Modern popular culture is riddled with unlikely heroes.
Who'd have thought that a guy with a quiff, blue spandex suit and a penchant for wearing red underpants on top of his trousers would go on to become a leading icon of the twentieth century? Or that a couple of geeks messing around in their respective garage would fundamentally change everything from the way we worked to how we listened to music.
Against this backdrop, Sega's candidate for hero-dom, a spiky blue hedgehog with red sneakers named Sonic seems positively run of the mill. And indeed 'run' is the operative word here, because unlike your average, garden-variety hedgehog, Sonic moves like stink.
So place him in a landscape filled with ramps, loop-the-loops and jumps, as found in Sonic The Hedgehog Part 1, and you've got a sideways-scrolling platform game that's quite unique.
Set over three zones, each containing three levels, Sonic is a hedgehog on a mission; to free his animal chums from the clutches of Dr. Robotnik, an evil scientist who's capturing creatures, brain-washing them and imprisoning them in robot battle-suits in order to help him conquer Sonic's world.
While speed isn't strictly of the essence you're not timed over the levels, for instance, and you don't get more points for finishing faster, the design of the levels rewards a smooth, quick, flowing style of play. Cautiously edging your way across the screen from left to right just doesn't get it done. To reach the elusive rings and power-ups required to help you through the game, you'll need to run and seamlessly jump over, spin through or roll down all manner of obstacles at a literally head-spinning pace.
This is the real challenge in Sonic The Hedgehog, because if you don't build up a rhythm and get into Sonic's groove you could find the experience to be fiddly, unforgiving and actually quite a turn-off. It's definitely a game that rewards good reflexes and a willingness to throw caution to the wind.
All of which makes it essential that you have a good set of controls on your phone. Whilst you can control Sonic using the number keys, (with '4' and '6' making him run left and right, '2' to jump and '8' to crouch or roll into a wall-smashing, enemy smiting spiky blue ball), the sheer reaction speeds required cry out for a thumbpad. And it had better be a goodie too - we used a Sony Ericsson K700i and it took a good hour before we could leap and land where we intended in anything resembling a reliable fashion.
That's the only matter we'd recommend you consider before buying Sonic The Hedgehog Part 1, because if you've struggled with your phone's thumbpad before, it'll most certainly kill you (and the hedgehog) here.
Having said that, it'd be a shame to miss out even if you were all thumbs because otherwise this is a simply superb recreation of an excellent game. Anyone who had the original Sonic The Hedgehog on their Sega Megadrive will be over the moon as it's a pixel-perfect conversion of that ground-breaking game, even down to a brilliantly replicated theme tune. Those that have managed to avoid the spiky one to date should prepare to welcome a new hero into their lives. Roll on Part 2!
9 / 10