The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is one of the largest video game franchises of all time. While nowadays the franchise has more of a mixed reception, back in the 90’s the series was on top of the world.
However 30 years have passed since this game’s release, and while some games are still just as enjoyable nowadays as they were when they first came out, others tend to show their age over time. So considering how old this game is how does this hold up nowadays, well let’s take a look.
Sonic The Hedgehog is a 2D platformer where the main objective is to get to the end of each level as fast as you can. Sonic is controlled with just a d-pad for movement, and all the buttons make him jump, causing him to curl into a ball to kill enemies. This style works pretty well, for the most part, later games improve it with new moves like the spin-dash but for a first attempt, it works fine.
Despite being made to compete with Nintendo’s Super Mario franchise, Sonic was actually inspired by Mario. Programmer Yuji Naka was a fan of Super Mario Bros. and thought liked the idea of completing levels as fast as he could. And as such speed became a big focus of the game.
Notice how I say speed is a big focus, because as we will see most of the levels aren’t all about going fast.
There are 6 zones with 3 acts each with its own enemies and obstacles that get progressively harder as the game goes on. And the end of the first two acts is a goal post, but at the end of act 3 is a fight with Dr. Robotnik.
Green Hill serves as the introductory level and does a solid job at being one with a number of different routes and loops to go through.
Marble is slower-paced with more hazards like lava and pillars that crush players that are careless, it also has acts that feel longer than Green Hill because of it.
Spring Yard has more sections that encourage speed than Marble, although its structure has a number of springs and bumpers and is still a fairly slow level.
Labyrinth mostly takes place underwater, and because the mobility is significantly hindered, as you make your way through the levels. This level also introduces the concept of drowning, making it a nerve-wracking level to playthrough.
Star-light finally brings back the speed and feels like a harder Green Hill to playthrough with enemies you can’t easily kill and new obstacles like seesaws.
Finally, there is Scrap Brain, the final level that puts the players platforming skills to the test as Sonic makes it to Robotnik’s base of operations.
A common theme you may have noticed is that some of these are about speed, and honestly, it shows. While levels like Green Hill and Starlight are all about going, levels like Marble and Labyrinth really slow the game down. Now, this isn’t inherently a bad thing, sometimes it’s nice to slow things down. However for me personally I only really like half of the zones in this game.
Overall Sonic the Hedgehog is very much a first entry game. A game that is definitely rough around the edges, but I still appreciate what it has done for the franchise.
If you are interested in playing this game nowadays, I would recommend the mobile phone version. As it adds in a save feature, widescreen, and multiple playable characters.
Even if it has its flaws, I still appreciate this game for kickstarting a franchise I would ultimately be a huge fan of.
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