Sonic the Hedgehog (video game): Wikis


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Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic1 box usa.jpg
North American boxart
Developer(s) Sonic Team
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Hirokazu Yasuhara
Artist(s) Naoto Ōshima (character design)
Composer(s) Masato Nakamura
Engine Yuji Naka (programming)
Platform(s) Mega Drive/Genesis, iPod, iPhone OS Mobile phone, Virtual Console, Game Boy Advance, Xbox Live Arcade
See also: Compilation releases and release history
Release date(s) Mega Drive/Genesis
JP June 26, 1991
NA June 23, 1991[1]
EU June 23, 1991
Gameboy Advance
NA November 14, 2006
July 11, 2007
Genre(s) Platform, Adventure
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) VRC: GA PEGI: 3
Media 4-megabit cartridge
Input methods Game controller, Click Wheel

Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ?) is a platform game developed by Sega and published by for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis system. It is the inaugural game in Sega's flagship Sonic the Hedgehog video game series, and was the first title developed by. The game was released in 1991 in North America, Europe, and Japan. It is sometimes retrospectively referred to as Sonic the Hedgehog 1 or Sonic 1 to differentiate it from both its main character and sequels in the same series.



A typical in-game screenshot of Sonic the Hedgehog, taken from its first level, Green Hill Zone.

In the game, Sonic has to prevent Doctor Robotnik from collecting the six Chaos Emeralds in an attempt to rule South Island. The player controls Sonic as he traverses six zones, each of which is split into three "acts". At the end of the third act of each zone, the player faces Dr. Robotnik in one of his vehicles.

The gameplay centers around Sonic's ability to run, jump, and roll at high speeds. Levels include springs, slopes, high falls and loop-de-loops. Hazards the player experiences include a wide variety of "badniks" — animals trapped inside mechanical bodies, which are released the moment the player hits them with an attack. Each badnik takes one hit to destroy, but their movements and methods of attack vary greatly over the course of the game. The player must also avoid rows of sharp spikes, bottomless pits, and elaborate death traps.

Scattered around each level map are numerous gold rings, which became a signature item of the Sonic series. Collecting 100 rings rewards the player with an extra life. Rings act as a layer of protection against hazards — if Sonic possesses at least one ring, an enemy attack will not kill him instantly but will cause his rings to scatter outwards and bounce away from him. Shields and invincibility can also be collected in order to provide additional layers of protection — however, they do not prevent the player losing a life if Sonic is crushed (by a trap or between a wall and a moving platform), drowned, falls into a pit, or goes over each act's ten-minute time limit.

Progression through the game is aided by lamp posts that act as checkpoints. When Sonic passes a lamp post, the game will continue from that point when the player loses a life. In the Japanese version, if a checkpoint is activated and a life is lost as a result of running out of time, the time at the checkpoint will reset to 0:00. The game consists of seven zones in total. These are:

  1. Green Hill Zone
  2. Marble Zone
  3. Spring Yard Zone
  4. Labyrinth Zone
  5. Star Light Zone
  6. Scrap Brain Zone
  7. Final Zone

Special stages

If the player reaches the end of Act 1 or Act 2 of each zone with at least 50 rings, a giant ring will appear in the air near the goal post (except for the last zone, Scrap Brain). If Sonic manages to jump into the ring, he will instantly be teleported to a "Special Stage", consisting of a 360° rotating maze set against a surreal, psychadelic backdrop of morphing birds and fish. Sonic is permanently curled up in his rolling animation, and bounces off the bumpers and walls of the stage like a pinball (the concept of placing Sonic in the role of a pinball became a recurring element of the series, particularly in the game Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball). The Special Stages were considered a major achievement for the Mega Drive hardware.[2]

The Special Stages contain numerous rings (collecting 50 rings in a Special Stage gives the player an extra continue, worth 3 lives). However, the main goals of the bonus levels are the Chaos Emeralds — each of the six different Special Stages contains one, and the player must collect all of them to view the game's "good" end sequence. (Super Sonic, the series' recurring reward for collecting all of a game's Chaos Emeralds, does not feature in this initial game.) Either collecting the Chaos Emerald or touching a "goal post" bumper will end the Special Stage and progress the player to the next act in the game.

Level select and debug mode

The game also has a secret that allows you to unlock Level Select mode and Debug Mode. To unlock Level Select, press Up, Down, Left, Right, A, B, Start at the title screen. To unlock Debug Mode, press Up, C, Down, C, Left, C, Right at the title screen.

You can only activate one of these codes when you go to the title screen. After activating one, you can reset the game to activate the other one. Alternately, you can press any dummy direction on the directional pad (to reset the cheat recognizing logic) and then input the other code.


Development for Sonic the Hedgehog began in April 1990, after Sega ordered its AM-8 team to develop a game featuring a mascot for the company. After choosing a hedgehog as the main character, the 5-person group changed its name to Sonic Team and started working on Sonic the Hedgehog. The main minds behind the game were character designer Naoto Ohshima, game programmer Yuji Naka and designer Hirokazu Yasuhara.[3]

The game was originally intended to feature a sound test menu, with animated graphics based around Sonic break-dancing to the music of a "Sonic Band"[4] consisting of 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. The development schedule meant that the feature had to be scrapped, and Yuji Naka decided to replace the test with the "Sega!" chant used in TV advertisements, which took up 1/8 of the 4-megabit cartridge.[4] A text-only sound test option remained in the final game's level select cheat menu.


Sonic the Hedgehog uses the on-board Yamaha YM2612 synthesizer sound chip to produce a variety of stereo sound effects and music. The game has been praised for its dynamic music, composed by Masato Nakamura, a member of the popular J-pop band, Dreams Come True.

Character art and game packaging

Akira Watanabe, the illustrator of the character art, said that his sole goal was to depict the characters as "colorful" and to use clear cutting lines and gradation to "finish them neatly."[5]

Watanabe said that the developers asked him to create a package design "similar to pop art." Watanabe aimed to create the design "without being particular to conventional packages." Watanabe intended to create an "original, stylish pop game package."[5]

Versions and releases

The first version, released in North America and Europe, lacked some graphical enhancements that were added to the Japanese release a month later. 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 graphical 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 backgrounds.

The first version also gave the player an enormous 250,000 point bonus if a stage was cleared in less than 30 seconds. Subsequent revisions cut the bonus down to 50,000.[citation needed]

The later 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 due to him not gaining temporary invincibility until his feet touched the ground). Also fixed in both Japanese versions is the level select cheat, which listed the game's levels in an erroneous order, which was actually the original order.

In addition to this, due to differences between standard PAL and NTSC refresh rates (50 Hz and 60 Hz respectively), the European version of the game plays at about 83% speed of the NTSC version,[6] and the music is also slowed down by the same amount. Subsequent PAL Mega Drive games and some of Sonic 1's re-releases (e.g. Sonic Jam) retained the NTSC versions' correct music speed, although the gameplay remained slower.

8-bit version

Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game that was released for the Sega Master System and the Game Gear. Though based on the Mega Drive game of the same name, it is a distinct game, with different level designs, and three of the six zones (worlds) based on original themes.[7] The Sega Master System version was the final title for the console released in the United States and is now on the Wii Virtual Console, released in North America on August 4, 2008[8] and in Europe on September 19, 2008. The Game Gear version has appeared with other titles on Sonic Adventure DX for Nintendo GameCube and PC and Sonic Mega Collection Plus for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC. A conversion for Palm Tungsten handhelds was also released in 2003 by Sega Mobile.[citation needed]

Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis

A new version of the game, which was 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. The game is 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 that was added in later games. In addition, the view is slightly zoomed in and adapted for the GBA's widescreen aspect ratio, and the level select and debug codes have been left out, the former due to the fact that there is already a zone select screen.[9] The reception was negative, as many reviewers criticized the game for its slow frame rate, music, and glitches—most called the game "unplayable."

Compilation releases

Compilations that include the game are Sonic Compilation (1995) and Genesis 6-Pak (1996) for the Sega Genesis; Sonic Jam (1997) for the Sega Saturn; Sega Smash Pack (1999) for the Dreamcast; Sonic Mega Collection (2002) for the Nintendo GameCube; Sonic Mega Collection Plus (2004) for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, Sega Genesis Collection (2006) for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A Sonic compilation called Sonic Classic Collection which includes Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, was released for the Nintendo DS in Spring 2010.

Sonic Jam features four different modes of playing Sonic the Hedgehog: "original", identical to initial release; "medium", which affects the layout of rings and hazards; "time attack", which uses the "medium" level maps and allows players to save their record times to 1/100 second; and "easy", which removes certain Acts entirely from the game. In addition, an option setting can alter the game to allow the use of the Spin Dash, a move that did not debut until Sonic 2 the following year. The spike bug from earlier versions of Sonic the Hedgehog can be triggered if Spin Dash is turned off.

Sonic Mega Collection and Mega Collection Plus feature all three revisions of the game. The Nintendo GameCube PAL edition of Mega Collection for the Nintendo GameCube supports a 60 Hz option, which not only allows the game to be played full-screen 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 option is selected, these cheat codes do not work and only the PAL edition of the game can be played.[10]

Both the US and European releases of Sega Genesis Collection contain the US version of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Releases on other platforms

In 2009, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog on the PlayStation Store for the PlayStation Portable and subsequently for PlayStation 3. 2006 saw Sonic the Hedgehog available for Wii's Virtual Console service from its launch,[11] and in 2007 it entered Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade under the title Sonic the Hedgehog Arcade.[12] The XBLA version does not allow the use of cheats to prevent undue earning of Achievements. It also has options for graphic smoothing, saving and loading current progress in-game and to resize the gameplay window.

The game was also present on the Danger Hiptop's Sidekick 3, Real Arcade[citation needed] and GameTap[13].

In 2007 the game was made available on the iTunes Store as a game for the iPod Nano with video, the iPod Classic, and iPod with video[14]. Sonic the Hedgehog appeared as part of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 alongside many of the series subsequent games.

Sega made the game available for Apple's iPhone OS in the spring of 2009.[15]


The Sega Genesis version of the game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #174 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[16] The game was both a critical and commercial success.

As of November 19, 2007, the game has sold 4 million copies[17], the second-highest amount for a Genesis game, behind Sonic 2, which has sold 6 million copies.[18]


Sonic the Hedgehog greatly increased the popularity of the Genesis in North America. After it was released, it eventually replaced Altered Beast as the game bundled with the console. In large part due to the popularity of this game, the Genesis outsold the Super Nintendo nearly 2 to 1 during the 1991 holiday season. This success led to Sega overtaking Nintendo in January 1992 with control of 65% of the 16-bit console market, making it the first time Nintendo was not the console leader since December 1985.[19] The game featured many novel elements which contributed to its popularity and helped to promote the uptake of 16-bit consoles. The game is widely considered to be one of the greatest games of all time, placing #63 on IGN's 2007 list.[citation needed]

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 the rings now permanently associated with the series.

The game spawned numerous sequels. While the first games in the series were platform games, the series has expanded into other genres such as action-adventure, fighting, racing, role-playing, and sports. The series has also expanded into other media, including anime, cartoons, comic books, manga, and toys.


  1. ^ Dobson, Jason (2006-06-23). "Sonic The Hedgehog Celebrates 15th Anniversary". Gamasutra. Think Services. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  2. ^ Yuji Naka: "...the Mega Drive allowed this stunning demonstration of rotation during the bonus stages. This was said to be impossible on the hardware at the time." "The making of... Sonic The Hedgehog". Edge (101): 121. September 2001. 
  3. ^ Sam Kennedy. "Sonic Boom". Ziff Davis. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  4. ^ a b Kemps, Heidi. "Sega's Yuji Naka Talks!". GameSpy. IGN. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  5. ^ a b Sega Video Game Illustrations. Nippon Shuppan Hanbai (Deutschland) GmbH. 1994. ISBN 3-910052-50-9. 
  6. ^ "Sonic The Hedgehog - NTSC vs PAL". YouTube. 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  7. ^ "Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)". The GHZ. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  8. ^ "One WiiWare Game and Two Virtual Console Games Added to Wii Shop Channel". Nintendo of America. 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  9. ^ Jonathan Metts. "News Article: Sonic on GBA for 15th Anniversary". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  10. ^ "CCG: Sonic Mega Collection Cheats". CCG. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  11. ^ "Sonic the Hedgehog (Virtual Console)". IGN. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  12. ^ "Sonic the Hedgehog Arcade". GameSpot. CNET.;summary. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  13. ^ "Sonic the Hedgehog - Play Now - GameTap". GameTap. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  14. ^ Sonic the Hedgehog ipod details
  15. ^ "CES 2009: ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ and Other Sega Titles Coming to iPhone". GameCyte. 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  16. ^ Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (October 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (174): 57–64. 
  17. ^ Sega (2002-07-01). "Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and Sonic Advance ship one million units worldwide; new Sonic the Hedgehog titles announced". Press release. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  18. ^ Daniel Boutros (2006-08-04). "Sonic the Hedgehog 2". A Detailed Cross-Examination of Yesterday and Today's Best-Selling Platform Games. Gamasutra. pp. 5. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  19. ^ "This Month in Gaming History". Game Informer 12 (105): 117. January 2002. 

External links

Simple English

Sonic the Hedgehog, sometimes called Sonic, is the first game in the Sonic the Hedgehog Video game series. It was made by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis in 1991. It has many sequels and spin-offs.

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