Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)

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Sonic 1 MS title.png
Sonic the Hedgehog
Publisher: Sega
Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System
Genre: 2D Platform


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Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ) is an 8-bit game based on the Mega Drive game of the same name. It was released for the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear. The Master System was thriving in Brazil at the time of its launch in that country on October 23, 1991. The Game Gear version was released in Japan on December 28, 1991 and was also released in North America and Europe in that same month.


As was the norm with the early Sonic games, the plot is simple. Dr. Robotnik 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, Robotnik'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. Robotnik escapes by teleporter; Sonic jumps in too and is deposited back in the 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 Sega Genesis version. The items available and moves are the same. The gameplay is also similar, although it is slower than the Mega Drive game. 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 came from the Genesis 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 were standard levels, but the third act was merely a short run up to the boss and contained no rings. Trial and error were required for the player to defeat the bosses. There were three zone names from the Genesis version, all feature a different layout. GHZ (Green Hill Zone) had the 8-bit version of the Genesis version.


Like in the Genesis 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:

  • Robotnik: 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 apears 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, warning signs had been placed because the high speed combined with the narrow screen could present problems. Jungle Zone Act 2 allowed for vertical descent without losing a life, which made this stage easier in the Game Gear version. Labyrinth Zone's level design was different in this version also, and the Chaos Emerald is in a totally new location. Several bosses, including the very last one, were modified or even replaced. The special stages also got redesigned, with all springs being of like color. The Game Gear version uses a Sega screen with a jumping Sonic sprite (the Master System version lacks a Sega screen as one is provided by the machine's BIOS).


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

Game Gear, US
Sth gg us cart.jpg
Game Gear, EU
Sonic1gg-box-eu back.jpgNospine.pngSonic1gg-box-eu.jpg
Game Gear, JP
S1gg jp back cover.jpgNospine.pngSonic1gg-box-jap.jpg
S1 gg jp cart.jpg
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

Master System, EU
Sth ms eu cart.jpg
Master System, AU

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


Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)

Sonic 1 MS title.png

Main page
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Sonic games for the following systems
Wii Virtual Console
 2006  Sonic the Hedgehog | Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine     2007  Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sonic the Hedgehog 3 | Sonic Spinball | Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island     2008  Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit) | Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit)     2009  Sonic Chaos | Sonic & Knuckles     2010  Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I    
Sega Master System
Sega Game Gear
 1991  Sonic the Hedgehog     1992  Sonic the Hedgehog 2     1993  Sonic Chaos | Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine     1994  Sonic Drift | Sonic Spinball | Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble     1995  Sonic Drift 2 | Tails' Skypatrol | Tails Adventures | Sonic Labyrinth | Sonic 2 in 1     1996  Sonic Blast    
 Unreleased  Sonic's Edusoft