Background Information
The first ever Sonic the Hedgehog game, and some say, still the best. Revolutionary for its time, this game, first released in 1991, introduces us to all of the main staples and characteristics of the series, in classic fast-paced 2D platformer style. Huge, colourful and challenging levels, with a pure nostalgic rush. Before Tails and Knuckles, the Death Egg and Station Square, it was just a simple battle of good vs evil. Sonic the Hedgehog vs. Dr Eggman, and his army of mechanical monsters...
Details

Original system: Sega Mega Drive/Genesis

Original release dates: 23rd June 1991 (USA and Europe), 26th July 1991 (Japan).

Developed by: Sonic Team

Published by: Sega

Original media: 4-Megabit cartridge

Other common aliases/abbreviations: Sonic 1

Stages: 6

Playable characters: Sonic the Hedgehog

Non-playable characters: Dr. Eggman/Robotnik

Main credits:

Game planner/level designer: Hirokazu Yasuhara

Programmer: Yuji Naka

Sound producer: Masato Nakamura (of "Dreams Come True")

Character design: Naoto Ohshima

Also available on...

Sega Mega Drive - Sonic Compilation (1995), 6-Pak(1996)

Arcade - Sega Mega Play/Mega-Tech

Sega Saturn - Sonic Jam (1997)

Sega Dreamcast - Sega Smash Pack Vol.1

Windows PC - RealOne Arcade (2003) and Gametap (2005) online services, Sonic Mega Collection Plus (2006)

Nintendo Gamecube - Sonic Mega Collection (2002), limited play on Sonic Gems Collection (2005)

Sega Megadrive 6-in-1 Plug 'n' Play (2004)

Sony Playstation 2 - Sonic Mega Collection Plus (2004), limited play on Sonic Gems Collection (2005), Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Collection (2006)

Microsoft Xbox - Sonic Mega Collection Plus (2004)

Various Mobile Phones - Sonic the Hedgehog Parts 1 and 2 (2005/2006)

Sony Playstation Portable - Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Collection (2006)

Nintendo Gameboy Advance - Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis (2006)

Nintendo Wii Virtual Console - Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Microsoft Xbox 360 - Xbox Live Arcade - Sega Vintage Collection: Sonic the Hedgehog (2007), Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection/Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009)

Apple iPod - Sonic the Hedgehog (2007)

Sony Playstation 3 - Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection/Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (2009)

Apple iPhone/iPod Touch - Sonic the Hedgehog (2009)

Nintendo DS - Sonic Classic Collection (2010)

Box arts
Sonic 1 European box art
Sonic 1 US box art
Sonic 1 Japanese box art
Screenshots
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#1. Comment posted by Mercury on Sunday, 1st June 2008, 3:50am (BST)
I notice there is only a partial credits list for Sonic 1, and I thought I'd provide a full list. I think for a site dedicated in particular to Zones, the level artists should at least be mentioned.

However, Sonic 1's credits employ nicknames for each of the staff, supposedly at Sega's command. Yuji was apparently miffed enough at this to include a full credits screen, only accessible through a secret code. The thing is, it's in Japanese, so it's only useful if you can translate it. I've seen attempted translations time and again, but they invariably have at least one inaccuracy. So here is the "perfect" list:

Program : (Means scripting of the object behaviour, the silky smooth motion engine, and game rules - everything under the hood)
Yuji Naka [中 裕司] "Yu2"
(This man can do things with code unrivaled before or since. Currently has his own company, Prope.)

Game Plan : (Means object placement, and zone terrain layout. A very important job, almost like a director)
Hirokazu Yasuhara [安原 広和] "Carol Yas"
(The last Sonic game he worked on was 3D Blast. Currently works at Naughty Dog.)

Character Design : (Means not only the original concept and sketches of the characters (including Sonic, Robotnik, and all the enemies), but the in-game sprite graphics, as well)
Naoto Ohshima [大島 直人] "Big Island"
(He directed Sonic CD, Nights, and Burning Rangers. Currently works at Artoon.)

Design : (A vague term, but means Zone Artists. If what's been said about Sonic 2's development is any indication, each level is wholy designed by one of the two artists, not split amongst the team)
Jina Ishiwatari [石渡 爾奈] "Jinya"
(Worked on Sonic 1 and 2. Otherwise, little is known.)
Rieko Kodama [片岡 理恵子] "Phenix Rie"
[Note : The last name here translates literally into Kataoka, not Kodama. It IS the same person who is commonly known as Rieko (yes, RIEKO, not REIKO) Kodama, though, so I guess it might be a maiden name, married name thing.]
(She worked on Sonic 1 and 2, and is the creative force behind the original Phantasy Star games and Skies of Arcadia. Known as "The 1st Lady of RPGs".)

Sound Produce : (Means music composer, but not sound effects or programming)
Masato Nakamura [中村 正人]
(Bassist and mastermind of Japanese pop sensation Dreams Come True. Composed the Sonic tunes for both Sonic 1 and 2 during recording albums with the band, and so the motifs used in both the games and albums are strikingly similar. Ironically, he confesses to be no good at video games.)

Sound Program : (Means sound effect design and programming, and conversion of the composer's music to program code)
Hiroshi Kubota [久保田 浩] "Jimita"
(Worked on Sorcerian as a composer.)
Yukifumi Makino [牧野 幸文] "Macky"
(Works on almost every Sonic Team game, even Phantasy Star Online.)

These people are all extremely talented, so let's not let them go unremembered (or misspelt!).
#2. Comment posted by bmhedgehog on Wednesday, 5th February 2014, 9:17pm (GMT)
Please add 3DS to the list of "Also available on..."
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Origin
It's 1990, and the gaming world is a very different place. Long before Sony and Microsoft broke into the industry, Nintendo was in the drivers seat, with their plumbing mascot Mario firmly at the wheel. As major underdogs, the struggling Sega needed something to get them back in the game, and fast. They decided that what they needed was an undisputed mascot of their own, with his own game. Not just any mascot, but one that could surpass the popularity of Mario, and be to Sega what Mickey Mouse is to Disney. The character's game should be revolutionary, and something that immediately draws the attention away from their rivals and towards them and their top console, the Sega Mega Drive (aka Genesis in the US). A branch of Sega named "AM8" spent three long months in dedication to the design of their new star, and all manner of animals and wacky individuals were considered. They wanted their mascot to be fast, smooth, streamlined and cool. A rabbit who could pick up and throw things with his ears wasn't quick enough, and eventually, they condensed the idea down to a simple rolling and jumping affair, which left them with two main choices from the animal kingdom; A hedgehog, or an armadillo. His spikes were the final deciding factor, and that day, though he wasn't immediately named, a new hedgehog was born; Sonic the Hedgehog.
Designed by the talented Naoto Ohshima, Sonic was the opposite of any happy, nice-guy platformer character that came before him. Sonic was cool, not corny, he was streamlined, cheeky, and perhaps even a little arrogant and aggressive, but most importantly, he was fast. The game was specifically tailored to be much faster than any other similar platform game around at the time, especially the comparatively slow and clunky Mario, with whom Sonic quickly developed a rivalry that divided playgrounds across the world. Not only that, but its bright, colourful worlds and visuals put the competition to shame. Not content with anything less than perfect, the team also managed to rope in Masato Nakamura of Dreams Come True, a Japanese pop band, to compose the game's completely unforgettable soundtrack. In fact, the world saw their first glimpse of Sonic the Hedgehog at a concert tour of theirs in 1990, where he was to be found all over the sides of their band trailer and on pamphlet handouts. On June 23rd 1991, the world saw the release of the first ever Sonic game, "Sonic the Hedgehog", and AM8 henceforth became known as "Sonic Team".
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#1. Comment posted by Ceylon on Monday, 12th January 2009, 5:49am (GMT)
About the concept sketch of what you thought might be Green Hill...

Do you think it would have been way too early for them to be thinking of a sort of Hidden Palace Zone?
What if the fixation with such a zone was present from the very beginning? The fantastical scenery and the castle in the background just give me similar vibes... Of course, not everything mysterious in Sonic has be pinned back to Hidden Palace. Maybe it's just a fan fixation. XD
#2. Comment posted by Sonicfan32 on Monday, 9th August 2010, 5:13pm (BST)
Ceylon might be correct. i have no doubt that Zones were thought of earlier, but placed (or deleted) in/from different Sonic games. Zones might've been set aside for later uses in other levels concerning Sonic games. it would not be too early to be thinking of zones such as hidden palace, especially if these sketches were done during a SEGA brain-storm session.
#3. Comment posted by Evan on Tuesday, 26th October 2010, 1:23am (BST)
Also, the third sketch might be for a posibble metropolis zone.
#4. Comment posted by DSBthunder on Thursday, 7th July 2011, 12:17am (BST)
I don't think that the first sketch was made for the Green Hill Zone or Hidden Palace Zone. if you pay attention to some details, this sketch looks like a plan to the Star Light Zone: The starry sky, the metal details on the ground...
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Storyline
The Japanese version of the game takes place on South Island, which is forever drifting across the sea, making its exact location difficult to plot. The island, rich in mountains, fields and lakes is an undisturbed paradise for all the peaceful animals that live there. It's also the current home to six of the seven legendary Chaos Emeralds; multi-coloured stones, each with an infinite and extremely powerful supply of pure energy. In the wrong hands, these emeralds could mean disaster for the entire world, and that's just what one evil scientist by the name of Dr. Eggman has planned. Eggman has invaded South Island, searching desperately for the Chaos Emeralds, but what he doesn't know is that they cannot be found on the surface. Due to the movement of the island, a weird alternate dimension has miraculously been opened, accessible only in certain areas of the island, and this is where the Chaos Emeralds lie. However, this hasn't stopped the scientist from not only constructing a huge mechanical base on South Island, but also imprisoning most of the animal residents inside robotic replacements. These robots obey only Eggman and soon begin to encompass the entire island, placing it under the ruling of their master as they assist him in the search for the legendary stones. South Island needs a saviour, and they get it, in the form of Sonic the Hedgehog! His incredible speed and ability to destroy the robots is the only thing that can free the animals trapped inside and save the island now. Take control of Sonic, grab the Chaos Emeralds and defeat Dr. Eggman!
Animals and emeralds.
Meanwhile, over on our side of the world, we pretty much got a toned-down version of this story, because Western kids apparently don't really care about it as much. Or are just stupid, I dunno. The manual doesn't mention anything about South Island or much about the Chaos Emeralds, and notoriously, Dr. Eggman's name becomes Dr. Ivo Robotnik, which it remains until after Sonic Adventure many years later. It's unknown for sure which actually came first and therefore is more correct (it's mostly assumed to be Eggman), but the fact remains that until the late nineties, it was strictly Eggman in Japan, and Robotnik everywhere else, and without the internet to introduce us to our foreign friends, most of us were clueless about the alternative name. Anyway, the western storyline is mainly concerned about how he's taken all the animals and turned them into robotic slaves (a.k.a badniks), without any particular reason other than a bit of a laugh perhaps, but it doesn't really contradict the Japanese story very much, so take your pick.
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#1. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 19th November 2012, 3:25pm (GMT)
Honestly, I prefer the name Robotnik to Eggman. Eggman is a stupid name. Also, Robotnik was Robotnik even in Japan. He didn't become named Eggman in canon even in Japan until the fans named him such.
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Sonic the Hedgehog is a massive franchise now, and the fact that no other game within it, aside from its immediate sequel Sonic 2, has had quite the same impact on the gaming population and even popular culture as this very first game, is testament to just how perfect its concept and the way in which it has been implemented really is. Sonic Team did not invent the basic platforming formula, but took it to whole new places by injecting a dose of speed the likes of which hadn't been seen before, and indeed has never been attempted in a platform game by anyone else. Sonic 1 was a true marvel, both graphically in its crisp, colourful and imaginative environments, and technically in its use of curved terrain and loop-de-loops to provide the kind of rolling physics that made the game flow so well. All you needed to do was move Sonic left or right and jump at the right times, and this made it the perfect pick-up-and-play game for anyone who was even remotely interested in video gaming, yet its expansive, multi-routed levels that have as much variety and challenge as you could ask for kept us all well and truly hooked. Put simply, they got it bang on the money on their first attempt and the brilliantly designed character of Sonic became nothing short of a symbol for all gaming, who definitely did not start from humble roots. This success, aided by fine marketing, ensured that Sonic 2 became one of the best selling and most anticipated 16-bit games of all time, and strongly kicked off a franchise with enough fanbase to see it through just about anything. It was a critical success and is commonly considered to be one of the greatest games of all time.
For a title that was unleashed in 1991, its simplistic design and sharp visuals have kept it ageing very well, and now being available on everything from mobile phones to toasters (well, maybe not just yet for the toaster, but I bet they're working on it), it hasn't been kept too far away from the generations who missed it the first time around. Many of those who didn't, however, owe some of their first gaming experiences to Sonic 1, including yours truly. My first sighting of Sonic running through the iconic Green Hill Zone was the first time I had seen a console game in action and to say that moment changed my life wouldn't be too much of an understatement. Perhaps most of the other nostalgic memories I have of it have all but vanished after the intensive playing and studying I've given it since beginning this website and even beforehand, but it's not at all hard to find evidence of many treasured memories among people now in their late teens and twenties. While it may have been technically bettered by its Mega Drive sequels, which have been hesitant to alter the winning formula in any drastic way, there's no denying Sonic 1 has a certain vintage quality or style to it that's hard to pin down exactly, but has never really been completely reproduced in quite the same way. Maybe you need to have been there at the time to fully appreciate it, but there's a certain element of unique charm there. Remember that this entry in the series is different from the rest in that it originated from a genuine, creative source that's not riding on the back of an already well established franchise and just following the rules - this game wrote the rules and made the decisions on what is and isn't Sonic, and that demands great admiration and respect from each and every single Sonic fan, young and old. If this game failed, we'd all be doing something else with our lives right now.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a true classic of interactive entertainment and should be experienced by everyone.
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#1. Comment posted by Tom on Friday, 6th January 2012, 10:18am (GMT)
This was one the biggest Titles to come out on the Mega Drive and still to this day remains as fun as it did when it was released back in 1992.

Recently this has been released on Phones and Ipads not to mention consoles. The game remains the same, and why not, if it broken dont fix it!
#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 19th November 2012, 3:26pm (GMT)
It came out in 1991, not 1992.
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 2nd October 2016, 1:15pm (BST)
"and indeed has never been attempted in a platform game by anyone else"

What about Fancy Pants Adventures? Or Freedom Planet?
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#1. Comment posted by Philip on Monday, 14th February 2011, 6:18am (GMT)
Yeh, the best Sega Genesis sonic game. By the way, I love vintage Sega games and have The main PS2 sega pack.
#2. Comment posted by sonic1rocks2 on Tuesday, 13th March 2012, 6:10pm (GMT)
did you no thares an sonic hestory book comeing out soonish
#3. Comment posted by yasin smaidy on Friday, 17th August 2012, 4:36am (BST)
sonic 1 was the first video game i'd played no joke.
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Content for this page last edited:
26th March 2011

Files last uploaded for this page:
4th January 2009

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Details
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Storyline
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13 notes posted on this page in total
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Game Tap's Sonic Retrospective Documentary
Some fascinating insights into Sonic's creation in this professionally made series of videos
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