This node concerns Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Master System. This is one of the first implementations of the game, and one which Sega seem to have forgotten about, or perhaps buried out of the embarrassment of the Master System failing in the U.S.. It was notable for its absence in the history of Sonic, according to the recent Sonic Mega Collection on the Nintendo Gamecube.

The speed record is something of a macho challenge amongst retro gaming geeks, I’m not sure how widespread it is, but everyone I’ve spoken to who has owned this game as tried their hand at it.

The challenge is simple, complete the very first level in the shortest time you can. Get to 19 seconds, and you win. Do it in less than 19, take a photo and send it to me. Please.

Here is my tale. I purchased my Master System after 9 years after selling my first one to buy a Mega Drive (Genesis for many of you). It came with Sonic the Hedgehog, and after completing it with all of the Chaos emeralds I decided it was time for another challenge. As we all know that Sonic is about speed, and not mere ring totals, I decided to complete the first level in the shortest time possible. Fast-forward 3 days, I managed to get my initial time of 38 seconds down to an impressive 24 seconds when a flatmate revealed that his brother had done the same thing many years ago. His brother had reached 19 seconds, something that at this point seemed impossible. The challenge was set!

I spent another 2 days working out the best strategy, which I will now share with you through a series of tips.


  • When you reach a hill, jump up it, don’t run. This avoids the slowdown from running uphill.
  • When going downhill, roll and jump to end the roll. If you can, try and bounce off a badnik at the end of the jump.
  • When you reach the big hill with the invincible box at the top, use three jumps to get up it, making sure you land on the invincible box. Then roll down the hill while holding right. Do NOT jump, hold right! If you’ve got the speed right, you’ll go sailing above the rings above the speed shoes (These are a distraction, if you try to collect them you can’t manage better than 21 seconds). If you go off the side of the screen, you’ve done it right. You’ll need to jump twice to get onto a hill which leads you away from the spike pits. In my experience, it’s best to count to three, then jump; but you should experiment yourselves
  • When you’re approaching the end of the level, run left then right again. If you pass the finish post while off-screen it won’t register, if you wait too long you’ll get 20 seconds.
Good luck!

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