Sonic The Hedgehog review
Great game; wrong time. Gotta hate that.


Wait, what's all this? Regression to 8-bit? No way!
Sonic The Hedgehog for the Sega Master System is what happens when Sega were desperate to get some Master System units moved. Due to the success of the Genesis game, they thought it'd be the same for their inferior console. Unfortunately, it was ignored for bigger and better games. So... could that just be the case, or is it due to bad performances? The short answer is that nobody gave a rat's ass about the Master System anymore, but the long answer is within the rest of the review.

Try, try again.
Dr Robotnik is at it again! He kidnaps innocent animals and turns them all into robots in order to make the search for the Chaos Emeralds easier for him. It's up to Sonic to, once again, foil his plans. It's the same as in the Genesis - nice setting, but not much else going for it, nothing to bite your teeth into in terms of narrative settings. As usual, gameplay more than makes up for it.

The aim of a Sonic game is to go from Point A to Point B, jumping on platforms and across gaps, and killing enemies... really, really fast. You still have to do some jumping around, so it's not like you can blindly run through levels - might sound weird considering what and who we're dealing with, but that doesn't sound like it'll be fun for a long time. To keep him afloat, Sonic has to collect rings, for if he is without one, and an enemy wangs him on the head, that's it, he's dead. It worked well in the first game, and since the engine remains largely unchanged (except a few things), the game still feels like an excellent one. It retains the fun of the first game, and we all know how fun that is... Quite. Running at blazing fast speed, with the occasional platform jumping and boss battle to check and see if we're concentrating, not blurred out on the speed overdose.

Created by Asians whipped mercilessly.
Each act of every zone is crafted very well, with the effort put into each of the 18 levels through the roof. It's not just a series of jumps and a hazard - you'll actually be challenged a little. There's precise jumping, multiple paths every now and again, and even a couple of instances where Sonic has to swim (though unlike Alex Kidd, Sonic can't breathe underwater - he needs air bubbles). The cherry on top would have to be the acts where you have to find the Chaos Emeralds. They require that you deviate from the main path in order to get them, like with the first one - just stand on a bridge that collapses, and jump at the right time towards the Emerald to get it. The controls manage to accommodate to the designs and the rest of the game by not only making it simple and easy (run... and jump... hmm, seems complicated), but also making them respond well.

Wait, what's this about finding Chaos Emeralds? You mean they're not in the bonus stages? Of course. The bonus stages don't hold the Chaos Emeralds like the Genesis version does. But fear not, for the bonus stages still have their use. Provided you finish a level with 50 rings, you can enter in the draw to get a free continue! All you need to do is find the television with CONTINUE on it, then race to the end, all before time is up. Fail, and you get no continue, which can really force you to bust your balls, as the levels and bosses get progressively harder, and can be fairly tough towards the end, though as a constellation prize, you can get a free life or two, courtesy of the rings you collect, though you can be pretty unlucky, and not get enough rings to warrant a free life.

Mad scientist attack!
At the end of each zone, you fight Robotnik in one of his machines. Each machine has their own attack pattern, and you have to wait for them to expose their weaknesses. Each machine can seem rather easy, but you know what's actually easy? Being reckless, which isn't something you can afford. You go in, thinking you'll destroy him easily, since he was easy in the Genesis version. Yeah, umm, in the Genesis version, if you got hit, you could quickly collect the scattered rings. Here, you don't get diddly squat. Get hit once, and you're a dead man. No rings; just you and your wits, making these bosses... kind of tough. I mean, they're far from the toughest bosses in town, but they can still give you a bit of trouble, and since you might not have a whole lot of continues (maybe an extra? Who knows), you'll probably find yourself at the title screen a few times when fighting the harder bosses.

Well, it's not the Genesis version, that's for sure!
Of course it's not the Genesis version, and 8-bit graphics will not be able to equal or surpass the graphics in the Genesis version. However, let's look at it from the hardware limitation's point of view. The visuals look good. There's a fair amount of detail put into each object, each character, and each foreground object. The colors put into each of the zones matches their nature, like greens and blues for the Green Hill and Bridge Zones (have to admit, though, they must've been running out of juice there), and grays for Scrap Brain Zone. In the end, you get a pretty nice looking game, and with some fitting, flowing animations, you can't say no to the graphics.

The soundtrack, on the other hand, is debatable. You have the recognizable title and Green Hill Zone tunes. Everybody should know those tunes like the back of their hands. The 8-bit renditions of those tunes are pretty good. Easily my favorite tunes on the Genesis game, and the Master System game too. I got nothing against the other tunes... just that they're not as good, and not nearly as memorable. I usually like remembering tunes if they're good, and the other tunes are good, but they just don't have the OOMPH that the title and Green Hill Zone tunes do. The boss tune, especially, feels like there's no luster. Doesn't even feel like a boss tune; it's too upbeat and not foreboding in the slightest, but to its credit, it at least sounds alright. Good, but not great.

Maybe regression... is good?
Sonic The Hedgehog on the Master System is a pretty damn good Sonic game on one of the most underrated systems you could imagine. If you're looking for a new Sonic game, and the new ones aren't pleasing you, check out the Master System Sonic games, with this one being the first. I mean, you'd think this would catch on, but due to being on an inferior system, it just didn't click with audiences, especially those who didn't give a damn about the system in the first place. Sucks, too. Great graphics, fun as hell gameplay, good soundtrack - most of the 9 yards, right here!

Story: 8/10
Well... it's Sonic... racing to get the Chaos Emeralds before Robotnik can get them and use them for evil. Sonic also has to save animals from becoming robots. Good premise I guess.
Gameplay: 8/10
Ah, now this is fairly different. Bonus stages serve just as bonus stages, while you have to find the Chaos Emeralds in the second act of each zone. Bosses are also trickier with a one hit restriction. Other than that, still the Sonic we all know and love on the Genesis, but a bit tougher. Nice for a bit of a challenge.
Controls: 10/10
Sonic responds to each command, even when he's running like a maniac. Takes him about a second to turn back, but that should be expected. Precision jumping is surprisingly just like with Mario.
Graphics: 9/10
About as close as you're going to get to Genesis quality graphics on the Master System. It has some nice vibrant and/or suitable colors going for it, and some detail everywhere, as well as some nice animations and stuff.
Audio: 8/10
A pretty nice rendition of the title and Green Hill Zone tracks will greet you. Later tunes are... well, they're good, but far from tracks you'll care about, especially for a Sonic game.

Overall: 8.5/10

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