After playing the atrociousness that is Sonic and the Black Knight I thought that Sonic was dead to me. I had given him a chance and Sonic had used that chance shoot himself through the temple and fall with a splat right into his own coffin which was also on fire. But now, after the dust has settled and most of my memories of sheer aggravation are no longer at the forefront of my every thought, I have decided to give Sonic another chance.
Instead of playing what was only to hand I have gone back to where over twenty years of joy, disappointment and outright rage have begun with the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Just bear in mind that, since I was born into the fifth console generation and only got a PlayStation in the late 90s when it was clear who was winning the console wars, I have therefore played Sonic the Hedgehog on Steam. Sorry to all you purists out there but I’m not buying a Sega Genesis when I just use a PC.
I feel like we all know the basic plot of Sonic so I’m just going to skip the usual obligatory overview and get down to brass tacks. The graphics are delightful in their 16 bit glory, gaining double points for the nostalgic feel that games like Shovel Knight and Fez reproduce, while also being a glorious reminder that game beauty is not solely the prerogative of the newer generation.
The music for every level is also perfectly scored. I cannot think of a moment where a musical piece felt out of place in a level. Despite the fact that, after a certain amount of time, the music would stop and restart, you can’t expect more from a game that is twenty-four years old.
Furthermore I variety of enemies is quite fun, from robotic crabs, bugs, chameleons, moles with tank tracks and so on gives the game a brilliant amount of diversity. They all go down with one hit which, although an irritant in newer games, is utterly brilliant here, allowing for a sense of achievement while speeding on to the objective. And the fluffy animals that are freed from their robotic prisons is just icing on the cake.
However, despite the audio-visual feast, the gameplay leaves a little to be desired from the first Sonic instalment. It is a constant irritant that, no matter how many rings you have collected, you lose them all as soon as an enemy as much as brushes past you. This means you have to run every which way to collect only a fraction of what you originally had. Now I know that rings are everywhere, but this does not help the fact that, when Sonic is going characteristically fast, you have no chance you stop yourself from landing on an enemy and losing all your rings that you worked so hard to collect.
Speaking about going fast, no told me how much of the first Sonic game is about standing stock still! I had no idea that, during your quest to complete each stage as fast as you can, there are parts where you have to stand around where Sonic stands there, judging you, while you wait for a block to come over you across a lava pit of death.
While that trope has been in pretty much every platform game, it’s a trope that shouldn’t be necessary, especially in a Sonic game. It completely derails the fast-paced joy you were previously having in favour of slow, and mostly boring, platforming. This is not the case for every instance of platforming, as there a lot of platforming sections that complement the speed focus quite well, but there enough slow ones to cause irritation. Having seen videos of Sonic’s later incarnations, I am grateful they have learnt from these mistakes.
Then comes the lives systems, yes it is the early nineties so the live system was still going strong at this point. Sonic starts with three lives with the chance of finding 1-UPs in the levels as well as gaining an additional life for every one hundred rings collected. However should you lose all your lives, you will have to start the game, not from the beginning of the level you started but from the beginning of the game! Now this isn’t uncommon from games of that generation but having to start all over again is just demoralising. I am just grateful for the ability to save whenever I could when playing Sonic so, should I die, I could just restart from my previous save. But if I decided not to go that route I may still be trying to complete Sonic all in one.
And yet, for all its flaws, the first Sonic the Hedgehog game cones out as an overall success. It’s varied levels, despite its repetition with three acts per level, bright visuals and speedy gameplay with satisfying boss battles against the villainous Dr. Robotnik leaves you feeling quite pleased with the overall game. Sonic the Hedgehog feels like a blueprint for Sonic’s future, a great core idea that still cannot shake some underlying genetic disease that stops it short from achieving true greatness, yet still strive towards it regardless. Keep trying Sonic, please do. Just don’t do another Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.
Thanks again for reading this! If you liked this and want to see more, then leave a few likes and comments saying that you need more of my Sonic reviews in your life, then I’ll do a review on Sonic the Hedgehog 2! Also, if you want something not Sonic, then please look forward to No-English Moviember where you can suggest non-English films for me to review as well as put forward your own film reviews to be featured here! Just send your reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org and see your brilliant work on this delightful blog. But again, thanks for reading!