Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39520)
Written on  :  Nov 30, 2012
Platform  :  Genesis
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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I feel the need... the need for speed

The Good

Back in the days when the Sega Master System was still popular, two platform games that were worth playing were Alex Kidd in Miracle World and Wonder Boy. The former was a pack-in title that starred a monkey boy named Alex who must save the city of Radactian and defeat Janken. Alex was Sega's mascot all through the mid to late Eighties, but as the early Nineties came, Sega was getting ready to drop their official mascot and replace him with someone with a bit more attitude, in time for the release of their new machine, the Genesis. The company renamed their AM8 development studios to Sonic Team, whose purpose was to design the mascot and handle the numerous Sonic titles that followed.

The first time I got a glimpse at Sonic the Hedgehog was at a Kmart store, in which the character sped through the first three zones (courtesy of his red shoes) and the special stage that showed off the capabilities of the new machine. Mostly everyone in my school class wanted a Genesis because of that damn hedgehog, but not me. I was happy with the PC I just brought that year.

The story takes place on South Island, where Dr. Eggman (or Dr. Robotnik in North America) kidnaps the entire animal population and uses them to fuel robots, and marking the zones as his territory. Doing what other video game protagonists must do, Sonic must race through the six zones while turning the animals back to their normal selves by jumping on their heads. Move the joystick down while moving and you'll also “spin attack” any approaching enemies. There are also power-ups that can help you speed through each act or become invisible for a certain time.

Rings scattered around each of the acts play an important part in the game. Not only do they serve as protection against most enemies, but they also gives you a good chance of earning extra lives and possibly a chance at reaching the bonus stage. This bonus stage is a rotating maze that showed everyone what the Genesis was capable of, and the main goal is to gather the six chaos emeralds in each maze needed to unlock the good ending, while avoiding crashing into red goal signs. The backdrop, which consists of a bird morphing into a fish, is pretty neat.

At the end of each act, you'll come face to face with Eggman, who uses a variety of vehicles that come with their own unique weapons. I like that the game is consistent when it comes to these boss battles. To defeat him, you hit somewhere on the vehicle, the same way you jump on enemies to turn them back.

Each zone has an unique layout with some stunning backdrops. The first zone, for instance, has rolling hills and “loop-de-loops”. The second contains marble structures and lava pools/waterfalls, while in the Labyrinth Zone, Sonic spends most of his time underwater. Although the developers encourage you to speed though each zone, I prefer to take it easy as not to collide with enemies or traps, and still manage to conquer each zone in under ten minutes.

The soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog is brilliantly composed and is unique to each zone. The music for Scrap Brain Zone is reminiscent of Vangelis' theme music for “Blade Runner”, complete with drums at the end of each verse. I like hearing the warning tone in the Labyrinth Zone when Sonic needs to go up for air.

The Bad

Getting fifty rings to get access to the bonus stage becomes irrelevant as you enter the sixth zone, where it is then a matter of finding the right exit out of the acts. Also, the developers encourage you to speed through each act, but try to do it for a long time and you will likely bump into an enemy or trap.

The Bottom Line

After serving as the official mascot for Sega for quite a while, it was time for Alex Kidd to hand the reigns over to Sonic the Hedgehog, whose cool attitude and shiny red shoes helped him get inside people's households the world over. Sonic has great graphics, an excellent soundtrack, as well as mechanics that weren't introduced in a game before this one. It certainly sold well enough to warrant a sequel.