Review: Sonic the Hedgehog (SMS)

Sonic's back in 8-bit style.

Following the undoubted success of Sonic The Hedgehog on the Mega Drive it seems only fitting that a version of the game was created for the Sega’s 8-bit wonder, the Master System which still had strong support in Europe at the time. This game was also something of a swan song to North American gamers who had took a chance on the Master System when the NES ruled the roost, it was the last game to be released on the system in the USA. In Europe there were several more Sonic games to follow and this game was even bundled for free on the revised Master System II hardware replacing Alex Kidd.

Despite the obvious technical differences between Sega’s 8-bit and 16-bit systems, it does not feel that any compromises were made in bringing Sonic to the Master System. This is a completely different game in its own right despite superficial similarities to its grown up cousin.

Sonic’s nemesis, Dr. Robotnik is up to no good and has had the audacity to steal the magical chaos emeralds and hide them all over the land. To add insult to injury the evil genius has even locked up all the little animals and filled the lush green landscapes with nasty bad guys to ensure Sonic does not bring about his demise. What a cad!

Don’t expect to get an easy ride in this incarnation of Sonic, there are several bottomless falls and precise timing is often needed to succeed. You also cannot pick up any rings again when you get hit, which really makes the end of level boss battle much trickier. The gameplay is a touch slower than the Mega Drive version and there are only ever about three bad guys on the screen at one time, but everything balances out nicely on the whole.

Rather than the rotating special stages of the Mega Drive version, there are some timed obstacle courses in this game which you can attempt if you complete a level carrying 50 rings. These can be quite maddening, but are a good opportunity to snag some extra lives and continues so it’s worth giving them a go.

With a bit of practice this game isn’t too difficult and even an average gamer should be able to learn to beat this within an hour with a bit of practice. The real fun comes in trying to find all six chaos emeralds which are hidden on certain stages.

Conclusion

This really is one of the best examples of a platformer on the Master System and easily as good as Alex Kidd in Miracle World, if not even better. Many gamers will have been introduced to Sonic through this game before graduating on to the Mega Drive so for some it will certainly bring back good memories. For other Sonic fans who perhaps didn’t even know this version existed, why not take a chance on it? Sure it’s not quite as polished as the Mega Drive version, but it’s a slice of Sonic’s history which should not be missed. If you are at all slightly curious you should consider this for a download. At 500 Wii points you can’t really go far wrong.