Since Sonic the Hedgehogs inception back in 1991 for Sega, he has spawned dozens of games, a comic and several animated television shows. Sonic is to Sega what Mario is to Nintendo, one of the greatest game characters and mascots of all time. He conquered the game world at the time and even with his fading glory, Sonic still maintains a loyal fanbase.
Blue and furry, Sonic is 15 years old being born on Christmas Island. His adventures have taken him to many lands and worlds in his fight against Dr. Robotnik, sometimes called Eggman. He has picked up a side kick, Tails, and numerous other companions along the way. See the original Sega Genesis games that started it all.
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Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
The first of the Sonic games is Sonic the Hedgehog starring Sonic fighting his nemesis Dr. Robotnik who turned the world's adorable animals into robotic enemies. True to the titles of the time, game play involved making it to the end of the stage, side scrolling from left to right, before time ran out. Sonic could walk, run and roll his way to the end of the map. If Sonic stopped moving, he could look up or down. For attacks Sonic could bash a robot enemy either by jumping or running while in ball form.
Throughout each Act, Sonic could collect small golden rings. As long as he held one, the robots could not kill him. If he were hit the rings would pop out. Taking a hit without any rings resulted in death. For every one hundred rings Sonic collected without being hit, he gained a life. Having fifty rings at the end of Acts 1 and 2, would trigger a giant golden ring that triggered a special zone where one could win a chaos emerald. There were six chaos emeralds and the giant rings stopped appearing once all six emeralds were collected. Sonic could also collect items found in small television sets. They included a one hit barrier, set of ten rings, high speed boots, temporary invincibility or an extra life.
There were several ways to die other than being attacked by a robot animal while holding no rings. Sonic could be killed if he fell in water, squished between two objects, ran out of time or jumped on spikes with no rings on him. Death meant returning to the last star post the user had rushed past, star posts serving as checkpoints.
In total there were six main levels, each consisting of three acts. The third act ended in a battle against Dr. Robotnik. The chaos emeralds could only be collected in acts 1 and 2 of the six main levels. A seventh level consisted of a single act where the final showdown with Dr.Robotnik occurred.
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Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The premise of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or Sonic 2 serves as a sequel to the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. After the events of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic is flying in his biplane when he spies the vibrant West Side Island and decides to stop for a mini-vacation. On the island he befriends the two tailed fox, Miles "Tails" Prower. Meanwhile Dr. Robotnik who survived his base's destruction had secretly followed Sonic to the island. Upon learning of the seven Chaos Emeralds, which held enough power to power his Death Egg, he transforms the animals to robotic minions. Together Sonic and Tails need to free the island and stop Dr. Robotnik from seizing the emeralds.
The game play is similar to Sonic the Hedgehog except now the player can choose to play as Sonic, Tails or Sonic and Tails. If playing as Sonic and Tails, player one controls Sonic while Tails follows by himself. If a second controller is used a player can control Tails, Tails reviving next to Sonic if falling behind or knocked off screen.There is also a battle mode where two players can compete in a race across three stages and a special stage to accumulate the most points.
Sonic 2 introduces a new attack called the Super Spin Dash where a player can from a standstill start spinning in place unleashing a quick burst of speed. Jumping and rolling in a ball also still work as attacks. Sonic 2 also introduces Super Sonic turning him yellow and invulnerable. However, he can still die from drowning, running out of time or being squished. To go Super Sonic requires 50 rings, Sonic losing one ring every second. There is no benefit from collecting all seven chaos emeralds while playing as Tails alone as Tails cannot go Super Sonic.
The special zones are triggered by jumping through the stars that appear above a star post when the user has at least 50 rings. It triggers a half pipe mini game where the user has to collect a certain number of rings while avoiding bombs. If successful, Sonic earns a Chaos Emerald. There are seven special stages.
There are eleven stages and for the most part consist of two acts, longer than the acts in Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic is also faster in this iteration of the franchise.
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Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Serving as the sequel to Sonic 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 follows the events of Dr. Robotnik's Death Egg crashing into Angel Island. To repair his Death Egg Dr. Robotnik tricks the echnida Knuckles, guardian of the Master Emerald, into attacking Sonic and Tails in order to prevent them from reacquiring the Chaos or Master Emeralds.
Changes from the predecessor games include three new items - a fire shield which prevents fire damage and offers a horizontal dash attack, a water shield which prevents drowning, water based attacks and lets Sonic bounce, and finally an electric shield that protects against electrical damage and attracts any nearby coins. Sonic 3 also lets the player save their progress and come back later, something prior games lacked.
The player can choose to play as Sonic, Tails or Sonic & Tails in a two player mode. Sonic has a new attack where a jump attack can be amplified by jumping again while in the air. Tails can fly short distances using his tail, swim and when playing Sonic & Tails in two player mode can lift Sonic up into the air for short periods of time. Verse mode offers five different stages to race or a time trial option.
There are six stages, each consisting of two acts with each act being many times longer and offering more pathways than its predecessor.There is a miniboss at the end of Act 1, a bigger boss at the end of Act 2 and a cut scene leading to the next stage.
There are also bonus and special stages. The bonus stage is a gumball style mini game, triggered from a star post while holding 50 rings. Sonic bounces off bumpers to flip a switch that unleashes various items ending when Sonic falls to the bottom. The other special stage is triggered from jumping through hidden Giant Gold Rings that offer the player a chance to score a Chaos Emerald. Using a 3d layout, the user has to hit all the blue spheres in order to win a Chaos Emerald. Hitting a red sphere will end the mini game.
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Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic & Knuckles can be considered an expansion of Sonic 3. Due to its unique lock on mechanism, Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 can both be attached to the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge. Any other game attached shows an error screen and can trigger a mini game by pressing the right keys.
Sonic & Knuckles let the player play as Sonic or Knuckles but not Tails. The game play between the levels is slightly different as Sonic retains his abilities from Sonic 3 and the ability to use the item abilities while Knuckles sacrifices some speed in order to climb, glide and break through areas blocked off to Sonic. Certain stages are easier and harder based on who one plays as.The game also lacks a save feature found in Sonic 3.
Two new bonus stages introduced from passing a star post include a take on the first Sonic the Hedgehog bonus stage combined with a slot machine to earn rings, lives and other prizes. The other stage has magnetic orbs that Sonic uses to gather rings and items while shooting upward, racing against an electric current that will end the game if it hits him. Sonic and Knuckles can both go Super if they obtain all the emeralds from the massive Golden Rings hidden throughout each stage. The game takes on a new light when combined with Sonic 2, but especially when combined with Sonic 3.
Locking Sonic & Knuckles to Sonic 2 causes the game to be renamed Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or Knuckles in Sonic 2. The game play is identical to Sonic 2 except that the user can only play as Knuckles creating for slightly different game play.
For Sonic 3, locking on Sonic & Knuckles creates the game Sonic 3 & Knuckles. It offers the entire game of Sonic 3 and the adventure of Sonic & Knuckles uninterrupted. The user can play as Sonic, Tails or Knuckles the whole way through and save their game. Three bonus stages are available, the two from Sonic & Knuckles and the gumball machine from Sonic 3. The different abilities of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles make for a different take on obtaining the items and finishing the stage.
In Sonic 3 & Knuckles when the user collects all seven Chaos Emeralds, Sonic or Knuckles can go Super Sonic sacrificing a ring per second to stay in the form. The moment the game crosses over to the original Sonic & Knuckle levels that ability disappears. If the player has already achieved Super Sonic, they can go for the Super Emeralds which will create Hyper Sonic. If the player has not yet obtained all the Chaos Emeralds, they can continue to do so and upon completion may go for the Super Emeralds. Hyper Sonic is even more powerful than Super Sonic and still takes one ring per second, requiring 50 rings minimum to trigger. Tails can go Super if the player collects all the Super Emeralds, gaining four little protective side kicks that attack enemies, something I've never been able to accomplish.
Sonic 4, Sequel to Sonic & Knuckles
Other Sonic Games
I have merely touched on four of the Sonic games that enthralled me as a child. Out of the many sequels and other Sonic games I have played over the years, Sonic & Knuckles remains my favorite.
Sonic has touched a generation and continues to appear in new games and crossovers like racing, pinball and even the Olympics. Sonic will be with us for a long time to come.
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© 2010 N. Ramius