- Original release year: 1991
- Consoles: Mega Drive/Genesis (Later: Every console ever, plus Android and iOS etc)
So here it is, the single, sole game that led to my rapid obsession with the video game medium. It was this game that resulted in a brutal couple of years for my parents, in which I would spend each day begging my parents to please buy me a Mega Drive (that day eventually came, one beautiful Christmas morning, which gave my parents the lovely memory of myself and my brother running around the house in our pajamas, screaming “we’ve got a Sega Mega Drive!”).
What made Sonic stand out though, was how cool he was. Mario was fat, he was slow and he was rather pedestrian. Sonic though? Sonic was a freaking blue hedgehog that could travel at the speed of light. What isn’t “cool” about that? Finally, Sega had their own rival mascot (which supported their ‘blast processing’ marketing) to take down Mario and Nintendo.
Sonic finally gave Sega a game that was arguably as good as Super Mario Bros., but it also offers something different. It’s not a simple Mario rip-off, like so many developers tried to do, it’s a completely different take on the platforming genre. Sonic has an incredibly vibrant art style, faster gameplay style and a novel look to it.
The first Sonic the Hedgehog game also serves itself as the perfect example of how the series was once not just about speed, but precise platforming and clever level design. Nowadays, the series is often criticised for being “all about speed” and that you can “just hold down right” to beat the game. Levels like Marble Zone and Labyrinth Zone prove this thesis incorrect, especially the former, which honestly, I actually find a bit of a drag, but otherwise, all the levels in Sonic’s first outing are excellent.
In his first entry into the video game market, Sonic must oppose and do battle with the evil Dr. Robotnik (now known as Eggman). To those who have played numerous Sonic titles, you will know the deal already, but for those who have lived under a rock for the past 25 years, Robotnik has taken over the island, kidnapping (animalnapping?) the local population of animals in robotic shells, as he scouts the island for the Chaos Emeralds. So, as Sonic, you travel across numerous levels, collecting rings in order to access special stages at the end of each level (you need 50 rings to do this). You then have the chance to obtain a Chaos Emerald. Get all 6 (this was changed to 7 in Sonic 2 and every game that followed it) and beat all the levels and you complete the game.
Whilst the first Sonic game isn’t my favourite (Sonic 2 holds that title), it’s still a classic game that holds a special place in my heart and it’s still a fun game to play today (I know, because I played it yesterday).