Sonic the Hedgehog turns 23

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By Harlee Grey – 24th June 2014
Sonic the Hedgehog turns 23

In 1990 Sega’s in-house development studio AM8 began making a game featuring  a company mascot. Hayao Nakayama, Sega president, wanted a mascot as iconic as Mickey Mouse. At this time Nintendo were dominating the Video game scene with their release of Super Mario Bros 3 featuring their mascot, Mario. Despite Sega’s success with their arcade titles on the Genesis, The company wanted to really get a foothold in the industry, they needed something new, bigger and faster. For 19 hours a day and several months the development team, Naka, Oshima, and Yasuhara developed ideas, engine and basic game play.

The development would shift towards focusing on speed and with their character ideas eliminated character designs that were not considered to be fast. One of the original ideas was to have a rabbit that was able to grasp objects with its prehensile ears, unfortunately for the team the idea proved too difficult for the hardware that was available at the time. This set back then made the team design characters that were able to roll into balls as an attack, but later decided that this wouldn’t be dangerous enough, this forced the team to narrow their designs down to animals that have spikes. This brought the list down to two possibilities, the Hedgehog and an Armadillo. The development team decided on their new mascot and the main protagonist “Mr. Needlemouse”, although the Armadillo would play a future role as Mighty the Armadillo in SegaSonic the Hedgehog later in 1993. Now a team of 15 AM8 changed the name from Mr. Needlemouse to Sonic and would also take the opportunity to change their development team name to Sonic Team.  

Sonic the Hedgehog, a revolutionary 2D side scrolling game would be finally released June 23rd 1991.The game would center around Sonic and his abilities to run at high speeds and complete levels that included springs, slopes, high falls and loop-the-loops. Badniks would be enemies in the game, they take the form of robots that Dr. Robotnik (sometimes Dr.Eggman) had trapped animals inside, destroying these robots would free the creatures but weren’t completely necessary to complete the game. Other dangers in the game included spikes, falling into pits and being crushed by moving walls and platforms. Sonics main attack would be the spin attack. 

Located throughout the levels are gold rings, collecting 100 would reward the player with an extra life. If Sonic holds at least one of these rings when he receives damage, he will survive at the cost of losing his rings. The game is split up into six zones, Green hill, Marble, Spring yard, Labyrinth, Star Light and Scrap Brain each with unique visual style and enemies. As the player you must navigate you way through each zone and all of their three acts. At the end of each zones third act you will confront Dr. Robotnik and battle some sort of vehicle in a boss fight. After the sixth zone you will battle in the final zone encounter with Dr. Robotnik, you are given three lives If you run out of lives at any pint in the battle “Game Over” will appear on the screen and you are given the option of returning to the beginning of the act with three lives.