Great Old Gaming Gems – Sonic The Hedgehog

Seeing as we covered Nintendo’s rotund plumber a few weeks back it’s only fair that we tackle Sega’s blue hedgehog.

Back in the day Mario was the platform king and it looked like no one could come near his throne. Then Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog and in a very real sense it all changed. Sonic was, originally at least, everything Mario wasn’t. He was fast and he was the new cool kid on the console block.

Did I mention fast? Sonic added something Mario lacked. Sonic added speed. When you’d built up his momentum enough and went around the many loops the action was almost too fast to follow. The big debate of my school days was Sonic vs Mario and those in the Sonic camp cited his speed as one of the main reasons they preferred him.

It was just speed that made Sonic great though. Those first few bars of music, even now, take me back to the my youth playing on my MegaDrive. The graphics were great too. The bright colours as you speed through Green Hill Zone, the dark mystery of Star Light Zone along with the infuriating madness of Labyrinth Zone all added to the awesomeness. It wasn’t easy either, I played Sonic a few times lately and I couldn’t even complete Labyrinth zone, I like to blame the Android port but deep inside I know the truth.

The legacy of Sonic the Hedgehog means that even today, over a quarter of a century later, we’re still playing it. Companies are still making handhelds and mini consoles with it on. Heck you can even get Sonic for ios, on android, Steam, Xbox, PS, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Sonic won the 16bit era of that I’m sure. Mario wasn’t out though that sneaky plumber was playing the long game. He knew 3D was coming and he was ready. Sonic however hasn’t handled the transition to 3D well at all with an ever increasing number of mediocre games. I enjoyed Sonic Adventure but it just didn’t have the spirit of the original. As more and more were developed though it seemed like they got farther and farther away from the essence of what made Sonic a great game. Thankfully Sega seems to have realised their mistake with Sonic 4 but it is one of the few post-megadrive Sonic games that managed it. The underrated, and now almost forgotten, Gameboy Advance games are another.

If you only know Sonic from his recent outings I urge you to seek out his roots.

You won’t be disappointed as Sonic’s 16bit outings are all Great Old Gaming Gems.