Sonic the Hedgehog: A 30th Anniversary RetrospectiveJune 19, 2021
Sonic the Hedgehog: A 30th Anniversary Retrospective
On June 23rd, 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog debuted for the Sega Genesis in the United States of America. Followed by a release in the rest of the world in the following weeks.
On that day, those first customers experienced the culmination of 2 years of design, development and marketing with the goal of taking a genre Nintendo had already perfected to a new, unseen level.
Sonic the Hedgehog takes place on the mysterious South Island, not found on any map as the island floats across the South Pacific Ocean. South Island is a place where the all the animals there live in peace and harmony. The 6 regions of the island maintained harmony with a special jewel known as a Chaos Emerald, kept in each area. One day the evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik, Eggman in Japanese, stole the Chaos Emeralds, kidnapped the animals of South Island, and imprisoned them in robotic casings, known as Badniks. It’s up to Sonic to free his friends, defeat Robotnik and retrieve the 6 Chaos Emeralds, to return harmony to South Island.
The secret to Sonic the Hedgehog lies in the clever way the game is presented. Many elements from the Super Mario series were used in Sonic, however those elements were changed in such a way that made the game familiar and enjoyable, yet stand apart from Super Mario. Sonic was a side scrolling action game, like most games at the time, but it was different. Sonic didn’t “try” to be Mario, and that made all the difference in separating it from the long list of also-rans.
Instead of rescuing a princess, Sonic rescues his friends. Instead of a far-off land, Sonic is fighting in his homeland. Instead of “worlds” Sonic has “Zones” and each one with 3 Acts. The third act is a battle with Dr. Robotnik. Instead of bland under worlds and over worlds, Sonic has varied diverse, colorful Zones. The lush valleys of Green Hill Zone, the lava of Marble Zone, the lights of Spring Yard Zone, The mazes of Labyrinth Zone, the calm night of Star Light Zone, and dystopia of Scrap Brain Zone, all create an amazing backdrop for South Island and Sonic’s Adventure.
The Key to sonic is simplicity. every movement onscreen can be done with the directional pad and ONE button. There’s no guessing what to do or confusion on where to put your fingers. Sonic jumps with the A, B or C button. When mid-air, Sonic rolls into a ball, and the spikes on his back are his method of attack.
Updated: June 19, 2021