However listening to former Sega Power journalists on the excellent Maximum Power Up Podcast changed my mind. "I really don't like 'Sonic' games I think they're appalling" declares Dean Mortlock. "There's nothing to them, there's no playability they're just rubbish". But this wasn't a lone voice. An Ace magazine reviewer claimed they preferred 'Quackshot'. “I’d rather play this instead of the hugely over-rated 'Sonic' any day of the week. So this Xmas, forget Hype the Hedgehog and plug the Duck in your slot."
When hit all accumulated rings cascade from him, so the more Sonic has in his pockets the more chance the player has to recollect some. End a level with over fifty and you'll unlock a hidden stage. However reaching this bonus stage is the only incentive to explore the stages. Simply put, if you've already found fifty rings there's no need to find more. In fact, you'd be foolish to do so as this would put you at greater risk of losing them all. Similarly as there are only six bonus stages once you've completed them all (and found all the Chaos Emeralds) there's not even a need to find a fifty rings on a stage since there's nothing extra to see. At this point 'Sonic the Hedgehog' really does become nothing more than a race from the start of a stage to the end as quickly as possible. Spin jumping into any enemy blocking the way since that's the only form of attack.
Mable Zone has tight claustrophobic tunnels and moving platforms both of which are hard to navigate given that Sonic has wide arching jump and tires to break out into a sprint at every opportunity. Scrap Brain zone consists of trap-filled industrial stages containing many dangerous machines such as saws, flame vents, and disappearing and rotating platforms. Again these stages beg for slow precise jumping with the player frequently waiting for the most opportune moment to make a series of jumps. This is simply harder to do with Sonic than it ever was with his rival Mario. The game's lowest point though is labyrinth zone with stages awash with instant kill spikes and water. Sonic is terrible at swimming and the slower he goes the harder he is to manoeuvre. As he can only hold his breath for a limited time you're always on the lookout for air bubbles which prevent Sonic from drowning. Ironically this breaks the flow of the stages, as to survive Sonic literally has to keep stopping in his tracks and waiting, which completely goes against his raison d'être.
On official art he mirrored Michael Jackson's pose from the cover of the Bad album. this and his punk spikes suggested a rebellious attitude and his only item of clothing, the red trainers, were an attempt to make Sonic appear current by mirroring New York street culture. If Mario was known as being family friendly, Sonic was an edgy alternative - brash, abrasive and achingly cool. According to the Digital Spy website, Sega even toyed with the idea that Sonic was in a rock band with a human girlfriend named Madonna. It was a marketing approach that Raze magazine certainly saw through at the time. "Sega obviously spent a lot of time and money on 'Sonic' with the deliberate aim to turn the eponymous character into some kind of cult hero and mascot for Sega" they wrote. "The great thing about it for us is that we get possibly the most playable game yet on the Mega Drive".