Sonic the Hedgehog
Sega/Shin Force
Sonic the Hedgehog

Sega/Shin Force > Systems > Sega Genesis > Reviews

Shin Force ~ Genesis ~
Sonic the Hedgehog :: Review
Geoffrey Duke
Sonic Team
4 Megabit
Import / Domestic
July 26, 1991
June 23, 1991
June 23, 1991
6 Button
     > Sonic the Hedgehog really needs no introduction. He is a spiky blue hedgehog who has become synonymous with Sega. I wasn't planning to return to the Sonic franchise, and I have my reasons for this, but I felt the need to share my thoughts on the subject for those who still love Sonic. Sega are capable of delivering a far better Sonic experience, and I feel that it is time for them to do so with or without past creators at the helm.

     > Sonic the Hedgehog is basically a 2D platform game where Sonic frees animals from being turned into robots by the evil Doctor Robotnik (a more fitting name than Eggman I might add). Sonic can jump or roll into a spiky ball and destroy his enemies while racing through levels and collecting rings that both keep him alive (if he is hit by an enemy without rings he will die) and can give him extra lives if the player collects enough. He can also find power ups that shield him or make him run faster. Sonic already runs quite fast so it's a challenge to keep him under control. He can also find a power up that makes him invincible for a short period of time. The player can save their progress at check points placed throughout levels (so they don't have to start the whole level again).

     > What defines Sonic for me is both speed and escaping the jaws of death. Unfortunately it's not easy to balance the two into something harmonious with equal weight at the same time that flows, so what inevitably happens is the gameplay falls into the trap of being too focused on one area.

     > If I was put in charge of a new 3D Sonic game, I would focus on speed, platform jumping and dodging death, while at the same time give the player more control over their actions (as opposed to being on linear rails all the time). I would focus mostly on Sonic instead of his million friends (despite the demand for them) and add many more boss encounters. The reason I feel there should be more emphasis on boss encounters is because they can be epic without being trite if each boss has its own unique abilities. Sonic showcases his death defying speed and agility in these closed encounters more as well. The first boss in Sonic Adventure 2 is the perfect example of a boss that weaved all the best parts of Sonic's gameplay into a single encounter

     > The pinnacle of the franchise for me is Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast because it successfully took Sonic's original gameplay into the 3D realm (Sonic became what he was originally meant to be but in 3D). Everything afterwards was shaped and reshaped much more so by supply and demand (and lack of integrity in Sonic 2006's case), but I digress. I also loved Sonic R because it proved that the Saturn wasn't merely a 2D console, not to mention it was actually a good racing game. Sonic R had a truly beautiful graphics engine that should have been used earlier and far more often.

     > Sonic's graphics are colorful and smooth. The graphics are cartoony while having a slight hint of seriousness (with dark shades and menacing enemies that try to kill you). This has helped the game age remarkably well. The game has beautifully drawn parallel backgrounds that create a great sense of distance and 3 dimensional depth (width, height and length), and there are dithered waterfall effects (pseudo-translucencies created with fine lines) that look great on the Genesis. For the time period, Sonic's graphics are excellent. They are certainly up there with Golden Axe. Sonic's unique style gave Sega a mascot that every gamer recognized.
     > The controls are fast and responsive. Sometimes Sonic finds himself underwater (where he needs to find pockets of air to breathe) so he slows down and becomes more floaty. There's nothing to complain about in this department. Sonic makes the Genesis proud.
     > The sound effects are clear and fitting. The music is soft, flowing and melodic in some places and deep and pacey in others. The last stage sounds like technology has come to life like the level itself with fast beats and hard drums. I find it highly memorable.
     > Free animals from robot slavery at high speed while avoiding pitfalls. Jump across moving platforms hovering over death itself, and avoid crushing pistons from above. Break through levels and play pinball with Sonic himself. Fight your way up from a watery grave through spears that shoot out of the walls. Race through loops and shoot off sleds that shoot you into the air, and fall into the gravity of waterfalls. All while fighting Doctor Robotnik in his many different mechanical forms. This is the definition of fun. There are also special stages where Sonic is moving through a rotating trap where he needs to break through barriers to reach chaos emeralds. Hit the wrong barrier and you fail. It all comes together to form a masterpiece.
Bottom Line
     > Any old game that is still being enjoyed by modern gamers truly is a work of genius. That's what Sonic the Hedgehog is: a work of genius. Sega should make quality Sonic games and market them properly *all the time* like other big budget games. Only a fool would believe that quality Sonic games aren't a great investment. Sega might lose money in some cases but overall there will be a huge net gain. The fact that Sonic is still so popular after all this time should prove beyond all doubt that some things are always popular (people still love baseball and soccer, don't they?).

     > Much more serious investment in Sonic will not only give Sega more brand recognition but associate Sega with quality. Any negative PR can be cancelled out if you have gamers on your side. Instead of living on the fumes of the past (which is always tempting because it's easier) Sega will be better served if they return to what created those lingering fumes in the first place. Stoke those fires of creativity again. Extremely successful flagship titles such as Sonic will help pave the way for other Sega games (such as Phantasy Star Online 2) that might reach a wider audience if Sega themselves had a wider audience. But what would I know? >:)

Overall: 10 | Graphics: 10 | Control: 10 | Sound: 10 | Fun: 10
~ Geoffrey Duke ~


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