Art Games: Analyzing an Existing Game

One of the earliest games that I remember playing and enjoying was an archival version of Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega, 1991) for the Nintendo Gamecube system. Most of what I remember is playing through the first two stages as I was hilariously bad at making much progression; however, the legacy of this character and subsequent games are also a part of why I enjoy this game in particular. While this game was not conceptually striking, it is recognized and remembered for its highly-detailed graphics for its time, the music, and gameplay.


Sonic the Hedgehog, at its most basic description, is a 2D-sidescrolling platform game. The player controls the titular character through each “zone” or level (divided into smaller “acts”), in which the goal is to guide the hedgehog to the goal at the end of each segment. At the end of the last act of each zone, a boss battle with the villain Dr. Robotnik would start. After the player defeats him, they are able to progress to the next zone until the “Final Zone” boss battle with the doctor is encountered. If all stages are cleared and the boss battles are won, the game is complete.

Common gameplay elements throughout each level typically include rings, power-ups, and enemies. Rings are scattered throughout each zone and serve as a sort of protection for the player, in which collecting these rings allows Sonic to withstand one hit from enemies or harmful obstacles. Otherwise, if he does not have any rings he will die from enemy contact. Collecting 50 rings will allow the player to transport Sonic to a “Special Stage” that involves navigating a maze; collecting 100 rings will grant him an extra life.

What I found to be notable about this game is the particular attention towards building a stylized, detailed world. The appearance and details, such as a panoramic, scrolling background indicating depth, are completely appropriate for the game as a sidescroller; these kinds of games in general seem to have a particular focus on environmental details.


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