The Sonic the Hedgehog games have spanned over 40 titles since the original game was released for the Sega Mega Drive in 1991. In the franchise’s long and successful history there have been a number of memorable levels over the years, but a lot of nostalgic gamers will look back at some of the earliest games and put the levels within those high on their list of favorites. One of the most iconic stages in Sonic history has to be the Casino Night Zone. It was exciting, entertaining, and visually stunning. Could this intense level be the best Sonic stage of all time?
Where did the Casino Night Zone Appear?
Casino Night Zone was first introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the 1992 title which was released for the Mega Drive and Genesis. The offering which brought in Sonic’s friend Miles “Tails” Prower for the first time was so successful that it sold over six million copies and was re-released for iOS, Android, and Nintendo 3DS in 2010, 2013, and 2015 respectively. The zone is thought to be located on West Side Island, and some players suspect that it was created by someone other than Doctor Eggman. This is because it is entirely separate from the main game, and is always set at night time. It features a pinball-based design with bumpers, pinball flippers, slot machines, and roulette tracks. There is a sense of randomness as to where Sonic can end up, which is an interesting representation of casino games like slots and roulette in which anything can happen.
The Casino Night Zone was so popular that Sega decided to use it again in future installments. It was reused three years after its first appearance in the 1995 racing title Sonic Drift 2 for Game Gear. It appears as the fourth track of the Purple Grand Prix, and was reminiscent of the track that a roulette ball travels round, except with more twists and turns. After that, the zone appeared again in Sonic the Fighters and Sonic Generations in 1996 and 2011 respectively. In the arcade game it was used as the arena in which the player faces Fang the Sniper. The background features a roulette wheel and constantly rotating slot machine reels. In the 20th anniversary celebration, Casino Night Zone is a full level on the 3DS version and a downloadable pinball mini-game in the PC and console editions.
Why Have Casino Themes Been Used in Games?
The casino is a common theme in video games due to its association with high levels of intensity. The use of casino in Sonic was appropriate, as the levels mirrored the way actual gambling games were played. For instance, in roulette the ball is rapidly fired around the roulette wheel in an unpredictable fashion before landing on a number. According to the Betway online roulette guide, there are several varieties of the game from European to French which all involve the distinct spinning wheel. The way Sonic speeds round a track on Sonic Drift 2 is reminiscent of the ball in the roulette wheel. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was one of the first to use the buzzing gambling spots as a level, but many game developers followed suit after they witnessed the success of the zone in the Sega titles.
Some titles have found success by including gambling games as side games within a main story to provide players with extra excitement. One of the most recent examples of this was in the Rockstar Games title Red Dead Redemption 2, where players were able to take part in blackjack, poker, and five-finger fillet. Obsidian Entertainment’s 2010 offering Fallout: New Vegas allowed players to enjoy table and slot games, while more retro titles like Super Mario Bros 2 featured slot machines.