In the wake of Sonic Mania, I had a go at the 8-bit version of the original Sonic again, just to take a casual look at it out of curiosity. That was the plan, anyway - as it turns out, I have not had my bum kicked this hard by a game in living memory.
It's an odd little thing - it's recognizably a miniature simplified version of the Megadrive classic, mixed around a bit and with some things altered which can throw you off. Three zone styles are recognizable from the 16-bit version - Green Hill, Scrap Brain and (regrettably) Labyrinth and three are new, but all of them use completely different level layouts. As far as game mechanics go, you can't pick up any dropped rings when you're hurt (making you much, much more vulnerable at all times), and as a sadistic further addition to that, the ring counter rolls back to zero when you collect 100 of them. Enemies are pretty sparse, with just a few per level, and seem to be pulled from mostly random zones from the 16-bit version.
It's tempting to say that it has strange breaks from Sonic norms, but it's important to remember that this was 1991 and the norms didn't exist yet. Therefore it would have been totally unsurprising at the time to be faced with a forced scrolling level in Bridge 2, or the strange puzzle/maze-like layout of Scrap Brain 2 and 3 where you have to open up entrances remotely across multiple rooms and then make your way around to get through them. They're not even called "zones" by the game, though fans append the word anyway.
I think my first ever experience with anything Sega was when a school friend called Alex Paton came round with his Game Gear, and somehow I remember getting at least up to Labyrinth - how I did it I'll never know. The Jungle boss is an absolute bastard which took me about twelve lives before I eventually beat it, making you dance about on a slidey curved platform while Robotnik drops rolling bombs on to it and without any available rings to even protect you from one hit. While I'm on the subject, the waterfall level immediately before it will kill you if you fall off the bottom of the screen - even if there's a platform you just left two inches below the screen border!
Faced with all that I obviously haven't completed it, but I got to Sky Base, took screenshot evidence, and I think that's enough for me.