Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)

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Sonic 1 MS title.png
Sonic the Hedgehog
Publisher: Sega
System(s): Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System
Genre: 2D Platform
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Master System
1991-10-25  ? ?
Sega Master System
1991-10-25 £29.99 [1]Media:CVG UK 121.pdf 7076
Sega Master System
?  ? ?
Sega Master System
1991-10-25  ? ?
Sega Master System
?  ? GB-2012
Sega Game Gear
1991-12-28 ¥3,800 G-3307
Sega Game Gear
JP (Meisaku)
1993  ? G-3334
Sega Game Gear
1991-12  ? 2408
Sega Game Gear
1991-12 £29.99 ?
Sega Game Gear
?  ? 013550
Wii Virtual Console
2008-08-04 500 points ?
Wii Virtual Console
2008-08-05 500 points ?
Wii Virtual Console
2008-09-19 500 points ?


|og:site_name=Sega Retro
|title=Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)

Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ) is a Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear "8-bit" counterpart to the Sega Mega Drive game of the same name. It was released in October and December 1991, respectively.

The 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog is a very loose "port" the Mega Drive version, with similar, albeit simplified gameplay and a partially different set of levels (all with new layouts). Though overseen by Sonic Team, most of the game was created by external development studio, Ancient, in their first collaboration with Sega. This version of Sonic the Hedgehog also stands as the first handheld Sonic game.


As was the norm with the early Sonic games, the plot is simple. Dr. Eggman is menacing South Island and imprisoning animals in badniks; the heroic hedgehog sets out to defeat him, potentially collecting 6 Chaos Emeralds along the way. After Sonic fights his way to Scrap Brain Zone, Eggman's factory-city on South Island's summit, the Doctor escapes to an airship (Sky Base Zone), where Sonic finally defeats him in the last boss fight. Eggman escapes by teleporter; Sonic jumps in after him and is transported back to Green Hill Zone. If the 6 Chaos Emeralds have been collected, the gems then spiral up into the air and cleanse the black smog and pollution off the island.


The gameplay is similar to that of the Mega Drive version. The Sonic's abilities and the items available are the same. Although the gameplay is similar, it is slower than its 16-bit counterpart. There are some differences however: Checkpoints take the form of point arrow monitors rather than posts. Chaos Emeralds aren't found in special stages; rather, one is hidden in each of the six regular zones. The Special Stages exist merely as a bonus stage where players can collect Continues and Extra Lives, and no additional reward is given for collecting all items.

Three of the zones come from the Mega Drive version of the game. Bridge Zone and Jungle Zone are considered unusual today for Sonic the Hedgehog zones. However, this was Sonic's second game, so such norms hadn't been established yet. Each zone has three acts. The first two acts are standard levels, but the third act is merely a short run up to the boss and contains no rings. Trial and error is required for the player to defeat all of the bosses. The three zones titled after their Mega Drivecounterparts feature 8-bit renditions of the scenery, but have unique level layouts.


Like in the Mega Drive version, the player can collect 100 rings to earn an extra life; but in the 8-bit version, the ring counter resets to 00 rather than increasing past 99. Additionally, rings dropped after taking a hit cannot be re-collected.

End Level Panel

At the end of Acts 1 and 2 of each level, the player has to spin a panel to continue, with a reward given based on what it lands on:

  • Eggman: No prize. This panel comes up most often in the game, provided the player's ring count is below 50.
  • Ring: 10 rings added to final ring tally. Only awarded if you end the act with 0, 10, 20, 30 or 40 rings. You can't get this panel in Scrap Brain Zone, nor in Sky Base Zone act 1. However, it always appears in Sky Base Zone act 2.
  • Sonic: Extra life. Comes up rarely, only if you end the act with an amount of rings that varies from act to act. Unlike in Sonic Chaos, beating an act with no hits taken doesn't trigger it.
  • Exclamation Point: Special Stage. Appears if 50 or more rings are on hand when passing the sign. You can't get this panel in Scrap Brain Zone nor in Sky Base Zone.

Differences between the Master System and Game Gear versions

The Game Gear version has a smaller screen resolution, but a higher color palette. Sonic's sprite is smaller and the control feels lighter. In the first zone of the Game Gear version, warning signs have been placed as the high speed combined with the narrow screen can cause problems. Jungle Zone Act 2 allows for vertical descent without losing a life in the Game Gear version, which makes this stage easier.

Labyrinth Zone's level design is different in the Game Gear version as well, with the Chaos Emerald now in a new location. Several bosses, including the final, were modified or even replaced, making them easier than their Master System counterparts. The bonus stages were also redesigned. The Game Gear version uses a Sega splash screen with a jumping Sonic sprite, whereas the Master System version lacks a Sega splash screen entirely.


Also Released On

Production Credits

Master System Version

Sonic the Hedgehog Original Character Design: ©Sega
Game Program: Shinobu Hayashi
Graphic Design: Ayano Koshiro, Takefuni Yunoue
Sound Produce: Masato Nakamura
Rearrange and Original Music: Yuzo Koshiro
Special Thanks: Yoshio Y, Lunarian SG
Presented by: Sega

Game Gear Version

Game Programmer: Shinobu "Machine" Hayashi
Graphic Designers: Ayano Koshiro, Takefuni Yunoue
Sound Producer: Masato Nakamura
Re-Arranging and Original Music: Yuzo Koshiro
Special Thanks: Yoshio Y, Lunarian SG
Presented by: Sega


Original Sound Version Recordings

See Sonic the Hedgehog (Game Gear Version) OSV for a download page.

Physcial Scans

Game Gear version

Sega Game Gear
90 Sonic Retro Average
Based on 5 reviews
Publication Score Source
ACE 80 №54, p87
Computer & Video Games 93 №122, pGo!6/7
Sega Power 94 #29 Pg 47
Sega Pro 96 #4 Pg 60
Sega Force (UK) 89 №3, p28
Game Gear, US
Sth gg us cart.jpg
Game Gear, EU
Sonic1gg-box-eu back.jpgNospine.pngSonic1gg-box-eu.jpg
Game Gear, JP
Sonic 1 GG JP Top.jpg
S1gg jp back cover.jpgSonic 1 GG JP Spine.jpgSonic1gg-box-jap.jpgSonic 1 GG JP Spine2.jpg
S1 gg jp cart.jpg
Sonic 1 GG JP Manual.pdf
Game Gear, JP (Meisaku Collection)
Sonic1gg-box-jap2 back.jpgNospine.pngSonic1gg-box-jap2 front.jpg
S1 gg jp cart2.jpg
Game Gear, BR
Sonic1 gg br cover.jpg

Master System version

Sega Master System
94 Sonic Retro Average
Based on 8 reviews
Publication Score Source
Computer & Video Games 90 №121, p34/35/36
Mean Machines 90 №15, p136/137/138
Mean Machines Sega 90 №1, p136
Sega Power 96 #27 Pg 23/24/25
Sega Power 100 №46, p101
Sega Pro 96 №2, p56/57
Sega Force (UK) 95 №1, p28/29
Sega Master Force 92 №2, p12
Master System, EU
Sth ms eu cart.jpg
Master System, AU
Sonic SMS AU Cover.jpg
Sonic SMS AU Cart Top.jpg
Sonic SMS AU Cart Back.jpgSonic SMS AU Cart Front.jpg
Sonic SMS AU Manual.pdf
Master System, AU
(Blue cartridge variant)

Sth ms aus cart.jpg
Master System, BR
Sonic1 ms br cover.jpg
Master System, KR


External links

Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)

Sonic 1 MS title.png

Main page
Cheat codes

Magazine articles

Hacking guide

Sonic games available on Virtual Console/WiiWare
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) | Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (2006) | Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2007) | Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (2007) | Sonic Spinball (2007) | Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island (2007) | Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit) (2008) | Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit) (2008) | Sonic Chaos (2009) | Sonic & Knuckles (2009) | Sonic 4: Episode 1 (2010)
Pre-release Sonic games for Virtual Console/WiiWare
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I (WiiWare JP prototype)
Sonic games for the Sega Game Gear and Master System
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) | Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) | Sonic Chaos (1993) | Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (1993) | Sonic Drift (1994) | Sonic Spinball (1994) | Sonic Triple Trouble (1994) | Sonic Drift 2 (1995) | Tails' Skypatrol (1995) | Tails Adventures (1995) | Sonic Labyrinth (1995) | Sonic 2 in 1 (1995) | Sonic Blast (1996)
Pre-release Sonic games for the Sega Game Gear and Master System
Sonic the Hedgehog (Game Gear prototype) | Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit) AutoDemo | Sonic Chaos Sample | Sonic Drift (demo) | Sonic Spinball (8-bit) Prereleases | Sonic Triple Trouble Prereleases | Sonic Blast Prereleases
Scrapped Sonic games for the Sega Game Gear and Master System
Sonic's Edusoft (1991)