Okay, let's be honest here, we all know who Sonic the Hedgehog is, and I don't really have to tell you too much about how to play the game. You run to the right, occasionally tuck into a ball, jump on enemies and collect a number of rings that could make little Richard feel inadequate, oh and you save animals from an evil doctor *blardy-blar* subliminal environmental message *blah, blah* Al Gore would be proud I might sound a bit unenthusiastic but I can't help but feel I'm not exactly being all that informative, I mean for God's sake I learned what a Hedgehog was BECAUSE of this game. *thanks public school system* and by the time I was old enough to know the difference between my elbows and my feet (age 15) and by extension old enough to play the game more kids at that time recognized "the blue blur" more readily than Mickey Mouse. (Whoever that is) So this review is really more of a formality as the shameless Sonic whore that I am because there's not too much I can say that you don't already know. Seeing that in terms of reviewing Sonic games I'm basically like a stamp collector at this point; I know no one else will care in the long run, but I'm bored and since I've already started I might as well get them all, this is my review of Sonic the Hedgehog
I guess I should start with a brief summary of the levels, namely; the one everyone knows, the Mario dungeon, the fun one, the water level, SPAAAACE!!, the cheap saw blade placement level, a grey water level, and an easy boss. I know it's been said about a million times by every other reviewer and their mothers who lie and say that their reviews are "actually quite good, deary", but I feel I should say it anyway: for a game called "Sonic", in other words; "fast", in other more stereotypical words; "Ándele! ˇÁndele! ˇArriba! ˇArriba! ˇEpa! ˇEpa! Yeehaw!", there are very few levels - two to be exact - that don't bring the speed to a grinding halt, as if the Genesis needed some time to make sense of this outlandish plot and thought It'd give you some slow elevator sections to occupy you while it can regain its train of thought. *Speaking of which, I forgot where I was going with this* But in any case, while I have your attention, and I have nothing else to do, I figured I'd pad this review out a bit by giving a mini review of each of the levels.
Green Hill Zone; the level everyone knows thanks to Generations and the various ports and adaptations of the level in later Sonic games. This is were the game gets a chance to get you into the feel of the play style which was new at the time, and give you some speedy platforming and momentum based obstacles to show you what Sonic the Hedgehog is really about; speed. Though this game is a filthy liar because it tells you that the main gimmick is speed, by essentially saying it on the box art, but then it throws a level like Marble Zone at you.
Marble Zone is an underground lava level (which would actually make it magma) that brings the speed to that grinding halt I mentioned earlier. With the slow moving platforms and the constant borage of purple like I'm at a Prince concert this is where the Mario comparisons started for me. I'd probably start humming the Bowser dungeon theme if the level music wasn't so great. Speaking of great music, next we have Spring Yard Zone, the bouncy, flouncy, trouncy, pouncy fun-fun-fun fun-fun level, the only problem with this level style is that this IS the only one, in this game at least. I've always liked a balance between speed and platforming and this level is a prime example of that balance. There is a bit of speed flying down hills but when the slower platforming comes in there's still a bit of speed required to oh, say, not get hit or crushed.
Then there's Labyrinth Zone the first Sonic water level and the one to introduce the drowning theme that would haunt my nightmares forever. This is the level I dread, more specifically the 3rd act mostly due to the fact that my ring count won't stay above zero. But we then get back to speed and momentum based obstacles with Starlight Zone, with some shortcuts only accessible by achieving ludicrous speed to launch yourself up ramps to the higher paths. Though, between the water from Labyrinth Zone and this level I sure am sick of the color green.
For all intents and purposes Scrap Brain Zone is the final level. You have to avoid saw blades, crushing platforms, collapsing platforms that drop you into bottomless pits, random enemies, and to top it all off, fire that shoots randomly out of the floor. There's even one part where they throw a gauntlet at you having to avoid saw blades whilst on conveyor belts and once you think you've gotten through safely a saw blade scrapes through the floor after you. This is definitely the hardest level in the game, which yes, it should be it's the final level after all, but the pacing is a bit drastic to go from a semi-easy space level, to every obstacle being thrown at you all at once. Then there's the final full act of the game Labyrinth Zone act 3, don't be fooled by the Scrap Brain Zone act 3 title, its just grey Labyrinth Zone with burgundy water this time around. Then there's one of the easiest final bosses in Sonic history, you basically hide to the sides of the screen, wait for Robotnik to come down from the ceiling and occasionally dodge the slowest moving electrical attack devised by man.
On to what I thought of the overall game, you would think it wouldn't be all that re-playable seeing as you don't really get anything extra by completing the special stages, except for some 16-bit flowers I guess, but the level design alone makes this game worth many future replays. Like all of the classic Sonic titles, even to this day I'm finding new areas or hidden paths that I never knew about. The music even for a somewhat early Genesis title sounds miles better than a lot of later Genesis games. For me music is a big deal when it comes to how much I enjoy a game, I may enjoy a crap game a little more if the music is catchy, whereas a good game with bad sound direction looses at least some of its appeal to me, but this game not only in terms of composition is great but the instruments themselves are pleasing and lack that annoying twang that many other Genesis soundtracks had at the time. The game even to this day looks, sounds, and feels great. This is the rare occasion where I think the first game actually aged well even lacking the various special abilities of later titles. This is one of the few classic debut titles I think actually holds up to its successors, unlike the certain debut title of the Zelda variety
*yeah, I said it!*