Sonic the Hedgehog: The world's most popular blue rodent. Sonic has starred in many games, but many will agree that Sonic's best releases were the first few. He was Sega's first big system seller, and is still their mascot to this day. Everybody and their mothers wanted a Genesis in the 1990s to play Sonic the Hedgehog. But what about those of us who were still rocking our Mario-playing NES? What would we do? A company in Hong Kong, under the alias of Somari Team, decided to bring our favorite hedgehog to the NES. Excited? Don't be. It's a complete train wreck.
Somari (a combination of Sonic and Mario) has you playing not as our beloved blue hedgehog, but rather as Mario in Sonic shoes. Protagonist aside, you'll be surprised how similar Somari is to Sonic the Hedgehog. Somari jumps on badniks, collects rings, and even runs through loops. The music is all there, albeit in a severely downgraded form. The first level will remind you of Green Hill Zone, with its waterfalls and cardinal checkered ground. Everything looks and sounds right, but how does it play? Unfortunately, this is where the whole game falls apart.
Gameplay is painful, to say the least. Our portly plumber was clearly not meant for speed, as he takes ages to accelerate. Even if you do manage to get some decent speed, you'll undoubtedly run into a poorly-placed enemy or fall into a spike pit in which you can't escape. Jumping is atrocious; you have almost no control over Somari as he jumps about. Spin-dashing is here, but you, again, have almost no control over Somari. And when you die due to the horrid controls? You're sent back to the start of the level. That's right, there are no checkpoints. And with Labyrinth Zone Act 3 taking upwards of eight minutes to complete, it's a real pain in the neck when you die because you jumped into a spike pit, not the enemy right next to it.
However, not all is bad. The graphics look right. The music is there. You even get the boss fights. Somari Team didn't slack when it comes to presentation. You still hear the catchy themes. You still battle Dr. Robotnik at the end of each zone. One thing that is inexplicably absent is the Scrap Brain Zone. Perhaps development time didn't permit adding Robotnik's metallic fortress or maybe Somari Team was just lazy. Regardless, it's almost all there, converted to Nintendo's flagship system.
It's a shame. As a huge Sonic fan I really wanted to love this 8-bit conversion. The concept was good, but the execution was terrible. This piece of Ninten-trash is a novelty item at best. A good piece of history, but nothing worthwhile ... or even playable.