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Sonic Wiki Zone
Sonic Wiki Zone
This is a Sonic Wiki Zone Featured Article
Not to be confused with Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit), the 8-bit game also released in 1991.

It's Super SONIC

— Tagline

Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Sonikku za Hejjihoggu?) is a 2D platformer video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Mega Drive/Genesis. It is the launch title for the long running Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, marking the official debut of Sega's then-new mascot: Sonic the Hedgehog, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who can run at supersonic speeds and attack enemies with his signature Spin Attack maneuver. The game follows the titular hero on his mission to rescue the Animal Friends of South Island from an evil scientist named Dr. Ivo Robotnik (nicknamed "Eggman"), who is turning the Animals into Badniks in his search for powerful relics known as the Chaos Emeralds. It is up to Sonic to rescue the Animals and collect the Chaos Emeralds before Eggman can use them to conquer the world. The game is the first part of the grand Death Egg saga.

The game was originally released in North America and Europe on 23 June 1991,[2][3] with a Japanese release following a month later on 26 July.[1] Advertising its fast gameplay based on Sonic's extraordinary speed, the concept of a high-speed platform game was unique for its time and solidified the style of gameplay the series would be best known for. Due to the Mega Drive's 7.67MHz Motorola 68000 processor, the power of the console would allow for faster gameplay (dubbed by some as "Blast Processing") and impressive 16-bit graphics, making it much more powerful than Sega's preceding console, the Sega Master System.

Sonic the Hedgehog was well praised by critics and was a massive commercial success, which gave the Mega Drive, and by extent Sega itself, a huge boost in popularity, enough so that Sega could directly compete with Nintendo (specifically the Super Mario series), who soon followed up with the release of their Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the same year. This would result in what would be the first counterattack in a long, heated company rivalry that lasted throughout the 1990s, especially in the United States. In recent years, the game has been ported numerous times on many other consoles, with some ports adding newer features to the original game.

Following the announcement of it's 2013 mobile remaster getting ported to the Sonic Origins compilation, Sonic the Hedgehog was delisted as a standalone title on 20 May 2022, alongside Sonic CD, Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles.



The title screen of Sonic the Hedgehog.

The story is set on South Island, an island known for being a treasure trove of ruins and gems. Amongst these treasures are the Chaos Emeralds, six gemstones with enough power to bring energy to all living beings, or power nuclear and laser weapons through science and technology. However, nobody really knows how to obtain these gems. This is because South Island is a moving island, with the Emeralds existing within natural distortions on the island.[7]

The story begins with a young heroic speedy anthropomorphic blue hedgehog named Sonic the Hedgehog, who can run at the amazing super speeds that allows him to travel supersonic speeds, and can curl himself into a powerful spinball attack, has spent whole his life, running and traveling through Green Hill Zone. One day while running, Sonic learns about the danger arising, that has come upon the South Island. He soon learns that the infamous Dr. Ivo Robotnik, an evil human scientist later known as "Dr. Eggman", and Sonic's arch-enemy, has landed on the island with his minions. Having returned to cause more trouble, Dr. Eggman concocts a new, nasty plan to crush Sonic with the power of science.[7] Soon after his arrival, he captures Sonic's Animal friends and turns them into his mindless Badnik servants and builds the Scrap Brain, a huge fortress on one corner of the island where the mad doctor develops his plans, and also begins hunting the Chaos Emeralds in order to use their incredible power, declaring that he will find them even if he has to dig up the entire island.[8]

Upon learning of Dr. Eggman's ambitions through rumors, Sonic rushes to South Island to stop him and save his Animal friends. Sonic travels through the various Zones on South Island, freeing his Animal friends by destroying every single Badniks, and defeating Dr. Eggman and his various contraptions along the way while hunting for the Chaos Emeralds.


Sonic's final battle against Dr. Eggman.

Eventually, Sonic infiltrates the Scrap Brain. After being cornered inside, Dr. Eggman activates a trap that destroys the floor the hedgehog is standing on, dropping him into the ruins underneath the base. Making his way back into the stronghold, Sonic enters a trap-ridden room with his nemesis in it, and the two engage in a final fight. When the hero destroys the room, a defenseless Eggman tries to escape in his Egg Mobile. Before the villain can escape, however, Sonic defeats Dr. Eggman by landing a powerful final hit on the hovercraft, and causing him to slowly fall down.[9]

With Eggman's ambitions (and the Scrap Brain) crumbled, peace has returned to South Island, all Badniks have been destroyed, Sonic's Animal friends have been liberated from their Capsules, and the island's treasures and jewels are safe once again. Sonic then returns to Green Hill, where he finds his Animal friends joyfully jumping around, hailing Sonic a hero, and celebrating his victory.[9] After that, the game's ending will depend on the player's process:

  • If the player did not manage to collect the six Chaos Emeralds, Sonic will give the player an annoyed look for not completing everything, but will nonetheless jump towards the screen and pose while the text "SONIC THE HEDGEHOG" appears to his left. Meanwhile, Eggman will have secured the Chaos Emeralds for himself.[9] After the credits, a laughing Eggman will be shown on a black screen juggling any of the Emeralds the player has not obtained while the text "TRY AGAIN" appears underneath him.
  • If the player manages to collect all Chaos Emeralds, Sonic will run through Green Hill. He will then release the Chaos Emeralds, which will disappear after filling the entire Zone with large, colorful flowers. After being shocked by this for a split second, Sonic will then jump towards the screen in the same way as in the bad ending. Following the credits, a frustrated Eggman will be shown comically jumping on the text "END".


The beginning

Sonic in Green Hill Zone, the first Zone in the game.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a 2D side-scrolling platform video game. The only playable character here is Sonic the Hedgehog. The main goal of the game is to get through a series of Acts for different Zones in less than ten minutes. When passing through each Act, the player will be contending with different types of enemies called "Badniks" and various terrains that have different gimmicks and obstacles along them. The level designs all vary, each with different types of gimmicks and layouts that may differ between Zones. Along the way, the player can earn points by collecting items and defeating Badniks. In order to conclude the first two Acts of a Zone, the player has to pass a Goal Plate at the end of said Acts. To complete the third and final Act of most Zones on the other hand, the player typically has to open a Capsule at the end of the Act, after a boss fight. Also upon completing an Act, the player's overall score will be tallied, with bonus points being granted based on their performance, these being the number of Rings held after passing the Goal Plate and how fast the player finishes the Act.

Sonic's most basic ability is running, which can reach impressive speeds when momentum is build up, allowing him to run through loops or up ramps and launch himself high up into the air. For offensive maneuvers, Sonic has a full body rolling maneuver called Super Sonic Spin Attack and a spinning jump called the Super Sonic Spin Jump. These techniques allow him to destroy breakable objects and enemies.

In Sonic the Hedgehog, the gameplay operates on a life system, while Sonic takes damage when touching a Badnik or hazard or getting attacked by a boss or Badnik. Throughout the Acts however, Rings lie scattered about, which Sonic can pick up by simply touching them. Rings give an extra life after collecting 100 or 200 of them, grant points and protect the player from taking damage. If Sonic takes damage, he will drop all of his Rings, though some can be recollected before they disappear. Taking damage without any Rings will cost the player a life. Sonic will also lose a life, regardless of the Rings he holds, if he spends too long underwater without replenishing his air supply (air underwater lasts for thirty seconds), falls into a bottomless pit, gets smashed to the ground by a crusher, drowning or runs out of time. Star Posts act as checkpoints, and the player will respawn in the last one they touched after losing a life, or from the beginning of the Act if they have not passed any Star Post. If a player loses their last life, the game will end, but they can keep playing as long as they have obtained Continues. Also scattered throughout each Act are Item Boxes which contain various power-ups beneficial to Sonic's performance.

If the player has at least fifty Rings on hand at the end of the first or second Act of a Zone, they will be able to enter one of six Special Stages through a Giant Ring that appears above the Goal Plate. Once the player has cleared all six Special Stages, the Giant Rings will no longer appear. If Sonic does not jump in before the Goal Plate stops spinning, he will automatically run off of the screen, preventing the player from entering the Special Stage. At the end of each Act, the player can also jump through the air during the score tallying to find invisible Secret Bonuses that are added to the score.

Beside the game's main goal, the player can also collect the Chaos Emeralds, which are earned by completing the different Special Stages. Collecting all six Emeralds and completing the Final Zone will unlock the game's good cinematic ending.

Scoring system[]


Button formation S1-Sonic-Life Movement
Controlpadds left/right Walk/Run
Controlpadds up Look up
Controlpadds down Look down/Crouch
Sega Genesis A Button/Sega Genesis B Button/Sega Genesis C Button Super Sonic Spin Jump
Controlpadds left/right + Controlpadds down Super Sonic Spin Attack



Gimmicks and obstacles[]


Playable characters[]

Non-playable characters[]



Sonic the Hedgehog has seven Zones. The first six of these Zones contain three full-length Acts, with the third having just a battle against a boss. The final Zone only consists of the final boss fight.

  1. Green Hill Zone
  2. Marble Zone
  3. Spring Yard Zone
  4. Labyrinth Zone
  5. Star Light Zone
  6. Scrap Brain Zone
  7. Final Zone

Special Stages[]

Come to papa

A Special Stage in Sonic the Hedgehog.

Should Sonic finish the first or second Act of any of the first five Zones with at least fifty Rings, a Giant Ring will appear. If the player jumps into it, they will warp into a "Special Stage", which conceals one of the six Chaos Emeralds. In these stages, Sonic falls through a series of rotating mazes while constantly spinning himself.

The player's goal is to guide Sonic through the maze whilst avoiding the deceiving "Goal" obstacles that kick them out of the Special Stage empty-handed. Along the way, they will find different gimmicks that might either assist or hinder their process, such as Bumpers, Up and Down blocks that change the maze's rotating speed, or Reverse blocks that make the level revolve clockwise or counterclockwise. Color Blocks that change color and eventually disappear when touched enough times are common as well. At the end of the Special Stage, there is a Chaos Emerald encased in said Color Blocks. The stage will end in a success when Sonic touches the Emerald.

There are a total of ten opportunities to get Chaos Emeralds, meaning the player can fail a Special Stage up to four times if all six Emeralds are to be collected before the end of the game. While obtaining the gems is not necessary to progress through the game, it is needed to do so to unlock the good ending.


  1. Egg Wrecker (Green Hill Zone)
  2. Egg Scorcher (Marble Zone)
  3. Egg Stinger (Spring Yard Zone)
  4. Egg Mobile (Labyrinth Zone)
  5. Egg Spiker (Star Light Zone)
  6. Egg Crusher (Final Zone)


Background and conception[]

During the late 1980s, Sega had limited success with the Sega Mega Drive ports of its games for arcade systems. Regardless, they sought a stronger foothold against its main competitor, Nintendo.[10] Earlier on, in 1988, Sega of Japan started an in-house competition to find a character that could stand his ground against Nintendo's Mario[11] in a game capable of selling more than 1,000,000 copies. This led to both programmers and designers at Sega specifically working on a brand new character to rival Mario for the next three years.[12] Eventually, in 1990, Sega ordered its in-house development studio to develop a game that involved a mascot for their company.[13][14] Sega wanted a character to compete with Nintendo's flagship mascot Mario; Sega president Hayao Nakayama in particular wanted a character as iconic as Mickey Mouse.[10] Sega had previously used Alex Kidd as their own flagship mascot during the Sega Master System era, but because he was considered too similar to Mario, he was deemed unsatisfactory.[13]


Early drafts of a game called "Twin Stars" that would evolve into Sonic the Hedgehog, by Naoto Ohshima. The two boys with red and blue hair are twin brothers and the protagonists of this game, while the character in the background is a villain called "Thirteen".[15]

Over time, the team at Sega would develop ideas for characters, an engine, and gameplay mechanics. Various characters were proposed to star the game. These included a wolf, a bulldog, a robot, and a warrior character. Around 1989, Naoto Ohshima also made a concept of a game called "Twin Stars", which saw two brothers protecting a dream world from a dimension known as the "Nightmare World" and a villain called "Thirteen", who was called that because of the number being associated with misfortune. While this concept was scrapped, aspects such as the smooth terrain, the loops, and the speed remained.[15]

Creation of Sonic[]

As the game development put emphasis on speed in particular, it prompted Sega to consider fast creatures, such as kangaroos and squirrels, while eliminating character designs not associated with fast animals.[13] One of these ideas involved a rabbit who could grab objects with prehensile ears. It showed potential, but was too complex for the Sega Mega Drive hardware. Afterward, the team narrowed its search down to animals that could roll into a ball, based on the idea for an attack-based move, which led them to consider armadillos and hedgehogs.[10][16] The hedgehog character, which was proposed by Naoto Ohshima,[14] ultimately prevailed, while the armadillo design led to the creation of Mighty the Armadillo, who would debut in SegaSonic the Hedgehog.[13] After that, Ohshima went on vacation to New York, taking sketches with him. There, he went to Central Park, where he would ask locals for their opinions on them, which led to Sonic being deemed the favorite. A man with a mustache, who eventually became Dr. Eggman, came in second place.[17]

S1 needlemouse super

Concept artwork for "Mr. Hedgehog", who would later become Sonic the Hedgehog.

Initially, Sonic was originally colored teal.[14] He was later given a light shade of blue, but that got changed to dark blue so he would stand out against certain backgrounds[18] and so that he would match the color of the Sega logo. According to Ohshima, Sonic's basic design was created by combining Felix the Cat's head with Mickey Mouse's body.[19] His shoes, on the other hand, had buckles that drew inspiration from Michael Jackson's boots on the album cover for Bad and Santa Claus's red and white color scheme, whom Ohshima deemed the most "famous character in the world".[14] Meanwhile, his personality was inspired by then-future president of the United States Bill Clinton's "get it done" attitude, who Ohshima felt embodied a modern sensibility of wanting to get things done right away, righting wrongs as they presented themselves instead of letting them linger.[20][21][22] According to Yuji Naka, Sonic's color was also meant to symbolize peace, trust, and coolness, which are the attributes of Sonic's character. Sonic's spikes were emphasized to make him look sleeker, and he was given the ability to spin while jumping so that attacking and jumping could be controlled with a single button.[23] This new character was originally named "Mr. Hedgehog",[24] but the eight-member team[25] changed his name to "Sonic" and took the unofficial name Sonic Team.[10] Ohshima stated that "Sonic" was chosen because it represented speed.[26] However, Sonic was created without the ability to swim because of a mistaken assumption by Naka that all hedgehogs could not do so.[27]

Ideas proposed to flesh out the character included placing Sonic in a rock band, giving him notable fangs, and giving him a human girlfriend named Madonna,[28] but Sega of America scrapped these ideas to keep his identity simple. Sega of America also expressed concerns that most Americans would not know what a hedgehog is and initially proposed a full-scale recreation of the character. However, compromises with Sonic Team led to them making some simple design changes instead.[14] Meanwhile, the main antagonist of the game got named "Dr. Eggman" in Japan and "Dr. Robotnik" in other regions due to a dispute between Sega's American and Japanese divisions.[19]

Gameplay and programming[]

Having completed their protagonist, Sega would turn to Yuji Naka, a programmer who had impressed them with his work on Phantasy Star and the Mega Drive port of Ghouls 'n Ghosts.[14] With Naka himself ironically being a fan of Super Mario Bros., but desired something with a faster gameplay, the game was made to play quickly,[29] which was where Naka focused most of his effort.[30] Naka explained that the reason he wanted a fast game was that he had ported Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and wanted to work on its movement, but found it slow.[31]

The game that would become Sonic the Hedgehog was developed by a team of seven: two programmers, two sound engineers, and three designers,[31] although it began with just Naka and Ohshima.[26] People came onto the team as content for the game increased.[26] After being assigned a project with the code name "Defeat Mario", Naka and Ohshima began working together on the game. However, they eventually encountered problems: Ohshima's Rabbit proved hard to program. In addition, catching items and throwing them broke the action's rhythm. Furthermore, Naka stated that the rabbit was not suitable for his game engine and that he wanted the game to be playable with only one button. As such, Hirokazu Yasuhara joined the team to supervise Naka and Ohshima and develop levels. Eventually, his greater experience led to him becoming the game's lead designer. He also found the way to make the game playable with only one button by having Sonic do damage while jumping. From there, the trio came up with the idea of Sonic rolling into a ball. After the hedgehog character was chosen, many characters were redrawn, and the team agreed on the environments' visual complexity, with particular focus on the colors. After this, four people came onto the team to speed up the development.[32]

Because of Mario's popularity, Naka wanted Sonic to take over the American market. Sonic's default speed was set to be that of Mario while running. Tests were run using the Mega Drive's tool library, and problems such as flickering, slow frame rates, and shaky animation soon became apparent. In addition, increasing Sonic's speed caused animation problems. However, Naka would solve this issue by developing an algorithm that would retain fluidity. At the end, all that was left was to optimize the game speed to adhere to the staff's expectations. However, the team noticed that different people had different perceptions of the game's speed: some believed it was too fast, which caused disagreements. Ultimately, it was decided to slow the game's pace down.[32]

The gameplay originated with Naka's tech demo, who developed an algorithm allowing a sprite to move smoothly on a curve by determining its position with a dot matrix. Naka's prototype ended up involving a platform game with a fast-moving character rolling in a ball through a long, winding tube. This concept would be fleshed out with Ohshima's character designs and levels by Yasuhara.[33] Originally, Yasuhara wanted to work on the game for three months due to the delay of his planned move to the United States by the outbreak of the Gulf War. However, he ended up being engrossed in the project for nearly a year.[33][34] His designs for levels were intended to attract both hardcore and casual gamers by integrating occasional challenging set pieces into the mostly accessible level design.[14] The color scheme was influenced by the work of pop artist Eizin Suzuki, and the aesthetics of Green Hill Zone were influenced by the geography of California.[14]

When it came to designing the gameplay, Naka was ironically inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the Super Mario games, whose games he had enjoyed playing years earlier. Admiring the simplicity of Miyamoto's mechanics in complex environments, Naka decided that Sonic would be controlled with only a directional pad for movement and a single button for jumping. He also wanted his creation to be more action-oriented than the Mario series;[35] while playing Super Mario Bros., he would wonder why the game's levels could not be cleared faster.[14]

Over time, Naka, Ohshima, and Yasuhara would work nineteen hours a day on the project for several months.[33] Due to the need to demonstrate the Sega Mega Drive's technological prowess, the game underwent extensive testing and redesign, which took over six months. According to Naka, the game had the fastest-ever character speed in a video game and a rotation effect in the Special Stages that had been considered impossible on the console.[35]

The team originally intended to add a two-player mode displayed via split-screen, but Naka's programming knowledge was not enough to implement it. However, a two-player mode would appear in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, whereby the second player would control Sonic's sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower.[14] Sonic Team also intended to include a Sound Test with animations of Sonic breakdancing to a band of animal characters, dubbed the Sonic the Hedgehog Band; including a crocodile keyboardist who was later introduced to the series as Vector the Crocodile in Knuckles' Chaotix.[36] In the end, the Sound Test was scrapped due to time reasons and Naka used the freed up memory to add the "Se-ga!" chant used in TV commercials as a start-up sound.[36]


One of the concepts for the hero of what eventually would be known as Sonic the Hedgehog. This character would later be slightly modified to become the main antagonist of the game, Dr. Eggman.

Unfortunately, Naka's relationship with Sega was tenuous during this time, and he received little credit for his work. He left the company shortly after the game's release, although Sega of America hired him later. Before leaving, however, he defied Sega's prohibition of developer credits by displaying a few names in black text on a black background, identifiable only by looking at the code.[19] Naka stated that level design was a major challenge: he created maps much wider than normal and tried to ensure players would not get lost. It took him around eight months to develop Green Hill Zone as he kept restarting from scratch.[30][32] He stated that he found the process "very interesting".[30] Naka also stated that the team was trying to create smooth maps, and that implementing looping structures was a challenge because Sonic would break through them instead of running around them. The backgrounds were also a challenge, as the game's speed created the impression of going backwards.[31] The Zones were based on designs by Naka and Ohshima, with the goal of creating the world's fastest action game. According to Ohshima, Eggman was based on Humpty Dumpty.[37]

Yasuhara wanted the game to appeal to both Japanese and American players, which led to Green Hill Zone being redesigned many times. Sonic Team also wanted the level to portray the character correctly. Its checkered ground was inspired by 3D image rendering from computers, an idea Naka obtained from Sega developer Yu Suzuki, who used this technique with Space Harrier. The team read Famitsu magazines to stay informed of what their rivals were doing so they could avoid their mistakes.[32]


When it came to the packaging and release, game-package illustrator Akira Watanabe stated that his goal was to make the characters "colorful", using clear lines and gradation to "finish them neatly".[38] According to Watanabe, the developers asked him to create a package design "similar to pop art;... without being particular to conventional packages" – something "original" and "stylish".[38] However, the game was not revealed until the January 1991 International Consumer Electronics Show because Sega wanted to wait until the right time and because they saw an opportunity to "steal the show". At the show, Sonic the Hedgehog was believed to be the most impressive game shown, and won the CES award for innovation.[39]

Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske wanted reassurance that Sonic would not fail. The global head of marketing, Al Nilsen, became involved, and play-tested the game across the United States with Mario fans: they were shown Mario and then played Sonic the Hedgehog. Ultimately, 80 percent preferred Sonic the Hedgehog, and the game was shown at the 1991 Summer Consumer Electronics Show.[40] Eventually, Sonic the Hedgehog was released in North America on 23 June 1991,[35] and in PAL regions and Japan the following month.[41][42] In November 1991, Sega of America packaged it with American Genesis consoles,[43][44] replacing Altered Beast. This tactic enabled Sega of America to sell fifteen million Sega Genesis units.[39] Genesis owners who bought their consoles before the switch could request free copies of Sonic the Hedgehog by mail.[35] Sega of America created a marketing campaign, making Sonic its new mascot.[14]


Comparison of Masato Nakamura's original composition for the Green Hill Zone track (top) and the in-game rearrangement (bottom).

Having connections to the music industry, Sega director Fujio Minegishi suggested that his friend Yūzō Kayama wrote the Sonic score. However, Sonic Team did not think Kayama's music would fit, and so commissioned Masato Nakamura, bassist and songwriter of the J-pop band Dreams Come True.[14][45] Nakamura said he was surprised, as he had just started with Dreams Come True, but accepted as he was inspired by the team's desire to outperform Nintendo. He also stated that the hardest part was working with the limited number of sounds that could play concurrently: being limited to four, he said that his lack of knowledge of music on computers made it "impossible". Regardless, he wrote the soundtrack concurrently with the Dreams Come True album Million Kisses.[32][46] Nakamura would record his compositions on tape, taking into account the number of audio channels available, before sending them to Sega, where members of the company's sound team, Hiroshi Kubota and Yukifumi Makino, would digitize the soundtrack for the Mega Drive hardware using an Atari ST and the program Notator.[47][48] Makino did the final tweaking of the tracks with Nakamura, and would contribute by making the game's iconic jingles, like the one when an extra life is obtained and the infamous drowning countdown one.[48]

The main theme of the game, which would play, among others, on the title screen, would be reused in several subsequent games in the Sonic series and would remain as its hallmark. In addition, another popular song from the game would be the theme for Green Hill Zone, which would be reused and remixed for several other games in the series.

Sonic1&2 soundtrack front

The album cover for Sonic the Hedgehog 1&2 Soundtrack.

In 2011, twenty years after the release of Sonic 1, a three-disc compilation of music from the game and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released in Japan as the album Sonic the Hedgehog 1&2 Soundtrack. The first disc featured original tracks from both games, the second contained Nakamura's demo recordings before they were programmed into the Sega Mega Drive, and the third had songs by Dreams Come True and their associated Akon remixes.[49]


These are the achievements which add to the player's Gamerscore on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network versions of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Icon Name Requirements Trophy Class Gamescore
Clear Green Clear Green Clear Green Hill Zone.
PSN Trophy Bronze
Star Light Zone Star Light Zone Get to Star Light Zone.
PSN Trophy Bronze
Spring Yard Zone Spring Yard Zone Get to Spring Yard Zone.
PSN Trophy Bronze
Labyrinth Zone Labyrinth Zone Get to Labyrinth Zone.
PSN Trophy Bronze
Fast Green Fast Green Beat Green Hill Zone Act 1 in under 35 seconds.
PSN Trophy Bronze
Chaos Emerald Chaos Emerald Get one Chaos Emerald.
PSN Trophy Silver
Centurion Centurion Get 100 or more Rings.
PSN Trophy Bronze
Fast Marble Fast Marble Beat Marble Zone Act 1 in under 80 seconds.
PSN Trophy Bronze
Win Win Beat the game.
PSN Trophy Silver
Fast Win Fast Win Beat the game in under 40 minutes.
PSN Trophy Silver
Chaos Master Chaos Master Get all the Chaos Emeralds.
PSN Trophy Silver
Perfect Win Perfect Win Beat the game without dying.
PSN Trophy Gold


Sega sponsored the "Wonder 3" tour of Dreams Come True, painting Sonic on the tour bus, distributing pamphlets advertising the game, and having footage of the game broadcast above stage prior to its release.[50][46]

Cheat codes[]

  • Level Select: At the title screen, press Controlpadds ↑ ↓ ← → then hold Sega Genesis A Button and press Start.[note 1]
  • Debug Mode: At the title screen, press ControlpaddsSega Genesis C ButtonSega Genesis C ButtonSega Genesis C ButtonSega Genesis C Button (or Sega Genesis C Button Sega Genesis C Button ↑ ↓ ← →) Start then hold Sega Genesis A Button until the game starts.[note 1]


Sonic The Hedgehog -288

The regular cover of Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog #288.

Numerous adaptations and references to Sonic the Hedgehog have been made in several spin-offs series for the Sonic the Hedgehog series.

In the games initial release, two separate tie-in comic books were produced. Sega Of America commissioned a one-off promotional comic simply called Sonic The Hedgehog #1 (often referred to as the Sonic The Hedgehog Promo Comic to prevent confusion with the later Archie Comics Sonic series), which used the old internal Sonic Bible as the foundation for it's story but had no involvement whatsoever from Sonic Team and features significant differences in story from the canon lore of the games, most notably with the backstory of Dr. Robotnik/Eggman within. A separate one-off manga adaptation, called Sonic the Hedgehog Story Comic, was released solely in Japan, and sticks closer to the tone and story of the game despite having its own divergences (and has no ties to later manga adaptations of the Sonic series).

It has been stated that the events of the Promo Comic have taken place in the Sonic the Comic series published by Fleetway Editions, while otherwise did not directly adapt the events of the first game due to its later release date. The events of the Promo Comic are directly referenced in Sonic the Comic #26, "Kintobor spelled backwards is...".

An adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog was later made in the Sonic X comic series published by Archie Comics in Sonic X #10-#11, as part of the "No Thanks for the Memories!" storyline. Unlike in the original game however, this adaptation takes place within a virtual world. Archie Comics later made another adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog as part of their "Genesis" arc, in Sonic the Hedgehog #226-#227. It has also been stated that the events of the game have taken place within the post-Super Genesis Wave timeline. An adaptation of the game's events in that timeline was later made in Sonic the Hedgehog #288 as the first part of the "Genesis of a Hero" storyline.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 90.14%[51]
Review scores
Publication Score
Beep! MegaDrive 9.25/10[52]
Computer and Video Games 94%[53]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 9/10[54]
GameSpot 7.3/10[55]
IGN 8/10[56]
Mean Machines 92%[3]
Nintendo Life 8/10 (Wii)[57]
Sega Power 97%[58]
Entertainment Weekly A+[59]
Entity Award
Golden Joystick Awards Overall Game of the Year[60]
Electronic Gaming Monthly Best Game of the Year[61]

The original Sonic the Hedgehog was very well received by critics, scoring 90.14% on GameRankings.[51] The game was an instant success that allowed Sega to wrap their video game business around and have a potential platformer to compete with Nintendo's Super Mario franchise.[57] The gameplay, audio and graphics were praised by reviewers.

IGN reviewer Lucas M. Thomas gave Sonic the Hedgehog an 8/10, praising the simple but fast gameplay, the soundtrack and commended that "few people realize how difficult it was to create Sonic's graphics engine, which allowed for the incredible rate of speed the game's known for. The technical achievement impressed back in '91, and still does so today."[56] GameSpot reviewer Greg Kasavin gave the game a 7.3/10, praising the great soundtrack and memorable sound effects, the fast-paced, responsive platformer action and cute, colorful graphics that have a good deal of charm and personality, although he felt that the later levels can get frustrating tough, requiring meticulous memorization.[55] Mean Machines called the Sonic the Hedgehog "the best platform game on the Megadrive!"[3] Sega Power's rating of 97% was their highest score as of September 1991, ending their review by stating that, "if you're a Master System owner, then by[sic] a Mega Drive just for this!"


Image Title Platform Description
Sonic Classics 3 in 1 - Sega Genesis Sonic Compilation
(later re-released as Sonic Classics)
Sega Mega Drive Included along with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine in 1995.
Sega Classic N/A Re-released in 1995 in a new package under a "Sega Classics" logo.
Mega6 Mega 6 Volume 3 Released in 1995 consisting of six Sega games, one of which was Sonic the Hedgehog.
SixPackNA 6-Pak Released in 1996 consisting of six Sega games, one of which was Sonic the Hedgehog.
Arcade title screen N/A Arcade This was one of the games adapted for release in arcades using MegaPlay and MegaTech technology in 1993. The game is almost identical to the console version, except each Act has a strict time limit before the player loses a life, Sonic cannot enter Special Stages, all of Marble Zone, all of Labyrinth Zone, and Scrap Brain Zone's Act 3 have been removed, and a high score table is added after a Game Over or defeating the Egg Crusher.
Sonic Jam USA Cover Sonic Jam Sega Saturn Playable in the 1997 game, with a new Spin Dash option being added that also changes the mechanics of spikes to the same as the later REV01 release.
Sega Smash Pack (DreamCast) Sega Smash Pack Volume 1 Dreamcast Included in this compilation that released in 2001.
Sega Genesis Collection Sega Genesis Collection PlayStation 2/PlayStation Portable Released in 2006, including 28 different Sega Mega Drive games.
Sonic mega collection Sonic Mega Collection Nintendo GameCube Released in 2002.
Sonic Mega Collection plus Sonic Mega Collection Plus PlayStation 2/PC/Xbox Released in 2004.
Sonic Mega Collection Plus, Super Monkey Ball Deluxe 2 in 1 combo pack 2 in 1 Combo Pack: Sonic Mega Collection Plus/Super Monkey Ball Deluxe Xbox Released in 2005.
Gc sonic gems collection p o5pa9w Sonic Gems Collection Nintendo GameCube/PlayStation 2 Includes only the final boss of this game in the museum mode. If the Final Zone is beaten in under the time limit, the player can continue on to the beginning of the game until the timer runs out.
Sonic1-2005-cafe-title Sonic the Hedgehog Mobile In 2005, this game was ported to mobile phones and was offered on the Sonic Cafe service in Japan.
Sth Mobile 2 Sonic the Hedgehog Mobile An emulated version of the game that was released for download on Mobile phones in 2005, under the Sega Mobile banner. However, the game is split into two parts. Part 1 contains the first three zones, while Part 2 contains the last three.
Sega Mega drive collection 1 Sega Mega Drive Collection Vol. 1 Play TV Legends This is a game console which is part of the Play TV Legends plug-and-play series. It has six built-in games that can be played when the console is connected to the TV, with the title game being Sonic the Hedgehog. This was released in Europe and the United States in 2005.
Super Sonic Gold Super Sonic Gold This is a console that has four built in games and no cartridge slot. Released in the United States and Europe in 2005.
Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis Game Boy Advance While it added Spin Dash and save features, the port is considered to be extremely poor quality due to incompetent programming.
Sth iPod Sonic the Hedgehog iPod iTunes released a "Click Wheel Game" version of the game for download under the Sega Mobile banner. It was compatible with the iPod Nano (3rd, 4th, 5th Generation) and iPod classic (5th Generation). Not to be confused with the iOS port.
Sonic iphone N/A iOS Ported to iOS in May 2009. This version's distribution has been discontinued, replaced by an entirely different port using the Retro Engine.
Sonic download Wii Available for download on the Wii's Virtual Console.
Boxsonichedgehog Xbox 360 Available for download on the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade service, released on 7 November 2007.[62] As of 20 May 2022, the game has been delisted from the service.[63]
Sonic1PlaySEGA Browser Made available for the PlaySega browser game service on 4 December 2008.[6]
SUGC boxart Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 Released in 2009.
SonicPCCollection Sonic PC Collection PC Released in only New Zealand and Australia in 2009. This compilation includes Sonic Mega Collection Plus, which features Sonic the Hedgehog.
SCC FRONT 12 2 lrg Sonic Classic Collection Nintendo DS Released in 2010.
Mega-Drive Classic Collection Volume 1 (UK) Sega Mega Drive Classic Collection - Volume 1 PC This collection includes a total of ten classic Sega titles.
Sonic1 PS3 Icon N/A PlayStation 3 Available for download on the PlayStation Network service. Available to PlayStation Plus Members (for Free) from 1 March to 5 April 2011. Available to regular users on 29 March 2011. As of 20 May 2022, the game has been delisted from the service.[63]
N/A Android (Kyocera Echo only) Available for download on Kyocera Echo via G-Gee by Gmo. It was available for free (including other games by G-Gee and Sega's Super Monkey Ball) for a short period of time.
Gens Sonic Generations Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 Playable from the hub world, being unlocked after a Genesis controller is purchased from the Skill Shop. This version keeps track of time (similar to the release of Sonic Jam). In addition, a new bonus feature can be unlocked via the Skill Shop - infinite continues. The Xbox 360 version lacks the level select code, but the PlayStation 3 version has it intact. It is removed from the PC version in favor of slightly enriching the core game experience.
VC3DS 3DSonic1 3D Sonic the Hedgehog Nintendo 3DS As a celebration of the Sega Mega Drive's 25th anniversary in Japan, Sega released another port of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, which is part of series of Mega Drive games re-released to take advantage of 3D. The port also features Spin Dash as an optional move, Stage Select feature, input settings, sound settings, the option to toggle the original revisions, and separate display settings with stereoscopic sense to create a 3D experience. It was released in Japan on 15 May 2013,[64] and in North America and PAL Regions on 5 December 2013.[65][66]
Sega-3d-classics-collection-656x584 Sega 3D Classics Collection This compilation title takes advantage of stereoscopic 3D to create a unique experience.
Sonic-1-Android-1 Sonic the Hedgehog iOS/Android Developed by Christian Whitehead and Headcannon, this remastered edition of the original game runs on Retro Engine and includes several new features; an optional Spin Dash, Miles "Tails" Prower and Knuckles the Echidna being playable characters, and an expanded Level Select and Debug Mode.
Sonic the Hedgehog - Sega Ages Sega Ages: Sonic the Hedgehog Nintendo Switch Re-released as part of the Sega AGES line for the Nintendo Switch, this version includes some features such as the Spin Dash and Drop Dash from Sonic Mania, along with two new modes: Ring Keep Mode and Time Attack. It was released on 20 September 2018.
N/A N/A Tesla Arcade[67] On 12 December 2021, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that Sonic the Hedgehog would be coming to Tesla infotainment systems.[68][69] The inclusion of the game is part of the partnership between Sega and Tesla, as the game would be available in all Tesla models around the world via the built-in display screen in conjunction with a handheld controller connected through the car's USB ports.[70] The port was released on 22 December 2021 in limited form during the Tesla's 2021 holiday update.[71]
Sonic-Origins-Cover Sonic Origins Xbox Series X and Series S/Xbox One/PlayStation 5/PlayStation 4/Nintendo Switch/PC (Steam/Epic Games Store) Released on 23 June 2022 to celebrate the Sonic series' 30th anniversary. In addition to a remaster version of Sonic the Hedgehog, this game in the compilation contains additional modes, new cutscenes, and Missions. Additionally, the game includes Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles as playable characters, and the Drop Dash for Sonic.
Sonic Origins Plus Sonic Origins Plus An expanded re-release of Sonic Origins. Now featuring Amy Rose as a playable character & all the Sonic Game Gear titles. Released on 23 June 2023 (exactly one year after the original version). Unlike Sonic Origins, Sonic Origins Plus was released physically and digitally.


  • There are two versions of the game. The revision is common in Japan, but contrary to popular belief it was also released worldwide in smaller quantities. This update makes some very minor changes to the game's programming, as well as adds some visual effects such as scrolling clouds in Green Hill Zone or water ripples in Labyrinth Zone. It also corrects the Zone order on the Level Select. The later version of the game is used for most subsequent re-releases. In addition, the scrolling clouds return in most appearances of Green Hill Zone.
    Chaos emeralds

    The six Chaos Emeralds.

  • The iconic boxart for the US release of the game was created by illustrator Greg Wray, though the work is sometimes misattributed to the late illustrator Greg Martin, who has a similar illustration style to Wray and likewise drew various illustrations for the box artwork of the US Sonic games. The Japanese box artwork was illustrated by Akira Watanabe, who based his rendering off of a sketch by Naoto Oshima.
  • Due to the way memory is stored in the 6-Pak and Sonic Classics cartridge rereleases of the game, regular Game Genie codes for Sonic the Hedgehog will not work with those specific releases. A distinct set of codes is required instead.
  • While the majority of the games soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura, there are three distinct exceptions: Yukifumi Makino (credited as "Macky"), composed the iconic 1-Up, Drowning and Chaos Emerald jingles.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog only featured six Chaos Emeralds, as the seventh emerald (turquoise) was introduced in the sequel. Therefore, super transformation did not yet officially exist in the original release. However, in Android re-release ports of this game, this emerald was added, allowing Sonic to be able to transform into Super Sonic. This also applies to Tails and Knuckles, as they themselves and their respective Super States are included in the 2013 remaster.
    • The Sonic The Hedgehog Promo Comic does allude to the existence of a 7th Emerald, even though the comic was made well before Sonic 2 entered production, and no such Emerald existed in the first game at the time.
  • The original cartridge release of Sonic The Hedgehog does not have an age rating, as it predates the creation of both Sega's short-lived Videogame Rating Council (VRC) and the ESRB rating system. Rereleases of the game would graft the ESRB's K-A (Kids To Adults) rating and it's successor (E for Everyone) onto it.
    • Strangely, the PlayStation Network port of the game was rated E10+ by the ESRB. However, that was changed to an E rating in 2013.
  • The original US manual for the game mistakenly implies in its story synopsis that Sonic The Hedgehog's speed comes solely from his "Power Sneakers" (which are actually boots, per Naoto Oshima), even though there is absolutely no evidence in the games, whether in the Western or Japanese branch of the series, or any adaptation thereof, that this was ever the case. The series implies that super-speed is just a natural ability Sonic and his friends have always had. Note that the Japanese manual for the game makes no mention of this peculiar bit of lore. However, it is likely that the writer of the manual simply made the mistake of assuming that the Speed-Up Shoes Monitor (which does make Sonic go even faster) was the source of Sonic's speed, or simply used poor phrasing that wasn't meant to imply that it was the actual source of his speed.
  • A very common misconception is that Sonic's preliminary design sketch was named "Mr. Needlemouse", which became a common running joke among Sonic aficiandos and even Sega themselves. However, Yuji Naka later clarified that the name was an overly literal mistranslation of the Japanese word for "Hedgehog" (ハリネズミ, or Harinezumi) and that the original name was actually "Mr. Hedgehog".
  • Rui Sousa holds the world high score record for Sonic the Hedgehog: 1,559,180. He achieved this on 21 March 2015.[72]
  • Curiously, Scrap Brain Zone Act 3 and Final Zone do not reward players with extra Points in the original cartridge release--Scrap Brain Zone Act 3 simply ends with a quick transition to Final Zone, and the game quickly cuts to the ending after Robotnik's defeat. The Time Trial versions of the levels in the Sonic Origins remaster rectify this.
  • Despite the games manual enticing players with a massive 50,000 point bonus if they complete a level in under 30 seconds, there are many levels in the game that are impossible to complete in such a short time without--or in some cases even with--exploiting glitches and cheats such as Debug Mode. Final Zone is a notable example, as there is no known way to defeat Robotnik in any time shorter than over a minute.
  • There are 4,093 Rings total dispersed throughout the games Acts and Special Stages in the original cartridge release. The Sonic Jam port would add a few more Rings to Final Zone if a certain difficulty setting is selected.
  • In the G4 special Top 100 Video Games of All Time, the game was ranked at #50.[73]
  • The game was listed in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. In addition, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic Adventure were also listed.[74]
  • The release date of this game, 23 June, is also the canonical birthday of Sonic the Hedgehog himself.
  • The Spanish and Italian translation present in the European manual of Sonic The Hedgehog erroneously call Sonic a porcupine.
  • So far, this is the Sonic game with the most ports and re-releases, with more than a dozen of them.
  • Differing from the gameplay, all of Dr. Eggman's appearences on the American artworks for the game have him lacking glasses, and instead depicting him with beady black eyes, with an additional lack of gloves. This design would continue on in western artworks for later classic Sonic games and other western Sonic media, and specifically using the black eyes in all three cartoons.
  • Although the European cover of the game depicts Dr. Eggman with his Japanese design, later Sonic artworks in said continent would use the same one as the American.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Does not work on the Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network version of the game, nor in the unlockable mini-game in the Xbox 360 version of Sonic Generations.


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Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)

Main article (Blue Sphere) · Staff · Manuals · Glitches · Beta elements · Gallery · Pre-releases (prototype) · Re-releases (2001, 2005, mobile, GBA, iPod, 2013, 3D, Sega Ages)
Sonic the Hedgehog console mainline games