Few releases can compare to the classics – a statement that’s true regardless of medium and certainly no less for that of video games. In the heyday of the console wars between Nintendo and Sega, each had his stalwart warrior on the side of perceived multimedia goodness.
Hedgehog versus plumber.
Hedgehog (again) versus Little-Blond-Green-Arrow-Looking-Man-With-A-Sword.
Of course, being a child with only one system, the Sega Genesis, my Champion of Light was that ‘tude-weildin’, speed-rollin’; master of aerial acrobatics – Sonic the Hedgehog.
Various incarnations featuring the face of Sega followed, though the original “Sonic the Hedgehog” deserves the most praise in terms of innovation and charm.
As many know, Sonic’s story is set in a fictional land where the devious Doctor Robotnik – occasionally “Doctor Eggman” in certain mediums – has kidnapped the adorably furry residents of the land to use for his own nefarious means.
Not only has he trapped these cuddly critters in the stodgy and decidedly un-cute (aw, who am I kidding) confines of his robotic minions, but he is also stripping the land of its resources.
And on top of that, he’s stolen the coveted Chaos Emeralds, which come in a plethora of colors, regardless of their suggestive name.
Now Sonic must don his trusty sneakers and rescue the planet by jumping on the heads of Robotnik’s minions and whizzing through the ever-annoying “Special Stages” – without the help of that hyperventilating fox friend of his.
The game consists of six levels: “The Green Hill Zone,” “The Marble Zone,” “The Spring Yard Zone,” “The Labyrinth Zone,” “The Star Light Zone,” and “The Scrap Brain Zone,” respectively; and one conclusive stage: “The Final Zone.”
While the beginning is easy enough, the difficulty escalates admirably as the save option does not exist on this game’s original console. Sonic must grab rings to ensure protection against death, which he loses each time he’s hurt. If he manages to nab 100, he earns an extra life. If he finishes an act with at least 50, he moves on to the “Special Stage” before proceeding to the next portion of the game.
In the “Special Stage,” Sonic is placed in a slowly-rotating maze of sorts with “GOAL” markers placed in various areas. These are traps that promptly pluck our protagonist out of this mystical area, so they should be avoided at all costs. Ultimately, the goal of each “Special Stage” is to locate the Chaos Emerald. Upon touching this, Sonic is also ejected, but with sought-after object in hand.
While obtaining all the Chaos Emeralds is not essential to beating the game, it is the only way to fully complete it.
Throughout his adventure, Sonic occasionally encounters helpful items hidden inside monitors. Among them are Invincibility, Super-Ring, Shield, Speed Shoes and the 1-Up.
While most of these items are incredibly helpful, Speed Shoes should be ignored by less experienced gamers as Sonic’s normal speed is already highly accelerated, making his affected maneuverability that much more difficult.
The game play is absolutely amazing, especially for those with slightly limited attention spans. Sonic whizzes through each stage, which can easily be finished within a few minutes – and must be within 10.
As fast as the game play is, parts of become admittedly hard. As most underwater levels, “The Labyrinth Zone” provokes more than a series of frustrated groans upon sudden and repeated death, which hardly subsides by the end of the game, since “The Brain Scrap Zone” continues to mirror some of its more difficult traps.
Sonic the Hedgehog can either lead to a few hours of intense concentration or a whole day’s worth of distraction – but either way, it undeniably leads to a bevy of fun.