The original Sonic the Hedgehog has been remastered for iOS, a la Sonic CD. Under the care of Christian Whitehead and his Retro Engine, the team at Sega who helped guide the port along, and Simon Thomley, aka “Stealth,” who helped put Knuckles into a Sonic 1 ROM, the original Sonic game is now even better, with tons of new extras for long-time fans. Oh, and it’s not a new app, though it certainly could have been – this is a free update to the original Sonic 1 release for iOS, which was just an emulated version of the Genesis original.
The game itself is a faithful port, with some tweaks added. It’s now friendly to multiple aspect ratios, including widescreen, which may still come to Sonic CD. The spin dash has been added as an option, which does make the game a bit easier. Spike behavior has changed to be more player-friendly and more like the later games in the series.
But it’s the extras, both big and small, that are worth getting excited about. Because the game has been rebuilt in the Retro Engine to the specifics of the original title, it’s possible to add new things in. Tails and Knuckles are unlockable by beating the game and getting all the Chaos Emeralds. This is one of the harder Sonic games, so good luck.
It’s the even more deeply buried tweaks that are more fun. iCade support is in the game, which comes recommended for two reasons: physical controls make this game a lot better, though the virtual controls are better than the emulated version and have plenty of options to configure them. But more importantly, iCade usage helps unveil one of the game’s coolest secrets that may be inaccessible otherwise. Don’t read any further if you don’t want to find out. SPOILERS!
Start up a new game in “No Save Mode” and input Up-Down-Left-Right on the controller. You’ll hear a chime. Tap Start, and you’ll see a level select screen. Initially, it’s a bit of sacrilege as it’s different from the Sonic 1 level select, but it lists plenty of neat options. All the characters can be played immediately. Individual game behaviors can be changed. Items from Sonic 2 and/or 3 can be added. The game can be played with 7 Chaos Emeralds instead of the original’s 6. Plus, there’s a sound test. Pretty much the only missing thing is the debug mode!
This might not be the end to the secrets: Tails’ name can be displayed as Miles “Tails” Prower when starting a game as him by tapping the letters in the famous SEGA logo to spell AGES. The developers have been in the Sonic Retro forums teasing out other secrets, so there’s plenty of options here.
That this all has been presented as an update to the emulated version, when Sega could have easily justified it as a new purchase – and I’d have defended it too – is a killer deal for Sonic fans. Casual fans will love getting a better version of this game. The hardcore fans will love all the additional goodies. Much like Sonic CD, this is how a port should be done. Of course, there’s two other main series Sonic games to potentially be ported, and don’t forget Knuckles Chaotix!