Sonic the Hedgehog

The 16-bit era was incredible, to say the least. Maybe not the best one in terms of games (though quite close), but certainly the best in terms of rivalry. SEGA vs. Nintendo, Sonic vs. Mario. It was unforgettable. Already back then, despite having played quite a bit of Mario on the NES before I got my hands on a SEGA Mega Drive, I developed a strong preference for the Sonic games, due to their faster pace, better protagonist, and more fun setting. They also just looked so much cooler.

Yet, I hadn’t beaten the original Sonic the Hedgehog until just recently. I’d first played (and beaten) the second one, and I’ve also beaten the third one (though without Sonic & Knuckles attached). My efforts with the first one back in the day ended quite miserably, I don’t think I ever made it past the Marble Zone, maybe I reached Spring Yard once or twice. But it was just too hard for me to beat on a regular console. Thank goodness we’ve got emulators and save states nowadays. 🙂

Sonic the Hedgehog Title Screen

Game: Sonic the Hedgehog
Developer: Sonic Team
Platforms: Mega Drive/Genesis; Saturn (as part of Sonic Jam),  Dreamcast (as part of SEGA Smash Pack), PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC (Sonic Mega Collection/Plus), PSP (SEGA Mega Drive Collection), DS (Sonic Classic Collection), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of the SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection), PlayStation Network, XBox Live Arcade, Wii Virtual Console, Steam, Mobile
Original release: 1991
Territories: All

Sonic is a great start for the series. If you’ve started with Sonic 2 or 3, some things will be sorely missing (especially the spin dash – you have to roll up yourself when you have enough speed to attack on the ground, you can’t do it from a static position). However, the game has laid a solid foundation that the later entries built upon. It’s just Sonic vs. Robotnik, the whole crew of friends of Sonic only appear later in the series. In a way, that’s not bad. The difficulty is indeed quite high, as I said, but also remarkably fair. Unlike Mega Man, a decent level of knowing the stage will be sufficient, and furthermore, bosses, even the final boss, can be defeated fairly once you understand their pattern. On the other hand, Sonic doesn’t offer infinite continues – actually, you start without any.

This is another review that provides screenshots captured by me.

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Video Game Music of the Week – 12-18.11.2012

I have to finish the theme of the original 16-bit Sonic trilogy with song from the first game, in which Sonic didn’t have most of his flashy abilities (nor his sidekicks) from the sequels. But, even so, the game was still a pretty solid platformer in itself. I have chosen the Spring Yard Zone music.

Composer: Masato Nakamura
Game: Sonic the Hedgehog
Song:  Spring Yard Zone

Video Game Music of the Week – 05-11.11.2012

Speaking of Sonic soundtracks, a rumour has been floating around the internet for a very long time regarding the involvement of Michael Jackson in the composition of the Sonic 3 OST. He was never credited, but multiple sources including Brad Buxer and Cirocco Jones, two of the (other) composers for the game, claim that he did some work, the latter even lists levels 2 and 3 as being done by Michael (it’s a rather unorganised page, just do a word search for “Michael Jackson”). And here, I’ve got one of my favourite songs in Sonic 3, which also happens to be in the second level of the game, Hydrocity Zone. Perhaps the work of Michael Jackson himself.

Composer: Michael Jackson (?)
Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Song:  Hydrocity Zone Act 2

Video Game Music of the Week – 29.10-04.11.2012

Earthworm Jim sure was a hit on the Mega Drive/Genesis, but sadly couldn’t get anywhere near the popularity of the system mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. And one of the major reasons why the Sonic games in the 16-bit era were so awesome (and why they trounced the Mario counterparts) was the really cool music. From the original Sonic game to Phantasy Star Online, Sonic Team has always been known for great music in their games. The Sonic song I picked for this week is Aquatic Ruin Zone from Sonic 2, it was my favourite song in the game when I played it on my trusty SEGA Mega Drive II back in the day.

Composer: Masato Nakamura
Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Song:  Aquatic Ruin Zone

Video Game Music of the Week – 22-28.10.2012

There is one superhero I simply cannot ignore in this mini-series. One that originated in games, and subsequently even got his own cartoon! It’s Earthworm Jim, the amazing creation of Shiny Entertainment, and one of the staples of the 16-bit era, at least for me. With its incredible humour and charm, Earthworm Jim achieved a level of characterisation few games had by then. I wish there were more games like it, but some things are really, sadly “once in a lifetime.” At least there is still some hope for a new Jim game, and even though the first two pieces of brilliance were followed up by the mediocre 3D version, the creators just might give us something great again. Anyway, the Earthworm Jim song I picked today is surely familiar to anyone who’s booted it at least once – it’s New Junk City.

Composers: Mark Miller; Tommy Tallarico (SEGA/Mega CD arrangement)
Game: Earthworm Jim: Special Edition (SEGA/Mega CD)
Song:  New Junk City

Video Game Music of the Week – 23-29.07.2012

This week’s theme comes from another Mega Drive/Genesis classic – Ristar. Nowadays, this eccentric platformer by Sonic Team is available on PS3/360 as part of the SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, and even on Steam. It’s well worth checking out – on top of the nice music, the game is just a lot of fun to play. The song from it that I’ve chosen for this week is called “Break Silence.”

Composers:  Tomoko Sasaki, Naofumi Hataya, Masafumi Ogata
Game: Ristar
Song:  Break Silence

Video Game Music of the Week – 16-22.07.2012

Sorry for the short delay in posting this week’s game music of choice, I was on a short vacation. 🙂 But the vacation also gave me the inspiration for the song picked for this week (conveniently, it’s still in the 16-bit/Mega Drive theme started last week). ToeJam & Earl is my friend Ranulf’s favourite game of all time, and he got the chance to revisit it during our time together in the last few days. This game’s got some really funky beats, and I’ll share probably the most popular one of them with you, it’s called “ToeJam Jammin'”.

Composer: John Baker
Game: ToeJam & Earl
Song: ToeJam Jammin’

Video Game Music of the Week – 09-15.07.2012

I’m in a 16-bit mood this week, and I don’t mean just any old 16-bit, I mean SEGA Mega Drive 16-bit. The Danish composer Jesper Kyd (who later worked on the Hitman and Assassin’s Creed games) made some amazing music for the system that does what Nintendon’t, and my favourite work of his is the soundtrack of The Adventures of Batman and Robin – a pretty awesome action shooter. The song I’ve chosen for this week is the Mad Hatter boss theme.

Composer: Jesper Kyd
Game: The Adventures of Batman & Robin (SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis)
Song: Mad Hatter Boss Theme

Top 50 Games Every Gamer Should Know About (Part 2)

And, without further ado, here is the second part of the list. I hope you enjoy it at least as much as the first!

Top 50 games every gamer should know about

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Top 50 Games Every Gamer Should Know About

Plenty of games shape our life as gamers, and we all have our favourites – some mainstream, some more niche. But there are some games that every self-respecting gamer should know about. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have to even think they’re good. But, as a gamer, you should know about them.

Top 50 games every gamer should know about

See the list