Another year, another re-release of Sonic The Hedgehog. Ho-hum. No, you won’t find much different here if you’ve played this game at some point in the last 22 years, and it definitely isn’t a revolution like “Team Stealth-Tax”‘s Sonic 1 Mobile update on iOS and Android . Instead, let’s focus on what’s a little more interesting in this project: M2’s “GigaDrive” system running this bad boy. How does it handle Sonic 1 on your 3DS?
Sonic 1 here isn’t simply just the typical rom in an emulator shell. No, that’s more a Nintendo virtual console move, and as the old Genesis tagline goes, “Sega Does What Nintendon’t.” Not satisfied with just slapping Sonic 1 in a 3DS-friendly emulator shell, the team at M2 offer players a variety of options to customize the player’s experience.
For example, players can choose to play the game in its International version, which means static skies and flat waters for Green Hill and Labyrinth, respectively, and the inclusion of the infamous spike “bug”, or players can choose the Japanese version, which includes background animation effects and fixes the aforementioned “bug.” Furthermore, players can also change the sound emulation for the PSG channels by either emulating it to sound closer to the MegaDrive 1 or the MegaDrive 2. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two on a cursory listen, however. Maybe MD1 style is a little louder and crisper? Either way, this one is for the sound purists.
The sound is not 100% accurate, but with 22 years of hearing the sound effects, it will be difficult for long-time players not to notice differences or static. Fortunately, the sound problems aren’t egregious, so no sound of pans falling on the ground when Sonic crosses the goal post.
The core feature here though is the 3D. It’s in the game’s title after all! Players can also choose the style of the 3D, whether it sinks deeper into the background or pops out of the screen. The 3D effect is actually really well done without being jarring or lazily added on. The 3D is applied to all levels of the background and can be seen in the parallax scrolling of the stage, meaning each scrolling layer has its own 3D effect to better simulate the perception of depth on the eyes. It’s rather subtle and pleasing to the eyes actually.
Outside of this, 3D Sonic 1 is indeed Sonic 1 as people have likely played it before. Spin Dash can be toggled on or off, which also changes the camera lock style to Sonic 2‘s to prevent Sonic spinning right off the edge of the screen, and the option to toggle Level Select on or off (via a Special command on the main menu) will likely be a welcome addition for newer or younger players who find that they just can’t quite get past a certain level, but still want to experience the rest of the game.
There’s no shortage of methods to pick up Sonic 1 these days. If you find yourself wanting a rather faithful recreation of the game with added 3D effects, this is certainly worth the time. Others may prefer the cheaper and more feature filled mobile alternative. The story here though is that M2’s GigaDrive emulator shows much promise and is a marked improvement over most of Nintendo’s own attempts with the Virtual Console or 3D enabled classic titles, with Kid Icarus likely being the only exception. Give it or the other 3D MegaDrive Classics a whirl.
3D Sonic the Hedgehog was reviewed via a copy purchased by the author.