Title screen of Somari
|Developer(s)||Hummer Team (as Somari Team)|
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog (unofficially)|
|Platform(s)||Nintendo Entertainment System|
Somari[a] is a side-scrolling platform video game, originally released in 1994 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). An unlicensed port of Sega's 1991 Sega Genesis game Sonic the Hedgehog, the game was sold primarily around Asia, Russia, and other regions where pirate NES cartridges were distributed. Like the original, players venture to defeat the mad scientist Doctor Robotnik, who plots to turn the animal population of the fictional South Island into evil robots. Unlike the original, the game features Nintendo's mascot Mario as the main character rather than Sonic. The title is a portmanteau of "Sonic" and "Mario".
Somari was developed by the homebrew developer Hummer Team. Very little is known about the game's origins; it is theorized to have been based on source code extracted from the original game and its sequel and back-ported to the NES. The title has caught the attention of contemporary video game journalists, who have commented upon its accurate recreation of the original game.
The gameplay and plot of Somari is substantially similar to that of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The game follows the player's quest to defeat Doctor Robotnik, who has converted all the animals of South Island into evil robots. However, the game features Mario as the main character, rather than Sonic. Mirroring Sonic's emphasis on speed, Mario can run at high speeds, although gameplay as a whole is slightly slower. Items, bosses, levels, and enemies are all identical to Sonic. Somari must collect 100 golden rings in order to enter the bonus stage at the end of the level, but being injured by enemies causes him to lose rings.:26 The game employs a timer as in Sonic, however regardless of what time is scored the player always gets a "Time Bonus" of 5000 points. As in Sonic, each level is divided into three acts, and the third act ends with a boss fight with Robotnik.
Although Somari borrows the concepts for its game dynamics from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, the implementation of them differs in many ways. Unlike the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, the player character can use the "spin-dash" feature first implemented in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992).:26 Other notable differences include the fact that whereas Sonic would lose all his collected rings after being injured by an enemy, Mario always loses a maximum of 3 rings even when carrying a single ring.:27 Each area in Somari is taken from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, borrowing many elements from the original stages, but some level layouts are completely new. Significantly, elements of level design from the Mario series, such as off-screen secret areas high above the player's field of view, make appearances in certain areas.
Somari was developed by the homebrew developer Hummer Team, though they are credited in-game as Somari Team. The game's levels are based on the Sega Genesis version of the first Sonic game, with the exception of the Scrap Brain Zone, while the bonus stages are based on the Master System and Game Gear versions. The game features Sonic's Spin Dash, which was not introduced until Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The audio of the game is similar to the original, but suffers from a poor conversion to the NES's sound system. The word "Somari" is a portmanteau of "Sonic" and "Mario".
It is unknown precisely how, when, or where the game was created, though Asia is likely; a Taiwanese trademark for "Somari" was registered on March 1, 1994. The game is thought to be based on source code extracted from the original Sonic the Hedgehog that was reverse-engineered and ported from the Genesis to the NES. However, the movement of Mario is based on the mechanics and physics of the Sonic character from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, raising the possibility that it contains coding information from this game as well.
The game was marketed in gaming magazines in Hong Kong and in Russia during the late 1990s, and it can be found today in the United States in specialized gaming stores. The game also remains a popular title for emulation.
The concept of a crossover or mashup title bringing the popular video game characters Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog into one game had been a long-running dream in video game culture. Although Somari does not feature both characters in the same game, the fact that Mario had been placed into the world of Sonic the Hedgehog was registered with astonishment. Russian gaming magazine Great Drakon scored the game 4/10 (only 2/10 for sales volume) and commented in a review that at last 8-bit console gamers could roughly gain the experience of 16-bit gaming as with Sonic.:26
Despite the similarities between Somari and the original game, reviewers were quick to point out the many differences between them. Commentators on the Russian TV program Dendy: The New Reality stated that "Somari for Dendy is not the same as Sonic for SEGA. ... Everything's different." Contemporary criticism of the game emphasized its difficulty relative to the original Sonic title, and the game was characterized as having complex controls (although reviews claimed that these could be mastered in time).:26
GamesRadar listed Somari on their list of "Crazy ass rom hacks", calling it "Less mash-up and more train wreck" due to poor physics and unresponsive controls, and recommended that players instead purchase Super Smash Bros. Brawl if they wished for a crossover featuring Mario and Sonic. GameSpy, however, described the game as "a remarkably good port/hack of Sonic to the NES," and Atari HQ described it as "amazing[ly] original" with "more than adequate" level-porting. 1UP.com considered it "excellently coded" for a homebrew NES game.
- Russian: Сомари; also known as Somari the Adventurer
- Kart Fighter – another unlicensed Hummer Team game featuring Mario
- Eremin, Roman. ХИТ-ПАРАД – 8 бит: SOMARI. Video-Ass Velikij Drakon (Great Dragon). Issue 20. Pp.26–29. 10 October 1995. ISSN 0868-5967.
- Chris Antista (Apr 2, 2008). "Crazy ass rom hacks | GamesRadar". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
- Bowen, Kevin. "Classic Game of the Week – Somari". GameSpy. IGN. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- Oren, Alexander and Perepelkin, Sergey. нет проблем No Problems – 8 бит: Somari. Velikij Drakon (Great Dragon). Issue 34. Pg.88. 1997. ISSN 0868-5967.
- Коллекция Крутого Геймера: Somari. No.10. Pg.248. Dendy. Moscow. 2003. ISBN 5-7542-0109-5
- Zenjirou, Jinnai. Somari. Atari HQ. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- Moscow, Vovchan. нет проблем No Problems – 8 бит: Somari. Velikij Drakon (Great Dragon). Issue 32. Pg.88. September 1997. ISSN 0868-5967.
- "Somari the Adventurer". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- Enarsson, Anna. New Blends in the English Language. Karlstad University. 2006.
- 審定號 (in Chinese). Tmsearch.tipo.gov.tw. 2004-02-29. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- Niero, Papa (12 April 2006). "One part Sonic, One part Mario = Somari!". Destructoid. Enthusiast Gaming. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- Suponev, Sergei. Dendy: The New Reality (Dendy Novaya Realnost). Season 1. Episode 11. 26 November 1994.
- Yip, Spencer. Piracy in San Francisco: Game Boy Advance multicart gallery. Siliconera. March 13, 2007
- Totilo, Stephen. Mario, Sonic Facing Off For Game Of Olympic Proportions. MTV News. 28 March 2007.
- Sergeyevich, Alexander. Игра на разных компьютерах: Итальянский сантехник японского происхождения – Налево от лифта. Velikij Drakon (Great Dragon). Issue 59. Pg.75.
- Blams, Blamo. "NES/Famicom Piracy". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2017.