Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ, Sonikku za Hejjihoggu?) is a platform game developed in Japan by Sega and published for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis system. It is the inaugural game in Sega’s flagship Sonic the Hedgehog video game series, and was the first title developed by Sonic Team. The game was released in 1991 in North America, Europe, and Japan. It is sometimes retrospectively referred to as Sonic the Hedgehog 1 or Sonic 1 to differentiate it from both its main character and sequels in the same series.
In the game, Sonic has to prevent Doctor Robotnik from collecting the six Chaos Emeralds in an attempt to rule South Island. The player controls Sonic as he traverses six zones, each of which is split into three “acts”. At the end of the third act of each zone, the player faces Dr. Robotnik in one of his vehicles, the “Eggmobile”.
The gameplay centers around Sonic’s ability to run, jump, and roll at high speeds. Levels include springs, slopes, high falls and loop-de-loops. Hazards the player experiences include a wide variety of “badniks” — animals trapped inside mechanical bodies, which are released the moment the player hits them with an attack. Each badnik takes one hit to destroy, but their movements and methods of attack vary greatly over the course of the game. The player must also avoid rows of sharp spikes, bottomless pits, and elaborate death traps.
Scattered around each level map are numerous gold rings, which became a signature item of the Sonic series. Collecting 100 rings rewards the player with an extra life. Rings act as a layer of protection against hazards — if Sonic possesses at least one ring, an enemy attack will not kill him instantly but will cause his rings to scatter outwards and bounce away from him. Shields and invincibility can also be collected in order to provide additional layers of protection — however, they do not prevent the player losing a life if Sonic is crushed (by a trap or between a wall and a moving platform), drowned (he can last for 30 seconds underwater without breathing; a countdown begins towards the end of this time), falls into a pit, or goes over each act’s ten-minute time limit.
If the player reaches the end of Act 1 or Act 2 of each zone with at least 50 rings, a giant ring will appear in the air near the goal post (except for the last zone, Scrap Brain). If Sonic manages to jump into the ring, he will instantly be teleported to a “Special Stage”, consisting of a 360° rotating maze set against a surreal, psychadelic backdrop of morphing birds and fish. Sonic is permanently curled up in his rolling animation, and bounces off the bumpers and walls of the stage like a pinball (the concept of placing Sonic in the role of a pinball became a recurring element of the series, particularly in the game Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball). The Special Stages were considered a major achievement for the Mega Drive hardware.
The Special Stages contain numerous rings (collecting 50 rings in a Special Stage gives the player an extra continue, worth 3 lives). However, the main goals of the bonus levels are the Chaos Emeralds — each of the six different Special Stages contains one, and the player must collect all of them to view the game’s “good” end sequence. (Super Sonic, the series’ recurring reward for collecting all of a game’s Chaos Emeralds, does not feature in this initial game.) Either collecting the Chaos Emerald or touching a “goal post” bumper will end the Special Stage and progress the player to the next act in the game.
|Sonic the Hedgehog|
|North American boxart|
|Artist(s)||Naoto Ōshima (character design)|
|Engine||Yuji Naka (programming)|
|Platform(s)||Console, Game Boy Advance|
|Rating(s)||VRC: GA PEGI: 3|
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