Green Hill Zone

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Green Hill Zone
Green Hill Generations.png
Green Hill Zone as it appears in 3D ("Modern") form in Sonic Generations
Creator Hirokazu Yasuhara[1]
Genre Platforming
Notable characters Sonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Eggman
First appearance Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Green Hill Zone is a video game level that serves as the first level of the 1991 Sega Genesis video game Sonic the Hedgehog. The level is grassy and lush, with environmental features like palm trees, vertical loops, and cliffs, and is the home of numerous forest animals. Like the other levels in the game, Green Hill consists of three acts; in the third, Sonic fights antagonist Doctor Eggman before moving on to the first act of the second level, Marble Zone. It was constructed by level designer Hirokazu Yasuhara and its music was created by Masato Nakamura.

Like its game of origin,[2] Green Hill Zone has been remembered as classic within both the Sonic the Hedgehog series and video gaming in general. The level and its music have also received positive opinions from critics. It has gone on to make reappearances in other games, such as Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Battle, and Sonic Generations, and critics have also noted a Green Hill-like aesthetic in levels of other games.

History and characteristics[edit]

Green Hill is the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog. It is a lush, grassy stage with unique features like droopy palm trees[3] and crumbling cliffs.[4] In addition, as with later levels in the game, Green Hill has environmental features and obstacles like ramps,[3] vertical loops, tunnels, spring-boards, spikes,[4] and checkpoints.[5] It is normally populated by woodland creatures, but antagonist Doctor Eggman imprisons them inside robots prior to the events of the game, so the player can destroy them to free the animals.[6] Green Hill consists of three acts, and the end of Act 3 features a boss battle with Eggman.[7] After beating Eggman, Sonic moves on to the second level, the lava-themed Marble Zone.[4]

Sonic the Hedgehog was created by the newly formed Sonic Team, a 15-member Sega subsidiary formed to create a character that could compete with Nintendo's Mario. The game's level design was handled by Hirokazu Yasuhara,[2] and the musical theme was composed by Masato Nakamura from the Japanese band Dreams Come True.[8] While the original game was a 2D side-scroller, Green Hill was remade in full 3D as a secret level in the 2001 game Sonic Adventure 2; the player unlocks it after collecting all 180 of the emblems found by completing the game's many objectives.[9] The 2011 game Sonic Generations, a title that revisits past entries in the Sonic series' history, features both 2D ("Classic") and 3D ("Modern") versions of Green Hill, as well as of numerous other Sonic levels.[10] In addition, Green Hill appears as a stage in the 2.5D fighting game Sonic Battle,[11] in the tennis video game Sega Superstars Tennis, and in the crossover fighting games Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax.[12][13]

Cultural impact[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Green Hill Zone has received consistently positive opinions from critics, particularly for its music. Craig Snyder at MakeUseOf named the level as one of the five best levels in video games, calling it "a great way to prepare for what’s to come".[14] Game Informer '​s Tim Turi found the level's music "catchy",[15] and Wong ranked it as the thirteenth greatest piece of gaming music from the 16-bit era.[16] In 2010, Sega's community manager, Aaron Webber, returned from a vacation to find his cubicle redecorated to resemble Green Hill; IGN's Levi Buchanan claimed that "everyone wants to come back to" this,[3] and Owen Good of Kotaku exclaimed "I want to work in Green Hill Zone, too!"[17] Writing for the Sabotage Times, Carl Anka ranked the original Sonic the Hedgehog as having the greatest music of any video game, largely as a result of Green Hill's theme.[18]

Critics have compared levels, particularly first levels, of later Sonic games to Green Hill. Turi considers Emerald Hill from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Mushroom Hill from Sonic & Knuckles, and Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes to fit the same general mold as Green Hill, noting repetition in Sonic level design and stating that "gamers have played Green Hill Zone dozens of times." However, he has opined that the Generations version of the original Green Hill "trounces them all" in both its 2D and 3D incarnations.[15] Justin Baker of Nintendo World Report and Skrebels both analogized Windy Hill from Sonic Lost World to Green Hill,[19][20] while Carter thought similarly of the Legend of Zelda downloadable content levels.[21]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Green Hill Zone has also been recognized by critics as a classic, well-known video game level. It has been described as "classic" by Samit Sarkar of Polygon and by Jim Sterling and Chris Carter of Destructoid.[21][22][23] Comparably, Joe Skrebels of Official Nintendo Magazine called it "nostalgic",[20] while Christopher Grant from Joystiq considered it to have a place "in the center of your retro-gaming shrine".[24] Kevin Wong of Complex stated that the game's and level's popularity were such that "even if you didn't have a Genesis, this was the level you played at the department store while your parents went shopping."[16] Andy Kelly from Computer and Video Games called the Green Hill theme a "monumental slice of Sega nostalgia",[8] and GamesRadar writer Justin Towell also referred to it as classic.[25] Anka has summarized that "Green Hill Zone in the original game has gone down as an instantly recognisable piece of music in pop culture".[18]

To mark Sonic's fifteenth anniversary in 2006, Sega released a papercraft version of Green Hill as a PDF on its website.[24] In 2011, not long after Generations '​ release, Sega held a contest inviting gamers to upload playthroughs of Generations '​ 3D version of Green Hill completed in under one minute and fifty seconds to YouTube; winners were eligible for Sonic merchandise.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff (August 2003). "Sonic's Architect: GI Interviews Hirokazu Yasuhara". Game Informer 13 (124): 114–116. 
  2. ^ a b Kennedy, Sam. "Sonic Boom". 1UP.com. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Buchanan, Levi (August 12, 2010). "Who Wants to Work in the Green Hill Zone?". IGN. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Sonic the Hedgehog (1991, Sega Genesis) instruction manual, p. 7.
  5. ^ Sonic the Hedgehog (1991, Sega Genesis) instruction manual, p. 5.
  6. ^ Sonic the Hedgehog (1991, Sega Genesis) instruction manual, p. 2.
  7. ^ Sonic the Hedgehog (1991, Sega Genesis) instruction manual, p. 10.
  8. ^ a b Kelly, Andy (April 28, 2012). "Video game soundtracks: The 100 best themes of all time (Part 1)". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ Sega Studio USA (June 19, 2001). "Sonic Adventure 2". Sega. Level/area: Green Hill. "Caption: Extra Stage: Green Hill" 
  10. ^ Sterling, Jim (October 31, 2011). "Review: Sonic Generations". Destructoid. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ Sonic Team (January 5, 2004). "Sonic Battle". THQ. Level/area: Stage select screen. "Description: MAP: GREEN HILL" 
  12. ^ Sora, Ltd. (March 9, 2008). "Super Smash Bros. Brawl". Nintendo. Level/area: Stage select screen. "Description: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: GREEN HILL ZONE" 
  13. ^ Bandai Namco Games Inc. (October 3, 2014). "Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS". Nintendo. Level/area: Stage select screen. "Description: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: GREEN HILL ZONE" 
  14. ^ Snyder, Craig (October 31, 2013). "5 Of The Best Video Game Areas, Levels, And Dungeons". MakeUseOf. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Turi, Tim (April 18, 2011). "Sonic Generations: Bridging A 20-Year Generation Gap With Two Gameplay Styles". Game Informer. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Wong, Kevin (September 5, 2013). "The Best Video Game Music of the 16-Bit Era". Complex. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ Good, Owen (August 12, 2010). "Prank Redecorates Sega Desk As Green Hill Zone". Kotaku. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "10 Of The Best Original Videogame Soundtracks". Sabotage Times. June 18, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  19. ^ Baker, Justin (May 28, 2013). "First Trailer for Sonic Lost World Released". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b Skrebels, Joe (September 8, 2013). "Sonic Lost World preview". Official Nintendo Magazine. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b Carter, Chris (December 18, 2013). "A very brief, but welcome joyride". Destructoid. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  22. ^ Sarkar, Samit. "Sonic: Lost World gameplay footage shows off three very different levels". Polygon. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  23. ^ Sterling, Jim (June 9, 2011). "E3: Sonic Generations might get more than a 4.5". Destructoid. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b Grant, Christopher (June 26, 2006). "Build Sonic a papercraft playground for his Bday". Joystiq. Retrieved May 3, 2014. 
  25. ^ Towell, Justin (July 20, 2011). "Hands-on with Sonic Generations on 3DS reveals 1991 Green Hill Act 1 layout... in 3D". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  26. ^ Good, Owen (November 2, 2011). "Run Green Hill Zone in Under 1:50 and Collect Some Nice Sonic Merch". Kotaku. Retrieved May 3, 2014.