This page started life as the Wikipedia article " Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)", by these guys. Don't be afraid to rewrite sections in a more Sonic-y style!
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The title screen

Sonic the Hedgehog was the first Sonic game ever made. The game's original programmer was current Sonic Team leader and series creator Yuji Naka, and the planner was Hirokazu Yasuhara. The gameplay was faster than any other game before it and amazed many people at launch. This was due to the Genesis's Motorola 68000 processor, whose basic speed and ability to handle 16-bit numbers gave it incredible speed compared to its predecessor, the Master System.


Essential to the gameplay are the golden rings the player collects along his/her way in each level; a feature which would become one of the defining characteristics of the series. These items are regularly placed around the level map and serve multiple functions. First, the player collects rings to protect Sonic. As long as they have at least one ring, the player will not lose a life when injured. Instead, when hit, up to 40 of the rings the player has collected will fly outward and scatter around the immediate area for some seconds, some of which can then be retrieved before they disappear. If the player runs into an enemy without a single ring, they will lose a life. If the player collects 100 rings they will gain a life, and gain an additional life for every 100 rings after that, provided the rings are not lost.

If the player has at least 50 rings at the end of an act, a giant golden ring will float above the finishing sign which can be jumped through to enter one of the Special Stages (this excludes the final act of a stage, when Sonic will enter a boss fight). At the end of each act, the total number of rings the player has is multiplied by 100 and added to the player's score. During the score-tallying, the player can also jump through the air to find hidden emblems which can range from 100 to 10,000 points. This was the only console Sonic where the player could not get more lives by collecting over 200 rings (this is the only 16-bit title where it is impossible to obtain 300 rings in a single stage).

Also scattered throughout each level are monitors which, when broken by the character, reward the player with one of a variety of bonuses. These include a shield which will protect Sonic from a single hit, a 10-ring bonus, an extra life, temporary invincibility (accompanied with a temporary change in music), and "Super Sneakers", which give the player a temporary speed boost (and increase the tempo of the music for the duration). The item monitors have become another long-lasting feature in the series, though they have been changed to bubble-like containers in later games.

Despite the various types of protection available, neither the shield, rings, nor invincibility will prevent the player losing a life if Sonic is crushed (by a trap or between a wall and a moving platform), drowned, runs out of time (each act has a ten-minute time limit), or falls into a bottomless pit.

Progression through the game is made easier for the player by lamp posts that act as checkpoints. When Sonic passes a lamp post, its color changes from blue to red, and the next time a life is lost, gameplay will restart at that point rather than at the beginning of the act. In the Japanese version, if a checkpoint is activated and a life is lost as a result of running out of time, the time at the checkpoint will reset to 0:00.

Hazards the player experiences include a wide variety of "badniks" - these appear as animals trapped inside mechanical bodies which are released the moment the player hits them. Each badnik takes one hit to destroy, but they vary greatly from Zone to Zone; some will walk in a set path, others will try blasting the player, and some cannot be avoided at all. The player must also avoid rows of sharp spikes, cliffs, and elaborate death traps. There is also the threat of drowning (in Labyrinth Zone and the third act of Scrap Brain Zone which acts contained water), as the player can only survive approximately 30 seconds underwater (locating air bubbles can extend this).


Sonic the Hedgehog had seven zones (plus the Special stages):

Special StagesEdit

If Sonic finishes the first or second act of any of the first five zones with at least 50 rings, a large, spinning ring will appear. If he jumps into it, he will enter a "Special Stage" that hides a Chaos Emerald. In these stages, Sonic, in ball form, falls through a series of rotating mazes. If he can avoid the "GOAL" signs along parts of the stage's walls, he will eventually find the Chaos Emerald encased in colored diamonds; touching the diamonds repeatedly will cause them to change color and eventually disappear, allowing access to the Emerald. The stage will end when Sonic either touches the Emerald or hits a "GOAL" sign. If 50 rings are collected before Sonic makes contact with a "GOAL" sign or gets the Chaos Emerald, then a 'Continue' will be awarded to the player, indicated by a brief, distinct change in melody. Many fans believe that Super Sonic does not appear in Sonic The Hedgehog because 7 Chaos Emeralds are required to transform, whereas this game has only 6.

Master SystemEdit

As the Master System was still selling like hotcakes in South America (and in limited amounts in the US through retail stores like Toy Liquidators), a version of Sonic the Hedgehog was produced for the Sega Master System. This version had slightly different levels and bosses, and simpler gameplay. The Master System version was released for the Wii Virtual Console on August 4, 2008.


United StatesEdit

The EU/US manual contained the following story prologue:

Dr. Ivo Robotnik, the mad scientist, is snatching innocent animals and turning them into robots! Only one tough dude can put an end to the Doc's evil scheme. It's Sonic, the real cool hedgehog with the spiked haircut and power sneakers that give him super speed. Help Sonic go down platforms and slides. Go into space and do the loop-de-loop until you're dizzy. Free all the animals and become the super hero. Be Sonic! Be atomic!


A rough translation of the story prologue from the Japanese manual reads:

The malevolently gifted scientist, Dr. Ivo Robotnik, is about to hatch his biggest scheme yet. "Hmph. Those idiotic, moronic, South Islanders. They hope that the "evil scientist" is dead, when I'm about to hatch my greatest plot! Soon I can create the ultimate utopia, Robotnikland! And South Island will be a mere stepping stone." Meanwhile, on South Island, the people are living their normal lives when an army of animal-shaped robots appeared and started destroying everything! And, far above, floating in the Eggmobile, is the scientist Dr. Robotnik. "You think your puny technology can stop me? You can't stop me, no one can! There's not a being alive that can stop me!! Mwa ha ha!!" Now somewhere in the Green Hills of South Island is a 10-year-old super anthropomorphic hedgehog named Sonic. He saw helpless people being bullied by a robot. Sonic raced over at high speed and destroyed the robot. Much to his surprise, he saw an animal pop out of the robot. "Oh no! Someone's bullying animals and people alike! I...Hate...Bullies!! It's time to pick on someone his own size!"
...And now the fight is on.

Cheat codesEdit

Main article: Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit) Cheats

Level selectEdit

Press Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right at the title screen.

Debug modeEdit

press UP C DOWN C LEFT C RIGHT C press start then hold A untill the game starts.

View any levelEdit

Press Up, Down, Left, Right, then hold A and press Start at the start screen.

Unlimited livesEdit

Press Left, Right, Down, A, and hold Start when Sonic appears from the hole during the opening sequence. Keep holding Start until game play begins.

Rereleases Edit


In the Green Hill Zone, Sonic may move so fast you lose a life.

If you stand at tip of a platform while rising and another platform is coming down, you WILL get crushed.

In the Labyrinth Zone if you press down, Sonic may roll at the end of the act resulting in an Illegal Instruction message.

Get hit by spikes, jump on more spikes and DIE.

Hit Final Zone's boss when it is exploding to make it INDESTRUCTABLE.

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