The ‘fourth wall’ is a term used in reference to the conceptual barrier between any fictional work and its viewers or readers. When it comes to the Sonic universe, it is the fourth zone of the second instalment of the groundbreaking SEGA platform game, ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’, in which it feels as though the fourth wall is figuratively broken and players are presented with an environment that feels more familiar than usual.

It is a moment in which we get to see Sonic venturing from left to right in a world that feels somewhat similar to ours. The wall is broken in the sense that an extension into our own universe is built in its place. We are, of course, referring to the appropriately named ‘Casino Night Zone’, inspired by the bells and whistles that tend to be associated with the Las Vegas Strip. So, without further ado, let’s dive in to what some may consider to be Sonic the Hedgehog‘s finest hour…

The Fourth Zone
Casino Night Zone’ invites the player into an enormous, sprawling casino city in the heart of the night. The background is full of neon lights and large casino buildings while in the foreground, Sonic does his utmost to manoeuvre a way through a maze of slot machine style obstacles. The classic sound that occurs when Sonic collects rings has never felt more appropriate,  reminiscent of the sound a slot machine makes to signal a win. 

A selection of spring catapults propel Sonic throughout the zone and allow the slot machine to be interacted with. Just like real slot machines, the reels will spin – once the player lands inside the slot machine – before eventually coming to a stop. Depending on the final matching symbols, the machine will pay out different amount of rings. It is possible to win up to 999 rings, which is of course the maximum possible number of rings that can be carried at any one time in the game.

Life Imitating Art
Just like at a genuine casino, this makes the allure of the slot machine a lucrative prospect. While online casino games are incredibly common in the modern era, this was the first time for a large proportion of people that they were introduced to virtual slot machines. The popularity of this zone was perhaps even a signal to how popular online casinos would go on to become today in the digital age

Both the gameplay and atmosphere of this zone perfectly captures the excitement of the casino floor. The colourful lights, the feeling that anything could happen next, and the sounds that ring out at apparently random intervals all combine to ensure that any individual in the general vicinity is living directly in the moment.  

An Ode to a Classic
The fact that Sonic the Hedgehog, as both a game and a character, has continued to hold a position at the forefront of popular culture is a testament to just how perfectly crafted both the character and the overall universe is.

Considering this, it is an incredibly huge complement to the ‘Casino Night Zone’ that is it still held in such high regard by die hard fans across the globe. Whatever the magic is that has allowed Sonic to connect with multiple generations, there is also something uniquely special about the fourth zone in this particular game. 

Sometimes, it is impossible to measure or quantify just why something works as well as it does, and in this situation, it is perhaps best left a mystery and just simply enjoyed for what it is.