Tuesday, July 6, 2010

VGR Sonic the Hedgehog (8 bit)

Since I just finished it earlier today, here's a review of the first handheld Sonic game!

A bit special to me, as a game and because it's Sonic 1 as well. And my very first gaming review on this blog was the Sonic 1 VGR!

VGR: Sonic The Hedgehog (8 bit)
From Ancient/SEGA
Played on Master System & Game Gear
Also available on Gamecube, Xbox, PS2, etc...

Type Sidescroller platformer
Year 1991

Developed alongside the main 16-bit version of Sonic The Hedgehog (for Megadrive), was an 8-bit version of Sonic made for Master System & Game Gear, released later on, the same year of 1991.

What is this Sonic game very few gamers talk about? How's it like? Is it any good?
Let's dive into this "side" adventure and first in a long series of good handheld Sonic games...

It's looks like Sonic (16 bit), feels like Sonic (16 bit), but itsn't exactly Sonic (16 bit)

More than a simple port of Sonic The Hedgehog (16 bit) from the much more powerful Megadrive to the simpler (8 bit) Master System and Game Gear consoles, this Sonic games acts like a separate sidestory.

It does stay inspired by the other version though.

In this game, you'll also play only as Sonic (afterall, only Sonic and Eggman existed in '91) and go against Eggman on the same South Island.
The game also goes for 6 zones, with 3 acts each.
There's some shared levels (including returning now classic "Green Hill Zone"). But everything else's different.

This game, in a way, somehow acts like a prequel, a prologue to the 16 bit version of Sonic 1.
This is the first time Eggman actually invades South Island. There's a few badniks (robots) here. He comes unprepared, most of the times you go against his Egg-o-matic only (was that its name?), using no ray-guns, no giant boulder, no-thing.
Yet, you see some early "machine ideas" Eggman would use in the actual game (talking chronogically-wise, in the boss designs and sequences).

Making this game a prequel/prologue to the actual game helped the team redesign and make something quite unique and original her, without the pain of porting a more elaborated 16 bit game to an 8 bit system.

Platformer-fans, rejoice! This Sonic game is for you!

So, the bosses are different, what else's different?

You go against them, in the third acts with absolutely no rings. But fear not, cause the third act's mostly designed to face the boss and there won't be any actual platforming nor other challenge to confrond.

Speaking of which, the game's designed much more for the actual exploration/platforming sequences than the high speed/velocity running around-and-spin dashing through loop-da-loops of the 16 bit counterpart.

It's more slow paced, a bit more like the Alex Kidd games.

The game's also harder, oh yeah, believe me, harder...

It's actually possible to get lost in a Sonic level in this game.
The team Ancient, developers of arcade classic Streets of Rage 2 designed with this Sonic a very nice complementary game to the main version.

The music is pretty iconic  and makes good use of the 8 bit limitation to make something different, yet familiar for Sonic in this adventure. The original levels specially (Bridge Zone, Jungle Zone and Sky Base Zone) have some classic tunes that got stuck in my head since then!

At the end of each act, a random signboard will offer you a bonus according to your speed. (a ring offers you more rings, a life or Eggman-nothing). This will also allow you to go into a Special Stage, to gain more rings and lives here.What about the classic Chaos Emeralds here? They're hidden, you have to find them "lost in the levels themselves". (kinda like, many years after that, in Knuckles levels in Sonic Adventures or in the game Shadow).
This really change from the usual 3D Special Stages/Getting the chaos emeralds of usual 2D Sonic games, and as a prologue/prequel, even works along the story! (just imagine they didn't need to be protected/hidden "before Eggman")

Overall, I really dig this lil' game!

It was made withouth any pretension of offering a similar experience to the other Sonic 1 game.
It's a very nice, challenging and colorful 2D platformer for Sega's 8 bit systems.
Both versions are pretty similar. While the Master System offers a larger resolution and better view of the action, the Game Gear port zooms in a bit, adds more colors to the palette and has slighty differences in the game's physics.

It's a very different take on Sonic that your usual run-and-jump arcade experiences. Specially compared to the more speedier games Sonic had in later years now.

Much like Mario Land, which was based on Mario Bros and tried its own "things" that later ended with its own series, Sonic (8 bit) is a nice twist on the original Sonic game and developed into its own series as well (with original 8 bit games like the Sonic & Tails series/Sonic Chaos&Triple Trouble).

It was made available in a tons of different Sega compilation, be it the Sonic Adventure DX's bonuses on the Gamecube or the Sonic Mega compilation+ on PS2/Xbox.
I recommend it for a try, if you like the genre/character/series ;)

I give it:

2 / 3 Segata Sanshiros!


  1. I forgot it acted as a sort of prequel to Sonic 1 (well, I knew it was still set sometime around Sonic 1, anyways) so that's kinda nifty. It may be considered a poor man's version of Sonic 1, but still is a great game over all, bar none. Though I barely played it, I can tell it looks pretty hard to play.

    Bridge Zone's theme is the one that was remixed into Tails' theme song in SA1, right?

  2. It is pretty hardcore! :P
    Even with the simpler/easier boss fights!

    Huh... dunno.. *checks youtube*
    Doesn't sound so~

  3. Well they do sound sorta similar.
    Compare: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DizopdPMBw

  4. Lemme rephrase that.
    It is a similar-sounding tune.
    Using the same kind of notes and "construction".
    But it isn't the same song, not at all. No related, no link between those two (nor as a references, nothing) or it would have been made more evident.

    I'll say, by some coincidence both have some little common aspects but nothing more. I can find "closer" similar sounding tunes between this Sonic game and some random other 8 bit games if I want to :P

    Where'd'you read this originally anyhow? Sonic Stadium?
    (Now, there's some real reference in later game gear Sonic games, like Sonic 2/Sonic CD...)