Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis «

Note: When we initially ran this article, Gabe was operating under the mistaken impression that the game was based on the GameGear version of Sonic the Hedgehog. After a little research, we discovered this wasn’t the case, so the text of the review has been edited to reflect this. The score still stands, however, as the core of this game’s suckage cannot be denied.

Fifteen years ago, a little blue hedgehog with an unnatural addiction to blinding speed debuted to throngs of grateful gamers. The chance to relive that experience on the GBA would make many a grown man weep with delight, but Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis misses the mark by miles. Let’s ignore the fact that the game seems to resemble the GameGear (Sega’s ill-fated handheld) version more than the Genesis version for a minute, and instead focus on this game’s complete inability to deliver Sonic’s best feature: speed.

The graphics are passable and the levels are short, but the most glaring issue with Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis is that Sonic is completely neutered of his ability to run really, really fast because the game suffers from serious slowdown issues. It’s a huge deal when you’re celebrating a character’s fifteenth anniversary — a character beloved by millions for a single defining quality (besides a vaguely rebellious attitude) — and you leave out the one thing that said character is known for. When you take away Sonic’s trademark breakneck speed, what are you left with? An incredibly substandard and unfun game, apparently.

As if the chuggy frame rates weren’t bad enough, you’ll also be treated to an intolerable amount of pop-in, where platforms and other little environmental doodads will suddenly appear out of nowhere. There is nothing more frustrating than jumping onto a platform that is just about to disappear and having no idea where to jump next because the GBA simply can’t handle drawing it into the background. Worst of all, it makes no sense why this should happen at all — it’s not like the Game Boy Advance can’t handle the game. It’s shoddy programming, pure and simple, and there is no excuse for it.

Pretender to the Throne

Sadly, Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis is terribly named as well, considering the fact that it more closely resembles the GameGear version of Sonic the Hedgehog and not (as advertised) the Genesis version. You’d imagine that the Game Boy Advance would be able to easily handle a port of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, but for some unexplained and misguided reason, Sega has chosen to go with a hobbled version that would have been better suited to its doomed, ancient handheld console.

This decision to go with a stripped-down handheld version of Sonic the Hedgehog impacts both the performance of the game and its fidelity to the original Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis. Sega crows about the original Sonic the Hedgehog music being included in the game, but the reality is that the tinny, bassless tunes are just a pale shadow of the original bubbly anthems. You can also see this lack of fidelity in the game’s graphics, which are just barely okay and lack the quasi-3D punch of the original game.

Okay, so they added in Sonic’s Spin Dash ability (a feature that enables Sonic to roll into a ball and rev up a spin attack from a dead stop), but that’s a small consolation given the rest of the crap you’ll have to put up with. Plus, since the game wasn’t originally designed to accommodate this feature, you’ll find precious few chances to use it (and most of those opportunities will end up getting you killed from charging into beds of sharp spikes anyway).

After fifteen years, gamers still love Sonic the Hedgehog (at least, we do), so to celebrate his fifteenth anniversary with such a lackluster product is upsetting to say the least. For shame, Sega. This doddering version of Sonic the Hedgehog has an appointment with the glue factory for sure.


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