Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis is a 2D platforming game that brings the original classic from the Genesis to the Game Boy Advance. The real problem with the game is how slow it performs. Sonic used to be “the fastest thing alive,” but somehow after having three great Sonic games on the Game Boy Advance, this port manages to trip over its own feet. At first the game plays fine, but when you get the invincibility power up, the game goes slow. Fighting a boss causes the game to run slow, but then in Marble Zone the game becomes intolerably slow. Its still inconsistent though, it will run slow one moment and normal speed the next. I think its about how many moving components there are on screen at once.
This lack of speed turns any challenging Marble Zone level into a tough as nails exercise in frustration. With everything moving so slow, I began to notice just how copy-and-pasted each level is, how redundant it becomes. Waiting on platforms to cross lava rivers. Waiting for spike platforms to raise so I can safely jump. The clock never indicates if the game is slow, but after timing it, the game looks to be five to ten seconds slower than real time.
Sonic is so giant on the system’s small screen and twice as large than the other Sonics on the system. It might have been better to shrink Sonic rather than making an exact copy on the small screen. It becomes a major issue in the Marble Zone with dropping spikes and crushing pistons. You can still look up by holding up on the directional pad, but the problem is you need to stand still to do it.
Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis has an amazing list of bugs and issues that I’ve encountered. With the game moving so slow every cheap death sticks out. There are times where I’ve gotten knocked back to sections below and forced to work my way back up. I’ve managed to bounce off lava into a wall and die from the wall. Other times I’ve found that the bats and enemies have poor collision detection where I will get hit even when I’m a laughable distance away from them. Getting crushed by a piston has sent me shooting out the side of it rather than getting crushed. Yet somehow standing next to a piston unable to go into the piston will crush me. Falling cliffs disappear rather than fall as they do in the Genesis version. I’ve jumped into the side of a solid wall only to get shot out the bottom of it.
So beyond the bugs, glitches and issues, what’s new? This version has a zone select for the zones you’ve encountered up to all seven of them. Between levels the game saves, but its tough to determine why since high scores are never kept and the game only lets you go to zones rather than specific levels.
There are two modes: original and an anniversary. I was expecting the latter to include some different versions of levels, I’m sad to say both modes are the same. The only difference is anniversary mode lets you spin dash by holding down in a stationary position and pushing the button to generate speed. Its something that makes Sonic 1 and 2 different and its an effective ability, but the problem is this game has no need for it.
You still play as a lone Sonic the Hedgehog. A game that’s filled with beautiful color and life all with simple one button controls. One button to jump and if you want to turn into a buzz saw, get enough momentum and press down and Sonic will turn into a ball and mow through enemies. Jumping into enemies will also tear through them.
All the foes are metal monstrosities. Robotic crabs, spiked caterpillars, metal wasps and so on. Defeating enemies will break them apart, revealing living woodland creatures that will hop or fly away because you’ve saved them from whatever robotic nightmare they were encased in.
After three levels, you’ll face Dr. Robotnik in whatever flying contraption he has in that zone. After a few hits, he’ll explode and fly off only to be found at the next zone. One of the interesting things I encountered in this version was being able to jump on Robotnik’s head for as long as I wanted without destroying him. I had never done that before or even been able to get on top of him and stay on there. While this may not be a glitch, in a game full of issues, this made it seem like another issue.
Throughout the game there are plenty of rings and collecting these lets Sonic take damage. When you get hit with rings, they will shower out of you and bounce around. You can then catch them before they blink and disappear. If they land in lava, they’re gone. Being hit without a ring is a death and death in this game feels so painful. There are still plenty of checkpoints that activate when you touch a blue orb that will turn red.
As slow as the game is, its tough to imagine how the Labyrinth zone could be any slower. The zone is full of water and that makes Sonic go slower and has always done so. You’ll need to collect giant air bubbles that rise out of the ground, which is tough enough, but now you’re struggling to move quick enough against how slow the game is.
The music sounds like its being made on a harmonica. The difference in hardware sound is noticeable, but its nothing to detract from the experience.
It was a well made game when it was new fifteen years earlier, but here its a disappointment. I never needed to play the original Sonic game on portable hardware when its three predecessors on the system were stale long before this came out.
Its just so difficult to get any enjoyment out of this version beyond the first three levels. I own all of the Sonic Advance games, and even the original Genesis games, but this is just a huge leap backward. Its staggering how those games came out previous to this one and managed to do it so much better than this.
With this game being seen as such a let down, its just another nail in Sonic’s coffin well before everyone was tired of seeing him. There are three better Sonic games on the Game Boy Advance and the original has been ported to nearly every system including plug-and-play clone consoles. Avoid this game, unless you need to see how a slow game can be far tougher than you imagined.