Game Club #1 — Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) Roundup

Sonic game Club 1 roundup (1)

Our first Game Club is finished!

The first contribution comes from RednekGamurz. It’s quite in depth, and well worth a read!









If you have some thoughts, please share them below or on Twitter!

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  1. Crap, I forgot to write a review in time. My review is below, and I’ll try to keep it relatively brief.

    Sonic the Hedgehog is one of my earliest video games, which I played on my Sega Genesis (Mega Drive for non-Americans) and Nomad (the portable Genesis). I no longer own the Genesis version, but I do have the game via Sonic Mega Collection, Sonic Generations, and Steam, which is the version I played for this review.

    Sonic 1 controls very well, requiring only the D-pad and one button for (usually) fast-paced fun. Sonic’s momentum gives the game a less rigid flow, which allows players to experiment and play with their own style. Sonic 1 is solid on a technical level, as the few glitches that I’ve encountered have been limited to harmless collision bugs. The game’s framerate is usually good, but it may drop during particularly crowded sequences in Marble, Labyrinth, and Star Light Zones. Sonic 1’s graphics are nice to look at and are finely detailed, with Sonic and enemies being easily distinguishable from the level itself. The only level that I think looks ugly is Act 3 of Scrap Brain Zone, as I feel that the recolor of Labyrinth Zone’s assets don’t look very good. Sonic 1 sounds good, with most tracks being memorable and sound effects not being annoying or unfitting.

    Green Hill Zone is an amazing first level, and is my favorite Sonic 1 level since it has an excellent mix of speed, platforming, exploration, and difficulty. Marble Zone is a disappointing followup, since it sacrifices speed, fun difficulty, and intuitive exploration for block pushing, waiting for platforms, fake walls, and obstacles blindsiding you from off-screen. Spring Yard Zone has better speed and exploration, but the pace grinds to a halt when having to wait on slow platforms and the rolling Badniks can quickly jump into you from off-screen. Labyrinth Zone is completely irredeemable, as most of the level is spent in water that worsens Sonic’s control and enforces a time limit, which is not at all helped by mundane level design, air bubbles spawning incredibly slowly, and a boss that requires near-perfect platforming. Star Light Zone is my second favorite level, as it has all of the qualities of Green Hill, but in lesser amounts, as well as increased difficulty. Acts 1 and 2 of Scrap Brain Zone serve as a good final level, focusing less on speed and exploration in order to offer more challenging platforming. However, Act 3 is probably the worst level in the game since it’s a recolored Labyrinth Zone that is more challenging and unforgiving with air bubbles and checkpoints, and a hidden shortcut doesn’t fix these issues. The Final Zone is just a rather simple, though unforgiving, final boss.

    Sonic 1 is a rather short game and isn’t particularly difficult, although it can be unforgiving. Sonic starts with three lives, which can be increased by collecting 100 Rings or by finding a hidden extra life. Continues are gotten by collecting at least 50 Rings in a Special Stage. The Special Stages are frustrating, as they hinder Sonic’s control and require the player to play incredibly slowly in order to know which way to go. This is exacerbated by the Special Stages being challenging to get to, the player not having many opportunities to attempt them, and the Chaos Emeralds that are collected via their completion not giving a worthwhile reward, merely changing the ending scene slightly. The most frustrating thing about Sonic 1, however, is that the player must restart the game from the beginning if they lose all of their lives and continues. This can be mitigated by using the level select cheat code, but it’s still an annoyance.

    Overall, the original Sonic the Hedgehog is a good platformer for those who want to see where the blue hedgehog got his start, but is not a game that I’d recommend to Sonic newcomers or less skilled players. Sonic 1 introduced many of the franchise’s well-loved staples, but I’d recommend Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, and especially Sonic 3 & Knuckles over this game. Sonic the Hedgehog is readily available on a huge number of platforms, and just about every version (minus Sonic Genesis on the Game Boy Advance) is a perfectly viable option.

  2. I really wanted to write something for this, and I did start writing it, but time got away from me last month and I ended up busier than I expected. I still really don’t have time to finish writing it, I have so many other things I have to work on. I guess I’ll just give a brief summary of what I was *going* to write had I the time to finish it.

    Since I don’t have as many memories with this game growing up as I do with Sonic 2, I wanted to take a closer look at the first stage, Green Hill Zone, and examine it from two perspectives; from a design perspective, looking at why the level is laid out in the manner that it is, and from a young player’s perspective, who may just be looking to blast through the level without slowing down and examining it. Intro levels in platformers are usually interesting because they have to try and teach the player without using too many words or halting the progress of the game, and then they’re free to design more complex levels to test the player’s understanding of the controls.

    Well, I may have missed my chance this time, but I liked reading all of your responses. I don’t even think I’ve ever made it that far in Sonic 1 to know what some of the last zones were like, so at least it was informative that way! I’m definitely going to have to manage my time better so I can contribute something next time.

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