Sonic The Hedgehog


Sonic The Hedgehog

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Sonic the Hedgehog is undoubtedly one of the most famous games in the entire gaming industry. This is the game that started to take Sega to the height of their success and started the Sonic legacy which would continue for the next 15 years and beyond.


Sega Mega Drive/Genesis (Asian)

Sega were achieving at selling their newly released 16-Bit console, the Mega Drive/Genesis, especially so in the US. Sega at this time still had no single image or mascot to universally represent them. Sega needed something that meant to them as much as that fat Italian plumber meant to Nintendo. A characterisation of the Sega brand and logo.

An internal contest was initiated by Hayao Nakayama and after several rejections submitted from other departments within Sega, the project was assigned to programmer Yuji Naka and character designer Naoto Ohshima of AM#8 (one of Sega’s development studios) that concluded with Sonic the Hedgehog - a blue spiky hero capable of extreme speeds. It was now time to put the newly created mascot into a game.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Sonic would provide gamers with the fastest, most colourful action packed gameplay that had never been seen before. The end result - a revolutionary 2D platformer of the highest calibre. Sonic the Hedgehog brought with it a new experience to the 2D platformer with speed, responsiveness and terrific level design.

As the look and feel of the game was being perfected, Sega approached an up-and-coming J-Pop band in Japan called Dreams Come True for help with the soundtrack and it was composed curtsey of Masato Nakamura. At the time they were preparing their tour for their album 'Wonder 3' for which Sega became a sponsor. Sonic was painted on the sides of the tour trailer and pamphlets advertising the game were handed out to concert-goers, offering a glimpse of the game even before media coverage.

Sega hoped that their new mascot featuring in a great game would improve their sales and further solidify the Sega brand; and Sonic did just that.

On June 23, 1991 Sonic The Hedgehog was released in the US and Europe to critical and commercial success and marked explosive popularity. It eschewed a type of class from a game that had never been seen before. Nintendo, having been slow only had the Super Nintendo in Japan though it was to be released in the US a week later. To counter this, Sega of America’s president Tom Kalinske had ‘Altered Beast’ as the packaged title replaced with Sonic and that move further popularised the console.

The slightly tweaked Japanese version followed a few months later and ultimately the game sold some 4 million copies and is regularly hailed as one of the greatest games of all time by various poles. It has since been delivered on many platforms in compilation titles, ports and devices.


South Island moves in circles across the ocean. It is a idyllic setting of ancient ruins and wildlife with ultimate power stored inside the Chaos Emeralds existing in a tear in space created by the motion of the island. There are 6 Chaos Emeralds giving energy to all living things.

Dr Ivo Robotnik - an evil genius, has learned of these fabled gems and their immense power. He sees the potential to expand his empire with their power. Robotnik sets up a base on the island and begins to capture the inhabitants and through his robotic technology he turns them into work drones.

Sonic upon hearing of the invasion heads for the island only to find that everything is against him; the landscape and now the inhabitants. He must locate the Chaos Emeralds, defeat Robotnik and release his pals.

The adventure begins.....

The Robotnik Name Change
Yuji Naka has explained that "Robotnik" is the character's real name while Eggman is a common name taken after his shape. Beginning with Sonic Adventure, Sega began referring to him more as Eggman in both languages, with the use of the name Robotnik becoming rare.

Sonic The Hedgehog Case Scan EUR

Click for larger...


The simplicity of the gameplay does in no way take anything away from the experience of playing game. Running and jumping can sound boring but the gameplay is more involved and combined with speed, is far from it. There will be a fair amount of obstacles that require a little action performed, whether it is pushing blocks, smashing through walls or stocking up on air. These add an amount of depth to the simple gameplay zone by zone.

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Sonic Gameplay Video. Plugin Required for your browser.
Start (Green Hill Zone)

Pressing the D-pad LEFT or RIGHT makes Sonic walk. The longer one of these directions is held the faster he will run, to a limit.

Sonic Looks Up (Preview Up)  
Sonic Crouches (Preview Down)

When Sonic is standing still press and hold UP or DOWN will make Sonic crouch or look up into the air. The crouch move is particularly used for evading enemies and obstacles. Holding any of these positions for a few seconds will make the screen scroll in that direction slightly for a small amount of preview which can be essential for some sections. Should Sonic be stationary for a short time, he will impatiently tap his foot waiting....

Pressing DOWN on the D-pad whilst running makes Sonic roll.

This is called the Sonic Spin Attack and is used for destroying enemies, smashing through walls and general progress through each level. Sonic can reach some great speeds with the Spin Attack around loops, down large slopes and through tunnels. When on the edge of a platform or box he will balance on one leg as he is usually perilously close to the edge.

Tunnell Rolling

Wall Smashing

Jump Attack

Buttons A, B and C are JUMP. Tapping a button gives a small leap while a stronger press will give a full jump which is roughly double the height.

Each 'level' is called an act and there is a time limit of 10 minutes to complete each one. At 9:59 a Time Out will occur and instant death. Each zone consists of 3 acts with a confrontation with Dr Robotnik taking place at the end of act 3 (and no access to the Special Stage). Robotnik and his contraption are usually destroyed within 8 hits and earning 1000 points. After Robotnik is defeated destroy the capsule releasing all of the wildlife in the area that had been captured. There are 6 zones and a final boss zone in the game.

Littered throughout each act are rings to be collected and in addition to rings there are Special Items to be collected. These are in the form of monitors that must be broken by either jumping on them or Spin Attack to collect with the following rewards:


Ring - gives 10 rings


Shield - gives Sonic a personal shield. Protects him from 1 hit.


Speed boots - gives a speed boost for a short amount of time.


Invincibility - makes Sonic invincible for a short period. Sonic can still die though by being crushed, drowned or by falling off the screen.

Extra Life

Sonic - an extra life


Lampposts - lampposts act as restart markers. Simply run past them to turn them from blue to red to activate them.

Each act is populated with obstacles and enemies. Obstacles include moving platforms, collapsing bridges, bottomless drops, spikes and lava flows to name but a few. The enemies are robots created from your once fluffy animal kingdom pals and are released when destroyed which is joy for animal lovers everywhere. Enemies can be defeated by either jumping on them or using the Sonic Spin Attack and will earn 100 points each. Some enemies will need some strategy to be defeated without taking a hit as some will be protected by spikes for example.

These have 3 purposes; they are traded in at the end of each act for points, gain access to the Special Stage with 50 or more; collect 100 rings to earn an extra life; but moreover will protect Sonic from a hit. Note however that rings will not protect from falling into a bottomless pit or being crushed. When Sonic takes a hit he will lose all of his rings and fall backwards. His collection will litter across the screen for a few seconds to recollect before disappearing and for a few seconds Sonic is invulnerable and will flash. If hit when carrying no rings then he dies.

Rings Lost! Death!

Rings Lost and Death

The Spike Bug
One of the classic bugs of gaming is the Spike Bug or Double Spike Bug. When Sonic lands on spikes and falls backwards, instead of gaining the temporary invulnerability he instantly dies. This was fixed in a later revision of the game.

When bouncing off multiple enemies (and sometime other objects), the points earned will double up to a maximum of 50,000 points each. For example, hitting or rolling through two enemies.

Each act is fairly large and there are loads of secret little passages to find. Special items and extra rings will be hidden about whether they be in palm trees, holes in the walls or hard to reach platforms.

Act Complete!

Act Complete!

The end of an act is marked with a Robotnik sign. Running past this will launch it making it spin and land with a picture of Sonic. If having 50 rings or more a, giant ring will circle just above the sign. Leap into this to be transported to the Special Stage. Around the sign some additional points can be collected. Hidden are 3 x 100 Points, 1 x 500 points, 1 x 1000 points and 1 x 10,000 points. By jumping around Sonic will touch these and they will appear on screen. There is only a few seconds to collect the bonuses before Sonic runs off the screen and they are in different positions for each act.

When an act is completed there are rewards of a Time and Ring Bonus. The size of the Time Bonus is derived from how quickly the act is completed so the quicker the better. The best is 50,000 points which is earned whenever a level is completed in less than 30 seconds to the lowest of 100. Ring Bonus is rings traded in for 100 points each. An extra life is earned for every 50,000 points.

The game begins with 3 lives, though extra lives are pretty easy to come by. When there are no lives remaining Game Over rolls onto the screen. After that is it possible to continue having any credits (continues earned in the Special Stage) from the first act of the current zone.


Click on any of the names for more information and screenshots.

Green Hill Zone Act 1

Green Hill Zone

Marble Zone Act 1

Marble Zone

Spring Yard Zone Act 1

Spring Yard Zone

Labyrinth Zone Act 1

Labyrinth Zone

Starlight Zone Act 1

Starlight Zone

Scrap Brain Zone Act 1

Scrap Brain Zone

Final Zone

Final Zone

Special Stages

The Special Stage is the place to grab the Chaos Emeralds and get some extra points, continues and lives. There are 6 Chaos Emeralds in total.

It is a 360o rotating psychedelic maze in which Sonic ricochets and tumbles off the sides. The various blocks are:

Up - rotates the maze faster

Down - rotates the maze slower

R - rotates the maze in the opposite direction

Bumper - bounce off these

Jump Stand - jump off these

Goal - touch this for an instant exit (to the Bonus Points).

To collect a Chaos Emerald, Sonic must make his way to the centre of the maze. Some stages will have ring formations as arrows as a guide. In the centre chamber, the emerald surrounded by weaker diamonds that will disappear from a few hits from Sonic. Simply touch the Emerald to collect it and exit from the Special Stage receiving a ring bonus. Every 50 rings earns a continue credit.

The outcome of the game differs slightly depending on whether Sonic has collected all of the Chaos Emeralds or not. Real Sonic gamers (and the perfectionists) will want all of them.

Special Stage Special Stage

Special Stages


Level Select

On the title screen press UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT and you will hear a ring sound. Hold down Button A and press START for a level select and sound test.

Level Select

Control Mode

At the title screen, press UP, C, DOWN, C, LEFT, C, RIGHT and you will hear a ring sound. While playing, you can pause the game and use Button A to restart, Button B for slow motion, and Button C for frame advance.

Debug Mode

Enable Control Mode. After pressing START to begin a game, hold Button A until Sonic is onscreen. If the score has changed to bunch of hex numbers on the top of the screen the game is in Debug Mode.

To start debugging, press Button B, then you can select any sprite (object) in that zone. To select a different sprite, press Button A, and to place it on the screen, press Button C. Note that sprite selections are different from Zone to Zone. Also, instead of displaying the time elapsed, it displays the number of sprites currently on the screen. Control Mode functions work as well.

Debug Mode

Easy Chaos Emeralds

Enter the level select cheat and play the Special Stage. Upon collection of a Chaos Emerald and the start of Green Hill Zone press the RESET button. Repeat the process until all emeralds have been collected. Loads of continues with be earned in the process!

Marble Zone Shortcut

At the start of Act 3 there will be a steep hill. At the bottom of this hill there will be two blocks moving up and down in the lava. The one next to the hill will lower enough to go underneath it. Do this to cut about 50% of the level out.

Scrap Brain Shortcut

After falling through the ceiling and the large chunk of building starts to slide down, move in front of this and go down the slope. This route cuts out about 70% of the level.


As with any game, there were many elements that never made the final version.

According to interviews, for the concept of the gameplay, originally, was intended that he would pick up objects and throw them but it was envisaged that this process would slow down gameplay so this attack was replaced with the rolling/spin move. There are no known shots of this however.

In the game, zone names and level layout were changed, objects re-located and some objects/graphics were not used at all. Some examples of the changes are:

Spring Yard Zone had the original name of Sparkling Zone

Scrap Brain Zone had the original name of Clockwork Zone

When Sonic completed an act he was to jump up and punch the air.

The following pictures come from the now defunct Megacosm page. Entitled "The Hedgehog that Never Was" and shows some early works.

Sonic The Hedgehog Beta Sonic The Hedgehog Beta
Sonic The Hedgehog Beta Sonic The Hedgehog Beta
Sonic The Hedgehog Development Shots

Over the years, people have probed and hacked the ROM has and many discoveries have been made. These are some examples.

Sonic had a number of extra actions including floating, sliding and shrinking.

He wore goggles when underwater when he broke open a goggles monitor and there sections where he entered a 'warp' in an act.


Sonic's colour was originally to be lighter but in development of Green Hill Zone he was difficult to see against the colours of that stage.

There are some hangovers still present in the final versions of the game. For instance there are unused sprites in several zones and the Special Stage. Perhaps the best known is the rolling ball (like Robotnik's wrecking ball) that can be accessed via there debug cheat in Green Hill Zone (though it can not be placed into the game). There were some prototype screen shots that showed Sonic walking on it.

For much more detailed information, check out the many Sonic hacking sites such as Secrets of Sonic Team.


Sonic works perfectly with Kega Fusion, Gens and Gens32. You can download these from the Mega Drive/Genesis Emulators Page.


There have been 3 releases of the game.

Since then the direct sequels have been Sonic The Hedgehog 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. Click on any of the links for those features.

8-Bit Versions

The 8-Bit version of the game was released on both Master System and Game Gear around the same time and had many traits to the 16-Bit version though it is a distinct game with different level design and some zone themes.

8-Bit 8-Bit (Green Hill Zone) 8-Bit (Labyrinth Zone)

For more info check out the 8-Bit Feature.


Sega used the Mega Drive/Genesis hardware to create arcade boards. Chief among these were Mega Tech and Mega Play both of which has versions of Sonic.

The Mega-Tech version is mostly identical to the European Mega Drive version. The main difference is that there's a countdown restricting play time. For each coin inserted an extra 3 minutes of time is added.

The Mega-Play version is built upon the second revision of the game and the time counts down for each act. Their limits are rather strict and there are only 4 zones; Green Hill, Spring Yard, Star Light, and Scrap Brain the latter of which is missing the final act.

Extra lives have no function and it is not possible to enter any special stages. Jumping into the giant ring is ignored. Fortunately, if you die and touched a Restart Marker, the game restarts at the Start Marker with a reset countdown.

Upon completing the game you can enter your name and score on a leader board.

Both versions cam be emulated with MAME if you really want to play.

Compilation Versions and Other Platforms

Various compilation titles have included the game.

Sonic Compilation (1995) and Sega 6-Pak (1996) for Mega Drive/Genesis.

Sonic Jam (1997) for Saturn. This version was a port and features four modes of playing the game, and with the ability to include the Spin Dash. For more information checkout the Sonic Jam Feature.

Sega Smash Pack for the Dreamcast (1999) uses emulation.

Sonic Mega Collection for Game Cube (2002) and Sonic Mega Collection Plus for PS2, Xbox and PC (2004) use emulation. Both Mega Collections have all three revisions of the game that can be selected via a cheat.

Sega Genesis Collection (2006) for PS2 and PSP.

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PS3 (2009) use emulation and contain the US/EUR version of the game along with many subsequent games in the series.

Sonic Genesis

Sonic Genesis (GBA)

Sonic Genesis was a castrated port of the original Sonic(1) The Hedgehog for the aging Gameboy Advance released in 2006 as part of the original games 15th Aniversarry. This was to coincide with the release of the 'next-generation' title SONIC THE HEDGEHOG on the 360 (and we all know what happened there) in a sort of bizarre synergy that were two crap games.

Simply put the game is shocking, appalling and virtually unplayable. It can easily be described as a rush hack job and how this managed to get out the door of Sega is anybody's guess. A fully emulated version was not possible on the GBA because the CPU is simply not powerful enough to emulate a Mega Drive/Genesis.

The view is slightly zoomed/adapted to fit the GBA's aspect ratio and the graphics, whilst faithful to the original barely move and on a random frame rate. The Sonic sprite does not even animate properly and the music, and SFX somewhat faithful to the original are cruddy, weak and painful to listen to.

A video of the offending game can be seen below.

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Sonic Genesis Gameplay Video. Plugin Required for your browser.

The video is not jerky. The game actually plays like this!

Controls are almost uncontrollable. Sonic does not run particularly fast not even to a level close to the original.

The physics in places are worse than an 8-bit Game Gear title. Seemingly random bugs occur and falling through walls is frequent and sometimes it is not possible to complete a loop. The only tweak to the gameplay seems to be all the bonuses at the end of an act are now 10,000 each.

If you do not mind torturing yourself to play the game you can find a save feature and an Anniversary Mode which grants Sonic the Spin-Dash ability (similar to the tweak possible in [Sonic Jam]).

The zone select allows the player to start from any zone previously accessed. When the game is completed a sound test is unlocked under the guise of Juke Box but its crap quality.

The game is fully playable in a Gameboy Advance emulator so if you are really that curious (and I wouldn't normally say this) save yourself the cash and download the ROM instead. In response to this shocking release a programmer in the Sonic community called Stealth released a proof-of-concept build for the GBA based on the disassembly from the original game.

Check it out here

Xbox Live Arcade

Sonic The Hedgehog was released in July 07 as part of the Sega Vintage Collection on Xbox Live Arcade. Other titles in the series include Golden Axe and Streets of Rage 2 et al with more releases to follow. Each cost 400 Microsoft Points.

The download package is essentially a Mega Drive/Genesis emulator with the game included. The content of the game is unchanged from the original. Emulation is very accurate and the controls handle well on the 360's controller with the pleasant choice of using the D-pad or analogue thumbstick.

Features include being able to save a game at any point with multiple slots available and high scores can be uploaded to leader boards on Xbox Live.

There are a few options such as changing controller setup, viewing credits and the screen size can be adjusted with the graphics filtered for a more smooth looking game.

The option 'How to Play' serves as a very basic introduction to the game for newbies.

A total of 200 Gamer Points can be earned via the Achievements.

Sonic The Hedgehog - XBox Live Arcade Sonic The Hedgehog - XBox Live Arcade
Sonic The Hedgehog - XBox Live Arcade Sonic The Hedgehog - XBox Live Arcade


There is no opportunity to input any cheats since the controls are not available when the title screen is running.

The version of the ROM appears to be the Revision 00 European release with the smaller amount of parallax scrolling and the spike bug.

The smoothing option simply applies a filter to make the graphics less blocky than originally rendered. Users of emulators will know the equivalent being 2kSaI or Super2kSaI plug-ins.



Gamer Points


Get 100 or more rings


Clear Green

Complete Green Hill Zone


Fast Green

Complete Act 1 of Green Hill Zone in under 35 seconds


Fast Marble

Complete Act 1 of Marble Zone in under 80 seconds


Star Light Zone

Reach the Star Light Zone


Spring Yard Zone

Reach Spring Year Zone


Labyrinth Zone

Reach Labyrinth Zone


Chaos Emerald

Collect one Chaos Emerald


Chaos Master

Collect All the Chaos Emeralds



Complete the game


Fast Win

Complete the game in under 40 minutes


Perfect Win

Complete the game without dying


It was also made available on Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console Service.

It was also made available on the Gametap game service along with other games in the series.

Mobile Versions

A Java ME version was released in 2006 by I-Phone. Entitled Sonic The Hedgehog Part 1 it contains the first three zones of the game. The remainder was released as Sonic The Hedgehog – Part 2 by Glu Mobile in 2007. It is faithful to the original but lacking Special Stages.

The Verizon Mobile version is less known and has almost all the content of the original game minus all sound fx. It came included with some Panasonic mobiles in Europe and Japan.

It was released on the Danger Hiptop, also re-branded as the T-Mobile Sidekick smartphone along wth most classic Sonic games.

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.

In 2009 the game was released for the iPhone and uses an emulator. It is reported to suffer from frame rate issues when being played at full screen.


"The most famous hedgehog"

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