The first game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, starring the SEGA's new mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog (character). It was re-released on the Game Boy Advance under the title Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis, with an Anniversary mode added.
The game Sonic the Hedgehog was a fast paced side-scrolling platformer designed to steal the spotlight from its rival, Mario. While Mario was a fat, slow plumber, Sonic was a cool blue spiky-haired character that fought robots. Through its refreshing gameplay and impressive graphical ability, Sonic the Hedgehog established the Genesis and Mega Drive as rival consoles and Sonic as the Anti-Mario. The game is featured on the Wii's Virtual Console, and on the Xbox Live Arcade with various enhancements.
The Chaos Emeralds have been stolen by the evil Dr. Robotnik (who was known as Dr. Eggman in Japan, a name he's taken in the US in more recent games)! Oh no! Not only that, but Dr. Robotnik has hand selected all the cute animals, and imprisoned them into killer (but colorful) robots called Badniks. It's up to Sonic the Hedgehog to race through levels, destroy the Badniks to free the animals, gather Rings, and if there's time, retrieve all six Chaos Emeralds.
Title screen of the game.Sonic the Hedgehog plays very similarly to other platformers, in which the titular character must get to the end of the stage in the allotted time, while collecting items along the way. Essential to the gameplay are the golden rings the player collects along his/her way in each level, a feature which would become one of the defining characteristics of the series. These items are regularly placed around the level map and serve multiple functions. First, the player collects rings to protect Sonic. As long as they have at least one ring, the player will not lose a life when injured. Instead, when hit, up to 20 of the rings the player has collected will fly outward and scatter around the immediate area for some seconds, some of which can then be retrieved before they disappear. If the player runs into an enemy without a single ring, they will lose a life. If the player collects 100 rings they will gain an extra life, and will gain an additional life for every 100 rings after that, provided the rings are not lost.
An example of gameplay in the first zone: Green Hill Zone. If the player has at least 50 rings at the end of an act, a golden ring will float above the finishing sign which can be jumped through to enter one of the Special Stages (this excludes the final act of a stage, when Sonic will enter a boss fight). At the end of each act, the total number of rings the player has is multiplied by 100 and added to the player's score. During the score-tallying, the player can also jump through the air to find hidden emblems which can range from 100 to 10,000 points.
Also scattered throughout each level are video monitors which, when broken by the character, reward the player with one of a variety of bonuses. These include a Shield which will protect Sonic from a single hit, a 10-ring bonus, an extra life, temporary invincibility (accompanied with a temporary change in music), and "Power Sneakers", which give the player a temporary speed boost (and increase the tempo of the music for the duration). The item monitors have become another long-lasting feature in the series, though they have been changed to bubble-like containers that can float in later games.
Despite the various types of protection available, neither the shield, rings, nor invincibility will prevent the player losing a life if Sonic is crushed (by a trap or between a wall and a moving platform), drowned, runs out of time (each act has a ten-minute time limit), or falls into a bottomless pit.
Progression through the game is made easier for the player by lamp posts that act as checkpoints. When Sonic passes a lamp post, the spherical top spins around and its color changes from blue to red, and the next time a life is lost, gameplay will restart at that point rather than at the beginning of the act. In the Japanese version, if a checkpoint is activated and a life is lost as a result of running out of time, the time at the checkpoint will reset to 0:00.
Hazards the player experiences include a wide variety of "Badniks" - these appear as animals trapped inside mechanical bodies which are released the moment the player hits them. Each badnik takes one hit to destroy, but they vary greatly from Zone to Zone; some will walk in a set path, others will try blasting the player, and some cannot be avoided at all. The player must also avoid rows of sharp spikes, cliffs, and elaborate death traps. There is also the threat of drowning (in Labyrinth Zone and the third act of Scrap Brain Zone which contains water), as the player can only survive approximately 30 seconds underwater (locating air bubbles can extend this).
"Zone" is the term used in the Sonic the Hedgehog series to indicate the overall level, similar to Worlds in Super Mario Bros. Each zone has a different theme and setting, and contains 3 "acts" or levels, except for the Final Zone, which only had one act. At the end of every zone's final Act (except Scrap Brain Zone), the player faces a boss, usually Robotnik in some new machine.
- Green Hill Zone
- Marble Zone
- Spring Yard Zone
- Labyrinth Zone
- Starlight Zone
- Scrap Brain Zone
- Final Zone
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