Building around at the speed of sound.
After how proprietary elements of the LEGO Mario sets have become, I was looking forward to diving into the straightforward and old-fashioned stylings of the recently released LEGO Ideas Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone Set. Coming from the LEGO Ideas subset, this is a project that started from a fan submission and seemingly had to go through many hoops and hurdles to finally come out. The end result is a delightfully nostalgic multi-hour build that is modeled after the original Green Hill Zone and comes with a Sonic mini-figure and a hulking Dr. Eggman monolith figure.
The 1,125-piece set takes shape as a 2D platformer display, where you build modular parts that connect together, featuring a bridge, loop-de-loop, and bounce pad that are blockier versions of the old Genesis pixels. Putting together the surface-level obstacles is fun; I especially liked how the loop is engineered. The biggest pain is the fact that a lot of ground tiles alternate between shades of brown and require a lot of painstaking stacking of small bricks. This part of the process is monotonous, but thankfully the whole project ends with a fun Eggman contraption that is more distinct than endless shades of brown.
I was initially worried that the set featured stickers, but the actual implementation isn’t as meddlesome as I feared. They’re not that obnoxious to place and they actually pay off for some clever displays, like the Sonic life counter sticker that goes on the lower left of the level. I would prefer there weren’t any stickers and instead this was all printed-on-the-bricks LEGO, but the outcome here is acceptable.
By the time I reached the end of the build, I had a chunk of Green Hill Zone laid out on my table alongside Sonic, Crabmeat, Moto Bug, and Eggman. The end of the level had connectors for more, but alas, there are no more Sonic sets announced at this time. I am unsure of how the LEGO Ideas concept works overall, but it would be neat to see this theming continue on into other Sonic levels. Toss in a Tails mini-figure with Emerald Hill or Casino Night. Break out the Knuckles fun for some other level themes. Sonic has a cadre of friends that you could tenuously tie to retro level themes. Go nuts.
With rumors of more fleshed out LEGO video game sets, hopefully this Sonic the Hedgehog set is the first of many that hit that video game nostalgic sweet spot. LEGO Mario is wondrous in its own right, but I hope we see more of these more traditional sets. On the Sega slant, more Sonic sets seem most likely, though I would do terrible things for more off-the-beaten-path properties. Maybe the success of a Phantasy Star set could convince Square Enix to give us Final Fantasy LEGO? Super Monkey Ball or Jet Set Radio would make a great set as well. Heck, toss in Yakuza. Whatever Sega or Square or Capcom or Nintendo properties can fit into a LEGO design should happen. That sounds fun.