Now its time for a title that I'm sure most everyone played. Sonic the hedgehog on Sega Genesis! Right from the start of the game when the screen yelled "SEGA!" at me, I knew this was something different. How can anyone not love that loud "SEGA!" voice. It still puts a smile on my face today when I hear it.
Let me set this scene for you. Sometime in 1991. I was maybe five years old. friend of mine had broken his leg in a car accident and we go visit to cheer him up. Instead of having a nintendo to play, he's got this black thing instead, "a sega." Fascinated I had to play it after seeing him play Sonic. After a few minutes with the game I was completely sold on both sega and Sonic The Hedgehog. Almost certain the same day we played Streets of Rage. It's the same friend whose father had the Ninja Turtles arcade machine in his store. Within a few months, I was a Sega Genesis owner. This first Sonic was the pack in game at the game.
Sonic's is a great game. You've three buttons on your controller that all made Sonic spin jump. You maneuver with the directional pad, which unlike the Nintendo has diagonals on the controller. If you're running particularly fast you can press down and Sonic will roll into a ball. That's the full control scheme for the first Sonic. You run, jump, and roll through the stages. You pick up floating rings that are scattered in all the sages. Once you get hit you lose all your rings. As long as you've got one ring, you're fine. Unless you get wedged between something and some spikes that pop up, like I did today. Another thing that killed me was falling off the edge of the screen. It was in this weird space between rising platforms and spikes. Still a simple game that anyone can pick up and understand. Although I have heard people say he moves too fast to follow compared to Mario.
Graphically, this game is great. Sonic's a pudgy blue creature with red shoes and nothing but attitude. Leave him alone on the screen and he pats his foot in anger. Wait longer still and he starts to scowl at you. Some great level design too. They all look built for speed. Slowing down is possible, but who wants to play Sonic without running through it? Each one had a different theme and they had so much more color to them than other games. Green hill zone, marble zone, spring ball zone, labyrinth zone, starlight zone, and scrap brain zone are all amazing levels. Also want to mention those special bonus stages where you could get the emeralds in the middle, they had this kaleidoscope look going for them. You play three to an "act" and at the end is a boss battle with Robotnick. Mario has King Koopa a turtle monster and Sonic has Robotnick fat scientist in a flying ball machine. For me, nothing looked as cool as seeing Sonic hit those loops and mow down enemies back in those days. Most of your enemies are bug themed. Grasshopper looking things fly around shooting at you, small enemy robot crabs, robotic chameleons who shift out of the background, these and ladybug looking red robots. The little power up TV boxes even had that "Sonic look." Everything fits perfectly and I'm still able to admire it all. This is a commercial for Sonic when it was packed in with the genesis.
Sound design is wonderfully. That distinctive Sonic music fits perfectly on every stage. Very catchy tunes that usually a few days after playing Sonic, I catch myself humming. Starlight zone's song being the one really sticks with me the most, but they're all classic themes in my mind. All of them. The gruff boss battle music, the happy soothing sounds of the special stage, the watery theme from Labyrinth zone, and every other piece of music. Even the scary sounding music when you start to drown is awesome. Its all catchy tunes. The sound effects themselves are wonderful as well. That ding when you hit a spring or that awful sound when you lose ALL your rings just fits. My favorite is the plop sound when you kill your enemies. That sound always makes me smile. Another smile is when you smash the TV with sneakers in it you gain super speed and so does the music! I couldn't pick a better bunch of sound effects for a game. All except for the game over music. As if the game over screen wasn't enough to mock you.
I couldn't wait to play this game today. I played a good long while too. Played it to the marble zone a few days ago. Today I played all the way to the labyrinth zone and lost all my extra men. Thinking "Its okay, I've got a continue." I had no continues. So then rather than get discouraged I played over again all the way through. Collected nine extra men and four continues and that darn labyrinth zone STILL gave me trouble. Finally was able to finish it and Spring Ball zone wasn't that tough either. Actually managed to beat the game with at least four or five of the chaos emeralds too.
One more quick story of how I heard about the level select code. A friend of mine came over and showed it to me one afternoon to much excitement. It was three years later and he was so excited to show it to me. I guess they read about it in a magazine or something. One of my controller's start button doesn't work which kept frustrating us. The code's easy to do too. Put this in right after it says Sonic: up down left right A+Start. Takes you to any stage you want, gives you a sound test, and is generally among the best cheat codes ever.
Maybe it was just my genesis or my copy of the game, but I noticed a few slowdown spots on the marble zone and on the starlight zone. Happened when the screen got really crowded. I was playing the one from the Sega Six Pack today. For some reason, I can't find one of the other copies I have. I've at least two standard versions of the game. One that came with my sega and another that came with a bunch of games from a yard sale that I bought as a set. I should mention again that my genesis (or all three actually) are the original giant ones with the headphone jack and volume slider. I bought two second hand at flea markets and both are the same massive version as my original one. I don't know if they caused the slowdown or what did it. Maybe like any game when it fills up with stuff they just slow down. Doesn't matter. Everything has flaws. Another old Genesis commercial. This one compares Super Mario World to Sonic.
Sonic the Hedgehog has so many sequels and spin offs I don't want to list them. The only ones to really look for are Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. Those four are the only Sonic games worth speaking. Really those three since Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles hook together to form one long game, but that's another argument for another day. Sonic Advance I liked. Sonic Adventure I liked the actual levels with Sonic. Having to hunt down a level in some RPG world didn't make sense. I played a few other 3D Sonic games and they just don't hold up. Stick with the 2D Sonic games. Plenty of collections out there to buy if you can't find the original cartridges. You can even buy the first two games on xbox live. I know some of them are out on virtual console as well. Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Sonic & Knuckles are the ones to get if you're looking to play Sonic games. Going to write about all those soon, right here on Destructoid.
Did you guys ever play the first Sonic The Hedgehog?