In 1991 released Sonic the Hedgehog, a game that hardly needs an introduction. During the early 90’s there was only one video game character more popular than Sega’s Sonic, and that was Nintendo’s Mario. Both characters had their own platform games and tens of years future ahead of them.
The new Sonic the Hedgehog movie was released a couple of months ago, so what better time to look back and examine the very first game that started the Sonic saga. Does it still entertain after almost 30 years and what kind of game it actually is?
The game is a platformer with a simple story. The evil Dr. Robotnik has trapped the poor little animals inside robots and is about to steal six Chaos Emeralds. The player must find their way through six unique stages, that all contain three acts. At the end of each act, the player will encounter Dr. Robotnik in a boss fight.
The controls of the game are easy to learn. Running at high speed is Sonic’s best-known feature, but simultaneously jumping you can perform the Spin Attack, which helps to destroy the robots and free the poor animals trapped inside them. There are few special abilities in a form of a shield, even faster running speed and invulnerability which are hidden in the stages.
In every level there are multiple rings to be found. If you possess at least one ring, you will not lose a life if you hit an enemy or traps. Instead, all the rings you have collected will be scattered everywhere and you will have limited time to collect them back. If you can collect 100 rings you will be granted an extra life. You will start the game with 3 lifes, so it is important to collect a lot of rings especially in the early stages.
If you possess at least 50 rings in the end of one act, you can jump into a large ring that takes you to a special stage. In a special stage, your job is to collect one of the six Chaos Emeralds. Although, these Chaos Emeralds have no real effect on the game but are there just for extra content.
The game still feels easy to understand and although being an old game, the fast-paced movement platformer entertains me surprisingly well. The skill required to complete the last levels is very high and it is difficult and frustrating even for a veteran gamer.
If you have never played any Sonic games, you should definitely pick the original one up and feel the air current flowing through your blue spikes while you run to collect the rings.
Pictures: Screenshots from the game.
Developer: Sonic Team
Platforms: Sega Mega Drive/Genesis (Later released to multiple different platforms)
Release date: 23.6.1991