So, the past two hours have been... unbelievable. I had all four of my wisdom teeth taken out earlier today and am currently on a LOT of pain medication. Seeing as how I already watched two movies, I decided to try my hand at the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Watching the positive reviews for Sonic Generations has gotten me on a bit of a Sonic binge, and I've been casually playing through the first two games quite a bit this week.
Yesterday for the first time, I managed to actually complete the first Sonic the Hedgehog game. I never had a Genesis when I was young, but my neighbors did. As was customary at the time, when we were at my house we played Mario, when we were at his house we played Sonic. Being young however, I can never remember us being able to get past the Labyrinth Zone. The game was, and remains very difficult. It's full of instant deaths, tricky jumps and required memorization. On top of that, it can be fairly hard to earn extra lives until you become familiar with where they are hidden, or how not to take a single hit throughout a level to break the hundred ring mark. While you are given two continues, it resets your score, and when those are gone- in true old school fashion you are sent all the way back to the title screen and told to try again. Brutal.
As an adult, defeating the game wasn't quite the monumental achievement it would have been as a child. I now have the patience, and problem solving skills to quickly get past obstacles that would repeatedly drive Sonic to his grave in my younger years. One thing, that has always seemed beyond the reach of my ability and reason in almost every Sonic game ever, has been the achievement of collecting all of the chaos emeralds and then beating the game.
This is especially true in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
For those unfamiliar with the game allow me to explain. Throughout the game there are 6 chaos emeralds hidden in 6 different special stages. To enter one of these hidden special stages the player must make it to the end either the first or second stage in a world with at least 50 rings. If you are hit once the player loses all of their rings. In later games there are a lot more rings in stages. In the original however, they are fairly limited and require effort in their collection. So not only must the player collect enough rings, they must not take damage in the later half of the level if they want to enter the secret special stage.
In the special stages, the player must make his way to the chaos emerald without touching any of the glowing "Goal" orbs that will warp a player out. Sonic is limited to ball form and the stages rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise at varying speeds depending on which other objects the player hits. These courses are also filled with rings, bumpers, and dissolving barriers and one-way walls. Sonic also controls differently, resembling a pinball with the ability to jump. A single slip or miscalculation on the players part can easily land sonic in the wrong spot ejecting him from the level sans-emerald.
The only way to get another shot at getting the emerald?
Start the game over from the beginning.
Want to get the best ending in Sonic? Play all of these 6 stages and their bonus hidden stages almost perfectly and consecutively without screwing up.
A tall order that I never had any intention of actually completing.
Today though... I was on FIRE. Maybe it was the Vicodin, maybe it was that my nerves are dulled by having 4 of my teeth ripped out earlier today, maybe it was the casual week long play sessions- I don't know what it was!
I was Zen.
I was perfect.
I avoided every trap! I cruised through every level, and I collected each and every Chaos emerald!
I defeated Eggman with 15 remaining lives and watched the credits role. What was I rewarded with for this astounding act of gaming perfection?
An angry image of Eggman at the end of the game instead of a smiling one.
Goddammit I love old games.