Sonic the Hedgehog turned 30 on the 23rd of June. It was first released in North America before seeing a PAL and Japanese release in July of the same year. I’m a little late with this post but seeing as I live in a PAL region, I think I can get away with it. Also, I didn’t want to write a post around the same time as others as they’re far more astute than I am when it comes to writing anything. It’s hard to describe the impact the blue blur has had on me but it is most certainly a significant one. My earliest memories of playing a Sonic the Hedgehog game are actually from playing the second one on the Master System. The Sega Master System II was the first console I ever owned. I had gotten it for Christmas with Alex Kidd in Miracle World built in. I can’t remember what year I got it in but it most certainly would have been after the Mega Drive was released and when it was a budget console. I didn’t mind, I just loved being able to play video games at home. My parents would bring me down to the local rental store (I covered my rental memories here) and I would often pick out a game to play. On one occasion I picked up Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I remember trying to play it but becoming stuck at the glider stage. To this day I still haven’t gotten the “hang” of it.
My love for Sonic didn’t really take off until I was older. I remember seeing adverts for the Mega Drive games, reading the back of the boxes on store shelves and catching a glimpse of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Movies, Games and Videos and GamesMaster. I loved its vivid colours, fast paced gameplay and “attitude”. I had a Super Nintendo at the time while my friend had a Sega Mega Drive. He had me convinced the Mega Drive was for older people so I instantly wanted one. Then one day while we were at a car boot sale, I spotted a Mega Drive with a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog and begged my parents to buy it. Eventually they did and I got my first Mega Drive for £50. I only ever owned one game for it, a Japanese copy of Sonic the Hedgehog but I played that game to death. I would often enter cheats to go straight to Star Light Zone as it was my favourite level. I did on occasions rent Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic 3D but I wouldn’t own them until much later.
At this time, my Sonic fever hit its pinnacle. I had a sticker album for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and I would just spend hours staring at the stickers, imaging how the game played. Sonic also had several cartoons at the time. I would wake up early on the weekend to catch Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog on Channel 4. It was light-hearted, with Robotnik and his companions, Grounder and Scratch, used for comic relief compared to the wise-cracking Sonic. I even remember asking my parents to wait until after an episode was over before heading away on our holidays. I had a VHS tape of it too, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Vol. 3. I must have watched it to death. I still think I have it. Then there was the grittier Sonic the Hedgehog (sometimes called Sonic SatAM), which I loved. Gone was the comic relief of Robotnik, replaced with a much more menacing version. Sonic also had a lot more companions in this one too. The Children’s Channel showed this one but I would often miss it coming home from school. When I did manage to catch it, I would be engrossed. Even to this day, the theme song is still stuck in my head. I have managed to track down both series on DVD so maybe one day I’ll binge them all. Of course, it wasn’t just sticker albums or tv shows. I had some comics too that I had picked up on my travels. These would have short stories as well as adverts for new games. At Christmas I would have a snow sprayed Sonic in my window. Yes, while everyone else had Christmas trees and baubles, I had to have Sonic.
When I got my PlayStation, I started to drift from Sonic. I did occasionally play it but I had moved onto other games. Eventually, I gave it to my niece so she could enjoy it. It wouldn’t be until the Dreamcast would I play a Sonic game again. When the Dreamcast launched, I remember reading about all the fantastic games it had. One that really stood out to me was Sonic Adventure. Being able to whizz around 3D environments as Sonic just blew my mind. I would rent the Dreamcast just to play it. I never had a VMU so I had to restart it every time. I didn’t mind though; I was just in awe at how good it was. You could play as Sonic and unlock Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big the Cat and E-102 Gamma. Each character had their own unique style and completing all scenarios unlocked a final one. I remember skipping football training just so I could continue playing this one. I didn’t get the chance to play Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast, instead having to wait for the GameCube port. I did enjoy it but I prefer the first one.
When the Dreamcast did finally fall, I got my Sonic fix on the PlayStation 2 through Sonic Mega Collection Plus, Sonic Gems Collection and Sonic Heroes. I loved playing through all the classic Sonic games in the collection and being able to experience Sonic CD, Sonic Fighters and Sonic R for he first time. I felt Sonic Heroes was a bit of a let-down. I was expecting Sonic Adventure style greatness but was disappointed with it. It turns out the PlayStation 2 is the worst one but I haven’t had the chance to try the others. I also picked up a GameCube at the time and enjoyed my time with both Sonic Adventure titles. Then there was also the Sonic Advance series on Game Boy Advance. Beautifully crafted 2D adventures that harken back to Sonic’s past. I love everything about them, from the excellent level designs that take full advantage of the blue blurs speed, to the detailed character animations and the groovy soundtrack. During the Xbox 360 days, I did pick up some Sonic titles. I skipped Sonic 06 but got Sonic Unleashed. It was ok but I didn’t spend too much time with them. I did pick up the excellent All-Stars Racing series. These could certainly give Mario Kart a run for their money. Packed full of hopping race tracks, an excellent array of characters to pick from and unique power-ups, they are a blast to play through. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is simply wonderful. Each stage changes during the race, requiring you to switch between car, airplane and boat. It’s just sublime. Then there was Sonic Generations, which perfectly blended the 2D style of the Mega Drive era with the 3D style of the current gen. It was great to revisit classic levels in both a 2D and 3D perspective, with both current and retro Sonic working in tandem together.
In recent years, I have gone through a sort of Sonic Renaissance. I picked up a Dreamcast, Mega Drive and Master System and set out trying to get them all. I finally got copies of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on both Mega Drive and Master System, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic 3D on the Mega Drive, the criminally underappreciated Sonic Chaos on the Master System (it was the first time I’d ever heard of it), and Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. I haven’t gotten Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast yet. Then in 2017, we would get the astounding Sonic Mania. I downloaded this on the Xbox One the moment it was announced and I loved every second. The excellently laid out levels take full advantage of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles abilities, the graphics look gloriously 16-bit and the music is amazing. I even upgraded to Sonic Mania Plus so I could battle through as Mighty and Ray. I eventually bought the physical copy for the PlayStation 4 because I like having physical copies.
My journey with Sonic has been an exciting one. It has given me so many happy memories and I honestly don’t think I would be as big into video games without him. Even to this day, I still love sticking on a classic Sonic game and just racing through its unique levels. While others have surpassed it, both in the Sonic series and from other developers, the original Sonic the Hedgehog will always hold a special place in my heart. What is your favourite Sonic game? Do you have any fond memories of the blue blur?