Sonic The Hedgehog

*Quietly pushes my old AngelFire fansite under my bed*
I can’t recall when exactly I played it first, only recent playthroughs. A few years ago, I played and beat all the mobile versions by Christian Whitehead, which are superb upgrades to the original console versions, but that’s been a while.

For the original Sega version, I have to go for when I remember last beating it. About last week, when I started writing this. And oooh boy, its garbage.

Well, not completely. The first level is perfect. Great music, great environment, colors, enemies placement and where they put the loops. All three acts flow well. Three acts!

Sonic has been rolling on a two-act level structure for a while now. Which works, but now playing Sonic 1(again), I prefer the three-act structure. If the rest of the levels weren’t ass.

Controls: First, controls. Sonic doesn’t have a spin dash, he can only jump and roll, and run. The main focus for Sonic one is ‘Momentum’. Maintain momentum, and gaining momentum by running down some inclines. He can gain a lot of speed if you know what you’re doing, and it’s very rewarding once you memorize paths to keep your momentum going. Anyways, on to the level design.

Green Hill Zone:
Let’s stay on the first level. The first level is nearly all run, run run, with little platforming to get to higher areas. It wasn’t until later in the series, that sonic started employing high, mid, and low paths of their levels routinely, as you see them here. Albeit in a more primitive form.

If you maintain good timing and platforming, you can stay on the high paths, which require a lot of platforming to traverse to the end, the mid path is more running and loops, the lower has fewer loops, but more enemies and spikes. Green Hill Zone is such a well-made level, the only draw back is there isn’t much up there on the high path, other than a fun minute challenge to get up there.

On to the third act! The third act is usually short, it’s almost half a level in comparison to the rest of the acts, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome in comparison to the rest of the zones. The end of the Act is where the boss, Dr.Robotinik, is at. So if you get hit by a few badniks along the way, its possible you’d meet him with little to no rings. There are few to begin with, making the boss battle a little harder to beat.
The following act to Green Hill zone is Marble Zone. It’s here that all the momentum from the first zone stops.

Marble Zone:

Marble Zone is nearly all platforming and waiting on moving platforms. It’s such a slog to get through, and what’s worse is that it takes a clearly different approach to the 3 tier system of the first level. The high, medium and low paths. Its all one path to go through!

Now, as harsh as this 180 turn is from Green Hill Zone, there are some bits I did enjoy. emphasis on “bits”.

I expect speed from this game after the first level. Now, that would make it good, but if its going to go for the slower platforming route, I think what would make this level more fleshed out would be to expand on secret paths. There are a few secrets in the level, false walls leading to power ups and ring boxes, but there are few. Bits.

This was a fun little bit to get through. Small platforms that catch fire, incentivizing you to keep moving. However, BITS. there are only three here. You get a few more elsewhere, but they don’t last long enough to gain a sense of momentum before you’re back waiting on moving blocks. Its a constant Stop and Go zone.

Oh golly! I got to out run this lava!

Whew, made it just in time.

A fun bit, that lasted, oh, .05 seconds and is never seen again. You’d get more fun from that one level in Sega’s Aladdin.

At least the color scheme is good.

Spring Yard Zone:

Other than the barf flavored eyesore akin to your dad’s wooden tv on green shag carpeting that this zone is(there is no way my reference to wooden tv’s is going to age badly!), it goes back to the physics of the game. There are some questionable enemies and swinging spikes placement, but mostly, its a fun level for bouncing around, hitting springs and running fast.

It’s as much of a showcase for Sonic as Green Hill Zone that sequels almost always have a type of Spring Yard Zone with pinball action via Casino Zones.

Labyrinth Zone:

Again another slog Zone to power through. Unlike Marble Zone, you don’t get moving platforms as much here, and honestly, I’m almost bummed about it. I like the setting and the color scheme. However, The map is a straight forward, up and down path, little running and uninspired platforming. I’d say this is the worst Zone out of the entire game.

Okay, you went up, now do that and go down, and do it for three acts.

Sure, there are some enemies you have to doge, booby traps, spikes, on top of managing Sonics breath, but this level is a complete slog, and I was more than happy to be done with it.

Starlight Zone:

Here we go. Back to the slips and slides, the springs and things.

This level introduces a few new elements that are fun to play around with. Like the seesaw catapult. One, one new element to play with. That’s about it. These zone is over fairly quickly leading up the the battle with Dr.Robotnik.

Honestly, the most inventive out of all the battles and uses the seesaw catapult you played with earlier in its fight.

Scrap Brain Zone:

The final level. What we’ve been fighting against. Dr.Eggman’s dastardly schemes end here. 3 acts of monstrous metal that’s ravaged the forest. What atrocities has he prepared?

Spinning sandwiches.

The horror!

In seriousness, this zone dangerous, to a point its annoying. I get that a final boss zone should have lots of obstacles, but this zone outright punishes speedy game play with off-screen hazards and such. Its a somewhat sprawled out zone, almost incentivizing running, but you’ll get knocked on your ass fast if you’re not careful.

Whats this? A cut scene in act two? What is he up too?

Labryinth Zone 2: Electric Boogaloo

Why? Why are we back here? Was this necessary?

The story goes, Ivo Robotnik(Dr.Eggman) has been taking over South Island. What I can piece together, is that Scrap Brain Zone is his creation, and that it’s sited atop Labyrinth Zone, where he is searching ancient ruins looking for the Chaos Emeralds. As far as I could gather, and it makes for a good story, albeit I’m the one putting the puzzle together and taking leaps in logic. It’s my head canon.

The Chaos Emeralds:

At the end of the first two acts of each zone, if you have 50 rings, a giant warp ring will appear. If you hop in, you’ll be taken to another dimension. A magical realm, a windows 95 screen saver.

Here is where you get 1 of the 6 Chaos Emeralds. I think they’re fun bonus stages that play out like those plastic toy mazes with a metal ball you have to get to the center. There is limited control you have with sonic in this.The way gravity shifts can be weird, maybe to replicate the feel of those toy mazes, but it can be beat.

What do you get for collecting all the emeralds? Well, like being ripped off by that escaped convicted rodent at Chuckie Cheese, you get what’s equivalent to a mustache comb. A “”good”” ending.

Honestly, I’d prefer the comb.

Sonic one clearly laid the groundwork for the character controller and physics for Sonic. That’s about it. The level design does not help him out at all. Making the first game merely to be played by any video game enthusiast wanting to take a history lesson, a look back. This game is a clear example of level design not complementing the characters play style. Maybe I’m being too harsh. It was the first in the series, it may have been a first for a lot of programmers working on it and they didn’t know where to take it, expand on it. That very may well be the case. Seeing Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic and Knuckles were major improvements on the formula.
If you have to know what my old angelfire sonic fansite had, it was just a collection of sonic gifs and an uploaded album of Yanni’s best hits. It got taken down due to me not knowing what copyright was all about back then. Oh, the rain must fall.


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