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Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System, 1991)

Posted: March 11th, 2017, 10:44 pm
by Retro STrife
I think a lot of people don't realize this, but the Genesis was not the earliest Sega system to feature Sonic the Hedgehog. Instead, the Master System featured two Sonic platformers of its own, called "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Sonic the Hedgehog 2". Despite sharing the same name, they are not ports of the Genesis games developed by Sonic Team..instead, they are original games developed by the company Ancient (Sonic 1) and Aspect (Sonic 2). They are, however, based on the same basic gameplay concepts and mechanics as the Genesis games. Sonic 1 for the Master System was released just a few months after Sonic 1 for the Genesis...both were first released in 1991. The Master System games were also ported to the Game Gear.

I didn't even know that the Master System had Sonic games on it until like 5-10 years ago. Once I found out, I had to own one, so I bought Sonic 1 on ebay.. I think for around $20-$30 at the time, for cart only. My Master System was in storage at the time, so I've held on to the game for years and just finally got to boot it up for the first time last night. Here's some of my thoughts: First, as a Master System platformer, I think this is a very good game. Nonetheless, it's no classic and doesn't hold a candle to the Genesis version. Obviously, the graphics and music--while surprisingly faithful--are a noticeable downgrade from the Genesis. The level design is also much better on the Genesis. The game also has none of the sense of speed that made Sonic famous on the Genesis; instead, it's more of a standard "jump and kill enemies" type platform game, with few chances to get any acceleration..and even at full speed, Sonic is not that fast. While the gameplay mechanics have a lot of similarities, one annoying difference in the MS version is that you can't recover rings when you get hit. So if you have 50 rings and get hit, you lose all 50 rings and can't recover any of hopefully there are more rings to collect in the immediate vicinity. And you have no rings during boss fights, so one hit and you die. There are also no continues, so you'll be playing through a lot to get a little further each time.

Sonic 1 on the MS is a good game by MS standards (I'd give it a B+ rating), one of the better platformers on the system, with great graphics and sound for an 8-bit game. But the Genesis version crushes it, and that's why it's been long since forgotten (not to mention the fact that no one was playing MS anymore in 1991, so it flew totally under the radar). Still, for Sonic fans, the "curiosity" factor of seeing Sonic on an 8-bit Sega system could be appealing enough to make it worth the purchase. If you want to see a video, check out this short side-by-side comparison video of the Genesis and MS versions: .

I don't own Sonic 2 for the Master System, but my understanding based on reviews is that it is a superior game over Sonic 1. I watched a Youtube video of it and it does look better. Sonic 2 for the Master System actually debuted before the Genesis game of the same name, and Sonic 2 for the Master System was the first game to feature Tails.

Anyone else played or have thoughts on either of these Sonic games on the MS?

Re: Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System, 1991)

Posted: March 12th, 2017, 5:43 am
by eneuman96
Sonic 1 and 2 for Master System are definitely underrated. They're not as speedy as we're used to from Sonic, but they do a good job of capturing the essence of the Genesis games on 8-bit technology regardless. However, avoid the Game Gear version of Sonic 2: the smaller screen makes it impossible to avoid hazards without memorizing exactly where they are beforehand. The Master System version is already quite the challenge by Sonic standards, making the Game Gear version almost comically unfair.

Re: Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System, 1991)

Posted: March 12th, 2017, 1:00 pm
by Sut
I really enjoy the Master System versions of Sonic.
Besides having different level constructions to the 16-bit versions they are a bit tougher (but not to tough).

There are indeed continues in the MS version, during the bonus rounds there are TV's within them containing continues. The music is also very good for the Master System especially Scrap Brain Zone.

There was also Sonic Chaos released for the Master System which increases the speed, still not 16-bit but still an improvement. Problem that game is a cakewalk compared to the first two MS games.

Of course the Master System was wildly more popular here in Europe than over in NA with a lot longer lifespan than many of you guys realise. It is much more fondly remembered than the NES in these parts.

Re: Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System, 1991)

Posted: March 13th, 2017, 9:37 am
by Retro STrife
So, I just bought Sonic 2 on ebay. Got the PAL version, of course, since the Master System is region free and Sonic 2 was never released in the US. It looks even better than Sonic 1, so I was willing to pay the $30 for it and will post my thoughts after I try it out.

Sut, good point about the Master System being less appreciated here. I'm sure gamers in Europe and South America know these Sonic games well, whereas most US gamers don't even know they exist (or, at best, think they are watered down ports of the Genesis games). They're definitely missing out.

I can't emphasize it enough to any US gamers reading, because it took me years to figure it out, but these are original games for the Master System--and not ports of Sonic 1 & 2 from the Genesis. These would be great games for the Critic to pick up and review. Then again, based on his Game Gear reviews of the games, he might not be a fan.

Eneuman, thanks for the heads up about the issues with the Game Gear versions. I actually own a bunch of Sonic games for GG, including Sonic 2, but I've never played it. The GG screen annoys me so much that I barely ever play the thing.