Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog front cover - Master System version
General information
 Platform(s)  Genesis
 Master System
 Game Gear
 Developed by  Sega
 Published by  Sega
 Single player
 Release dates
  Europe  Genesis: July, 1991
 MS: October 25th, 1991
 GameGear: December, 1991
  Japan  Genesis: July 26th, 1991
 MS: October 25th, 1991
 GameGear: December 28th, 1991
  United States  Genesis: June 23rd, 1991
 MS: October 25th, 1991
 GameGear: December, 1991

Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive was the game that started it all, launching Sonic into homes around the world and becoming an immediate success.

History of Sonic 1

Sonic the Hedgehog Band, a scrapped feature from Sonic the Hedgehog 16 bit
Sonic the Hedgehog Band, a scrapped feature from Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit).
Sonic the Hedgehog went through several incarnations before being released as a final product. One of the proposed features that were dropped before the final product was released was the "Sonic the Hedgehog Band", featuring animated graphics of a group of woodland animals that Sonic hung out with that would play music in the Sound Test area. Characters in the band included Max Monkey (guitar), Mach Rabbit (drums), and Vector the Crocodile (keyboard/synthesizer), who would later star in the 32X Spin-off "Knuckles' Chaotix" and most-recently in Sonic Heroes. Due to development and space constraints, the entire band idea had to be scrapped, and the graphical Sound Test was replaced by the "SEGA!" chant used in television advertisements. This intro to the video game took up 1/8 (64 kilobytes) of the 4-megabit (512 kilobyte) cartridge. The text-only sound test option remained in the final version of the video game, and can be accessed via the level select cheat menu.

Zones in Sonic the Hedgehog

There are six main levels, or zones, in Sonic the Hedgehog, and then the Final Zone, for seven total. Each zone is split into three "Acts". Outside of the main levels is the "Special Stage", which can be accessed at the end of each level by jumping into a giant, spinning ring. For this mystical portal to the Special Stage to appear, you must have fifty rings at the end of each level as you hop into it. There are six special stages, one for each of the Chaos Emeralds you must get before Doctor Robotnik does.

  • Green Hill Zone - Act 1

  • Green Hill Zone - Act 2

  • Green Hill Zone - Act 3

  • Marble Zone - Act 1

  • Marble Zone - Act 2

  • Marble Zone - Act 3

  • Spring Yard Zone - Act 1

  • Spring Yard Zone - Act 2

  • Spring Yard Zone - Act 3

  • Labyrinth Zone - Act 1

  • Labyrinth Zone - Act 2

  • Labyrinth Zone - Act 3

  • Star Light Zone - Act 1

  • Star Light Zone - Act 2

  • Star Light Zone - Act 3

  • Scrap Brain Zone - Act 1

  • Scrap Brain Zone - Act 2

  • Scrap Brain Zone - Act 3

  • Final Zone

Check out our Level Atlas for full size images of every act of every zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit) Cheats

Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive has several cheats available for those willing and able to find and use them. This cheats page will list all of them below.

Bonus Points

For extra points, pass any zone in a certain amount of time. For the best bonus, enter the Debug Mode code (shown below). The clock will freeze and you'll always score a 50,000 bonus! Times and points are listed in the neighbouring table, with points being for finishes within/under the listed time:

0:30 50,000
0:45 10,000
1:00 5,000
1:30 4,000
2:00 3,000
3:00 2,000
4:00 1,000
5:00 500

Confused Demo

While the demo is playing, hold A + B + C. Sonic will get confused, lose his place, and possibly die.

Control Mode

At the title screen, press Up, C, Down, C, Left, C, Right. You should hear a chime. Hold A and press start. While playing, you can pause the game and use A to restart, B for slow motion, and C for frame advance.

Debug Mode

Enable Control Mode. After pressing Start to begin a game, hold A until you see Sonic. If you see a bunch of hex numbers on the top of the screen, you're in Debug Mode.
To start debugging, press B, then you can select any sprite in that level and put it on the screen. To select a different sprite, press A, and to place it on the screen, press C. Press B to choose amongst the sprites. Note that sprite selection is different from Zone to Zone. Also, instead of displaying the time elapsed, it displays the number of sprites currently on the screen. Control Mode functions work as well. Sonic is also invincible against most things while in debug mode. While he will get hurt, he will not die. If he lands on a row of spikes, he will jump to the next row. As a result of the spike glitch, he will jump back to the first one creating an endless cycle.

Extra Lives

Note: This only works on the first production releases of Sonic.
In Green Hill Zone - Act 3, there is a 1-Up at the very bottom of the level. Collect it along with enough rings to make 100 for a second life. Next, grab the 1-Up at the top of the loop-de-loop and die. Repeat until you have enough lives.

Get all the Emeralds

This cheat allows you to start at the First Level with all the Emeralds, and with lots of Continues. Use the Level Select cheat (see below) to get to the Special Zone. When you get the Emerald, and have entered into the First Zone, press Reset.
Use the Level Select cheat to get to the Special Zone again. When you get the next Emerald, and have entered the First Zone, press Reset again.
When you have all the Emeralds, continue on with the first level. You get to keep the Emeralds and the Continues accumulated so far.

Level Select

At the title screen, hold A then press Up, Down, Left, Right (in Japanese versions of Sonic the Hedgehog, it is Up, Down, Down, Down, Left, Right). When you hear the chime, press Start.
If that doesn't work, try this: at the title screen, press Up, Down, Left, Right, hold A, and press Start. After doing this once, you only need to hold Start + A to enter the level select.

Marble Zone Shortcut

In Marble Zone act 3 you will find three chandeliers with spikes in them. Go to the far wall (on the right) and jump to the right to find some goodies. Now jump through the wall on the right again, but be careful of the other chandelier.

Scrap Brain Teleport

On the last level (Scrap Brain), find the ledges that move right then left. Go to the left side of the wall and wait for the platform to move. As soon as it starts to move left, duck. You'll go through the wall. While here, press Left to teleport right and Right to teleport to the left.

Secret Game Message

At the title screen, press C,C,C,C,C,C,Up, Down, Left, Right. When the demo starts, hold A, B, C, Down then press Start. Instead of the Sonic Team logo, you will see a list of the game's developers in Japanese. When the title screen appears, a flashing "Press Start Button" will be there under Sonic's head.

Level Select (Japanese Version)

This code is for the Japanese version. At the title screen, press Up, Down, Down, Down, Left, Right. You'll hear a ring sound. Hold A and Press Start for the level select.

Slow Motion and other commands (Japanese Version)

Note: This code is for the Japanese version.
At the title screen, press C, C, Up, Down, Down, Down, Left, Right. You'll hear a ring sound. Pause the game when playing, and hold B to play in Slow Motion, press C to skip a frame, or press A to go back to the Title Screen.

Config Mode (Japanese Version)
Note: This code is for the Japanese version.
At the title screen, press Up, C, Down, C, Down, C, Down, C, Left, C, Right. You'll hear a ring sound. Start the game when holding A to be in Config mode that the Score and Time are distorted. Press B to enable Config mode, that Sonic morphs into a ring. Press A to switch through different items, Press C to place the sprite, hold A and press C to go backwards on selecting items, move around with the D-Pad, or Press B to morph back to Sonic.