Over the weekend I fired up Sonic The Hedgehog via the Switch's Genesis Classics collection. In my mind, this was going to be a quick one sitting run through of the game. Over the years, I've played (and beat) the original Sonic many times. And while I contend that both Sonic 2 and Sonic CD are way better games, I've grown to find something really commendable about that first game. I last played it through maybe five years ago or so, and I found that by ignoring the hyped speed of the game, and taking things a little more slow and deliberate, it actually shows some impressive level design and fun platforming. Of course, not running super fast constantly as Sonic sort of feels like it's going against the point of the game. And really, in Sonic CD I can just hold Right on the d-pad for most of the game and feel awesome. So whatever.
The real pain in the ass for me in this game is that water level. Oh man. That's the level that really kills the momentum of the game as a whole. And for me, the only way to play that level without stressing out is to go super slow, and stop at every little bubble patch to get a fresh breath. I hate games where you need to keep replenishing air so you don't drown. (Hello, Ecco). But for the most part I've always had great nostalgia for this game. The bright colors, the wonderful music. I mean, that chill music on the bonus stages sounds like Christmas morning to me.
For years I've been a total Sonic apologist. And really, that comes from being a big Sega kid back in the day. I mean I had all the Nintendo platforms and all the Sega platforms. But for a long time I feel like I just really connecting with Sega. And for all the bad Sonic games that have mucked up the Sega name, I always swore they were better than people gave them credit for. And that *probably* I was a bigger Sonic/Sega fan that I was a Mario/Nintendo fan. But the past few years this seems to be really shifting.
Over the past year or so I've been doing a lot of replays of stuff that meant a lot to me as a kid. And y'know what I've been finding out? I think maybe I've been wrong for a while. Having replayed Super Mario World a few months ago, it's clear to me that it's not even close. When I was a kid I loved that game and I loved Sonic. But Sonic seemed so NEW and flashy. It was brash and Sonic had 'tude. Meanwhile, Mario was just doing Mario. Albeit, to perfection. When I think back, this is really a good metaphor for Sega vs Nintendo as a whole. I probably played way more games on my Genesis as a kid. But the games I played on SNES (Link To The Past, NBA Jam, Street Fighter II, Mario Kart, etc) are games that really really hold up. It's a quality over quantity thing, the way I'm looking at it now.
So yeah. I still really respect that first Sonic game. And I still think it's pretty impressive. And it still holds a TON of nostalgia for me. But playing it so soon after Super Mario World, I'm realizing that I don't actually enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I remembered. Huh.