The original Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most creative and, especially at the time of its release, different side-scrollers I've ever played. Most people when talking about Sonic in his Genesis days compare him to Mario, and that's not unfair, considering that the blue hedgehog was created specifically to rival the plumber. Instead of making him a Mario copycat, and relying only on the 16-bit powers of the Genesis to make Sonic appealing (i.e "Sonic is better than Mario because he looks better"), Sega created a platformer than felt genuinely different from Mario to play. It felt almost like the opposite. Sonic isn't methodical and precise, he is all about momentum, flow and rhythm, and instead of providing the player with a set of mechanics and having him/her use them to clear a level as fast and as efficiently as possible, Sonic's mechanics allowed for a ton of exploration and creativity, and that combined with sprawling level design that featured multiple paths to the end, meant that no play-through was ever quite the same as the last. This was an issue that plagued a lot of 8-bit games - I still replay Mega Man 2 to this day, and it's like a set formula at this point. I go through the exact same motions every time. Same with Mega Man 9, actually. Sonic is not like that at all.
The level design in Sonic the Hedgehog is very creative and unique.
You only need to look at the timers - Mario's timer ticks down, and will make you lose a life if it reaches zero. Sonic's timer, on the other hand, ticks up. Not only does one have many alternative paths to explore while playing Sonic, he also has a ton of different ways of controlling the hedgehog. You don't walk, run and jump, you only jump (which is also your attack), and you roll. The rolling mechanic is Sonic's true beauty, even more than the Spin Dash that was added in the sequel, as it never produces quite the same result. You're never certain of how fast this move will make you go, or how efficient it will be, you have to study the level design and act accordingly. A jump after a roll can also be significantly different than a jump while standing still or running. It's brilliant. If you use it at the right time and on the right inclines, you can make Sonic go at insane amounts of speed or make him reach extremely high places.
Gotta collect all of the rings!!!
Spring Yard Zone is the best example of this (and in my opinion, the best stage in the game). All three acts of this stage are nothing but platforming design that shows what Sonic is all about. Sonic on the Genesis wasn't more attractive than Mario on the NES because it looked better, or because he moved faster, it was because he moved, played and felt like no other platformer at the time. You aren't jumping on floating platforms as much as powering through various half-pipes and loops of different shapes, and it's just as engaging and challenging. I am not arguing that Sonic is objectively superior to Mario, as that is a matter of opinion, what I'm saying is that he offered something different than the plumber (and just as functional) at a time when everyone else was just copying him. Sonic still holds up as one of the most unique platformers of all time, and its Genesis sequels only got better.
This is a remix of a track from Sonic 3, just one of the many showcases of the amazing musical compositions in this franchise.
Well, it never happened to me! I guess I fucked up though, sorry. Edited that out, the rest of the review stands. It's my honest opinion. I don't know how much journalistic integrity it has but I'm not lying or anything