Gaming flashback – Sonic The Hedgehog (20 today)
What’s Michael Jackson got to do with Sonic’s 20th birthday? It’s been murmured, although never confirmed, that Mr Jackson wrote some of the music for the early games. What is confirmed is that he was an inspiration for Sonic’s buckled footwear after a developer noticed the shoes in the Bad video. Who could moonwalk fastest is what we want to know. That and everything about Sonic over the past 20 years.
Sonic The Hedgehog (1991, Mega Drive)
June 23, 1991 is the day Sonic first sped into living rooms the world over via a Sega Mega Drive, called Genesis in America – why that was shall remain one of life’s little mysteries. Sonic, originally named Mr Needlemouse, was born as Sega’s antidote to the money magnet that Nintendo birthed in the form of a stubby Italian plumber. The international version of Sonic was given his new name, fangs were removed, and his human girlfriend Madonna was ditched. Dr Robotnik and a bunch of gold rings later and one of the greatest gaming icons of the past two decades was born.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992, Mega Drive)
In total Sonic has had 30 games, not including cross-over appearances, which have sold more than 80 million copies. But he didn’t do it alone, the sequel saw the appearance of his flying two-tailed fox friend aptly named Tails. It also meant the chance toenjoy a two-player mode while testing out the new speed dash feature as a means to lose Tails and annoy the person controlling him. Remember evil Robot Sonic as the end game boss? Yup, that’s his first appearance in the series too.
Sonic and Knuckles (1994, Mega Drive)
This came out hot on the heels of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994) and actually let you plug the game cartridge into it. Combining the two allowed you to play as Knuckles. That crafty Robotnik tricked Knuckles into thinking Sonic was a threat – creating a tough opponent, until good won out and the two teamed-up. The thought of a hedgehog-echidnas team-up in real life is not a hasty threat – but then neither is an overweight scientist. Luckily this isn’t about reality.
Sonic 3D Blast (1996, Mega Drive and Saturn)
Our favourite spiky-haired blue speed-demon got himself some edges. More dimensions must have been exchanged for gaming quality though, as this was not a big hit. In fact it wasn’t even truly 3D. The Mega Drive and Saturn title used an isometric viewpoint in a 2D environment displaying pre-rendered 3D characters. It should have been called Sonic 2.5D Blast.
Sonic Pocket Adventure (1999, Neo Geo)
If you were a proud Neo Geo owner, this title meant you could take anywhere what was basically a combination of the first two Sonic games. Did you know this was the second game, after Sonic Jam (1997) to be released on a non-Sega console? It was also the start of Sonic's world domination.
Sonic Adventure (1999, Dreamcast, GameCube)
Free-roaming 3D Sonic partying on your screen like it’s 1999. Treats like Light Speed Shoes, Karting and snowboarding sub-games and even a virtual pet level called Chao made this a bold step away from the traditional Sonic we knew. With great reviews and huge sales, this was a massive success that helped Sega in the wake of Super Mario 64 rocking the world a few years before in 1996.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006, Xbox 360, PS3)
At some point Sega must have just thought, this naming is getting ridiculous, let’s just re-use one of the old ones – hence this title. The game is modernised with new characters like anti-hero Shadow the Hedgehog and Silver who comes from 200 years in the future. The game was story heavy and required you complete all three character arcs to get the complete interwoven plot – pretty heady stuff for a Sonic title. Like all things he does, he sure grew up fast.
Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007, Wii)
There aren’t a lot of hedgehogs in Arabian lands, so our Sonic headed over to help relations. This game basically saw Sonic in Arabian Nights for a Middle Eastern adventure that did well enough to get a sequel, Sonic and the Black Knight (2008). The two form what is often called the Storybook Series.
Sonic Generations (2011, PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS, Windows)
Out Nov 22, 2011 Sonic must travel through time and team-up with his past self to battle a malevolent force that has torn holes in time. The game is like a Sonic birthday present that features the best bits from the Sonic series. So save yourself buying the 30 games and just play them all in one – speedy.
Sonic’s other appearances
This dude is everywhere. Remember the cartoon series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog from back in 1993? There was also Sonic X (2003), an Anime series, and even Sonic the Hedgehog: the movie (1999). He also appeared in the cleverly named Sonic the Comic (1993-2001) as well as in cross-over cameos in the likes of The Simpsons Game, Tom and Jerry: The movie, The Incredible Hulk and even alongside his competition in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (2007).
At 20 years old with so much under his belt, Sonic really doesn’t slow down. Here’s to feeling old and, still, looking forward to the next Sonic release.