Tag Archives: Sega

Sonic the Hedgehog: Spinning Off

So we’ve already talked about Sonic’s main 16-bit games on the Mega Drive, as well as his 8-bit adventures on the Game Gear and Master System.

But we have a few more games to explore from this early era before we start exploring the blue blur’s oft-maligned jump into 3D space, and those are the numerous spin-offs that appeared to complement the “mainline” platformer experiences.

Turns out there’s quite a few of them. And they’re pretty much all really cool! Let’s take a closer look.

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Sonic the Hedgehog: Little Brothers

It’s fair to say that, for many people, Sonic’s “golden age” was the 16-bit era that encompassed his first four(ish) games.

What doesn’t tend to get talked about quite so much is the fact that, around the same time, there were some fantastic 8-bit releases in the series on Sega’s Master System console and ill-fated Game Gear handheld.

So, well, let’s talk about that, shall we?

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Sonic the Hedgehog: Finding His Feet

So let’s start from the beginning.

The year was 1990. Nintendo was enjoying a protracted period of dominance in the video game market thanks to a combination of high quality games and a highly recognisable mascot in the form of Super Mario. With the release of Super Mario Bros. 3, the company had become seemingly unstoppable. But that didn’t stop Sega from wanting to try.

Sega needed a new mascot. The company’s earlier creation Alex Kidd just wasn’t cutting it any more, since, as a human character, he was perceived as, at best, too similar to Super Mario; at worst, something of a pale imitation. Sega’s CEO at the time, Hayao Nakayama, wanted a character as iconic as Disney’s Mickey Mouse. Oh, what to do?

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Sonic the Hedgehog: Introduction

“Sonic hasn’t been good for a long time.” “Sonic has never been good.” How many times have we seen articles about Sega’s incredibly popular mascot start this way?

The fact is, despite enduring a consistently more mixed (at times outright cynical and negative) critical reception than longstanding rival Mario from Nintendo, Sonic the Hedgehog still has legions of dedicated fans, and has done since he first appeared on our screens in 1991.

This month, we’re going to be taking a look at a wide variety of Sonic the Hedgehog games from across time, ranging from his first 2D platformer forays up until his more recent 3D adventures… and, of course, his extremely well-received return to 2D in the form of Sonic Mania, the physical Plus release of which was the catalyst for this whole set of features.

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Mega Drive Essentials: ToeJam and Earl

Ah, the ’90s. The era of attitude. Or, more specifically, the era of everyone spontaneously and inexplicably wishing they were Californian.

Video games certainly weren’t exempt from this trend at all, though various different titles from the era took their attitude towards, uh, “‘tude” more seriously than others.

One noteworthy game from the early ’90s that simultaneously acknowledged the popularity of California-style attitude as well as poking fun at the inherent absurdity of it all — particularly the disconnect between your stereotypical video game nerd and what one would think of as a “cool dude” — was Johnson Voorsanger Productions’ ToeJam & Earl, published by Sega for the Mega Drive in 1991.

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Puzzler Essentials: Columns

A lot of games that really stand the test of time are based on a very simple idea.

This is particularly apparent in the puzzle game genre, which typically involves little more than matching shapes and colours in one form or another. And indeed said genre is home to some absolutely timeless classics that are still getting rereleases and reimaginings today.

One puzzler from the early days of gaming that often seems to get forgotten, however, is Sega’s Columns — and that’s a bit of a shame, because it’s an interesting twist on the usual falling block puzzle format.

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Mega Drive Essentials: Shadow Dancer

What happened to ninjas? I feel like they were unironically cool in the ’90s, and that they were everywhere.

Perhaps they simply learned that being highly visible is not an especially desirable characteristic for a ninja, and thus deliberately relegated themselves to the world of overly tryhard “wacky!” memes alongside pirates, dinosaurs and zombies. Put them all together and you get LOL SO RANDOM, yo. And these days, everyone wants to ignore that nonsense. The perfect cover.

Anyway, here’s Shadow Dancer for the Mega Drive, a 1990 release from Sega and one of the first games I ever played on the system.

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