Sonic the Hedgehog’s first two Sega Genesis outings have been ported in just about every way, shape or form you could imagine. Emulation is usually involved to some degree, but not always in its entirety.
The long-held belief by the community is that, despite the whole “buttons” thing, the mobile versions of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are the best of them all. In fact, those mobile versions are so well-regarded, figurehead of that coding job Christian Whitehead ended up on the director’s chair for Sonic Mania.
Sadly, these mobile versions, built using Whitehead’s own custom engine, never left the mobile space (this includes a Sonic CD port as well). But that hasn’t stopped the gaming community, or at least the more tech savvy folks within, from making that happen anyway.
Sonic the Hedgehog Mobile Versions (Unofficially) Ported to Vita and Switch
Over the weekend, a young programmer named “Rubberduckycooly” revealed that they had decompiled the code on Whitehead’s versions of Sonic 1 and 2. Essentially, what this means is that the tools made to run and execute those two games were released into the slightly less legal version of the public domain.
And it didn’t take long for other members of the community to take that code and get it running, natively, on other hardware. Specifically, Whitehead’s Sonic 1 and 2 ports are now playable, almost perfectly, on the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch.
This is an awesome story from the perspective of game preservation; there’s no telling when mobile software updates or other hurdles take those ports down, but now there’s a backup that will never go away.
Of course, in order to actually use these executables, not only are you swimming in dubious legal territory with the software, you’re also going to need modded consoles to play them. So we can’t share any links beyond the original Twitter posts for obvious reasons, but if you’re in that space already you probably know your stuff anyway.
Regardless of anything else; this is an impressive community effort that has positive long-term ramifications for historical purposes.
If you want to check out these ports but don’t want to mess with the above, you can easily still check out these games on your mobile device of choice. Thanks to the ill-fated Sega Forever initiative, you can even play them for free (with ads). It doesn’t take much time with either mobile iteration of Sonic 1 or 2 to see why the Sonic fanbase loves these ports so much.
And if you have the means, you can keep these games around in case of a future delisting.
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Readers! What are your thoughts about this turn of events? Do you think decompiling and sharing those games is a problem, or are you on the side of gaming historians? Let us know what you think over at the Prima Games Facebook and Twitter channels!