Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog is a platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega, and is the inaugural game in the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series. It was first released on June 23, 1991 in North America for the Sega Genesis video game console. The European Sega Mega Drive version was released later in June 24, 1991 and the Japanese Sega Mega Drive version was released on July 26, 1991.

This game was the first game to propel the Genesis into mass popularity in North America. After it was released, it eventually replaced Altered Beast as the bundled game with the console. The game featured many novel elements which contributed to its popularity and helped to promote the uptake of 16 bit consoles.

Sonic the Hedgehog added the element of speed to the standard platform formula and introduced other unique elements as well, such as the loops, springboards, high-speed devices, and rings now permanently associated with the game series.

In the game, Sonic has to prevent Doctor Ivo Robotnik from collecting six of the Chaos Emeralds in an attempt to rule South Island.

The gameplay centered around elements that exploited the increased performance of the 16-bit console. It is notable for being both simplistic and engaging for players.

At the time of its release, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the fastest platformers that had yet been released. Sonic could run, jump and roll at significantly higher speeds than most platformers of the time. Unlike other platformers, the game's levels were designed to encourage the player to progress quickly. Springs, slopes, high falls and loop-de-loops were all available to both boost and challenge the player to reach high speeds. This was all accomplished without any slowdown in framerates, adding to the experience.

Even in 2007 the Mega Drive/Genesis version of Sonic the Hedgehog is still played by many. Both Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube and Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 include the original Sonic game, along with a number of others. It is also available on Nintendo's Wii as a downloadable Virtual Console game for 800 Wii Points.

Sonic's method of attack was also novel. As a hedgehog, he can curl up into a ball, by either jumping or by rolling along the ground, a state in which he can damage most enemies by simply colliding with them. This was a change from most other platform games, where the player could damage enemies only by shooting, attacking, or jumping on top of them. While rolling along the ground Sonic can roll down slopes, gaining speed as he goes. Most slopes are irregular, as opposed to the fixed angles seen in older titles, and the game has the physics to match. Sonic's acceleration down a slope depends on its steepness; if traveling fast enough, he can run around 360-degree loops; and he suffers from drag underwater. When Sonic moves underwater, he has only a limited amount of time (30 seconds) before his air runs out, so he has to draw his breath either by returning to the surface or by inhaling a bubble of air that bursts from the sea bottom.

Essential to the gameplay are the golden rings Sonic collects along his way in each level, a feature which would become one of the most defining characteristics of the series. These items are regularly placed around the map and serve multiple functions. First, Sonic collects rings to protect himself. As long as he has at least one ring, he will not die when injured. Instead, when he's hit, all rings Sonic previously collected will fly outward and scatter around the immediate area, some of which can then be retrieved before they disappear. If Sonic runs into an enemy without a single ring, he will die and lose a life. If Sonic manages to collect 100 rings at a time he will gain a life, and gain an additional life for every 100 rings after that, provided he doesn't lose his rings in the process. If Sonic manages to keep at least 50 rings on him at the end of an act, a giant golden ring will float above the finishing sign which Sonic can then jump through to enter one of the special stages to collect the Chaos Emeralds. At the end of each act, the total number of rings kept is multiplied by 100 and added to the score. During the score tallying Sonic can also jump through the air to find hidden emblems, which can range from 100 to 10,000 points. This was the only console Sonic game prior to Sonic Adventure where Sonic could get more lives through Rings after 200 (if he gets 300 rings in the later 16-bit titles, he gets nothing).

In addition to the rings, a special barrier shield can be found in some item monitors which will protect both Sonic and the rings he collected for one hit. However, neither the shield nor rings will protect Sonic against instant death either by getting crushed (by a trap or between a wall and a moving platform), drowning, running out of time (each act has a ten-minute time limit), or falling into a bottomless pit. Originally there was to be a big boulder to chase Sonic, as a homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark. This was cut, but that boulder became part of the boss for the first zone. The chasing boulder finally appeared in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure DX.

Progress through the game is made easier by lamp posts that act as checkpoints. When Sonic passes a lamp post, its color changes from blue to red and next time he loses a life, he restarts at that point rather than the beginning of the act. However, unlike later 16-bit Sonic games, if Sonic touches a checkpoint and dies as a result of running out of time, the time at the checkpoint he'll restart part of the act in will reset to 0:00.

Distributed through the levels are power-ups inside monitors, which can either be rolled into or jumped on to collect the item inside. These include the previously mentioned shield, a 10-ring bonus, an extra life, temporary invincibility (accompanied with a temporary change in music), and "Super Sneakers", which gives Sonic a temporary speed boost and increase the tempo of the music for the duration of the speed boost. The item monitors have become another long lasting feature in the series, though they later changed to bubble-like containers.

Hazards Sonic will come across along the way include a wide variety of "badniks" - animals trapped inside mechanical bodies which are released the moment Sonic hits them. Each badnik takes one hit to destroy, but their patterns vary greatly from Zone to Zone; some will walk in a set path, others will try blasting Sonic, and some can't be avoided at all, such as the Bomb enemies in Star Light Zone. Sonic also has to look out for rows of sharp spikes (some instantly lethal), cliffs, elaborate death traps, and the threat of drowning underwater.

The game features no game saves or passwords. This means that the game has to be restarted from the beginning when the player runs out of continues or turns off the system. However, a cheat exists that allows the selection of any level.

At the time of its release, Sonic the Hedgehog boasted impressive 16-bit graphics, with richly animated sprites and varied colors, fully utilizing the Genesis' enhanced color palette. Flowers moved, rings spun, lights blinked, and water shimmered in the background.

The game also takes full advantage of the onboard Zilog Z80 and Yamaha synthesizer sound chip. The game is filled with sound effects, chimes, bops and beats following the player through the levels. Many sounds play on top of one another and most of the game's sounds were unique and of higher quality than earlier 8-bit sounds.

Besides detailed sound and animation, Sonic the Hedgehog is especially known for its dynamic music, composed by Masato Nakamura, a member of the popular J-Pop band, Dreams Come True. Using 8-bit stereo sound, the music is rich and varied throughout each level. Particularly notable are the game's recognizable main theme and the music to Green Hill Zone. Sonic the Hedgehog's soundtrack is still highly popular in remixing communities on the Internet, such as OverClocked ReMix. Similarities to the Green Hill Zone theme can be found in "Dreams of an Absolution", the theme for Silver the Hedgehog in 2006's Sonic the Hedgehog, though the song's composer Lee Brotherton claims that this was an unintentional coincedence.

The game began its production in April 1990, after Sega ordered its AM-8 team to develop a "killer app" for the Mega Drive/Genesis, along with a new company mascot. After choosing a hedgehog as the main character, the 15-men group changed its name to Sonic Team and started working on Sonic. The main minds behind the game were character designer Naoto Ohshima, game programmer Yuji Naka and designer Hirokazu Yasuhara.

The game originally had a different kind of sound test (as opposed to the one which appears in the same cheat menu that features the level select), but the short schedule meant that the originally envisioned version had to be scrapped. Yuji Naka decided to replace the test with the "SEGA!" chant used in TV advertisement, which took 1/8 of the 4-megabit cartridge. This sound-test would have featured a 'Sonic Band' that would, presumably, be animated while the songs played. The Sonic Band consisted of Sonic (lead vocals), Sharps Chicken (guitar), Max Monkey, (guitar), Mach Rabbit (drums), and Vector the Crocodile (keyboard/synth); Vector was later re-designed and re-used for the games Knuckles' Chaotix and Sonic Heroes.

This is the only Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic game made entirely in Japan. Although Sonic the Hedgehog CD was made in Japan as well, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles were produced in North America at Sega Technical Institute, albeit with almost exclusively Japanese staff members. Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, however, was produced almost entirely by Americans, the only Sonic game to date to do so. Sonic 3D Blast featured Japanese staff, but much of the work was done in the UK-based video game company Traveller's Tales, who also produced Sonic R.

1. Green Hill Zone - a very basic zone sporting a blue sky and a grassy ground. The boss is Dr. Robotnik swinging a large wrecking ball left to right in the sky to hit Sonic. 8 hits on Robotnik are required to go on to the next level.
2. Marble Zone - an ancient level with many traps such as moving spikes, which can potentially kill Sonic if he is squished between the spikes and platform. It's main danger is the large amount of lava. The boss has Robotnik spewing fire from his hovering grey machine onto the platforms, where Sonic must avoid them.
3. Spring Yard Zone - a zone filled with bumpers, springs and large rotating spiked balls. The boss has Robotnik take out blocks on the platform Sonic is standing on using a spike. If he falls between two blocks he dies and loses a life.
4. Labyrinth Zone - an underwater themed level with yellow, ancient floors. To breath, Sonic must touch large bubbles coming out of the ground. The boss is unusually different, as this is similar to an obstacle course. Sonic must avoid touching spears and other harmful objects as the water will start to rise, but does not need to hit Robotnik.
5. Star Light Zone - A modern looking zone with relaxing music. It's unique feature has see-saws using a spiked ball to lift Sonic up. With the setting high in the sky, if Sonic falls down too low he will lose a life. This boss is Robotnik dropping spiked balls on each of the three see-saws one at a time. To hit Robotnik Sonic must either use the spiked balls to lift him up to hit him or use the spiked balls to hit Robotnik himself.
6. Scrap Brain Zone - This level contains many traps and dangers for Sonic. These dangers include electric sparks, razors, fire, and in act 3, - which highly resembles Labyrinth zone but in a grey color - spears and rotating spiked balls. At the end of act 2, a cutscene shows Robotnik jumping on a button, in the final zone area, which makes the platform Sonic is standing on crumble for him to go to act 3.
The Special Stage used to obtain the Chaos Emeralds
The Special Stage used to obtain the Chaos Emeralds
7. Final Zone - Sonic now confronts Robotnik's final machine, with no rings. Once beaten, Sonic returns to Green Hill Zone with Flickies jumping around, from there the ending depends on whether or not Sonic collected all the Chaos Emeralds.

If Sonic finishes the first or second Act of any of the first five Zones with at least 50 rings, a large, spinning ring will appear; if he jumps into it, he will enter a "Special Stage" that hides a Chaos Emerald. In these stages, Sonic falls through a series of rotating mazes in ball form. If he can avoid the "Exit" signs along the stage's walls, he will eventually find the Emerald encased in diamonds; touching the diamonds repeatedly will cause them to disappear, providing access to the Emerald. The stage will end when Sonic either touches the Emerald or hits an Exit sign.

Acquiring all six Chaos Emeralds will allow the player to view the game's "good ending" upon defeating Robotnik in the Final Zone.

It is not generally known if there was ever a beta version of the game, but if so it has never been released on the Internet in the form of a ROM dump. However, early publicity for the game shows some key differences between early versions and the final commercial release:

* The "RINGS" gauge was originally named "RING".
* Instead of leaving the screen at the end of each act Sonic would jump around and punch his fist into the air with joy.
* At first, in Green Hill Zone the sky was much darker than in the commercial release, the mountains looked different in the background, and a WELCOME sign was visible. However, this was in very early stages and only old magazines have similar shots.
* Green Hill Bosses ball once had an orbiting sparkle on it as shown in a Portuguese Mega Drive commercial.
* The Marble Zone featured strange UFO-shaped objects in the sky. These objects can be seen tilting in the film Wayne's World during an advertisement for Noah's Arcade (shots of Sonic the Hedgehog are shown in the background while he talks to the camera). Also, according to one early image, the zone included badniks that are only present in other zones in the final version, such as a snail-like badnik from the Spring Yard Zone.
* Spring Yard Zone was originally named "Sparkling Zone" and featured a slightly different background and neon signs (which were possibly the inspiration for Collision Chaos in Sonic the Hedgehog CD)
* Scrap Brain Zone was originally named "Clock Work Zone", although due to the lack of a W in the title cards, the only existing Beta screenshots show it as "Clock ork Zone." It also had a different background in Act 1 and had diagonal conveyor belts.
* The original order of the zones was Green Hill Zone, Labyrinth Zone, Marble Zone, Star Light Zone, Spring Yard (Sparkling) Zone, Scrap Brain (Clock Work) Zone. Early versions of the game showed this order in the level select (see Versions below).
* In early development stages, before programming began, the main character was going to be a rabbit who used its ears to pick up objects and throw them at enemies, similar to Super Mario Bros. 2. This sort of gameplay was later revisited with Ristar. Similarly, the character Silver The Hedgehog uses psychic abilities in a similar manner.

The first version, released in North America and Europe, lacked some graphical enhancements that were added to the later Japanese release. The Japanese version included clouds that moved independently of the scrolling background (even when the main character stands still) in the Green Hill Zone and two water 'special effects' in the Labyrinth Zone, which consisted of a rippling effect on the foreground and a swirling effect on the background. This effect was only applied to the areas that were under the water line. Also in the Japanese version, all levels of the game had many more layers of parallax scrolling in their background.

The subsequent Japanese version 2.0 fixed the "spike bug" (a bug in which Sonic would instantly die if he "bounced" from one set of spikes to another, ignoring the usual temporary invincibility). Also fixed in both Japanese version is the level select cheat, which listed the game's levels in a different order, likely from an earlier version of the game.

In addition to this, due to differences between standard PAL and NTSC refresh rates, the European version of the game played at about 83% speed of the NTSC version[4] (which also slows down the music to the point of notice), a problem that has been fixed for the remaining Mega Drive Sonic games, but not for Sonic the Hedgehog's appearances in some of the collections (e.g. Sonic Jam) or the Wii's Virtual Console version of the game.

A pirated version of Sonic the Hedgehog that was widely released in Asia has all of the SEGA logos removed, and starts the player off with 40 lives instead of 3.

The game was later re-released for the Sega Saturn in 1997 as part of Sonic Jam. Like all of the four games included in Sonic Jam, the title was given an 'easy' and 'medium' options (as well as an 'original' option, the game as it was) that removed acts, bosses, enemies, spikes, traps and pits. These 'easy' and 'medium' options were not included with any other versions of the game. In addition, the Spin-Dash, a move that did not debut until Sonic 2 the following year, was implemented in the first game. It is interesting to note that the spike bug from earlier versions of Sonic the Hedgehog can be triggered if Spin Dash is turned off.

It was later released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 as part of Sonic Mega Collection (including all three revisions), and on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2004 as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus. This would mark the first time many North American players were able to experience the final Japanese version of the game. Note that despite being based on the Japanese version, the version of Sonic the Hedgehog in the US version of Sonic Mega Collection still does not have the feature of giving the player an extra life for achieving 50,000 points, which can be done in the Japanese Mega Drive version of this game. The PAL edition of Sonic Mega Collection for the Gamecube supports a 60 Hz option, which not only allows the game to be played fullscreen and at its original speed, but also allows either the US or Japanese version 2.0 iterations to be played via a cheat code (The first Japanese version is the default). If the 50 Hz options is selected, these cheat codes do not work and only the PAL edition of the game can be played.

Sonic the Hedgehog was also released as part of Sega Mega Drive Collection (known as Sega Genesis Collection in the USA) for the Sony PlayStation 2 and PSP. The US and European releases of this collection contain the US version of Sonic the Hedgehog; the Japanese release is the only one to contain the Japanese version of this game.

There was also a version of Sonic the Hedgehog released for the Sega Master System and the Game Gear, which loosely followed the design of the 16-bit version, although with new stages, some different zones and a level map.

A J2ME conversion for mobile phones running Java was released by I-Fone in 2006. This version, Sonic the Hedgehog Part 1, includes only the first three zones, with the remainder to be released as Sonic the Hedgehog Part 2 at a later date. This version mostly follows the Mega Drive version, but some features have been removed, most notably the Special Stage.

Sonic the Hedgehog is available for Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console service from launch.

At an Xbox 360 press conference at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on May 9, 2006, Peter Moore announced that Sonic the Hedgehog will be available on Xbox Live Arcade by the end of the year. Currently, it has the working title Sonic the Hedgehog High Speed. It is currently unknown if the game will be a remake like Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis or if it will run the ROM through emulation like the version on the Wii's Virtual Console.

A version of this game, entitled Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis, was released for the Game Boy Advance in November 2006 as part of the celebrations of the original game's 15th anniversary. Despite the title, the game is actually a remake of the original game as opposed to a port. It includes a new save feature and a special "Anniversary Mode" featuring the Spin-Dash move Sonic got in later games. In addition, the view is slightly zoomed in and adapted for the GBA's widescreen aspect ratio. This version is notorious for its inconsistent frame rate the different feel of the game physics as compared to the original.

The original game was converted into a Famicom game called Somari by a group of software pirates in Hong Kong. The game, which is mostly playable, replaces Sonic with Mario wearing Sonic's shoes.

In the development of Sonic and Knuckles, SEGA tried to implement Knuckles the Echidna into the original game, but decided to leave him out. According to several programmers and hackers, the reason why Knuckles could not be placed into Sonic the Hedgehog like he was in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was that the palette colors of Knuckles' sprite would have, in fact, completely altered the palette scheme of the entire game. Therefore, instead of a Knuckles in Sonic 1 feature, fans were treated to a full version of the Blue Sphere game.

On September 11, 2005, a programmer nicknamed Stealth created a hack called Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog. This hack makes Knuckles playable in the game, giving him all the moves he has in Sonic & Knuckles, including gliding, wall climbing, and the spin dash. These abilities can lower the challenge of the game, although that lower challenge is a welcome relief to some players, in places such as the Marble Zone and Labyrinth Zone. Knuckles is also known for being unable to jump as high as Sonic; this can create some problems mostly in Labyrinth Zone and Scrap Brain Zone, which can be compensated by the climbing ability. This hack circumvents the palette problem by using the three existing red colors in the palette.

The game is still being referred to more than a decade after its initial release.

* In the episode "Camp Capers" of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Ami is captured by Bigfoot. Yumi pretends she is in a video game, and she runs through a 16-bit forest area, jumps on a squirrel (thus killing it) then goes at sound-barrier-breaking speeds and runs over a checkered loop (an obvious reference to the Green Hill Zone).
* Also, the 27 August 2006 episode of Coronation Street shows Chesney and Kirk playing the original game on a PC. The screen showed Sonic in Green Hill Zone Act 3 briefly, before Cilla pulled the electrical plug of the PC from its socket.
* In Wayne's World, the background of a commercial is the Star Light Zone.
* Issues #10 and #11 of the Sonic X comic series pay tribute to Sonic 1. In this two-part story, Dr. Eggman traps Sonic and his friends in a virtual prison designed exactly like the actual game, right down to the original zones, classic Badniks, and traditional game physics (e.g. Rings being used for protection instead of a power boost for Sonic).
* Play! A Video Game Symphony, a group that makes orchestral arrangements of video game music, has a song entitled "Sonic the Hedgehog Suite", that includes the title screen music, the boss music and the Green Hill, Marble and Star Light Zone music themes (in the order that was presented from the game's credit sequence).
* In The Simpsons episode "Marge Be Not Proud", when Bart Simpson is deciding if he was going to shoplift the new Bonestorm game, Mario and Luigi appear, encouraging him to shoplift. However, Donkey Kong appears, telling him not to steal. Then Sonic comes and says, "Just take it! Take it! Take it! Take it! Take it!...TAKE IT!!!".

Compilations that include the game are Sonic Compilation (1995) and Sega 6-Pak (1996) for the Genesis; Sega Smash Pack (1999) for the Sega Dreamcast; Sonic Mega Collection for the Gamecube; Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, and Sega Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable (2006).

In November of 2006, Sega re-released a version of Sonic the Hedgehog entitled Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis for the Game Boy Advance. This game includes the original game as well as an Anniversary Mode, wherein the player can use the Spin Dash.

It has also been released on the Wii's Virtual Console download service.

It is scheduled to be released on the Microsoft Xbox 360 Xbox Live Arcade service under the name Sonic the Hedgehog: High Speed sometime in 2007.

* Game Plan: Hirokazu Yasuhara (credited as Carol Yas)
* Program: Yuji Naka (as YU2)
* Character Design: Naoto Ohshima (as Bigisland)
* Design: Jinya Itoh (as Jinya), Rieko Kodama (as Phenix Rie)
* Sound Producer: Masato Nakamura
* Sound Program: Hiroshi Kubota (as Jimita), MackyPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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