Dazzlingly fast yet never chaotic, consistently challenging but never impossible, Sonic the Hedgehog is quite simply one of the best video games I’ve ever played. Superficially, it breaks no new ground: The spiky-haired hero jumps, dodges, and weaves his way through various worlds filled with bizarre creatures (yawn). The big difference is in Sonic’s splendid graphics and play control. One stage of the game is like the Coney Island Cyclone relocated to outer space; another recalls the inside of a gigantic watch; and the game’s underwater scenes are so realistic they gave me (an inveterate dog-paddler) an anxiety attack. Even when there’s nothing happening, there’s something happening: Hold Sonic still long enough and he (I think he’s a he) glares at you, puts his hands on his hips, and taps his foot impatiently. Now there’s a video game character I can finally identify with. A+