Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
SONIC • SEGA • £29.99 • OUT NOW
I don’t know, what kind of a world is it that would allow an evil doctor to kidnap cute little animals and turn them into robots? Actually, it sounds pretty cool. Imagine walking down your local high street, not having to worry about stepping in excretory products from cats and dogs. Just think, you could sunbathe in your back garden without having to look around for sheep droppings before you laid down your towel. Yes we’ve got the measure of the animals now, their days of just being cute pets are numbered. The head of this animal-bashing organisation is the great Dr Ivo Robotnik, international mad scientist and all-round nasty piece of work. We love him. Good on him for capturing those pesky animals and turning them into something useful, like slave robots.
But the animals are fighting back. And who do they choose to rescue the stranded animals? A hedgehog! Wow, how scary. Prepare for hedgehog sandwich.
Bugger off, Kick Off, get outta here, Out Run, Sonic is here! To say Master System owners have been eagerly awaiting Sonic would be like saying Mega Drive owners are looking forward to the Mega-CD - one of the gross understatements of the year.
But Mega Drive owners have been mocking their 8-bit friends, sure that Sonic would never be properly translated on the Master System - how wrong they were. Sonic the Hedgehog is, quite simply, the greatest game to ever appear on the Master System.
Right from the title screen, you get the feeling that you are playing something really special - and you are. As soon as that cute little blue hog starts waving his finger at you, you can do nothing but watch in awe as the Master System performs feats unheard of on an 8-bit console.
Sonic on the MD was never one to hold you up with loads of options, and neither does this, all you get is an informative little map at the beginning of each level showing your trail and the level name. A nice addition, reminiscent of Mario on the NES.
The levels are huge compared to what you normally get in a Master System game. They may have lost the parallax scrolling of the Mega Drive version but, personally, I think this is an improvement. Now the backgrounds give a subtle feeling of actually being in another world - the mountains scroll smoothly by on the first level - because they don’t detract from the action in the foreground.
The environment through which Sonic ventures is practically identical to the Mega Drive game. It has everything from the original - and then some. The first two levels, although different in playing style to MD Sonic, are graphically the same. It is only when you encounter the waterfalls and then the jungle that you feel you’re in a completely different game. The MS Sonic designers seem to have taken the best bits from the original game, and then added tons more excellent graphical effects and playability.
Now there’s an interesting word, playability. The original Sonic sure had it, but admittedly the game did get a tad boring after a month or so. Once you’d completed it a couple of times, you never really wanted to go back to it. In my opinion, the Master System version is as close as you are going to get to the perfect game. The levels are much larger, the bonus stage is inventive, and above all the game is constantly challenging and enjoyable. And if you’re wondering about the speed of the thing, fear not for it’s still mind-numbingly fast. In fact, if you stick it on the Game Gear through the Master Gear, it’s too fast! The LCD can’t update quick enough, which is why I would recommend GG owners wait for the real thing, which will hopefully be slowed down and made ^more vivid for the smaller screen.
Lastly, bright and bubbly music plays all the time and matches the Mega version note for note - it even speeds up when you collect the turbo boots. The sound effects are also identical, even the whoops as Sonic jumps and collects rings.
All through playing Sonic I had but one thought on my mind; how the hell did they get the Master System to perform this. It smashes everything else on both graphics and sound, and the gameplay is unrivalled. Finally, I know many readers may not believe it, but the Master System version of Sonic is actually better than the Mega Drive version. Just watch those Power Base convertor sales rise and rise as word of the MS version spreads. The likes of Out Run and Super Kick Off can forget it. Sonic will be number one for Christmas without a doubt, and is sure to be running rings around the competition way into 1992!
Whenever you see a box with an arrow pointing down in it, jump on it as this indicates a restart point if you die. If you miss them, you’ll be travelling back to the beginning of the stage over and over again. Also, when you restart there, remember to jump on it again just in case you die again.
The first level guardian is a doddle, just hit him as he descends the side of the screen. The second Robotnik is a little tougher. Jump onto the middle platform and when he appears, jump on him and then jump onto the platform furthest from him. When he fires, jump straight up as the third bullet comes down. Jump on him again, and repeat till he’s dead.
The bonus level in the Master System game is far better than on the Mega Drive.
The underwater levels in Sonic are great fun, but watch out for the big bubbles because you need to gulp them to keep breathing.
The Water level provides many tough challenges, like this strange creature that fires his four deadly balls at you. Just bide your time and let them go by to reach Robotnik at the end.
After travelling the many confusing and tiring tunnels of the Tech level, you encounter Robotnik on a flying platform. Keep a cool head to defeat this evil fiend.
Jump, Sonic, jump! Those rings hold extra treasures because at the end of every level you can cash them in for points. If you can collect 100 rings in a row, You'll be awarded with an extra life! The scales pictured here are just one of the many interactive objects that have to be mastered if you're to get anywhere.
Extra thanks and sausage sandwiches go to KC's Computers and Console Magic at 3 High Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, & (0509) 211799. They managed to supply us with the cart despite the millions of paying customers who were clearing Sonic from the shelves faster than you can say "hedgehog sandwich". And it's hardly any wonder when KC is seHkjg it for just £28!
Why did the hedgehog cross the road?
To see his flat mate.
It is quite possible that Sonic will never be bettered on the Master System.