Over 70 Billion Gold Rings Served
June 23, 2011 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Twenty years ago today, the gaming world saw the launch of a truly landmark title: Sonic the Hedgehog. Developed as a vehicle for a new Sega mascot, the fluid, vibrant, cheery-tuned wonderland swiftly became the company's flagship product, inspiring over the ensuing decades an increasingly convoluted universe of TV shows, comic books, and dozens of games on a variety of systems (all documented in this frighteningly comprehensive TVTropes portal). And while in recent years the series has turned out more and more mediocre 3D and RPG efforts, the original games remain crown jewels of the 16-bit era. So why not kick off this anniversary by replaying the titles that started it all for free in your browser: Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994), Sonic & Knuckles (1994). Or click inside for music, remakes, and other fun stuff!

Music Fun fact: after years of speculation, the composer of the catchy Sonic 3 soundtrack was eventually confirmed to be none other than Michael Jackson (listen and compare).

Emulators and Fan Remakes Bonus: Melt your cares away with docfuture's ultra-chill playthrough of the original game, discussed previously (YouTube version: part 1, part 2). He also plays through Sonic 2: Special Edition on his LetsPlay page.

See also: Sonic Adventures, a multi-part retrospective of the entire series (previously)
posted by Rhaomi (68 comments total) 93 users marked this as a favorite
Never played it, never care to - but wow, what a great post. Nice work.
posted by Trurl at 11:01 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Huh, I could have sworn Sonic was older than that. I would have guessed about 1985.

I actually looked it up, wondering if maybe you'd gotten 'twenty' and 'thirty' mixed up. You didn't.

Awesome post, btw.
posted by Malor at 11:02 AM on June 23, 2011

posted by 2bucksplus at 11:02 AM on June 23, 2011 [25 favorites]

For anyone still watching on Saturday mornings: am I the only person who is actually really fond of the current cartoon? I mean, it's no Kirby, but still a good time.
posted by Think_Long at 11:02 AM on June 23, 2011

And the demo for a new Sonic game just dropped today on XBox Live.

Giant Bomb also has a pretty nice page on the whole franchise, with myriad links to games, concepts, characters, etc. Though it is rather more graphics intensive and less clean than TVTropes.
posted by kmz at 11:03 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damnit, in my head I read that with the voice. Say-Ga.
posted by SirOmega at 11:10 AM on June 23, 2011 [13 favorites]

Damnit, in my head I read that with the voice.

Didn't everybody?
posted by kmz at 11:11 AM on June 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

God, I have so many nightmares of the carnival level of Sonic 3. That up-down platform semi-puzzle made my life a hell for years in the days before I could pop online and figure it out.
posted by SNWidget at 11:12 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh man, the soundtracks on the first three Sonics were awesome. I would watch my son play this for hours just to listen to the music.
posted by not_on_display at 11:12 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Fantastic. I remember calling the hint line (after getting my mother's permission) when I was stuck on the flying fortress level (I forget the exact name) of Sonic 2. The guy on the other end of the phone had no idea what I was talking about. I may not have described it incredibly well, but I maintain to this day that he knew squat about the game. Looking back, I suspect that they just had people with a set of instructions written out for common problems.

I also had a sonic 2 t-shirt that I got for preordering the game. Apparently, I wasn't too embarrassed to wear it to school a day or two after I bought it. And wore it several times before I realized just how much kids were making fun of it. I can't find a picture of the shirt on google, but it had Sonic and Tails in front of a number two, with Robotnic crushing the top of the number 2 in his hands. Beneath them all, it asked "Are you up 2 it?"

For some reason I never ended up putting nearly as much time and energy into Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. But I do remember that the original Sonic game was the first game where I actually went for 100% completion and managed to get everything. Of course I did it by cheating, and the level select code for Sonic is still burned into my memory. Most people have the Konami code. I have Up-Down-Left-Right Hold A and press Start. The trick was play a chaos emerald level, get the emerald and the immediately restart the machine. After getting all the emeralds (and racking up a bunch of continues while you were at it), you then hit restart one more time and just played through the game.

I bought my Genesis before the SNES came out and looking back, I have to admit that the SNES probably was a better system. But Sonic allowed me to be proud of my choice in the first generation of console wars.
posted by Hactar at 11:27 AM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Loved that game. Only got to play at a friend's house... we were strictly a Nintendo household.

And of course got a kick out of studying the very cool Sonic Hedgehog pathway.
posted by zennie at 11:32 AM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

That was not 20 years ago! Right? Like, 10 at most. Maybe 15. Right?? Guys??
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:33 AM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

I played the hell out of the first Sonic over that summer when it was released. Though, I didn't care for the music and would mute the TV and pop in an Anything Box tape. Over the years if I happened to hear any song off of that album, I would start twitching for some gold ring acquisition action. Time to key up a playlist and relive some of that summer...
posted by Jacob G at 11:35 AM on June 23, 2011

posted by hnnrs at 11:40 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Huh. Twenty years of Sonic. Fifteen years of shitty Sonic games.
posted by graventy at 11:40 AM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Sonic was great. I didn't get a Genesis until the next generation of machines were already entrenched but I'd play Sonic for hours at a friends house. The music was terrific, the graphics were terrific, and the SPEED of the game was just incomprehensible to us as we had been raised not even on Nintendo 8 bit but on Atari 2600.

And even still, remember when you'd get the rings knocked out of, and if had a LOT of rings, and the poor little Genesis would just choke.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:44 AM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I still think it's weird that Sega have fallen down so hard with the 3D Sonic games (in that yeah, some have sold well enough, but none is a fraction as beloved or memorable as the 2D originals), and in what, eight or so titles, nobody with enough sway to make it happen has gone 'guys, you know what we could try here? Not making them so uncontrollably fast as to preclude platforming'.

It's like, making Sonic a werewolf and devoting a full sixth of a game to a big blue cat going fishing were ahead of 'slow it down a bit' on the list of things to change? Especially when the Mega Drive games aren't really that fast, all things considered. They give a hell of a lot more weight to actually platforming than running quickly. I'd love to believe the Sega of 2011 is capable of Sonic's Mario Galaxy, but that probably belongs in the 'never to be' box alongside Space Channel 5 Part 3 and Panzer Dragoon Saga 2.
posted by emmtee at 11:45 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

When you're done with all the links in this excellent FPP, be sure to check out the rock-bottom of Sonic fandom, The Gonterman Shrine.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:47 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Good lord this brings back memories of sitting down with my kids and playing Sonic on the Genesis.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:54 AM on June 23, 2011

My son's going to be so psyched about the new Sonic Generations demo.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:59 AM on June 23, 2011

I don't suppose anyone else made up words to all the Sonic music.

"Sonic the goofy hedgehog
Yeah, he's such a goofy hedgehog
Sonic the goofy hedgehog
He's really a goofy hedgehog

He runs and jumps
To rescue his friends
From the evil
Dastardly Dr. Robotnik"
posted by dfan at 12:01 PM on June 23, 2011

dfan: "I don't suppose anyone else made up words to all the Sonic music."

Reminds me of this video riffing on the "Jackson scored Sonic 3" story.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:04 PM on June 23, 2011

God, I have so many nightmares of the carnival level of Sonic 3. That up-down platform semi-puzzle made my life a hell for years in the days before I could pop online and figure it out.

Oh god I hated that! It wasn't a puzzle so much as it just relied on an aspect of the engine, that you can move those platforms up and down with the controller, that had theretofore been unhinted at, and forced you to use it to proceed. Not one of Sega's better design moments.
posted by JHarris at 12:11 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm still rather amazed at Sonic 2's split-screen versus mode. I'm of the opinion that Sonic 2 is the pinnacle of the series, and versus mode in that is surprisingly fun. Sonic 3's versus mode was such a letdown by comparison.
posted by JHarris at 12:17 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

1. Go to DeviantArt
2. Search for [your name] the Hedgehog
3. Find the best image from this search
4. Print the picture out and tape it to your driver's license
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:22 PM on June 23, 2011 [11 favorites]

JHarris, I completely agree. I remember forcing my mom to play the split screen races with me just so I'd have someone to play against. I need to remember to thank her for that. (I was located quite far away from my friends, and for all that I played video games, I don't remember playing on my Genesis with them when I was growing up.)
posted by Hactar at 12:24 PM on June 23, 2011

Sticherbeast: "1. Go to DeviantArt
2. Search for [your name] the Hedgehog
3. Find the best image from this search
4. Print the picture out and tape it to your driver's license

Oh god, now I've fallen down the rabbit hole.

posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2011

I was about to get all geeky about the lock-on technology of Sonic & Knuckles, but the wiki entry says that the "lock-on technology was actually a way of making up for the fact that the developers could not meet the deadline for Sonic 3." The citation is an interview with Yuji Naka, who said:
Sonic 3 is literally half a game. Sega management back then wanted the game out at a certain time and we only had half the stages done, so we had to put the leftovers into Sonic and Knuckles. So when you bought S&K and attached it to Sonic 3, you got the whole of what Sonic 3 was planned to have been.
Crafty. But by allowing it to access data from Sonic 2 made it seem like something they had planned all along.

And then there are tribute and knock-off games (online games, to boot) that were inspired to one degree or another by the Sonic franchise.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:26 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hactar: "I bought my Genesis before the SNES came out and looking back, I have to admit that the SNES probably was a better system"

This is heresy of the highest order. The SEGA Genesis had Blast Processing! Genesis does what Nintendon't!

I definitely agree that Sonic 2 was the pinnacle of the series - I spent hours playing Sonic and Sonic 2.

My favorite Sonic memory is of playing with my (much older) stepbrother, who referred to Sonic's shield as "the condom", and that whenever Sonic was wearing it he was "practicing safe Sega".
posted by namewithoutwords at 12:26 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I only really ever played SonicCD - it came with the first computer my family had, I think. Great game- I loved the "3D" levels you had to win to get the Chaos Emeralds. I spent some time building a remake of them in flash- to date my only successful use of PixelBender. I'll see if I can find it, it was sort of playable...
posted by BungaDunga at 12:40 PM on June 23, 2011

Awesome. I'm not going to pretend I'm OG Sonic or anything, but I sure as hell had some times with Sonic 2 worth remembering.

I actually thought Sonic Adventures on the Dreamcast was pretty great. And I just played Sonic Generations at E3 and it was actually quite respectful and good, though they only had one level available. But yes, there have been a lot of bad Sonic games. They're batting about .250 compared to Mario's .600 or so.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:41 PM on June 23, 2011

So a few days ago I cooked dinner while listening to the theme from Emerald Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Casino Night Zone and Mystic Cave Zone (both one- and two-player versions) (Sonic 2). Dinner never sounded so good.
posted by 3FLryan at 12:45 PM on June 23, 2011

My son loved Sonic the Hedgehog when he was younger. He had a black Sonic sweatshirt that he used to wear all the time. We had the original games on the Sega Gamegear. Wow, that was years ago!
posted by garnetgirl at 12:46 PM on June 23, 2011

then there are tribute and knock-off games

"Sonic the Pervert 2". I really shouldn't be surprised, at this point.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:46 PM on June 23, 2011

I still have my Sonic CD and a working Sega CDX console. There was never enough time to collect all the rings in past, present, AND future (both good and bad) versions of the levels, but I'll be damned if I didn't try!

The debug mode cheat in the original Sonic the Hedgehog is the initial seed that lead to my current career as a game designer.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:50 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Huh. I just tried playing "Sonic 3", and discovered that I have become an old person. Everything moves too fast, I'm utterly incompetent with the timing, and on the whole I would rather go read The Economist.

posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:51 PM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Also today, Quake celebrates 15 years of kaboom.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:55 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Malor: Huh, I could have sworn Sonic was older than that. I would have guessed about 1985.

I would've guessed like 1997. And actually think of it as the point I really lost touch with video games...

Wow. That makes one feel sorta old...
posted by Skygazer at 1:02 PM on June 23, 2011

Or maybe lost touch with my brain. Not too sure on that.

So, I guess that silly game that came for free with whatever the fuck, or was the first game for it, was a success, yeah??

Darnnit where's my nursie with my milk and cookies, I needs mah dentures for that!!!

posted by Skygazer at 1:07 PM on June 23, 2011

I just played through the Sonic Generations demo a couple of times. It's amazingly pretty (more games that look like that, please!) but it kind of makes me sad that all this art is going into a slavish re-creation of old levels. I would love to see an actual new side-scrolling Sonic with the kind of love they've obviously put into this (and not the kind of apathy they put into Sonic 4), and I'd love even more to be able to go and run around those gorgeous technicolour Green Hill backdrops with something other than the horrible, twitchy, over-fast 3D Sonic mechanics.
posted by emmtee at 1:19 PM on June 23, 2011

Awesome post! Sonic (and Sega in general) *was* my childhood.
posted by kryptondog at 1:32 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Sonic games locked me into my first real experience with brand loyalty, and it was an intense loyalty. I mean, I have a 32X, so loyal was I to Sega. It wasn't until the Saturn died a slow, stupid death that I broke out of it, but Sonic has a very special place in my heart and always will, despite the horrible games Sega's put out lately.

Also, the Saturday Morning Cartoon that aired in the 90s was hugely influential on me, for better or for worse. I alway thought it'd make a great RPG.

I wish all the awful Sonic porn would go away.
posted by gc at 1:37 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd love to believe the Sega of 2011 is capable of Sonic's Mario Galaxy, but that probably belongs in the 'never to be' box alongside Space Channel 5 Part 3 and Panzer Dragoon Saga 2.

Give Sonic Colo(u)rs a try, if you've got a Wii. I've been impressed by how well it captures the freewheeling Saturday-morning-cartoon spirit of the original games, but updates the gameplay, graphics and music to modern levels (biggest misstep there is the lame credits music, but it's a small blotch on an otherwise great game).

The Sonic Advance titles (particularly 3) are also underrated, if you've got a way to play GBA games.
posted by wanderingmind at 1:51 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sonic Rush on DS was actually quite fun. It's only sorta 3D, so that classic gameplay remains intact.
posted by Winnemac at 1:56 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Blast Processing...lollers...what a bunch of shit.
posted by GavinR at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2011

The GBA and first DS Sonic games aren't as good as the originals (the physics that made them great is gone), but aren't bad. If you go into the sound test of Sonic Advance 1 and listen, there are some rather good recreations of Sonic 1 music in there!
posted by JHarris at 3:02 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

For anyone despairing over the state of the franchise get Sonic Colors DS. It's so FAST and plays like a proper Sonic game. Multiple paths, fun powers, and no extra powers.
I never had a Genesis as a kid but I did play Sonic 3 at my friend's place. Thanks to emulators I've played it again (with Knuckles) and it's still really fun. Sonic Spinball is enjoyable and I love the old cartoon. I've got a giant orange Dr Robotnik shirk from a thrift store - I think there was a Sega World here that closed.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:18 PM on June 23, 2011

For anyone despairing over the state of the franchise get Sonic Colors DS. It's so FAST and plays like a proper Sonic game. Multiple paths, fun powers, and no extra powers.

Er, no extra CHARACTERS. Not powers.
Bayonetta has some fun Sonic tributes. It starts at Dr Eggman's funereal and you collect gold rings all game.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:22 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

This seems like a good place to mention a discussion an industry pal and I had last year about the ten best stages from the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
posted by Servo5678 at 3:52 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I bought my Genesis before the SNES came out and looking back, I have to admit that the SNES probably was a better system.

Can I introduce you to my friends Star Control and Herzog Zwei?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:06 PM on June 23, 2011

Sonic 2, it should be said, had an atypical development process. It was the only Sonic game mostly made in America, and much of the zone art was produced by Americans. Yuji Naka was on the outs from Sega at the time, and so signed up with their U.S. branch. The other of Sonic's creators, whose name escapes me right now, worked in Japan on Sonic CD.

A lot of people love Sonic CD, but I think it's inferior to Sonic 2. Sonic CD you have to explore all over the place, and in time as well; Sonic 2 is much more focused on sharp platforming, but expands on Sonic 1's many alternate routes. I also much prefer 2's special stages; CD's look and play too much like a tech demo, the frame rate is annoying and makes it difficult to play. It turns out you can completely pass up the "Time Stones" (its name for the Chaos Emeralds) and still get the good ending if you go through every level, seek out and destroy an object located in the Past, but that makes playing Sonic CD a much longer game than the others in the series (and Sonic 2 already has ten zones).

Sonic CD is also notable in that the music in the Japanese and US releases is almost completely different. The CD version is much catchier, but is filled with laughable Engrish.
posted by JHarris at 4:15 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can I introduce you to my friends Star Control and Herzog Zwei?

Herzog Zwei I spent serious time on in the day, and was basically unbeatable. Star Control wasn't bad, although I seem to remember having difficulty understanding the galaxy map. It's worth noting that SC was greatly overshadowed by Star Control II, which is actually a completely different kind of game, a lot more like Starflight -- and the Genesis version of Starflight is wonderful.

Other good Genesis games: Might & Magic II is a wonderful port, (the original) King's Bounty is great as well and still playable today, and ToeJam & Earl is heavenly and hilarious.

Notably, every game mentioned in this comment except for Herzog Zwei was developed by Westerners. This isn't to decry the abilities of Japanese Genesis developers, far from it, but it seems like it was easier for Westerners to make professional-seeming stuff for the Genesis. On the NES, if it wasn't either Japanese or Rare then the chances were high that it was going to suck. (And if you consider how many games Rare made at the time, for all kinds of companies, their track record wasn't all so great either.)

I do think the SNES had more great games, that looked more polished overall. The graphics and sound were much better. But it also had a much slower processor, and that hurt it on some games like Gradius III, which is in slowdown mode more often than not.
posted by JHarris at 4:23 PM on June 23, 2011

As mentioned here in a comment I don't care to dig up, my first UK books were about Sonic the Hedgehog--two gamebooks for Puffin and two novels for Virgin Publishing, under the 'Martin Adams' group pseudonym. And if you think novelising a Sonic game is a thankless waste of three weeks of a man's existence, you'd be surprisingly wrong--we were given a largely free rein on the plots, as long as Sonic and Tails were front and centre. And this was shortly after Sonic 2 had been released, so there really wasn't a lot of continuity or characterisation to get in the way.

There's a big anecdote about the two novels I wrote and select parts of their content and how that relates to the Virgin Publishing fiction department, which at the time was basically concerned with producing Doctor Who novels and porn in equal quantities, but I don't commit it to print. Get me suitably drunk and I'll tell you.
posted by Hogshead at 4:33 PM on June 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I remember focus-group testing the first Sonic as a kid. They also had us play whatever the first Mario title on the SNES, which hadn't been localized yet so it was in Japanese. I remember being completely floored by the graphics in Sonic--the colors especially. We overwhelmingly chose Sonic as the better game because it was new and fresh, although I think Mario would have gotten a bit more love if it'd been in English.
posted by smirkette at 4:34 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I named my cat Sega simply so I have an excuse to yell SAYYY-GAA every day of my life.
posted by Diskeater at 4:41 PM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

If we're going to go on about favorite Genesis games in rebuttal to my comment earlier, I feel obliged to mention two games: Master of Monsters and Fatal Labyrinth a roguelike for the Genesis. I'm not denying that the Genesis had fantastic games. God knows how much time I wasted on the two I mentioned alone, not to mention things like Turrican or ToeJam and Earl. But looking at the longevity of the characters and eventual outcomes of the console wars, I do have to face the fact that I was on the losing side.

Or maybe I just never played enough crappy SNES games to compensate for the amount wasted on crappy Genesis games.
posted by Hactar at 6:12 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another unbelievable Genesis game: Gunstar Heroes, which is kind of like a high-speed Contra, where you can combine various ammo types that have different characteristics, grapple and throw enemies, etc. It still holds up today as a fantastic platformer, and I think Treasure (an amazing developer, see Bangai-O and Ikaruga also) released an updated version for some more recent system too.

It's weird how at the time everybody I knew seemed to be die-hard SNES or Genesis loyalists based on what they have, but those days are long enough ago now that you can look back with a bit more perspective. SNES was definitely a more powerful system in a lot of ways - better sound synthesis, more simultaneous onscreen colors, mode 7 sprite rotation/scaling, etc. It's impressive that Genesis was able to compete as successfully as it did. But it seems like what made a difference in the end was developer style more than anything. Genesis games often seemed to put a premium on vivid colors, quick movement, and funky music, where SNES often had more detailed sprites and more methodical gameplay. I'm thinking about the Genesis vs. SNES versions of Disney's Aladdin - look at these two one after the other! The SNES one has way better music, but Aladdin seems to lumber along slowly, and the game is kind of jerky. The Genesis version feels more like a cartoon, despite duller colors and fuzzier music. (I looked it up, and Capcom did the SNES version, while the Genesis version was developed by a team that went on to form the Shiny team that made Earthworm Jim, which makes a lot of sense) I felt the same way about Donkey Kong Country - it was impressive-looking, but it just handled like a dog!

As with most systems, in the end it really came down to what you wanted most. SNES had a significantly better selection of JRPGs, fighting games, and traditional (i.e., non-Mutant League) sports games. Genesis had fantastic platformers, some good shooters, and all kinds of just plain weird games, like the brilliant aforementioned Toejam and Earl. (Seriously, can you imagine a game like that getting made today? The billions of weird characters, funky elevator conversations, endlessly repetitive but somehow addictive gameplay?)

I was googling random shit while writing this and found out that Sega developed an on-cartridge 3D chip to compete with Nintendo's Super FX chip, just years later and towards the very end of the Genesis's life cycle. It only ever got used in the Genesis version of Virtua Racing, and apparently looked great for the time, but was so expensive that the game cost $100. WTF is this, a Neo Geo game??

In conclusion, happy birthday, Sonic.

(also, you guys remember that ad campaign a few years in where instead of the "SAAYYY-GAAAHHH" chanting they just had the dude rapidly yell "SEGA!!!"?)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 7:47 PM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Oh yeah, and for everyone who loved 2D Sonic games, but has been disappointed by everything since Sonic Adventure: If you haven't already, check out the information online about Sonic X-Treme, Sega's aborted first attempt at making a 3D Sonic game. (It was originally intended for Genesis, then development slid to 32X, and finally Saturn, before the project was cancelled in 1997.) The prototype was being developed back before developers had really figured out how to do 3D platformers, so it looks pretty crazy today. Sonic himself was a 2D sprite, but the world was 3D, and rendered through a crazy fisheye perspective so that the player could see more of the world while running left or right. A single prototype disc got auctioned off a few years back, and the owner eventually released the .ISO, and some people have apparently gotten it working on Saturn emulators or something, so there are a few crazy gameplay videos available online. Anyway, it looks like an attempt to make a 3D Sonic game that closely followed the 2D Sonic-style gameplay, instead of the slower-paced, more explorative, jump-attack-seeking-interspersed-with-cinematic-speed-bursts-on-rails style seen in Sonic Adventure and more recent offerings.

ALSO, and seriously this'll be the last thing: I always loved one of the Acts in the first zone of Sonic and Knuckles, where they did this truly beautiful thing - apparently Robotnik planted a device at the end of the level to alter the weather. So you start off the level in a typically Sonic-first-zone-style lush green environment, then about 1/3 of the way through the level you hit some spring that sends you shooting out through a tunnel and when you emerge the level's entire palette shifts so that it's a chilly autumn scene with (if I remember right?) cooler landscape colors and red and orange leaves. Then towards the end, you speed through another tunnel and when you shoot out the other side the palette shifts again and the level has a full-on winter look. Then you reach the end, there's a device with a satellite dish beaming up into the sky, and you jump attack it, there's a flash, and the colors return back to the bright springtime scene again. It was just done so masterfully, and it worked so well, and it was just a throwaway trick for an early level that you can speed through in like 3 minutes.

Aaaanyway I'm gonna back away slowly before I make an even bigger nerd of myself
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:09 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

That's odd c_h_t, I don't remember that. It sounds like just the kind of thing that would be in Sonic 3 (remember when they set Angel Island on fire?).

I've exchanged emails with Greg Johnson, who was half the team for TJ&E, and designed Starflight and Star Control II. Such an awesome guy. I put him up with Will Wright and Miyamoto.
posted by JHarris at 9:24 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Actually, it may HAVE been Sonic 3, come to think of it. One of those two.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 9:26 PM on June 23, 2011

JHarris: I looked it up, and it was in Sonic and Knuckles, but my memory was a bit off. Mushroom Hill Zone Act 1 is the green spring/summertime-looking level. Towards the beginning of Act 2, you bump into Knuckles, who throws a switch that blows you up into the air and immediately into autumn. Later in the level it turns into winter, and then when you hit the satellite dish right before the boss fight, there's an explosion and everything goes back to green. A few pictures here, and a video here (level starts ~0:35, change to autumn ~0:45, change to winter ~1:50, then back to summer ~2:40)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:09 PM on June 23, 2011

Speaking of the Mushroom Hill Zone, don't miss this cool computer-generated 3D remake of the level.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:08 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I said Sonic 3, I meant Sonic 3 and Knuckles. I don't think of them as separate games.

The coolest 3D rendering of a 2D Sonic level is an ultra-secret in Sonic Adventure 2. If you manage to get all 180 emblems, which requires getting, among other things, A ranks in every damn level of the game, it unlocks a playable 3D remake of the Green Hill Zone!

It's fun to run through, but the unlock requirement is absurd.
posted by JHarris at 1:45 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Okay, you remember those Spaghetti-O's variants that they used to make, with Sonic and friends? Well, er, I masturbated about that. Yeah.
Sonic and friends get sucked into a giant can of Sonic pasta, implying that they, in fact, ARE the pasta, and this is some silly marketing scheme... It was so light and happy-go-lucky that it couldn't possibly think it demeaning to Sonic's character or his attitude. But, you know, that's hot.
I feel guilty now, looking at Sonic's mug, and thinking of how I've used my childhood hero for my silly girly fantasies. That, might I add, are really dumb.

From the sadly missed Leticia McKenzie.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:40 AM on June 24, 2011

Green Hill Zone recreated in Minecraft (finished product starts @2:48)
posted by Rhaomi at 4:52 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

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