So I never played the first Sonic game for the Game Gear as a kid. I had all the other Game Gear Sonics, but I assumed that it was just a more primitive version of Sonic 2 (which was already the weakest of the GG Sonic games), so I never bothered picking it up. But just recently, I got myself a refurbished Game Gear to relive some old childhood memories, and I saw the first Sonic game at a local shop for $5, and I figured that I might as well complete the collection.
Not only is this game better than any other GG Sonic game, but I honestly think it's a far better designed game than the first Genesis/Megadrive Sonic game. Seriously, Ancient seemed to get how a Sonic game was supposed to work far better than Sonic Team did at the time. Everything just flows well. There's nothing like those annoying moving block sections from Spring Yard Zone or having to slowly ride across the lava like in Marble Zone. You get to keep moving, and the levels are constantly just fun. Even Labyrinth Zone is far less annoying than in the Genesis game. And the final level is epic in a way we never saw again until Sonic & Knuckles. I've had trouble getting back into the original Sonic game, usually getting bored around halfway through, but the 8-bit Sonic 1 basically felt like playing the version I remembered from my childhood.
I wish these two versions were listed separately here. The Genesis version I'd give either a 6.5 or 7, but this 8 bit version would be in the 8.5-9 range. It's a damn shame we never saw any other Sonic games from Ancient.