Sonic the Hedgehog

aka: 3D Sonic the Hedgehog, SEGA AGES: Sonic the Hedgehog, STH, Sonic 1, Sonic the Hedgehog Classic, Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis
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(prices updated 9/28 4:19 AM )

Description official descriptions

Sonic the Hedgehog is the first of many games starring Sega's premier hedgehog, Sonic. It's a side-scrolling platform game with a difference: speed. Sonic rushes through levels with incredible speed, allowing him to traverse loops and jumps with ease.

The plot of the game is simple. The evil Dr. Robotnik has captured many of Sonic's animal friends and trapped them inside robots. Fortunately, Sonic can free his friends by destroying the robots with his spin attack. Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik is trying to control the all-powerful chaos emeralds. Sonic must grab them before he does in the 3D rotating bonus levels.

Sonic's weapon is his spin attack; while jumping, Sonic destroys hostile robots by touch. Throughout the platforming levels, Sonic collects numerous rings. If Sonic is hit by an enemy, all the rings he's carrying fall out and scatter around; Sonic can quickly grab the rings back before they disappear. If Sonic is hit while not carrying any rings, he dies. Collecting 100 rings gives Sonic an extra life. There is also an invincibility bonus which temporarily protects Sonic from all attacks.

The game is divided into several "zones", each of them containing three levels. At the end of each zone, Sonic confronts Dr. Robotnik in a boss fight.


  • SEGA AGES ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ - Japanese Nintendo Switch spelling
  • ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ - Japanese spelling
  • 바람돌이 소닉 - Korean spelling

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Credits (Genesis version)

13 People (11 developers, 2 thanks)

Game Plan
Character Design
Sound Produce
Sound Program
Special Thanks
Presented by
  • Sega
Cover Artwork (JP/EU)
Cover Artwork (US)



Average score: 83% (based on 72 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 380 ratings with 12 reviews)


The Good
The classic of classics, Sonic the Hedgehog was, and still is, for Sega what Mario was for Nintendo in the late '80s, early '90s. He's cool, he looks awesome, he's got the spines and he's BLEEDING FAST!

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of those classic killer apps that made people buy the hardware. Like Mario or even VisiCalc, people rushed to the stores to get the machines that could run this amazing game. Ask just about anyone in just about any modern country about Sonic, and they'd at the very least know what you're talking about - it was that big.

And with good reason to boot! Sonic looks absolutely gorgeous, despite obvious technical inferiourity to its chief rival, the SNES. The game is bright, colourful (though never too much), and most importantly: it runs faster than you can shake a stick at! I was absolutely stunned at the frame rates the machine would spit out at the television, and that was only the beginning; the awesome SEGA logo, the terrific music and the blaringly fast, easily controlled action made for hours and hours of furious, enjoyable gameplay. Though I never had a Genesis, it definitely made me want to buy one (though I couldn't afford it at the time...), and to this day I still occasionally play the slightly inferiour Game Gear version of the game, wishing I had a Genesis when I was a kid...

The Bad
What? Who? Where? I think not.

The Bottom Line
One of the greatest platformers in history, an amazing game that pretty much made Sega what they are (were?) today.

Genesis · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 2002

Enter the hedgehog...

The Good
This is one of the games you would be hard pressed not to love. Everyone who has played this often can easily say they have a favorite level by far because they're all distinct and vibrant, each with music to match. Ask any sonic fan their favorite level and they could tell you in an instant. And can hum the theme from at least one level, as well!

Add to that, the gameplay is as addictive as it is simple.

It also has, quite possibly, THE most iconic character ever, if not, damn does Sonic come close.

The Bad
Hmmm... this could take forever to figure out.

The Bottom Line
The game of games of the era, if you have not played this, you're not a retro gamer, and unfortunate if you have not.

Genesis · by Starbuck the Third (22654) · 2010

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.

Genesis · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2017

[ View all 12 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
About the new trivia ケヴィン (4117) May 25th, 2011


1001 Video Games

The Genesis version of Sonic the Hedgehog appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Android release

In the beginning menu, the original Mega Drive case is displayed; original game cartridge is too, when tapping to start a game. An option allows choice on viewing Japanese, United States, or European case and cartridge.

Chaos emeralds

Of all the Sonic games, Sonic the Hedgehog is the only game to have only 6 Chaos Emeralds. Every other game in the series features 7 Emeralds.


Sonic the Hedgehog was included on compilations for many platforms, including Sega Smash Pack: Volume 1 for Dreamcast, Sonic Mega Collection for Gamecube and Sonic Mega Collection Plus for Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Windows.

Creation of Sonic

  • At the time when Sega was trying to design a character that was fast, one illustration drawn by one of the people working on the project depicted Sonic singing in a rock band with (you ready for this?) his girlfriend Madonna! They took the concept and dropped Madonna out of it!

  • While designing the game, the animal that Sega was thinking of using before the Hedgehog was a Rabbit. Sega cut it out and added the Hedgehog instead.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog came about as the result of an internal contest held by Sega to design a company mascot. Among the entries came the first designs for Eggman (Robotnik) as well.


In many early screenshots of the Marble Zone, there are UFO-like objects floating in the sky. Footage of a prototype Marble Zone (complete with UFOs) is shown during a commercial in the movie Wayne's World. No one knows what the objects were for, or why they were removed.

Dreams Come True

The Japanese rock group Dreams Come True, who also composed all of the music for Sonic the Hedgehog (as well as Sonic 2 and Sonic CD), also helped promote Sonic in Japan! During one major tour they took across Japan in the summer of 1991, they had murals of Sonic painted onto the trucks that carried their equipment to get the people's attention. And then to make it even better, their song "Sweet Sweet Dream" was chosen to be the ending theme for Sonic 2!

Dr. Eggman

Dr. Eggman's name was changed to Dr. Ivo Robotnik for all English language versions. He would retain this name for all his English language appearances right up until Sonic Adventure , when it was intentionally phased out and restored to Dr. Eggman, presumably because that game heralded Sonic's return to glory and there was a desire for him to return to his roots. However, the Robotnik name was officially acknowledged in Sonic Adventure 2 , even in the Japanese continuum.

Formula 1 sponsorship

With sponsorship from SEGA, Sonic appeared on the Williams Formula 1 team in 1993. The hedgehog could be seen on the drivers' cars, and their helmets. Their rival team McLaren would often paint a squashed Sonic on their drivers' helmets after winning a race against Williams. Williams, however, would have the last laugh, when their team leader Alain Prost, secured the drivers' championship, and with the help of Damon Hill, the constructors' championship for 1993.

Game Boy Advance version

The 2006 GBA release is a port of the Genesis version. It includes a new save system and the Anniversary Mode, where the spin dash (a feature that enables Sonic to roll into a ball and rev up a spin attack from a dead stop, not available in the original game) has been added.

Japanese version

Curiously, though the game was developed entirely in Japan, Sonic the Hedgehog was first released in North America and Europe, with the Japanese release coming a month later. The Japanese version features several bug fixes and visual effects that didn't make it into the initial international release. In particular, the infamous "spike bug" (where if Sonic hits spikes, and the hit knocks him into another set of spikes, he dies immediately even though he should still be invulnerable) is fixed. The parallax scrolling in the background of many zones is enhanced, and there are additional water effects in Labyrinth Zone.

Mobile version

The mobile edition is ported from the Genesis version. In Europe, the game was not released as a whole, but in two individual parts: Sonic the Hedgehog Part 1 and Sonic the Hedgehog Part 2.


  • The Genesis version of the game is referenced in the third and the fourth episode of the first season of the American television drama series Rectify. A lead character Daniel Holden finds a box with a Genesis console and some games in the attic. Later on he is shown playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog. It reflects how he thinks back about his youth.


The original Sonic The Hedgehog game for Sega Genesis sold 4 million units worldwide. As of 2003 the whole Sonic series (for all consoles) sold over 27 million units since its first release in 1991.

Scrap Brain Zone

The Scrap Brain Zone was originally called the Clock Work Zone.


Shortly after the game had been released, South African Movie Network Channel M-NET held a special themed competition on Saturday mornings. The set-up was that players would phone in and play Sonic The Hedgehog on the TV, controlling the character via a phone. Prizes were awarded based on the number of rings held at the end of a strict time limit. If the contestant had more than 50, he'd win the grand prize of a new Mega Drive with games.


  • FLUX
    • Issue #4 - #4 in the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list
  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #24 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – #11 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
    • Issue #37 - #13 in the "Top 25 Platformers of All Time" poll
  • The Strong National Museum of Play
    • 2016 – Introduced into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

Additional information contributed by 雷堂承太朗 -djsw-, Ace of Sevens, Big John WV, DOS Boot, Marguerite Richardson, MegaMegaMan, Mumm-Ra, PCGamer77, Robbb and Sciere.

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 6579


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by quizzley7.

Android added by GTramp. Nintendo 3DS, Arcade, DoJa added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo Switch added by Rik Hideto. Wii added by Guy Chapman. BREW added by firefang9212. BlackBerry, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 3, tvOS, iPad, iPhone, J2ME added by Sciere. Xbox One added by Artzei. Linux, Macintosh added by Foxhack. iPod Classic added by Kabushi. Windows added by lights out party. Xbox 360 added by Ben K.

Additional contributors: Satoshi Kunsai, paul cairey, chirinea, Sciere, Robbb, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Starbuck the Third, Thomas Thompson, GTramp, Rik Hideto, is_that_rain_or_tears, FatherJack, Harmony♡, Deleted, SoMuchChaotix.

Game added June 6th, 2002. Last modified September 15th, 2023.