive, when compared to it's sequels and even moreso when compared to it's bigger 16-bit brother and it's sequels, but it's art direction, soundtrack, and sense of momentum was beyond anything I had ever experienced from Nintendo's chubby, Italian stereotypes, whom I almost immediately fell out of love with.

Beyond making me a fan of two-dimensional Sonic games for life (the 3D games are a very different, very sad story), this game also made my younger self a Sega fanboy years and I immediately pleaded for a Sega Genesis the following Christmas. When my younger brother and I received our Genesis, Sonic 2 came packaged with the system and Sonic & Knuckles had just been released, so I found myself occupied with those titles. I, in fact, never actually played Sonic 1 on original hardware beyond about an hour at my cousin's house.

My first full playthrough of Sonic 1 16-bit came about 10 years later on the fantastic Sonic Mega Collection on the Nintendo Gamecube. Unlike it's 8-bit counterpart, Sonic 16-bit felt just as compelling in 2003 or 4, as I imagined it must have felt in 1991. That being said, when I'm feeling nostalgic want to pick up a 2D Sonic these days, this is definitely the bottom of my list, due to the lack of the spin dash, a feature added into the sequel that further cemented the that feeling of "do it again, go faster, master this level, get through it without getting hit, get through it grabbing all the rings, see if you can beat your buddies time" (not unlike my experience playing Hotline Miami, interestingly).

For me, Sonic 1, while not as refined as it's sequels, established the four main canons for this series; music, color, momentum, and mastery; and I cannot envision gaming without it.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Jobobonobo »

I did play Sonic before this on my cousin’s Master system but seeing him in his original form on the Mega Drive was what really made me fall in love with the character. Green Hill zone is without a doubt the most iconic first level in video game history. The level design allowing the player to zip along at speeds previously thought unimaginable, the detailed backgrounds, the tropical aesthetic, that incredible music. No game makes as strong a first impression on you as Sonic the Hedgehog on the Mega Drive. The genius of Green Hill is undoubtedly what made Sonic a household name and is the very essence of the character for many.

It is just a pity that the rest of the game rarely reaches that high. The first Sonic is rather inconsistent in terms of level design and quality with half being great speedy fun and the other being slow and frustrating. It certainly does play a lot differently than what the marketing hype for the blue mammal would have us believe was a nonstop roller-coaster of a game. However, I do think that these two conflicting design philosophies of speed and precision platforming start to meld together far more smoothly in later Mega Drive titles and as a result find them to be vastly superior to this first entry. Regardless of these issues, this is the game that laid the foundation for those more polished sequels and the highlights of this game were for me, very high indeed that I do still like this overall.

While I was already playing games with the Commodore 64 we had at home, it was just a passing diversion to me. Sonic on the other hand, was what really got me fascinated in this hobby that still endures to this day. For that, I will always owe this cool dude with an attitude eternal gratitude.

Three word review: First gaming love

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Seph »

Seeing the original Mega Drive version of Sonic the Hedgehog in action is one of my earliest and most vivid memories. My gaming "career" began with the my dad's ZX Spectrum and Amstrad, so for the first few years of my life games didn't look more complex than Chuckie Egg or Barbarian (my parents were liberal with the media we could experience).

But all of this changed when my sister's friend brought his newly-acquired Mega Drive around to our house to show off Sonic the Hedgehog. This game blew my mind. It was so colourful and fast, it was like a cartoon come to life. It made Christmas for my parents an easy job that year as there's only one thing that I wanted. Even my dad was a fan, which meant picking up the sequels wasn't an issue despite the cost.

While I already had a couple of gaming years under my belt before Sonic, it was the blue hedgehog that lured me deep into this world and I never really left. I still rate the third as my favourite and Mania as undoubtedly the best, but the original Sonic is the most important game of my life.

One thing that's interesting in retrospect is how overrated, or overplayed, the idea of going fast is in this game. While Sonic has always been lighter on his feet than other mascots, what made the 2D games interesting was the verticality to the level design and the multiple routes you could take to reach the end. It's one thing the 3D games never understood properly; while, ironically, Mario pushed the need for players to discover secrets or explore the levels when it added the third dimension.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Pidi »

One of my first console's (away from handheld) was a Master System which was then closely followed by a Mega Drive, both times the first game I had for each was Sonic The Hedgehog, this would eventually start a craze which to my parent's despair would stay around for a number of years. Sonic clothing, bedding, videos, posters, you name it I probably had it.

I recall playing both the Master System and Mega Drive versions tirelessly. Spending hours on each trying to make it to the final level with enough lives intact to complete the game. Looking back I'm sure I did manage to complete both versions, but ask me to repeat this in today's world and I'd probably spend months trying.

The ease of Sonic games was great, I could sit in my room and I have my mum play along with me. I recall on Christmas we spent the majority of the day in front of the TV playing just Sonic, each taking it in turns; this I think is the only time I've seen my mum play a video game.

The games were fun to play for hours on end and the added bonus of the soundtrack being so addictive was great. I still have my Mega Drive along with my copies of Sonic 1 & 2 which I will dig out some day to replay once I have my own kids that will need to lesson in what video games used to be like.

Even to this day when I drive up North to see family I go past the Sega HQ going out of London which the massive Sonic sign, each time I get a memory jog of the good old times playing the original Sonic games.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Rhaegyr »

Sonic is the only game my mum asked me or my brother to play it so she could watch it - I'll always love it for that, fantastic game in its' own right aside.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by Billy »

Shout out to the Saturn port of Sonic the Hedgehog which ran natively on the 32 bit hardware (not emulation) and came as part of the lovely Sonic Jam compilation along with Sonic 2,3 and Knuckles (and the prototype 3D Sonic World) .

It fixed the speed of the game, restoring the PAL version to full 60hz speed, included different remixed difficulty modes alongside the original and even added an optional spin dash into the mix.

Possibly the best way to play the original game to this day in PAL territories.

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Re: 473 - Sonic the Hedgehog

Post by seansthomas »

My family owned an Acorn Electron and Atari 2600, which I have vague memories of, but they never felt like my first console experience. For me, gaming really began when my parents helped me plug a Master System 2 into our shoddy little 'portable' CRT TV on the kitchen table, and I saw that Sega logo followed by Sonic's iconic start screen.

That Christmas, I spent dozens of hours trying to beat it, in the days long before save states, at various points having it taken away from me after bursting into frustrated tears due to dying in the latter stages.

I confess, I looked at friends who had the Mega Drive version with slightly green eyes, so much so that I bought that version too on the Switch to finally get to experience it. And having played both, they're actually very different games.

Sonic on MD is a busy, insanely fast rollercoaster of a game where I at times don't feel in control of the proceedings. It establishes much of what makes the series so respected such as the great soundtrack and OTT zones but as a game, I don't really enjoy playing it very much.

Whereas the limitations of the Master System for me help the game. Sonic is far smaller, presumably due to the processing power pushing those pixel sprites around, and that means you have greater visibility of what's ahead and time to react; it plays more like a Mario game in some respects.

The quieter backgrounds mean my eyes can focus more. The lack of memory means the levels are slightly shorter. And the speed is still there, you just need to really, really know the levels to reach it.

And gameplay wise, it does things the MD version doesn't.

The vertical Jungle level changes expectations brilliantly. The scrolling Bridge level is a nerve wracking change of pace. The pinball bonus levels are infinitely more enjoyable than the MD equivalent. Chaos Emeralds being hidden in the main levels is far more fair. And I love the little touches, such as the way Sonic can make logs move across the water by running on them and the lightning on the first Sky Base zone.

My family recently unearthed a picture of me sat at that table playing Sonic, which has come to have greater significance than it did before given me Father's passing last year.

In fact only this past week, I've been clearing out his now sadly unoccupied house. And amongst his possessions, I found a box of belongings I'd not seen in decades, that he presumably had kept.

Prior to Sonic's release, I had spent weeks religiously rereading the 96% review it got in Sega Pro, which I found in a bag upstairs. I still recall the excitement of reading that, for maybe the first time ever, the lowly Master System had the best version of a Sega series.

And along with it, there was my old Master System and a copy of Sonic 1 and 2. I'd never thought I'd see them again, after donating the system and all my old games to the local church youth club, but it appears at some point they were throwing them out and returned them to him. And, being the OCD hoarder that he was, he put them in a wardrobe.

So after the long drive home, I spent half hour trying to remember how to tune my old spare TV and got my two kids to test it out. And it still works.

My 4 year old son couldn't get the hang on the inertia so asked me to take over, and 25+ years since I last played it, I managed to get to the latter stages of the game, remembering the secret walls, extra lives, first 3 Chaos Emeralds and air bubble locations in that damned Labyrinth. Looking back, it's one of only a handful of games from that era I can truly say I completed fairly, without cheats or a level select screen.

I'll never be able to now objectively detach the modern day reality of the game from its significance to me on a personal level, but just seeing that slightly faded box art again took me back to happy times and the days when I could get away with spending 4 hours playing a game in broad daylight, with my parents cooking dinner next to me. And for that reason alone, Sonic the hedgehog on the Master System will always be a very special game to me.

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