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Sonic the Hedgehog 1 Japanese Cover Art.jpg
C'mon faster. Because here comes Sonic the Hedgehog. He's the fastest critter the world has ever seen, and he's a hedgehog with major attitude. Watch him smirk in the face of danger as he blazes his way through hilly pastures, underwater caverns, marble ruins, strange cities and a cybernetic world of enemies in a race to save his buddies. Sonic's got everything a hedgehog could ever want: tricks, gadgets and speed. So don't blink or you just might miss him.

If you were looking for the 2006 game of the same name, click here.

The game that started it all. The game that marked the beginning of Sega's beloved Sonic the Hedgehog franchise...and its 8-Bit counterpart, both released in 1991.

At the beginning of the story, Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik has just gone mad (or maybe he already was) and is stuffing the tiny, innocent animals of South Island into his army of robots known as "Badniks." By building up his army and gaining control of the (then) six powerful Chaos Emeralds, domination of this island and the construction of his dream base "Eggmanland" might just be in his hands. Unfortunately for Robotnik, there's one problem. A problem that has blue fur, stands a little over three feet tall, is really quick on his feet, and possesses an "attitude" that will drive foes insane: Sonic the Hedgehog.

Indeed, Sonic is far too fast and too big to be stuffed into a Badnik shell, but thanks to his sense of doing the right thing, he's not gonna just pretend nothing is happening. With only his razor sharp quills and Super Speed as his weapons, Sonic makes it his mission to free his less humanoid pals and beat Robotnik to the Emeralds, all before confronting the mad doctor himself.

On a side note, this game recieved an obscure tie-in comic, which provides a very offbeat origin story for our spike haired hero.

The 16-Bit Version

The first--and mostly considered canonical--version, released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis.

It practically introduced super speed to the platforming genre with its eponymous character, which the designers took advantage of by adding obstacles such as loops and slopes. In addition to praise for its innovative gameplay, gamers were also astonished by the impressive graphics, as well as the catchy soundtrack by Masato Nakamura of the Japanese pop group Dreams Come True.

Sonic put the Genesis on the map and was a catalyst for the console dethroning the mighty Nintendo with a 65% market share over the Super Nintendo Entertainment System during the 16-Bit console wars.

The Chaos Emeralds in this version are obtained via entering the special stages and collecting one without hitting the "GOAL" bumper.

Tropes used by this version:

  • Action Bomb: Bombs.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The lava flow section in Marble Zone Act 2.
  • Airborne Mook: Buzz Bombers. Thankfully, they flew low enough to be easily dispatched.
  • Book Ends: The game's story begins and ends in Green Hill Zone. The same goes to the end credits.
  • Chaos Emeralds: There are six Special Stages each leading to a Chaos Emerald, with ten chances to enter Special Stage. If all of them are collected in a single game, the ending is changed slightly.
  • Character Title
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Issues 10 and 11 of the Sonic X comic book featured a two-part story to commemorate the game's 15th anniversary, in which Dr. Eggman traps Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Rouge, Cream, Cheese, and Vanilla in a virtual reality world resembling the levels from this game. More recently, the first half of the Genesis arc in the regular Sonic comic, featured in issues 226 and 227, depict Sonic, Sally, Antione, and Rotor making their way through the game's stages.
  • Credits Medley: Embraced here. The 8-bit version has a mostly original piece of music with just a snippet of the Green Hill BGM.
  • Dummied Out: A boulder chase in Green Hill Zone; in the final game, the boulder sprites were only used for Robotnik's wrecking ball contraption.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: No spindash, for a start.
    • Three rather than two acts per level. Can make them seem overly long to someone who played later games first. Good thing it has Crowning Music of Awesome.
    • Getting 50,000 points doesn't grant an extra life.
    • Levels that you couldn't just rush through and had to go really slow.
    • The same badniks appear in multiple levels, instead of each level having its own unique set.
    • There are only six Chaos Emeralds to collect, and you can't turn into Super Sonic.
    • There's a speed cap when you're running, as long as you hold forward. Spinning is usually the only way to move faster.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Just look at the page image. The intro establishes Sonic as our Mascot with Attitude.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Scrap Brain Zone, big time.
  • Game Breaking Bug:
    • If Sonic is going too fast as he is rolling through the tunnels on Green Hill Zone Act 1, he will reach the bottom of the screen and die as if it were a Bottomless Pit.
    • At the end of Labyrinth Zone Acts 1 and 2, if Sonic rolls after passing the end of level signpost, he falls off screen and the game crashes.
    • At the end of the final boss fight, it is possible to hit him as his defeat animation is playing. This sets his health counter from 0 to 255, making the fight Unwinnable.
      • It's also possible to jump into the bottomless pit after you defeat the boss. Later games would put an invisible block in places like that.
  • The Goomba: Motobugs. They're not the most common of enemies, but a Motobug is the first enemy you see, and they pose about as much of a threat as actual Goombas.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Trope Namer.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Smash a monitor with three stars in it for temporary invincibility. Sparkly stars trail behind Sonic while the effect is active.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The Bomb-Bots from the Star Light and Scrap Brain Zones. Even if Sonic has invincibility himself, he just passes straight through them.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: Marble Zone is "Music to Watch Girls By" lifted nearly note for note.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Marble Zone.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Present, but the "spike bug" could get around it. If you land on a set of spikes, you take more damage if the knock back sends you into another set. This was because the Mercy Invincibility only activated when Sonic landed on the ground after taking damage. "Fixed" in ports and sequels.
    • "Spike bug" is in quotes because it seemed to be a bug, but as it turns out, it was in fact intentional. WHY it was there has never been explained.
  • Non-Indicative Name: You might think that the "goal" lines in the special stages are... you know, your goal. Actually, they result in failure, kicking you out of the special stage. (Though you do still get bonus points and continues for the rings you collected.)
  • Ordinary Drowning Skills: You get three warning chimes, then the music changes and a countdown starts. Get out before it hits 0, or you die.
  • Palette Swap: The entire third act of Scrap Brain Zone is a palette swap of Labyrinth Zone.
    • Also counts as And Now for Something Completely Different. Apparently Eggman built his high-tech factory on top of some ancient ruins he can conveniently dump people who irritate him into.
    • Also has some sort of relation to Dummied Out, as they were originally going to have him drop Sonic into something unique, but ran out of time.
  • Pop Star Composer: The soundtrack was written by Masato Nakamura of the J-Pop band Dreams Come True. Some of their songs reuse themes from the games or vice-versa, including the Green Hill and Star Light Zone themes.
  • Pressure Plate: Present in Marble Zone.
  • Recycled Title: The 3D platformer released for the PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360, which was nicknamed Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 by fans. It was also released on the series's 15th anniversary, and suffered from major bugs.
  • Rise to the Challenge: The drastically rising water level that makes up part of the "boss fight" in Labyrinth Zone Act 3.
  • Scenery Porn: One of the game's major selling points was that its scenery was not only awesome but the fact that it could scroll past so rapidly when Sonic was at high speed helped graphically (no pun intended) demonstrate the Mega Drive's power. The Green Hill and Star Light Zones in particular stand out.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: The most notable ones are in Marble Zone, though they make a return in Scrap Brain Acts 1 and 2. The final boss fight was mostly this.
  • Sprint Shoes: Smash a monitor with a shoe in it for temporarily increased acceleration and speed. Sonic's trademark is the ability to move at high speed, but this takes it to another level.
  • The Stinger: Beat the game without collecting all the Chaos Emeralds,and you will see Eggman over a "Try Again" sign, juggling those you didn't get. If you get the good ending, Eggman will furiously jump on a "The End" sign instead.
  • Trap Door: Plenty of them in Scrap Brain Zone.
  • Whack a Monster: The Final Boss

The 8-Bit Version

File:Son1 00 7704.gif

Released for the Sega Master System and Game Gear. It wasn't so much a port as it was a unique alternative to the 16-Bit version. Due to being on weaker hardware, the high-speed element of gameplay was scaled back quite a bit, and it really didn't help the Game Gear gain an advantage over the Nintendo's Game Boy in the handheld market. Nevertheless, it's still pretty fun in its own right, and features a catchy soundtrack of its own composed by Yuzo Koshiro (with some adaptations of Nakamura's material).

Unlike its 16-Bit counterpart, Chaos Emeralds are obtained through one of the first two acts in each zone. The special stages are only for extra lives and continues.

Tropes used by this version:

Tropes used by both versions:

  • Boss Only Level:
    • Final Zone is the only "true" Boss Only Level in the 16-bit version, as Act 3 of every other zone has some land and enemies before the boss.
    • Sky Base Act 3 (also the final zone) in the 8-bit version.
  • Down the Drain: Labyrinth Zone.
  • Dub Name Change: "Eggman" to "Ivo Robotnik". Sonic Adventure eventually cleared that up by saying Eggman is a nickname, and Ivo Robotnik is his actual name.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Both games have no Spin Dash, no Super Sonic, and only six Chaos Emeralds. Additionally, while the 16-Bit version utilized the classic "get Chaos Emeralds from Special Stages" mechanic, the 8-bit version has a freestanding Emerald hidden somewhere in one of the first two acts of each zone.
  • Eternal Engine: Scrap Brain Zone.
  • Green Hill Zone: Trope Namer.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: The Scrap Brain Zone's theme in the 16-Bit version sounds reminiscent of the Blade Runner theme, even featuring gloriously synthesized Timpani. Meanwhile, the SBZ theme in the 8-Bit version sounds like a Jimmy Hart Version of the zone's theme from its 16-Bit counterpart.
  • Mascot with Attitude: Trope Namer, and the inspiration for dozens of knock-offs, very few of whom actually had good games.
  • Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: Present throughout Labyrinth and Act 3 of Scrap Brain in the 16-bit version. The bubbles appear to generate less often in the latter.
  • Pinball Zone: The Spring Yard Zone of the Genesis game, as well as the Special Stages in both versions.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: The monitors scattered throughout the game have powerups, which you get by breaking said monitors.
  • The Spiny: The Yadorin enemy has spikes on its back, making jumping useless. If Sonic rolls into one, he'll be fine.
    • The Caterkiller (Nal in Japan, appears in Marble and Scrap Brain in the Genesis version) is similar, but potentially more deadly. It's a caterpillar made of purple spheres, one of which serves as a head while the rest have spikes on top. If Sonic hits it anywhere other than the head, not only does he get hurt, but the spheres it's made of go flying and there's a chance they will hit Sonic again, probably killing him.
  • Ordinary Drowning Skills: Although at least the Labyrinth Zone has considerably more places where Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles appear than water zones in later Sonic games.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: Unfortunately.
  • This Is a Drill: A few badniks have them.
  • Underwater Ruins: Labyrinth Zone.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Eggman always flies away everytime you defeat him. But, at the end of the 16-bit version, you get the chance to destroy his escape pod and leave him for dead. In the 8-bit version, Sonic will do it in a cutscene at the end.
  • Warmup Boss: The first boss in both games. In the Genesis version, it's a contraption that swings a wrecking ball back and forth, but it's rather easy to avoid. The 8-Bit version is even easier, with Robotnik floating in his regular Eggmobile to the edge of a screen, descending to ground level, and trying to ram into you. The Game Gear port's low screen resolution makes it possible for Sonic to jump high enough to hurt Robotnik and defeat him before he even gets the chance to attack you!