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This review is by Nicole Rodriguez. This is the third "Platsperpiece Review."

I've been a Sonic fan for most of my life. I remember as a kid seeing Sonic X on Jetix, loving seeing the cool hedgehog do cool things, and being even more amazed later when my dad got Sonic Adventure DX in my computer. I played that game to death, along with Sonic CD and the arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog.

But this review isn't about any of those games. It's about the game that started it all.

Sonic the Hedgehog was released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis as a way for Sega to try and steal some market share from Nintendo. It came bundled with the system, and it helped give Sega a big slice of the console market over the now-aging NES.

Sonic is weird; it's a game focused on speed that seems bent on not letting you achieve it, but looking at its origin it's very easy to see why it ended up the way it did.

Sonic is a platformer, as that's the genre that Nintendo was dominating in with its popular Super Mario Bros. franchise, but it also has a sense of speed and momentum. This is largely because it takes heavy inspiration from the early levels of Super Mario Bros. 1 and how, when you play them, you wanna blast through them. You can reach some insane speeds in Super Mario Bros 1., but only if you really know what you're doing, and this is the basis for Sonic's core gameplay focus of giving you access to a lot of speed, but making it challenging to conserve it.

Part of Sonic the Hedgehog's design also comes from Sega's background as mostly an arcade game manufacturer. In arcades, one of the most important aspects of a game is that it needs to stand out from the other machines. It needs to have spectacle, to be fancy, so it can catch peoples' eyes. It's very easy to see this being implemented into Sonic the Hedgehog's design philosophy, as plenty of the faster levels have sections where the only thing you really do is watch the hedgehog go fast for a while. It taps into the primal human instinct of liking to "see some cool shit".

In order to make a good Sonic game, it's best to try and strike a balance between platforming and spectacle. Too much platforming and the game feels slow and tedious. Too much spectacle and the game feels hollow and unfulfilling. For a first attempt, Sonic the Hedgehog manages to nail this formula pretty well, featuring a very pleasant mix of platforming and spectacle. Unlike other Sonic games, which try to combine both elements into the base design of most levels, Sonic the Hedgehog instead goes for a different approach where each zone focuses on one of these two aspects, with half the zones being dedicated platforming levels with a bit of spectacle, and the other half being dedicated spectacle levels with a bit of platforming. In this regard, the zones are split between platforming and spectacle, much like how this piece is split into information and personal history.

However, where Sonic the Hedgehog really appeals to me the most, surprisingly, isn't in the gameplay department. It's in its ease of access and ease of play.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a really short game, and as someone who has attention issues, a game being short means I'm more likely to actually finish it. This is helped by the fact that the game itself is pretty easy as far as platformers go**My editor disagrees with me on Sonic the Hedgehog being easy, so I formally requested they "git gud"., so I usually don't have to dedicate much brainpower to it. It's also very accessible, as most platforms have a Sonic the Hedgehog port, and if they don't they can probably run some cheap Genesis emulator where you can play the game. Both of those things mean that Sonic the Hedgehog is just a very easy game for me to sink into, and unlike other short games it's one that I feel a connection to, and one that brings back lots of memories.

I first played the game, I think, when I was around 9 or 10 years old. I had just gotten the "Sonic Mega Collection Plus" into my computer, and I was excited by the sheer number of Sonic games in that thing. Sonic the Hedgehog never quite caught my attention back then, as I was mostly interested in Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic 3D Blast, but I still gave it a shot once in a while. Later on when I got into the Sonic hacking scene, I started playing quite a bit of the game, as a lot of hacks were just modifications of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, usually adding new characters or stages.

As time went on I started playing the game more and more. At age 13 I got my first smartphone, and one of the first things I did was load up a Genesis emulator along with Sonic the Hedgehog, which I found myself using commonly while waiting in queues. It served as a small piece of familiarity, as back then I was just moving into a new city with a new family, meaning everything was very new and scary to me.

Everything but Sonic.

A few years ago my local bus stop added an arcade machine into it. It had Sonic the Hedgehog on it, and I immediately found myself playing it. I still do. Just putting in a coin and trying to blast through the game in a short time while waiting for the bus that will take me away, back to where all my friends are.

I recently bought myself a Sega Genesis Mini. It has a lot of games I feel nostalgic for, and a few that I've been wanting to play for a while, but every time I turn on the console I eventually end up just playing Sonic the Hedgehog.

It fills me with a sense of warmth and familiarity whenever I hear that familiar "Sega!" jingle or when I see the game's wonderfully unique artsyle.

If you asked me a few years ago what I thought about Sonic the Hedgehog I would just say it's a nice game, but now I'd say it's a game that's carved out a very special place in my heart. A game that I feel stood the test of time like very few games truly can. 10/10