I know this is only tangientally related, but forgive an old man his yarns: The Christmas I got my Sega Genesis was easily a top ten moment in my childhood. Maybe a top five. For those of you old enough to remember cartridge-based games, you’ll undoubtedly also recall the pack-ins were, to use the day’s vernacular, totally radical. My console came with the OG Sonic game. I don’t think I even opened the rest of my gifts before I was behind my grandma’s gargantuan old tube TV trying to figure out how to hook things up.
Nerdy yarning aside, Sonic The Hedgehog is a faithful port with some awesome 90’s style menus and a few cool gameplay add-ons to boot. Whatever your opinion of the franchise in its current state — and whether you’ve played a game in the series or not — it’s worth checking out if you’re at all into platform gaming. It doesn’t have the unlockables and freemium content every other game on the market seems to boast, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Get A Controller
I had a lot of trouble controlling the tiny blue speedfreak around my Nexus 10’s screen using the standard touchscreen controls. I can’t say for sure this isn’t a relic of my (literal) thousands of hours playing Sonic games with a Genesis controller, however. Whatever the case, hooking a PS3 controller to the tablet using an on the go cable solved the problem. Without the controller, moving forward without accidentally crouching was next to impossible; with it, I was flying through levels I thought I’d forgotten a decade ago. If you have access to a Bluetooth controller or one of the aforementioned cables, use it with this game. It’ll make a night and day difference if you’re at all like me. I certainly know I am.
Pretty As The Day She Was Born
I still don’t know enough about gaming hardware to tell you whether Blast Processing was, like, a thing instead of the marketing gimmick I suspect it was. I do know that the Android port is as fast and smooth as its grandpappy, and though there isn’t quite as much go-in-a-straight-line-as-fast-as-you-can action as in later games in the series, it’s still a heck of a lot of fun to play because of it. Within minutes I was pinging off enemies and springboards like a demented blue pinball, not to mention unlocking bonus levels like the boss I used to be. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some slowdown issues, but they were infrequent enough that they really didn’t bother me.
The audio part of the presentation shines, too, with enough toe-tapping old school beats to keep the aging dorks among us bobbing our heads for days. From the iconic SE-GA in the game’s opening moments to the, uh, less-memorable level tunes (here’s looking at you, Marble Zone), everything’s there. And it’s pretty darn glorious to behold, if you ask me. If you’re laughing at that last line, remember: You’ll be old one day, too.
If you haven’t noticed, a big part of my crush on this game comes from the care with which SEGA of America treats the source material. That said, the additions — namely a time trial mode and two new characters in Tails and Knuckles — add to the game without diminishing its old-school legacy. In fact, you could argue that the new characters, which were also playable if you were lucky enough to have a Sonic & Knuckles cart, were kind of already there to begin with. For a franchise that has, at least in my opinion, kind of ruined itself with extra characters and features and gameplay modes over the years, it’s good to see SEGA isn’t so big that it can’t remember its roots. That a game can stand on its own for so long with literally almost nothing added to the equation says a whole lot about how good it is.
A Quick Whine
If you’ll forgive a little more grumbling, I’d like to talk about something this game does right with regard to microtransactions and similar “evolutions” (read: horrible mutations) gaming has undergone on the mobile platform of late. I paid three bucks for this title at the gate, which, because I’ve been conditioned to get free games with paid content packed-in, seemed a little steep. Once I got in, however, that was it. I didn’t have to pony up for rings to lessen the death cooldown after I wiped too many times on a hard boss. There was no option, at least that I saw, to unlock Tails and Knuckles early. The option to buy additional SEGA swag was tucked away in a menu at the beginning of the game. It was wonderful.
I’m the last person to say I’m entitled to free stuff by virtue of owning a fancy smart device. I also know developers are, you know, businesses, and that they kind of need to make money to keep providing us games. It’s just kind of cool to see a game do exactly the opposite of a tactic that, based on the number of games that use it, has been really successful in the mobile arena. If nothing changes, it’s good to know there’ll always be a game or two I don’t have to buy in increments to fully enjoy.
There are two reasons to buy this game. The first is obvious: You’ve played the old stuff and want some good gaming with your nostalgia. The second is, well, everyone else reading this. If you have a capable device and you’ve never played a Sonic game, in other words, check this one out immediately. It’s platforming fun of the highest order. If anything, you’ll gain an appreciation of just how the weird mascots of yesteryear somehow thrive in a market infinitely more diverse than the one they were introduced to. At three bucks, it’s a much better deal than the $50 or $60 you would have paid off the shelf, too. I’m not going to adjust that for inflation, but you get the point. Buy the game.