Sonic the Hedgehog review - Sega Megadrive

Read Original Review PDF for Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog box artEggman alert! In a deal that shocked environmentalists everywhere, vile Dr. Eggman has bought up a load of land just so that he can capture its small furry inhabitants, brainwash them and put them inside his rocket-powered Cyberfauna suits. With his army of armoured animals, Eggman plans to terrorise the people of the world until they relent and pay him lots of money.

Sonic, being a speedy blighter, is the hedgehog that got away. Now, of course, he's resolved to free his forest buddies by doing over Eggman and he has to leg it through six hazardous zones, each made up of three scrolling areas.

The landscape is packed with platform-type puzzles and terrifying terrain! Not only that - Eggman has despatched his robot-like forces to destroy Sonic before he can catch up with him! Luckily, Sonic is a powerhouse of athletic ability, and he can protect himself by curling into a ball and somersaulting into any enemies, skewering them on his spines!

To protect him still further, sonic has to collect the power rings which are scattered throughout the landscape. If he bumps into an enemy the rings will protect him, but the collision makes him drop all those he was carrying. If sonic stays out of trouble, every ring he gets to the end of the level earns him 100 points, and if he has over 50, he is instantly warped to the weirdo bonus game!

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" Yep, it's true - Sonic is really great! I can't think of a Megadrive game with more spectacular graphics - even Mickey Mouse wasn't as visually exciting as this - and everything is just so fast and smooth it's astonishing! The design of the levels and the obstacles is ingenious (the Labyrinth zone is a blast!), and I love the fact that you can really explore the levels for different routes and secret rooms, rather than simply having to get from left to right. The instant-loss-of-all-rings factor tended to be a little frustrating, but it certainly didn't prevent me coming back to this game again and again. The wait has been worth it Megadrive fans - this is a game you MUST get! "

" After about fifteen zillion millennia of waiting, Sonic's finally here, and it's almost as fabby as Sega would have us believe! The graphics are truly tremendous, with superlative backdrops and super sprites. I cannot stress too much the graphical excellence of this game - it is definitely the best looking Megadrive game yet seen, even more attractive than the Super Famicom's Mario 4! The speed of the game is incredible and when Sonic gets the supa-speed trainers, boy, does he shift! Playability-wise, Sonic's great, although I found that the gameplay does get a little frustrating after a while, especially as there's a few almost impossible situations the hapless hedgehog can find himself in. I'm bound to get billions of 'phone calls asking if it's better than Mario 4, and whilst Sonic's a brill game, it just doesn't have the depth to match Nintendo's masterpiece. Still, I must admit that Sonic is one of the best Megadrive games I've ever played! Buy, buy, buy! "


Overall Score92%

Retrospective comments


There may have been a few people who played through their first go on Sonic in a cautious manner, but most of us held the D-pad to the right and hit Jump occasionally. If you missed out on Sonic first time around and have played it much later on in life, then you won't fully understand; Think how fast Burnout Revenge is on PS2 and you're getting somewhere close.

A few more brief memories; Being VERY excited on Christmas day when I opened my Megadrive, severe eye-strain from hours of play, only having a black and white TV in my bedroom (not good), Sonic tapping his foot if you left him for a while, leaving my Megadrive on pause for most of the day whilst we visited relatives, and those #*?>ing bubbles in the Labyrinth Zone.

But enough of that, you all know about Sonic the game (read the review above), what was equally as important, was Sonic the character and the fact that Sega finally had a videogame Icon, a mascot; in fact it was seeing Sonic on the cover of issue 8 that made me buy Mean Machines and the screenshots within that kick-started my videogame habit.

Nintendo had been using Mario as their icon for years and had no real competition to the imagery, then the spiked one climbed into the blue corner (get it? Sonic's blue…see what I did there…boxing…never mind).

I remember when all of the Magazines (yes, there were other mags available at the time, but they were shit and only muppets bought them) started printing artwork showing Sonic squaring up to Mario, 'The Battle Of The Icons' features, game comparisons etc., and the ever-present , eternal, older-than-time-itself, Playground arguments. It was one side or the other, the 'Blur or Oasis' of it's time, videogames had finally caught the bug that caused many 'Amstrad-Speccy-C64' fights.

You could almost smell the shit hitting the fan at Nintendo Towers. Sonic was cool !!! He was fast, he wore trainers, he had style, you wanted a picture of him on you school bag. Mario was a fat, moustachioed plumber, who jumped on mushrooms and was rapidly becoming second-best. Sonic was on EVERYTHING; duvets, pencils, lunchboxes, key rings, condoms, coffee mugs (ok not too sure on the condom thing but he was definitely on coffee mugs).

That's what sonic was, back in the day when all of this was just fields, HUGE. You can read the reviews and see what people thought of the game, you can even read the 'Battle of…' articles, but unless you were there, you probably won't realize what a huge moment in gaming-history, the release on Sonic the Hedgehog was!

- Martyn 'MOB' Bowell

Tris Wicks - 05 Nov 2008, 02:05 GMT

Good times. Up until Sonic spoke. After that, shame and anger.

Tris Wicks - 05 Nov 2008, 05:46 GMT

BTW How come Sonic on the master system legs it faster? Blast processing? Ass processing more like.

Dan - 24 Feb 2009, 17:22 GMT

Oh how I slated the Nintendo fanboys at school when this was being previewed, Mario was going to get a run for his money and in that race there was only gonna be one winner at blinding speeds......wasn't there? Well, no, Sonic The Hedgehog was f-in wank. How disapointed I was when I played this, a sluggish main character that took forever to get up to speed, some garbage about collecting rings instead of just completing levels, that God-awful boss who was about as much of a challenge as getting bummed in a Turkish prison, offensive visuals......THIS was Sega's big whoop? Warra loads of bollocks. Within weeks I had a spanky new Famicom in my possesion and the new masters of gaming were Nintendo.

jes - 09 May 2009, 17:32 GMT

'hat God-awful boss who was about as much of a challenge as getting bummed in a Turkish prison', wtf!!!!!

how would you know mate, been into turkish prison

Generic - 25 Jun 2009, 19:55 GMT

After reading your comment i really doubt that you even played Sonic.
"took forever to get up to speed" & "some garbage about collecting rings instead of just completing levels" are just false. You sound like today's fanboys but in a 90s Version.

mitzibishi - 22 Jul 2009, 03:14 GMT

felt great on first play. wow the first n second n third level!!! 2nd play i completed it. completed it a second time the next day and swapped it for shinobi

Steve - 07 Sep 2009, 23:59 GMT

About Sonic: "a sluggish main character" hahahahahahahahaha. I can't believe you said that. You really have proved you have no gaming knowledge, Yet you've posted on nearly every damn game on this site. Game over mate.

MParallel - 18 Jan 2010, 00:48 GMT

The game that made me want, no feen (fiend if you prefer) for a Megadrive. Shame it only came packaged with that horrible Altered Beast game.
Then Sega released a package that included Sonic. My prayers been answered!
After nagging my parents for months, my dad finally caved and bought me one (to much anger of mom, lol) and I got the best thing I ever wanted. Sonic was mine. Oh yeah how I loved the cool blue spikey figure with his cool, oversized sneakers.
I don't know how many hours went into this game, but probably more than is healthy. (only surpassed by NBA JAM/NBA JAM TE) Graphics were simply amazing. Multiple parallax scrolling layers, tons of enemies and of course...SPEED!
The game itself was fairly easy, but it didn't make it less fun. You could always pick it up and try to make it as fast through a level as possible.
Ha the good old says of being an innocent kid, during the high days of 16-bit computing.

Now where's that time machine?

yo_soy - 01 Mar 2010, 14:34 GMT

I wrote lyrics to all the music in this game. One was an homage to LiquorSave.

Jaz's Sheep - 23 Jun 2010, 14:05 GMT

@Generic & Steve
Ha ha, sorry lads but I totally stand by my comments. I've not longed purchased the ultimate megadrive collection for the Xbox and it's just as I remembered. Just didn't like it at all and have played it through start to finish again hating every second of it.

Sorry, but thats how I saw it then and that's how I see it now. I am allowed to have a different opinion you know, it's not against the law. And that's mine and it's honest, I loved SEGA with a passion until this traversty of a game.

James - 05 Jul 2010, 12:31 GMT

Roughly eight or nine years after this was released in the UK, I was working my first job in the games industry as a programmer, and my boss and I were talking about the whole Sega/Nintendo demise in the wake of Playstation. He told me something rather interesting about Sonic.

Roughly a year before its release, Sega had a small Sonic demo not so dissimilar to the actual game running in a booth at E3 (or was it CES?). But they weren't making a big fuss about it. In fact, nobody at the Sega booth was making an effort to show people this game, which, as it turned out was partially responsible for Sega coming close to matching Nintendo's precsense during the 16-bit era, despite inferior hardware.

@Jaz's Sheep - You're allowed your opinion, but also, keep in mind that other people are entitled to theirs too. Thinking that you're wrong is just as valid as thinking that Sonic wasn't that great.

Lukas - 21 Jun 2011, 21:00 GMT

The music was also a big for us big then. I remember me and my friends humming the tune of the second zone all the time. My favorite Sonic game is still the Sonic 3 and knuckles combo though. And Sonic CD comes second if you ask me.

Cope - 22 Sep 2011, 09:38 GMT

Why were you guys referring to Dr. Robotnik by his Japanese name in 1991?

Mark - 29 Dec 2011, 00:30 GMT

Sonic the Hedgehog was the game which made me a gamer. I didn't actually own a MD until mid '92 (I played through the MS version first) but my parents bought me one as a b-day surprise with both SoR 1 and this game. I was instantly hooked. It's not just the speed that sets it apart - the level design is amazing. Luckily I was a relative gaming novice when I played this so the easy difficulty level was perfect for me.

Jaz's comments about it not having the depth of Super Mario World are true but this is something the Sonic Team added in gradually over the course of the sequels. Sonic & Knuckles plus Sonic 3 is the pinnacle of the series and has the depth to compete with Mario.

@Jaz's Sheep - Of course you're entitled to your opinion, as long as you recognize that yours puts you into the 'wierdo' category - like people who hate ice cream or puppies. :-P

Jaz's Sheep - 27 Feb 2012, 12:47 GMT


Lol, duely recognized mate :)

I wish it'd not been the case, I'd spent months at school bigging up the arrival of Sonic and when I finally got the game I was gutted!

Dylan Barry - 20 Jun 2012, 15:53 GMT

fresh design, an inspired hero ...this game is what the megadrive was all about ..

YawnBoyPest1957 - 23 May 2015, 09:49 GMT

Decent platformer, sort of Sega's refined take on Super Mario Bros 1. Generally fast fluid gameplay, multiple routes that encourage replayability.

Oh wait, scrap all that. This doesn't have a map screen like SMB3, so my opinion now must change too: this is liek rly rly shallow and is awful

YawnBoyPest1957 - 23 May 2015, 09:50 GMT

*change to

Mean Machines Issue 10 - July 1991
Platform Game Sega Megadrive
Buy today!

Mega Game

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog

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