Sonic the Hedgehog
Developer(s) Ancient
Publisher(s) Sega
Release date(s) Master System
NA October 25, 1991
EU October 25, 1991
Game Gear
JP December 28, 1991
NA December 28, 1991
EU December 1991
Genre(s) Platformer
Players Single Player
Input Sega Master System controller (Master System)
System Master System, Game Gear
Preceded By
Followed By Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog is a 2D platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series developed by Sonic Team in conjunction with Ancient. The game was then published by Sega. The game was made for the Master System and Game Gear.

The game was re-released as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus and was included as a hidden mini-game in Sonic Adventure DX. Both of them are the Game Gear version.


Sonic the Hedgehog battles Doctor Robotnik (Dr. Eggman in the Japanese version) for six Chaos Emeralds. When collected, those magical emeralds will allow Sonic to rid the world of pollution caused by Robotnik. Robotnik, however, has constructed a huge base on South Island and wants to now seize control of the world.


As in other games from the series, the player controls the rapidly-moving Sonic the Hedgehog from a 3rd-person, side-scrolling perspective. The control and feel of the game is similar to that of its 16-bit successors, but with subtle differences such as graphical changes (the graphics of the original were adapted to suit the technical specifications of the GameGear) and way point markers positioned differently to the checkpoint markers of the original.

Sonic obtains rings which can be used as protection against enemy attacks. The maximum number of rings the character can hold is 99; when a hundredth ring is picked up, an extra life is awarded, and the ring count resets to zero. Unlike in other Sonic titles, the player cannot retrieve rings that are lost once Sonic is hit by an enemy. Probably that limitation was imposed due to the GameGear not being able to simultaneously render the numerous sprites required to depict large numbers of rings being scattered.

Chaos Emeralds, special collectible items, are found in secret areas in each of the six zones. Those "zones" are comparable to game "chapters" or "levels," each zone containing three acts, or levels of game play. [1] The first two acts of each zone focus on standard side-scrolling game play, while the third act has no rings and is characterized by a boss fight. Special stages, accessed when Sonic has 50 or more rings at the end of an act, allow the player to collect Continues and Extra Lives.

Three of the zones were designed based on those from the 16-bit version of the game. A rarity in Sonic games, Bridge Zone Act 2 scrolls independently of Sonic’s progress, forcing the player to work at a fast pace. (However, that gameplay concept, where the character is forced across the level by an in-alterable fixed-rate rightward scroll, was seen prominently in Super Mario World, a SNES game. Jungle Zone Act 2 is also different from traditional Sonic games, as the level map is vertical as opposed to horizontal.


  • Green Hill Zone
  • Bridge Zone
  • Jungle Zone
  • Labyrinth Zone
  • Scrap Brain Zone
  • Sky Base Zone

Differences between versions

The Game Gear version has a lower screen resolution, but a larger color palette. Sonic's sprite is smaller and the control is said to feel lighter (i.e. Sonic can accelerate and decelerate more easily, and can jump higher). In the first zone, warning signs were added near pits because the narrow screen and the high speed of the game do not give the players enough time to know what is ahead of them.

The Jungle Zone Act 2 allows the player to fall below the level's bottom (as though into a bottomless pit) without losing a life, making this stage easier in the portable version. The Labyrinth Zone level design in the Game Gear version is significantly changed from the Master System edition: most notably, the Chaos Emerald is in an entirely different location, and all Chaos Emeralds are blue. Several bosses, including the final one, were modified from the Master System version. Additionally, the springs found in the bonus stages had received modifications to their color-palettes.

Finally there were 2 enemies which only appeared once in the Master System version, the Burrobot and the Bomb. In the Game Gear version there are more Burrobots in Labyrinth zone, and the Bomb which was only encountered at act 2 of Sky Base is now infesting act 1 as well.

External links

Sonic games Sonic2006
Console games (main series): Sonic (SMD) · Sonic 2 · Sonic CD · Sonic 3 · Sonic & Knuckles · Adventure · Adventure 2 · Heroes · Shadow · Sonic (360/PS3) · Unleashed · Mania · Forces
Handheld games: Sonic (8-bit) · Sonic 2 (8-bit) · Chaos · Triple Trouble · Labyrinth · Blast · Pocket Adventure · Advance · Advance 2 · Battle · Advance 3 · Rush · · Genesis · Rivals · Rush Adventure · Rivals 2 · Chronicles · Colors · Lost World · Generations
Spinoffs: SegaSonic · Spinball · Drift · Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine · Tails' Skypatrol · Tails Adventure · Knuckles' Chaotix · Fighters · 3D Blast · R · Shuffle · Pinball Party · Riders · Secret Rings · Mario & Sonic · Riders: Zero Gravity · Black Knight · TSR
Compilations: Compilation · Jam · Sonic & Knuckles Collection · Mega Collection (Plus) · Gems Collection
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