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I first saw Sonic The Hedgehog in my youth, on the Sega Mega Drive of a friend, and I didn't see too much of it. In fact, I didn't see too much of the Mega Drive in general, or indeed that friend - nothing nefarious going on, just the way life is. I did play it, though. Briefly.
Most of my experience with the Sonic The Hedgehog series does, therefore, come from playing the games many years later, and I've played a fair few of them. Never to completion and not really for any great length of time, but if you're going to test out Mega Drive emulation, you're going to test it with Sonic, am I right?
He's iconic, his music is iconic, and that first level makes me question whether the first level of Super Mario Bros. is actually the most recognisable or not.
It's a bit of a boring question when you've got a controller in your hands and a need for speed, though, so let's get going.
You won't see many useful screenshots in this post. Hell, you won't see many at all, because Sonic is too hands on and engaging to stop and find the keyboard shortcut to save them.
From the very first moment, you are propelled through the Green Hill Zone far faster than you ever expected, or perhaps even thought possible. It's like Sonic has an unhealthy desire for the right side of the screen and just has to reach it by whatever means possible.
Of course, you could go slow...
I don't know why you'd want to, though. To collect all the rings? To see what secrets and alternate routes there are? Sounds a bit dull to me. Why, then, you'are made to go slow in some places is beyond me.
With its saturated colour palette, upbeat and uplifting music, and level design that turns Sonic into a hedgehog pinball, you can't help but to just charge forward and see where you end up.
Spiked by a caterpillar, probably.
In my case, while the spiky caterpillars did steal quite a few gold rings from my pockets, it was the lava that did me in. I suppose technically it was my inability to react to the physics quick enough that did it. Or maybe it was not quite being used to the switch from a slightly sluggish jog into a full on sprint. Or perhaps I was just going too fast.
The platforming, when necessary, doesn't feel anywhere near as good as the running, and yet the running has very little in it for players to do - jumping here and there, really. I'm not terribly fond of either, and yet Sonic The Hedgehog is awesome.
I don't know how that works.
Maybe it's all about feeling like you've achieved something. Look at how fast you're going! Oops, hit a spike! Don't worry, temporary invulnerability aaand yep, there you go, full speed already!
I'm still in no position to ever complete a Sonic title without a good chunk of time put into it, but you can always rely on the series - especially the Mega Drive entries - for a quick (very quick) pick-up-and-play run through some dazzling sights.
I have no real connection to Sonic The Hedgehog - no urge to choose him over any other character, no desire for the series to just stop messing around and sort itself out - yet not playing it when an opportunity arises is absurd. It's Sonic, go play it.
It looks great, it sounds great, and if you're crap at it, you're probably still having a good time, and that's more than enough of a reason to stick it on the list.
Sonic's original look is based on sticking Felix the Cat's head onto Mickey Mouse's body. If Robotnik had done experiments like this on the animals, rather than turn them into robots, Sonic The Hedgehog would have had a much darker plot, I'd imagine...
Sonic The Hedgehog, developed by Sonic Team, first released in 1991.
Version played: Sega Mega Drive, 1991, via emulation and childhood memories.