Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)

Pub: Sega | Dev: Sonic Team | June 1991
Pub: Sega | Dev: Sonic Team | June 1991

It took 11 ½ years but it’s finally here: my very first Sega Genesis review on RVGFanatic. Now as readers know, I love the Super Nintendo and my site is mostly dedicated to the almighty SNES. But I also love(d) the Genesis. I grew up with one and it gave me many fond memories. I’ve been meaning to reminisce about certain Genesis games ever since the inception of RVGFanatic back in 2007, but it just never happened for one reason or another. Until now. Inspiration struck when earlier today my pre-ordered copy of Sonic Mania Plus arrived in the mail. It brought back a wave of nostalgia. I can’t think of a better time to look back on Sonic the Hedgehog than right here, right now.

27 years later and the blue hedgehog is still going strong
27 years later and the blue hedgehog is still going strong
So freakin' GLORIOUS
So freakin’ GLORIOUS



Sega’s lovable mascot made a huge splash when it landed in the summer of 1991 and made the Sega Genesis system an absolute MUST BUY. Sonic was Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario and kickstarted the whole “mascot with a ‘tude” era of the early-mid 1990s. Sonic would become a pop culture icon and his various games over the years have left an indelible mark in the minds and hearts of many. I still vividly remember my uncle buying a Genesis along with Sonic the Hedgehog for me and my brother in the summer of ’91. Our friends were proud Genesis owners in 1989 and 1990 so we got to play the system plenty, but it wasn’t until we saw Sonic the Hedgehog that we knew it was time to make the jump. You can ask any gamer from that generation and they too would have a Sonic the Hedgehog story to tell you. It’s one of those rare special games that everyone sort of remembers where they were the first time they saw it.



Who could ever forget the classic first stage of the first game? Green Hill Zone was the perfect introductory stage with its lush greenery and ridiculously catchy music. The theme conveys a sense of adventure, energy and heroism all at once. The music in this game is amazing and just hearing a second of it instantly transports me back to the summer of 1991 playing Sonic the Hedgehog in my living room with my brother and our friends.


BLAST PROCESSING, BABY! Sega’s infamous pitch to sell the game might have been hyperbole, but Sonic was certainly quite the speedster. The rings serve as your health. Whenever Sonic is hit, his rings go flying. When he’s hit with 0 rings, it’s Game Over. I remember thinking it was a pretty cool and clever idea!


Bopping off one baddie and hitting another before you landed not only looked and felt great, but it multiplied your points too.


Power-ups such as temporary invincibility and the shield are part of Sonic lore. The sound effect of the shield enveloping Sonic is embedded in my mind still to this day. BONG!


Make sure to hit that lollipop marker (as us kids liked to call it once upon a time). And watch out for those rotating thorns!


Ah, the classic loop the loop. I can’t think of Sonic without thinking about them. The two go hand in hand like Godzilla and Japan!


Mario has Bowser. The aforementioned Godzilla has King Ghidorah. Sonic has Dr. Robotnik. Always fun beating his fat ass :P


True story: when I was a kid I thought Marble Zone was sort of a homage to the first stage of Altered Beast (the game that launched with the Genesis back in the late ’80s). Ah, the innocence of being 8 years old!



Love the way the fire trails you and love the sound it makes. Just classic stuff from Sega.


Remember bypassing each one of these one at a time and waiting patiently for those Zordon glass containers to lift? You know you do.

Goddamn it, it really does look like it, no?
Goddamn it, it really does look like it, no?


I love the sound the chain makes when it ascends.


Marble Zone Act 2 brings the lava action. The visual of the rising lava is SEARED in my brain, pardon the pun.


Spring Yard Zone is another memorable level. Who could ever forget bouncing Sonic off the bumper balls like a pinball?

Love the city at night in the backdrop
Love the city at night in the backdrop
WHOA! Speed kills, indeed
WHOA! Speed kills, indeed
Plenty of hidden areas to be found
Plenty of hidden areas to be found
Ah lollipop marker... my old friend
Ah, lollipop marker… my old friend


Battle Dr. Robotnik at the end of each world, with his gimmick shifting for each fight. I remember thinking as a kid how dope that was. It gave me a sense that I was really beating him at every turn rather than what most platformers do instead (i.e. the big bad sending his cronies to deal with you in the levels prior to the final showdown). Obviously Sonic the Hedgehog drew some influences from the Mario games but it’s also obvious that Sega threw their own spin on it (pun intended, not intended) and made it their own.


Alright, raise your hand if Labyrinth Zone terrorized you as a kid. Looking back, it’s really not that hard a stage but I guess at the time it was my youthful inexperience and anxiety that got the worst of me. It’s because of this and the water dam level from NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that made me weary of playing any stages featuring water.

No Donnie! Its NOT OK!


Wait for the big bubble to give Sonic a respite. This used to induce mini panic attacks on me when I was 8! Especially when that damn frenetic music would kick in with the 5 second countdown to alert you that poor Sonic is on the verge of drowning!

It’s OK, buddy. There’s a Groupon on group therapy we can redeem.

Ah. away from water at last
Ah, away from water at last
Kicking and screaming back in the water
Kicking and screaming back in the water


On my very short list of disappointments with this game, Star Light Zone is definitely one of them. Based on the name of the stage, my 8 year old self imagined a grandiose world littered by hundreds of multi-colored and different sized stars (including exaggeratedly enormous ones). Sadly the actual stars are just normal, rendering the overall effect forgettable. The world is not a fraction as colorful as I expected a “Star Light Zone” to be. Although Star Light Zone features some pretty cool ideas such as the fans and teeter totters, it felt like Sonic Team dropped the proverbial ball as it relates to appearance and atmosphere.


In fact, my mind often switches Spring Yard Zone and Star Light Zone, as a sign of my inner desire for Star Light Zone to be brighter and bigger than what it is.


The oddly titled (and looking) Scrap Brain Zone doesn’t mess around. Industrial in its look and design, it features the game’s trickiest platforming and even includes some underwater sections to navigate through.


Personally, I didn’t care too much for the aesthetics of Scrap Brain Zone. It’s not one of those memorable final worlds that spring to mind when I think of such things. It’s rather mechanical (in spirit), which granted makes a ton of sense because it is Dr. Robotnik’s lair, but still. It feels a little too lifeless and definitely ranks toward the bottom of my least favorite zones in this game, along with the aforementioned disappointing Star Light Zone.


Thankfully, the final fight with Dr. Robotnik is highly memorable and something that has stuck with me throughout the ages. It’s simply classic and fun to play. After a small speed bump, Sonic the Hedgehog definitely ends on a high note.



If you beat a stage with 50 or more rings and manage to jump into the big golden ring at level’s end, then you’ll be transported here. It’s a crazy dream-like psychedelic experience. Do your best to avoid the red dots of death and make your way to the middle to claim your Chaos Emerald. This bonus round blew our minds back in 1991. It was at once soothing and chaotic — the perfect balance.



Back in the day my family was friends with four other families. Our parents were best friends with the other parents and the kids, ranging from birth dates of 1978-1986, were much the same. Together, we were a force to be reckoned with. Our epic sleepovers during the late ’80s to mid ’90s is the stuff legends are made of, filled with countless coming-of-age adventures and of course, video games galore. I remember many of those happy Saturday nights fondly, but there was one innocent Saturday night in the summer of ’91 that stood out in particular. We booted up Sonic the Hedgehog and Tommy had the controller. Randomly, he pressed Up, Down, Left, Right, A + START at the title menu. Next thing we knew, a level select cheat menu popped up!

We all jumped up and down in utter disbelief
We all lost our minds the second this happened

You have to understand something. This was 1991. Way before the internet, way before YouTube, way before GameFAQs. You couldn’t just go online to Google cheat codes, oh no. You either found out by reading the cheat section in a gaming magazine or discovering it yourself through sheer dumb luck. For Tommy, it was the latter. Or at least, that’s what he told us. At any rate, cracking the code back then was bigger than big. Unlocking a video game secret is a moment that instantly becomes etched in the annals of time. Tommy from that point on forever adopted a near mythical aura within our gaming group. It’s one of my favorite game memories because it encapsulates the innocence of the early ’90s and also what made our Gaming Crew so damn special and magical.

Uncle Jimmy: the man, the myth, the legend
Uncle Jimmy: the man, the myth, the legend

My other favorite Sonic the Hedgehog memory involves my Uncle Jimmy. He lived with us as we were growing up. My brother and I absolutely adored him. Whether he was weaving spooky ghost stories on a warm summer night, or whether he was playing Contra and other NES classics with us, Uncle Jimmy was an important part of my childhood. He was also the one who bought us a Sega Genesis in 1991 along with Sonic the Hedgehog.


Sadly, by ’91 Uncle Jimmy by and large lost interest in playing video games. However, I’ll never forget coming home from school one day and upon opening my door hearing that classic Sonic the Hedgehog music. I had just started 3rd grade so it was probably September. My brother wasn’t home yet and my mom sure as hell wasn’t playing Sonic… so who was? I turned the corner after taking off my shoes and sure enough, there he was sitting on the couch grinning like a boy who had just seen Santa. I’ll never forget that image. He was on the lava stage, Sonic was teetering on the block and Uncle Jimmy was swaying along with Sonic before he caught me watching him. He gave me a thumbs up and it became a moment frozen in time. It was also the last time I can recall Uncle Jimmy playing a video game. It was Uncle Jimmy’s last hurrah.



Sonic the Hedgehog may not be the best game in the series but it introduced the world to an iconic character who transcended video gaming itself. It laid the foundation for what was to come. It also spawned countless similar platformers starring animals with attitude. Some examples include Awesome Possum, Bubsy and Rocky Rodent. It was a sign of the times, for sure. But no one ever did it better than Sonic. Sorry, Crash! Sonic the Hedgehog is a personal favorite of mine. Some of the sequels may well be better, but similar to Donkey Kong Country, the original will forever hold a special place in my gaming heart. With today seeing the release of Sonic Mania Plus, and with a movie set to launch on November 15, 2019 (with Jim Carrey playing Dr. Robotnik), Sonic is alive and well. He has stood the test of time whereas many other attempted mascots have miserably failed. It’s nice to pause and look back on where it all started. Sonic the Hedgehog, I salute thee. Thanks for all the memories.

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

The Mask (SNES)

Pub and Dev: Black Pearl | Oct. '95 | 16 MEGS
Pub + Dev: Black Pearl Software | Oct. ’95 | 16 MEGS

It’s almost been 22 years since Jim Carrey’s The Mask hit theaters. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. So many people remember the movie, but how many people remember the video game? Coming out toward the back end of the Super Nintendo’s life span, it came and went with little to zero fanfare. Is it a classic case of a game that has been wrongly overlooked, or is it an exhibit of a licensed effort that just isn’t very good? Let’s take a look and unmask the mystery [You’re fired -Ed.]


Jim Carrey could do no wrong in 1994
Jim Carrey simply could do no wrong in 1994

In 1994, Michael Jordan went to play baseball, Bill Clinton was accused of sexual harassment, and OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman before taking off in a white Bronco down 91 Freeway [So not going there -Ed.]. And nobody could stop Jim Carrey. It was in ’94 that Carrey became a star with films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and THE MASK. He was Hollywood’s NEW golden boy, and the world was his oyster. Carrey’s 3 films grossed more than a total of 700 million worldwide. Most actors could only dream of half that success over an entire career, let alone one year! Of those films, The Mask is my favorite. Its wacky, over-the-top hero was perfectly portrayed and produced. And no one else could have brought the Mask character to life quite like Jim Carrey. My old gaming crew and I went to see the film in theaters on Saturday, July 30, 1994. I remember that fateful Saturday afternoon well. After all, when you’re 10, there’s nothing quite like seeing summer blockbusters with your best pals. It’s a childhood necessity as sure as riding roller coasters and navigating haunted houses.

Brings back nostalgic memories
Brings back nostalgic memories

When you were a kid, the words movie magic really meant something. There was a certain aura about going to the movies as a young child that can’t be replicated. You got swept up in the whole process. Of hopping into the old family van, staring at the movie titles gleaming on the marquee, gawking at the larger-than-life movie posters as you sidle over to the popcorn and candy section. Finally, entering the theater and seeing that humongous silver screen (remember how big it seemed when you were a kid?), and red plush seats that seemed to stretch on for miles and miles. It was all part of the magic of going to the movies.

Game is surprisingly faithful to the film
Game is surprisingly faithful to the film


A bit of interesting trivia: in the original comics, the Mask was created by an African tribe. But in the movie, it was made by Loki, the Norse God of mischief.

Damn, almost 22 years ago eh?
Damn, almost 22 years ago eh?
Jim Carrey plays mild-mannered bank clerk, Stanley Ipkiss
Jim plays mild-mannered bank clerk, Stanley Ipkiss
The film debut of Cameron Diaz (whew...)
The film debut of Cameron Diaz (whew…)
Every straight male's reaction
Every straight male’s reaction
I had a huge crush on the Pink Ranger BUT THIS...
I had a huge crush on the Pink Ranger BUT THIS…
Now that's what you call a bombshell. I was in love
Now that’s what you call a bombshell. I was in love
Tina Carlyle, you make my heart sing...
Tina Carlyle, you make my heart sing…
I was shakin' as much as Stanley was!
I was shaking as much as Stanley was!
Down on his luck, he's about make a grand discovery
Down on his luck, he’s set to make a big discovery
Many people live behind masks. Stanley literally
Many people live behind masks. Stanley, literally
It's no Jurassic Park but its CGI impressed me
It’s no Jurassic Park but its CGI impressed me


Hey this reminds me of something...
Hey this reminds me of something…
Goosebumps = the Harry Potter of the mid '90s
Goosebumps = the Harry Potter of the mid ’90s

Stanley turns into the Haunted Mask. Wait, no, sorry, that was Carly Beth. But true story, when I first saw the previews for the Mask, I thought it was a rip-off of R.L. Stine’s Haunted Mask. Little did I know then that the Mask started out as a comic book originally. If anything, Mr. Stine drew inspiration from the comic. Nevertheless, I LOVED me some Goosebumps back in the day!

As a kid the TV show gave me the heebie-jeebies
As a kid the TV show gave me the heebie-jeebies
Nor did Stanley turn into this. The '80s rocked
Nor did Stanley turn into this. The ’80s rocked


Make your way through Edge City's 7 levels
Make your way through Edge City’s 7 levels


The mallet is one of his many weapons
The mallet is one of his many weapons







And it’s been recreated perfectly here. Smash weak floors to open up new areas.

Or use it to crush things. It's equally satisfying
Or use it to crush things. It’s equally satisfying
How shall I approach this? Hmm...
How shall I approach this? Hmm…
Does this look like a face you can trust?
Does this look like a face you can trust?




OK… soooo… that didn’t work out too well. Hmm, let’s try a different strategy…

Brings back memories of DON'T WAKE DADDY!
Brings back memories of DON’T WAKE DADDY!
Low health? Don't wanna fight? Then tip-toe!
Low health? Don’t wanna fight? Then tip-toe!
Animation is a bit stiff
Animation is a bit stiff

The Mask has many special abilities. He can morph into a raging tornado, leap 20 feet in the air, or bust out his collection of firearms. The downside being that all of these special moves will quickly drain your Morph points. You’d do well to save them only for sticky situations. When faced against the regular bad guys throughout the game’s stages, you’ll most likely be punching them to oblivion. It doesn’t eat away at your Morph points, and it’s serviceable enough on the lower tier enemies. I wouldn’t dare suggest punching against the bosses though! The enemies as you can see here look a bit strange, and the animation is awkward.

[Yes, we all do. We ALL do... *looks at Steve* -Ed.]
[Yes, we all do. We ALL do… *looks at Steve* -Ed.]








Now to get around, besides breaking certain sections of the floor to create new playing space, you also move about through the usage of elevators and various teleport warps, like vents. The type of teleport depends on the stage’s theme. In the forest for example, you can teleport through the hollows in the trees.







I like the warping aspect. It puts a twist on things; this is definitely not your typical hop ‘n bop licensed platformer. Teleport points give the levels a decent maze-like feel. If nothing else, bonus points for attempting to be different.


You have 500 points for your health and Morph magic. Collect hearts to regain vitality. Collect M’s scattered throughout to boost back up your Morph points. Different special moves eat up a certain amount of points. Guns cost you 100, f’rinstance. Once you hit 0, it slowly replenishes to 50, similar to Earthworm Jim (Jim’s ammo crawls back to 100 after hitting 0). Nice of them to throw us a bone.

The game exaggerates this look even further
The game exaggerates this look even further
Cranky Shotgun Lady from the movie is the first boss
Cranky Shotgun Lady from the movie
Kids, do NOT try this at home
Kids, do NOT try this at home


They even capture his alien-like free fall look
They even capture his alien-like free fall look


[You might want to double check those lyrics... -Ed.]
[You might want to double check those lyrics… -Ed.]
What's in the bag there? Ever seen AUDITION...
What’s in the bag there? Ever seen AUDITION
Look, it's Milo the Wonder Dog!
Look, it’s Milo the Wonder Dog!
It definitely doesn't look like your typical SNES game
It definitely doesn’t look like a typical SNES game




It looks more like a Genesis game than SNES
It looks more like a Genesis game than SNES




It's nice to see GODZILLA making a special cameo!
Nice seeing GODZILLA make a special cameo!
See you later this month (SHIN GOJIRA 7.29.16)
See you later this month (SHIN GOJIRA 7.29.16)



Controversy reared its ugly head when Jim Carrey chose not to promote his role in the film Kick-Ass 2. With the recent Sandy Hook tragedy, Carrey felt the film was TOO violent and refused to promote it. It stirred some rumblings among his fellow cast members who had varying opinions on Carrey’s sudden change of heart. The movie certainly wasn’t too violent when he was getting paid big bucks for his role in the film. Needless to say, Carrey isn’t remembered for this particular masked role…

The Mask >>> Colonel Stars and Stripes
The Mask >>> Colonel Stars and Stripes


Film authenticity FTW. Well done, Black Pearl
Film authenticity FTW. Well done, Black Pearl






Electric grids must first be turned off by hitting a switch. Some of the switches are readily visible next to a grid while others are placed a ways away. In such cases, you have to hightail it. The switch is effective only for a short time. This requires precision and no wasted movement on your part.

Really, pal?  Well... THAT'S WHAT THEY ALL SAY!
Really, pal? Well… THAT’S WHAT THEY ALL SAY!
It eats up your Morph points in a hurry, though
It eats up your Morph points fast, though
Tasmanian Devil pillow easter egg FTW
Tasmanian Devil pillow easter egg FTW
We all know how this one ends for Bobby but Bobby
We all know how this ends for Bobby but Bobby
This boss is cheap as hell
This boss is cheap as hell




This level is not very fun. In fact, it’s kind of a pain. Multiple warp points during the long free falls will drive you mad, for instance. You know it’s bad when the game developers didn’t include a boss on this level — they knew just finding the exit was hard enough in and of itself. That’s really all you need to know…


Just like the film, the last fight takes place here
Just like the film, the last fight takes place here
Trying to squeeze into the vent can be maddening
Trying to squeeze into that vent can be annoying
Warp points gave the game a bit of a fun maze-like feel
Warp points gives it a bit of a fun maze-like feel
1994's most overused line. Thanks, MASK
1994’s most overused line. Thanks, MASK

“STANLEY! I knew you would come save me!”


“Yeah, alright, I know. Now quick, untie me!”

“I’m getting some funky ideas here, Tina…”

“WE CAN DO THAT LATER! But if Dorian –“









Game a little too hard for your liking? Wished you had infinite lives, health or morphing powers? Desire to skip stages? With this simple cheat, you can do all of that. SMOKIN’!


On his way to the top, Carrey collected fat stacks
Jim Carrey struck gold in 1994

The video game flew under the radar. EGM gave it scores of 6.5, 6.5, 6.5 and 7.5. The movie, however, was very well received. In 1994, The Mask became the second highest grossing superhero movie since BATMAN. Although it’s been outdone since ’94, The Mask remains a fan favorite among movie goers both young and old alike. Made on a budget of 23 million, it went on to gross more than 350 million worldwide. Siskel and Ebert gave it two thumbs up and listed it on their “Best of 1994″ list. That was a big year for Jim Carrey, as he starred in 3 films: Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask. But it was the latter that did the best both commercially and critically. The Mask launched Jim Carrey into superstardom, sending him through the stratosphere as a major Hollywood player. Along the way he collected a lot of big bucks. The Mask also launched previously unknown Cameron Diaz into a leading lady of the silver screen. She went on to have a huge film career for the next 20 years. Not bad, eh?



The movie: SMOKIN'! The SNES game: SO-SO!
The movie: SMOKIN’! The SNES game: SO-SO!

The Mask does a nice job of replicating the feel of the film. Some licensed titles take a lot of liberty, but that isn’t the case here. Because of this, the video game has a silly comic book like feel. It comes off very authentic, and you feel like you’re really “being” the Mask character, with all of his unique reality bending abilities. This is a major plus. However, on the downside, you have the visuals, which for a game released in late ’95, isn’t even up to 1992 SNES standards. THE MASK looks great and animates well, but the enemies are fugly and animate with the grace of a cardboard. I wish they spent more time on these characters as they clearly did with the Mask. The sound captures that cartoon-ish aspect of the Mask’s world nicely. The music is not anything to write home about.


The game plays decently enough, with some levels being executed better than others. It’s nice they tried something different other than the standard hop and bop that so many licensed games seemingly turn to. The Mask comes off as a weird hybrid of a beat ‘em up and an action platformer. The boss battles are limited, though, due to the IMMENSE size of the characters in the game. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for actual gameplay skills. It’s truly then just a matter of standing back and firing off all your special attacks until your Morph points hit 0. Using his boxing gloves is tough since he’s such a big target, plus the bosses have long ranged attacks. Thus, the boss battles are largely unsatisfying, and that’s a shame because some of the levels themselves can provide for a mindless hour of mild entertainment, with various warp points and being able to live out the Mask’s larger than life, over-the-top shenanigans. He’s a fun and charismatic creature to control. You could do far worse than The Mask as far as games on the Super Nintendo go, but there’s plenty better out there. All in all, this game is pretty much middle of the road. I wouldn’t go out of my way to actively look for a copy but if you come across it for 5 bucks or less, it’s not a bad add to your SNES collection… especially if you liked the film 20+ years ago.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 5.5
Longevity: 5

Overall: 5.5


Yes Man (2008)
Yes Man (2008)

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend.
You could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in
And if you do not want to SEE ME AGAIN,
I would understand.

The angry boy, a bit TOO insane.
Icin’ over a secret pain.
You know you don’t belong.
You’re the first to fight; you’re way too loud.
You’re the flash of light on a burial shroud.
I know something’s wrong.
Well everyone I know has got a reason… to say,
I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend…
You could… cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been living in.
And if you do not want to SEE ME AGAIN…

[Wait just a damn second here. I saw this scene in a game before… -Ed.]

Nice role reversal
Nice role reversal