Video Game: Sonic The Hedgehog 1

Think Fast.

C'mon faster. Because here comes Sonic the Hedgehog. He's the fastest critter the world has ever seen, and he's a hedgehog with major attitude.

Watch him smirk in the face of danger as he blazes his way through hilly pastures, underwater caverns, marble ruins, strange cities and a cybernetic world of enemies in a race to save his buddies.

Sonic's got everything a hedgehog could ever want: tricks, gadgets and speed. So don't blink or you just might miss him.
— Magazine Ad for the game.

If you were looking for the 2006 game of the same name, click here.

The game that started it all. The game that marked the beginning of Sega's beloved Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and one of the most iconic games of the 16-bit era...and its 8-Bit counterpart, both released in 1991.

At the beginning of the story, Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik has just gone mad (or maybe he already was) and is stuffing the tiny, innocent animals of South Island into his army of robots known as "Badniks." By building up his army and gaining control of the (then) six powerful Chaos Emeralds, domination of this island and the construction of his dream base "Eggmanland" might just be in his hands. Unfortunately for Robotnik, there's one problem. A problem that has blue fur, stands a little over three feet tall, is really quick on his feet, and possesses an "attitude" that will drive foes insane: Sonic the Hedgehog.

Indeed, Sonic is far too fast and too big to be stuffed into a Badnik shell, but thanks to his sense of doing the right thing, he's not gonna just pretend nothing is happening. With only his razor sharp quills and Super Speed as his weapons, Sonic makes it his mission to free his less humanoid pals and beat Robotnik to the Emeralds, all before confronting the mad doctor himself.

On a side note, this game received an obscure tie-in comic, which provides a very offbeat origin story for our spike haired hero.
The 16-Bit Version

The first, and mostly considered canonical, version, released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis.

It practically introduced super speed to the platforming genre with its eponymous character, which the designers took advantage of by adding obstacles such as loops and slopes. In addition to praise for its innovative gameplay, gamers were also astonished by the impressive graphics, as well as the catchy soundtrack by Masato Nakamura of the Japanese pop group Dreams Come True.

Sonic the Hedgehog put the Genesis on the map and was a catalyst for the console dethroning the mighty Nintendo with a 65% market share over the Super Nintendo Entertainment System during the 16-bit consolewars.

The Chaos Emeralds in this version are obtained via entering the Special Stages and collecting one without hitting the "GOAL" bumper.

Sonic the Hedgehog was remade, completely from scratch using a fan-made engine, in 2013, for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad in HD with proper widescreen support. Like Sonic the Hedgehog CD before it, it was developed by Christian "The Taxman" Whitehead, though this time in collaboration with Simon "Stealth" Thomley. Not only does it let Tails be playable (and even follow Sonic, unlike in Sonic CD), but it finally does what the Lock-On Technology of Sonic & Knuckles failed to do and what had once only been in an unofficial ROM hack created by aforementioned 'Stealth'... make Knuckles playable.

Tropes used by this version:

  • Action Bomb: Bombs.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Sega's American division editied Sonic to look more "punk"-like, such as changing his quills to look like a mohawk and giving him a more "angry" expression.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The lava flow section in Marble Zone Act 2.
  • Airborne Mook: Buzz Bombers. Thankfully, they flew low enough to be easily dispatched.
  • Bonus Stage Collectables: There are six Special Stages each leading to a Chaos Emerald, with ten chances to enter Special Stage. If all of them are collected in a single playthrough, the ending is changed slightly.
  • Book Ends: The game's story begins and ends in Green Hill Zone. The same goes to the end credits.
  • Character Title
  • Check Point Starvation: The only checkpoint in the whole Star Light Zone is set before the stage's boss.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: The aforementioned Promo Comic tie-in, which was also included in some older comic books, as well as magazines like Sega Visions and Disney Adventures.
    • Issues 10 and 11 of the Sonic X comic book featured a two-part story to commemorate the game's 15th anniversary, in which Dr. Eggman traps Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Rouge, Cream, Cheese, and Vanilla in a virtual reality world resembling the levels from this game. More recently, the first half of the Genesis arc in the regular Sonic comic, featured in issues 226 and 227, depict Sonic, Sally, Antione, and Rotor making their way through the game's stages.
  • Convection Schmonvection: In Marble Zone, Sonic can get within mere inches of boiling hot lava without breaking a sweat. In fact, if an animal is freed from a badnik, such as a seal, they'll hop or swim right through the lava!
  • Credits Medley: Embraced here. The 8-bit version has a mostly original piece of music with just a snippet of the Green Hill BGM.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Final Zone has no rings.
  • Dummied Out: A boulder chase in Green Hill Zone; in the final version, the boulder sprites were only used for Robotnik's wrecking ball contraption.
    • Swimming goggles for the Labyrinth zone.
    • A rabbit Badnik named Splats.
    • UF Os that would fly in the skies of Marble Zone.
    • The 2013 rerelease actually finished the coding for almost all of the Dummied Out bits but they can only be placed in Debug mode.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: There are several things that sets this apart from the later titles in the series:
    • The Spin Dash doesn't exist.note 
    • With the exception for the Final Zone, there are three rather than two Acts per Zone. This can make them seem overly long to someone who played later games first.
    • Getting 50,000 points doesn't grant an extra life in the original revision (which is probably the one you played).
    • There are two zones (Marble and Labyrinth) that you couldn't just rush through and had to go really slow.
    • The same badniks appear in multiple levels, instead of each level having its own unique set.
    • There are only six Chaos Emeralds to collect, and you can't turn into Super Sonic.
    • There's a speed cap when you're running, as long as you hold forward; rolling is usually the only way to move faster.
    • The "Spike bug": In this game, if you touch spikes during Mercy Invincibility, it wouldn't count and you would still get killed. If you got hit by spikes and fell back onto more spikes, you would die. Such behavior was removed in the sequel and all subsequent games.
  • Easter Egg: Among the hidden content in the smartphone port are many of the objects that were originally cut from the game, such as the wrecking ball hazard from Green Hill, the rabbit badnik Splats, the boulder, the goggles for safe swimming (they let him stay underwater for longer before drowning) and even the mysterious flying saucers in Marble Zone. All of them are now finished and can be placed in Debug mode. Also available are Super Sonic and a new special stage, as well as use of elemental shields and the Instashield.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Just look at the page image. The intro establishes Sonic as our Mascot with Attitude.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Scrap Brain Zone, big time.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
  • Game Mod: This game is considered fairly easy to ROM hack by fans. One of the earliest and most famous ROM hacks was one that put Knuckles into this game and using palette code alterations to avoid any colour changing problems with the game that had been an earlier reason why it couldn't be done with S&K's Lock-On (As a result, Knuckles' sprites are now a very darker red colour compared to what they are in the other Genesis games.) It's widely considered the "holy grail of ROM hacking" due to how it circumvented the color problem and implemented Knuckles' climbing and gliding ability.
  • The Goomba: Motobugs. They're not the most common of enemies, but a Motobug is the first enemy you see, and they pose about as much of a threat as actual Goombas.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Trope Namer.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Smash a monitor with three stars in it for temporary invincibility. Sparkly stars trail behind Sonic while the effect is active.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The Bomb-Bots from the Star Light and Scrap Brain Zones. Even if Sonic has invincibility himself, he just passes straight through them.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Marble Zone.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Present, but the "spike bug" could get around it. If you land on a set of spikes, you take more damage if the knock back sends you into another set. This was because the Mercy Invincibility only activated when Sonic landed on the ground after taking damage. This was fixed in ports and sequels.
    • "Spike bug" is in quotation marks because it seemed to be a bug, but as it turns out, it was in fact intentional. Why it was there has never been explained.
  • Mood Whiplash: The sudden transition from the fast paced Green Hill Zone to the much slower Marble Zone made this for first timers in this game or for people who played later Sonic games.
  • Mythology Gag: The 2013 smartphone remake has plenty for the hardcore Sonic Dummied Out fan. Poke around debug mode and you'll find they actually finished and implemented long lost features like the Green Hill rolling wrecking ball on its own which now functions properly, the swimming goggles (which now prolong the time Sonic can spend in water) Splats the robot bunny and the Marble Zone UFOs.
  • Nonindicative Name: You might think that the "goal" lines in the Special Stages are... you know, your goal. Actually, they result in failure, kicking you out of the Special Stage without giving you the Chaos Emerald (though you do still get bonus points and continues for the rings you collected). This makes slightly more sense if you read the manual, which claims that the Special Stages are actually a deadly trap. Which kinda just raises more questions.
  • Nintendo Hard: Continues have to be earned, special stages are confusing and it demands memorization of its stages.
  • Obvious Beta: Not so obvious when looked at on its own, but once you start comparing it to later versions, the original US release is clearly unfinished, as many of the graphical effects are still missing from most stages (most notably the auto-scrolling clouds in Green Hill Zone, the water ripples in Labyrinth Zone, and the background parallax scrolling in most of the remaining stages), the spike "bug" exists here whereas it was removed in almost every future version, and the level select still uses the pre-release level order.
  • Oxygen Meter: You get three warning chimes, then the music changes and a countdown starts. Get out before it hits 0, or you die.
  • Palette Swap: Scrap Brain Zone Act 3 is a palette swap of Labyrinth Zone.
    • Also counts as And Now For Something Completely Different. Apparently, Robotnik built his high-tech factory on top of some ancient ruins he can conveniently dump people who irritate him into.
    • Also has some sort of relation to Dummied Out, as they were originally going to have him drop Sonic into something unique, but ran out of time.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The soundtrack was written by Masato Nakamura of the J-Pop band Dreams Come True. Some of their songs reuse themes from the games or vice versa, including the Green Hill and Star Light Zone themes.
  • Pressure Plate: Present in Marble Zone.
  • Recycled Title: The 3D platformer released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which was nicknamed Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) by fans. It was also released on the series's 15th anniversary, and suffered from major bugs.
  • Rise to the Challenge: The drastically rising water level that makes up part of the "boss fight" in Labyrinth Zone Act 3.
  • Scenery Porn: One of the game's major selling points was that its scenery was not only awesome but the fact that it could scroll past so rapidly when Sonic was at high speed helped graphically (no pun intended) demonstrate the Genesis' power. The Green Hill and Star Light Zones in particular stand out.
  • Scoring Points: In the REV00 version they don't do anything. The REV01 version, an Updated Re-release for Japan and Korea only, gives extra lives every 50,000 points same as the rest of the series.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: The most notable ones are in Marble Zone, though they make a return in Scrap Brain Acts 1 and 2. The final boss fight was mostly this.
  • Springs Springs Everywhere: The yellow springs give Sonic a good jump height or boost, while the red ones launch him skyward. The Spring Yard Zone has tons of springs all over the place as the level's gimmick.
  • Sprint Shoes: Smash a monitor with a shoe in it for temporarily increased acceleration and speed. Sonic's trademark is the ability to move at high speed, but this takes it to another level.
  • The Stinger: Beat the game without collecting all the Chaos Emeralds, and you will see Robotnik over a "Try Again" sign, juggling those you didn't get. If you get the good ending, Eggman will furiously jump on a "The End" sign instead.
  • Trap Door: Plenty of them in Scrap Brain Zone.
  • Whack A Monster: The final boss.
  • Word Salad Title: Scrap Brain Zone manages to be both this and I Don't Like the Sound of That Place.

The 8-Bit Version

Released for the Sega Master System and Game Gear, and anonymously developed by a game company called Ancient. It wasn't so much a port as it was a unique alternative to the 16-bit version. Due to being on weaker hardware, the high-speed element of gameplay was scaled back quite a bit, and it really didn't help the Game Gear gain an advantage over the Nintendo's Game Boy in the handheld market. Nevertheless, it's still pretty fun in its own right, and features a catchy soundtrack of its own composed by Yuzo Koshiro (with some adaptations of Nakamura's material).

Unlike its 16-bit counterpart, Chaos Emeralds are obtained through one of the first two Acts in each zone. The Special Stages are only for extra lives and continues.

Tropes used by this version:

Tropes used by both versions:

  • Boss-Only Level:
    • Final Zone is the only "true" Boss-Only Level in the 16-bit version, as Act 3 of every other Zone has some land and enemies before the boss.
    • Sky Base Zone Act 3 (also the final zone) in the 8-bit version.
  • Down the Drain: Labyrinth Zone.
  • Dub Name Change: "Eggman" to "Ivo Robotnik". Sonic Adventure used both names by explaining that Eggman is his nickname, while Ivo Robotnik is his actual name.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Both games have no Spin Dash, no Super Sonic, and only six Chaos Emeralds. Additionally, while the 16-bit version utilized the classic "get Chaos Emeralds from Special Stages" mechanic, the 8-bit version has a freestanding Emerald hidden somewhere in one of the first two acts of each Zone.
  • Eternal Engine: Scrap Brain Zone.
  • Green Hill Zone: Trope Namer.
  • Kaizo Trap: The 16 bit version has a bottomless pit after the final boss that you can very easily jump into, while the 8 bit version has the end of the Jungle Zone boss, where you must jump from the tightrope you're on to the capsule on the land (or fall into a bottomless pit). It's actually a fairly tough jump.
  • Kid Hero: Since Sonic Generations, it is considered canon that Sonic in this game is 10 years old.
  • Mascot with Attitude: Trope Namer, and the inspiration for dozens of knock-offs, very few of whom actually had good games.
  • One-Wheeled Wonder: Several examples, most notably Motobug.
  • Ordinary Drowning Skills: Although at least the Labyrinth Zone has considerably more places where Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles appear than water zones in later Sonic games. Labyrinth Zone Act 3 in the 8-bit version is a rare exception though, you are entirely underwater with no air bubbles and can never drown.
  • Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: Present throughout Labyrinth Zone and Act 3 of Scrap Brain in the 16-bit version. The bubbles appear to generate less often in the latter.
  • Pinball Zone: The Spring Yard Zone of the Genesis game, as well as the Special Stages in both versions.
  • Ret Canon: Sonic was initially 15 years old in these games as established by early Sonic canon, but Sonic Generations retconned it to make him 10 years old during this time.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: The monitors scattered throughout the game have powerups, which you get by breaking said monitors.
  • The Spiny: The Yadorin enemy has spikes on its back, making jumping useless. If Sonic rolls into one, he'll be fine.
    • The Caterkiller (Nal in Japan, appears in Marble and Scrap Brain in the Genesis version) is similar, but potentially more deadly. It's a caterpillar made of purple spheres, one of which serves as a head while the rest have spikes on top. If Sonic hits it anywhere other than the head, not only does he get hurt, but the spheres it's made of go flying and there's a chance they will hit Sonic again, probably killing him.
  • This Is a Drill: A few badniks have them.
  • Underwater Ruins: Labyrinth Zone.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Eggman always flies away everytime you defeat him. But, at the end of the 16-bit version, you get the chance to destroy his escape pod and leave him for dead. In the 8-bit version, Sonic will do it in a cutscene at the end.
  • Warm-Up Boss: The first boss in both games.
    • The Egg Mobile-H in the Genesis version, AKA the Checker Wrecker. it's a contraption that swings a wrecking ball back and forth, but it's rather easy to avoid.
    • The 8-Bit version is even easier, with Robotnik floating in his regular Eggmobile to the edge of a screen, slowly descending to ground level, and then trying to ram into you. The Game Gear port's low screen resolution makes it possible for Sonic to jump high enough to hurt Robotnik and defeat him before he even gets the chance to attack you. It's easier than the drill car.

Alternative Title(s):

Sonic 1, Sonic The Hedgehog 1991