Sonic the Hedgehog wouldn’t be half the game without the awesome and game-changing loop-the-loop. There were other factors that contributed to its 16-bit success, including the fact that half the world thought the hedgehog was exotic, but that gravity-defying loop played a huge role in cementing its place in gaming history.
I existed when the original Sonic Team Sonic the Hedgehog the game is out, and although I’ve seen the loop appear in the screenshot, I still spent a few minutes gawking when I first found it while playing. Why? Because at that time, platform games had a formula, and while Nintendo Super Mario World honing the formula to the nth level, it still feels a bit familiar.
But here is an obstacle that I have never seen before. And it is what is loop-the-loop in Sonic the Hedgehog: obstacle. This was before the series introduced the spin dash or roller that would give you a running start. So, after some deliberation, I took a step back, increased speed, and presto, I shot out of the other side of the circle.
Good effort, I thought. But I’m not stupid; I know exactly what this is. When I hit the hoop, the game had to take control of me and put me on the other side. This is a glorified teleporter. There’s no way Sonic the Hedgehog somehow works am i moving fast enough to do loop-the-loop, right?
So the next time I hit a loop, I inched forward, waiting for the moment when I would trigger the script sequence and be thrown forward. However, what actually happened was that Sonic took a few steps up and then slid backwards. I tried again and got the same result. It was amazing.
Yes, I am ashamed to have made a mistake (sincere apologies to Team Sonic), but I am also blown away. I spent a good half hour trying to figure out how fast I should go to clear the loop. Can I go fast enough that I can make it half way around the circle but fall from above? The answer, it turns out, is yes.
I don’t imagine that everyone spends 30 minutes testing loop-the-loop on Sonic the Hedgehog, but it’s still really eye-opening the first time you fail to clean it. And it’s no coincidence that they appear in Sonicfirst level and then set aside for some zones.
First, it sets the tone for the game as a whole, underscoring that you really have to go fast; it’s not just a gimmick. Like 2016 catastropheeven with less demon slaying, Sonic the Hedgehog expect you to maintain this level of momentum. Staying still isn’t fatal, but it does mean you’re going to have a harder time.
Second, it underlines that Sonic the Hedgehog had a physics system, which was more complex than most platformers of the time. This gives Sonic’s control a consistent feel, which has carried over to Sonic Mania. One of the complaints directed at Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I is that it doesn’t feel right, a result of intentionally altered physics. Try tackling the loop in the latter and you’ll soon see how light Sonic feels compared to other 2D Sonic title.
But above all, what makes Sonic loops special is that you’re in control. When you speed up the wall, spin and then come down again, that’s you. Yes, being a super-powered blue hedgehog definitely helps, but it’s you who defy gravity, performing ridiculous maneuvers typically reserved for action movies, stunt shows, or Hot Wheels game sets. Sure, Mario might have a fireball-spewing dinosaur, but you just met Isaac Newton. Take that, apple boy.
In fact, that could be what goes through Sonic’s head as he roars round after round. Sega often paints him as a hedgehog with attitude, occasionally straying into absolute asshole territory. His indifference to gravity (but not really) is entirely in keeping with his love of showing off.
loop of Sonic the Hedgehog has become almost as iconic as the character itself. They don’t just appear in Sonic Adventure, Sonic Maniaand other variable quality Sonic games, but they made it into Sonic merchandise. recently Sonic the Hedgehog The Lego set is sported (though sadly the Robotnik bot was dropped from the original fan post).
Indeed, though extraordinary for their time, Sonic the Hedgehog‘s loop doesn’t have the same impact this time. Partly because platformers are more willing to rock things, and loop-the-loop might seem a little mundane in comparison. Is this a bad thing? Not at all, although innovation is no guarantee of success.
Also, later Sonic games tend to overuse rollers and other devices, to the point where clearing loops is sometimes too easy. They were never a big challenge, but now there is almost no effort. You don’t even have to run in the springs; just step onto the speed pad and you’re good to go. But with Sonic Origin arriving this June, gamers will get a second chance to appreciate how great the game design of the original loop was, as well as how rushed it was.
Could Sonic the Hedgehog exist without the loop? Yes. But I doubt it’ll have the same staying power, and instead it’s a turn to chew on Jim Carrey’s incredible scene as Doctor Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog (film), we’re going to be stuck with Al Pacino as Alex Kidd. Maybe. Thank you, Sonic Team, thank you.