Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our Memories

By Jorge Ba-oh 27.06.2011 8

The past week has been a source of joy for Sonic the Hedgehog fans, who have been celebrating SEGA’s beloved mascot’s 20th birthday. First appearing on Mega Drive in 1991, Sonic has endured many console generations, transitioned in and out of numerous genres and styles, and generally maintained mass appeal in all his years; sometimes at the expense of older fans. Never ones to miss out on a party, Cubed3 staff members discuss their favourite memories of the splendid spiky one.

Jorge Ba-oh, Editor / Founder

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesSometimes I think I was born wearing pointy red shoes and blue hair. I've practically grown up with SEGA's most loved mascot and I still can't believe Sonic the Hedgehog has turned the big 2-0 this year. Boy I feel old! It's hard to believe, but I only truly got into the franchise with the second game on the Mega Drive, and SEGA did have a tough time convincing me to shy away from Alex Kidd as my childhood hero of choice, since my first console was a Master System bundled with Sega's first unofficial mascot - a platformer starring that equally cheeky chap. By contrast Sonic the Hedgehog seemed so alien to me. A weird blue guy running about and slicing into robotic bees and crabs? No, thank you!

I should probably thank my mum for dragging me to one of those childhood parties. You know the score - too young to be home alone and your parents take you to a random house packed to the brim with other poor kids in a similar situation. Playing proudly on the screen was Sonic the Hedgehog 2. A pair of brothers fascinated me with their pure skills - going from start to finish, collecting all the Chaos Emeralds and reaching the final boss without a hint of sweat. In the middle of battle they were summoned home, leaving me to attempt to save the world from Robotnik's diabolical plans! This was the game I had to have. Sonic has always been about the characters and games for me - Saturday mornings were for watching the Sonic cartoons, and having friends over meant a healthy co-operative session or a race or two in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Seeing Sonic munching chili-dogs and playing the guitar was always a treat! Huge amounts of cash were spent on the brilliant Sonic the Comic series, and even on Sonic anthology games like Sonic Games Collection. I was, and am, truly addicted!

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesUnlike a fair few of the more ‘hardcore’ fans, I enjoyed the hedgehog's transition into 3D, though I didn't own a SEGA Dreamcast until years after the release of Sonic Adventure. The Sonic franchise has had many flops along the years but the core roots have remained intact - collect rings, bash robots and stop Robotnik/Eggman's plans to take over the world. There are far too many moments to list, but some still remain cherished - zipping around Green Hill and Hydrocity Zones for the first time, transforming into Hyper Sonic after nabbing all the Chaos Emeralds, fighting Mecha Sonic for the first time and evading ghosts within Egyptian pyramids. Granted it did take me over ten years to complete Sonic the Hedgehog 3 with Sonic and Tails (Knuckles got by easily) due to that spiralling barrel in Carnival Night Zone. What a chore!

It's not all about 2D either! I simply loved exploring a new 3D world in Sonic Jam for the first time, zipping down a bustling city on a snowboard whilst being chased by a giant truck and even transforming into a werehog. He's had his fair share of side projects from his sporting conquests with Mario to the underrated Sonic R, one of my most loved racing games. Yes, I'll admit it! Well, it was good at the time.

To wrap things up whilst expressing my Sonic love - I simply hate it when the series is branded "all about speed". It isn't! Sonic is supposed to be the perfect blend of platforming precision with speed rewarded if you can play well. Sonic the Hedgehog is easily one of my favourite franchises to date. Here's for another twenty years of loop rolling, ring collecting and Chaos Emeralds. Let's hope Eggman comes up with more ingenious ways to trap his prickly blue rival!

Stuart Lawrence, General Writer

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesThe first ever game I remember playing was Sonic the Hedgehog on my dad's Mega Drive. I was only two or three at the time, and even though back then I couldn’t really get past the first boss, I still found it fun and loved it to bits. The same goes for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but although that introduced my favourite character at the time, Tails, I had never finished a Sonic game in the time that I still had the Mega Drive; I got a Nintendo 64 when I was 7. I also watched the Sonic cartoons when I was younger, which I always thought was brilliant, with Sonic always defeating Robotnik and having a constant hunger for chili dogs. Even going to school, everyone knew about Sonic; it was Sonic this, SEGA World that, and due to my first primary school not having any uniform rules, I wore my Sonic the Hedgehog 2 t-shirt whenever I could.

I did revisit my youth when I got Sonic Mega Collection for GameCube. To play Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and actually complete them was immensely satisfying. They weren’t the first Sonic games I completed (the first was Sonic Advance), but the feeling that I had got better at them was none other than greatness. It was also the first time I had played Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which were both great and frustrating experiences in themselves.

I’ve never had a Mega CD, but my dad got me the PC version of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, which I thought was brilliant besides the fact I had no idea what was going on at the time of playing, only that a girl hedgehog had been kidnapped by Metal Sonic and I had to rescue her. I remember getting to a level with creepy music, and someone laughing in the background...I don’t have the game anymore, so I’ll probably never complete it unless I ever get Sonic Gems Collection.

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesThen I remember going to Toys R Us and playing Dreamcast for the first time, and I was really impressed by Sonic Adventure. It was only Emerald Coast, but I all I was thinking was “wow, this is really Sonic in 3D”. Going round the loop then flying onto the pier only to be chased by a killer whale that destroyed the ground along the way, I just couldn’t believe the graphics. Sonic Adventure later became only the second Sonic I completed, and I loved Sonic Adventure 2: Battle just as much, so much so that it was one of the main reasons I wanted a GameCube. I’ve bought most of his outings (excluding Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, Sonic Gems Collection and Sonic and the Black Knight) since.

Sonic is one of the many things that has shaped my life. It’s the game that got me into gaming in the first place, and to choose a favourite Sonic moment is actually hard. When it comes down to it, if I had to choose one, it would be playing Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast for the very first time. Nothing has amazed me that much since - though nine year olds are notoriously easily amazed - and it’s still probably, besides its sequel, the best 3D Sonic outing so far. Although I’m yet to play Sonic Colours...

Shane Jury, General Writer

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesRewind 19 years. See that primary school youngster doodling Sonic art in a Sonic book with a Sonic-printed pencil? Yup, that was me. To say that I was obsessed with the blue blur would be nothing short of an understatement, though admittedly it was the overall attitude and 'cool' image of Sonic rather than the games that initially drew me in. Sonic the Comic was brilliant, and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog on telly every weekend equally so, which I'll gladly defend to the death as being an awesome show.

It's tricky to remember that far back, with a glut of gaming memories between now and then, but I'm fairly sure my first Sonic game was the second one on Master System; distinctive because for a young mind, that bloody hang glider was a nightmare to use, especially with the somewhat weak D-pad on Master System controllers. The Mega Drive games were visual splendors in comparison, and I still recall the level select cheat code for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 nearly 18 years later. Sonic & Knuckles’ lock-on feature was mindblowing, although I was perplexed when it didn't work with World of Illusion.

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesIt was around that time I moved more towards other machines, as I wasn't too keen on the expensive add-ons that SEGA were touting. The SEGA Saturn had very little shop exposure my my area (and in Europe in general), so sadly Sonic had to skip a generation for me, until the behemoth that was Dreamcast. Sonic Adventure was incredible, a real revelation, and to date the only game to make me neglect sleep; not even Pokémon has managed that.

My young mind would have been shattered just thinking about a game with both Mario and Sonic together, yet this generation it happened, albeit not in a way I'd have preferred. The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games titles were solid mini-game collections, but there just has to be a joint platform game in the future; the two characters are almost complete opposites, but if anyone can make it work, it's Nintendo. The brawling aspect has thankfully been covered in Super Smash Bros., and I fully expect to be called slow by Sonic in the Wii U and 3DS Smash Bros. games too.

No doubt due to the financial woes that pulled them out of the console race, I feel that SEGA have relied on the Sonic franchise a little too much, and with the downturn in quality during the Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 years, it has become something akin to a cash cow. With the handheld games remaining solid as ever, though, and the recent quality Sonic games (Sonic Colours being a highlight) proving that SEGA is now listening to fans, the future looks brighter for Mario's one-time adversary.

Ross Marrs, Podcast Host / General Writer

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesI was never really interested in Sonic or even SEGA throughout most of my childhood. I was too busy obsessing over Nintendo - this was mainly through family influence, as we only own consoles made by Nintendo. It wasn’t until I started to get older that I got interested in other systems. One of these systems was the Dreamcast. The system sadly died off just after I got mine, but during the time Dreamcast games still lived on shelves, I did pick up Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. Both would be my first ever experiences with the speedy blue hedgehog and serve as some fond memories for me.

At the time, Sonic Adventure was pure fun and I remember spending hours on it during the Christmas period of that year. I only ever played as Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, since I could never progress much with the others. Just how did you get past Big the Cat’s first level? I will never know... Speeding through levels with Sonic, flying with Tails and collecting those Chaos Emeralds with Knuckles was all exciting though. Those memorable music tracks from Jun Senoue also made the game more enchanting to play. Having been brought up on mainly slower platformers, the sense of speed felt new to me; it was only a shame that going head first into a wall would slow down the excitement. Sonic Adventure’s sequel improved on the first by quite a lot, and the inclusion of new characters and being able to play as the dark side or heroes side was a nice change.

Since playing Sonic Adventure, I’ve become accustomed to buying quite a few Sonic titles, particularly his 3D outings. I’m not even a big Sonic fan either, there’s just something about them that seems to draw me in every time. The series has improved in more recent years, with Sonic Unleashed firmly crowning itself as my favourite Sonic game, but with Sonic Generations on the way, there’s always a chance that might change.

Mike Mason, Reviews & Features Editor

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesI can’t actually remember the reason I became so fascinated with Sonic the Hedgehog. I don’t remember the exact moment where I decided that I needed the game in my life, the point where it became the missing piece of my existence. But it did. For some reason or another, obtaining a Mega Drive and a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog became an obsession for little old me.

What I do recall is the best Christmas that I ever had. 1993. The most magical time of year for many a child, there was the usual furore of present opening, giddiness and excitable experimentation with new gifts. But no Mega Drive. I was happy with my spoils, but couldn’t help but feel a tingle of disappointment...until a chair was pushed aside to reveal one more box. You all know about the Nintendo 64 kid - that was me on the day that my parents gave me a SEGA Mega Drive with a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. My grandparents, meanwhile, had added the original Sonic the Hedgehog to the bounty.

What else I got that Christmas is a blank. It was all about the blue hedgehog. That day was the one that really kick started my love affair with SEGA and Sonic. I owned countless issues of Sonic the Comic, watched the two animated series around at the time, collected the tiny figurines of Sonic’s friends and Badnik enemies, entered competitions to win merchandise - and won a couple of times, most notably a Sonic the Hedgehog 2 jacket patch. Most importantly, I played the games repeatedly, determined to best them. The lack of save functions meant that I charged through Sonic the Hedgehog 2 day after day, cheering each time I made slightly more progress, every defeat only making me hungrier for victory. I scraped into Metropolis Zone, only to be destroyed by inflatable mad men and evil starfish. Try again. I flew through Sky Chase Zone into Wing Fortress Zone, my progress cut short by a laser prison or, worse, a fall from the sky. Try again. I was torn apart by Metal Sonic in Death Egg Zone. Try again. Try again. Try again. The day that I landed that final hit on Robotnik’s gigantic war machine, following night after night of dread, the epic death march music burrowing into my mind, was incredible. It remains my proudest moment in gaming.

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesA couple of years later I encountered a strange red-boxed copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 at a car boot sale - the American version. I’d read about the third game, but had been unable to play it; games were too expensive, with mainly pre-owned, ex-rental and rental titles gracing my Mega Drive. The stall owner was adamant that he would only sell it with a Mega Drive and 20 or so other games as a bundle. I needed that game. I gave my dad all my pocket money, saved up for an outing like this, and hoped. To this day I don’t know how he persuaded somebody so stubborn, and the bargaining felt like it went on forever, but at the end of the day I owned an Action Replay for import games and the spiked speedy beast’s third adventure. Which made for a hilariously big stack of cartridges poking out of my Mega Drive when eventually, after a huge amount of relentless saving, I bought Sonic & Knuckles and combined the two.

I’ll always be a Sonic the Hedgehog fan in some way, no matter how much the series’ quality has dipped since those days. I still enjoy some of the more recent titles - Sonic Unleashed, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Colours, Sonic Rush - but my heart will always belong to those original four Mega Drive titles, with their infectious soundtracks and unforgettable gameplay.

Susan Gray, General Writer

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesIf you could call Sonic a brand whore, I'd be one of his best and most loyal customers. Reading his comics, game books, novels and proudly waving the sticky padded paws of a plushie gripping my parents' car - and these were after the games. Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 were my introduction to the gaming world alongside Streets of Rage, a great time to be involved.

I've got to admit though, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3 were my favourite 2D offerings. The techno and chilled out jazz tunes alongside the skipping and or ambulant bass lines kept me hooked in a great gaming experience! Tails has always been my favourite with the ability to fly, swim and of course carry Sonic to a much more feasible route.

Apart from the terror I had during the underwater moments (creepy when you're learning to swim under 10!), collecting rings, bashing the badniks and getting the emeralds was a great formula. Sonic 3's Marble Garden always reminds me of the Destiny Child soundtrack - don't ask!

And then the 3D versions arrived, of which I love in a special way. Sonic Adventure voiced the characters and brought them to life in the way I'd always imagined, albeit not so glitchy. Missions had to be carried out but in a way where you were free to explore and not so limited in-between levels. It was different but by no means bad.

Sonic has had many transformations, but it's all helped to broaden out what a versatile character he can truly be. Throw any challenge at him and watch his attitude and his penchant for chili dogs shine through! He's a rebel with a very hippy like cause - to save the animals from industrial takeover! He's a laugh and is backed up with the support of a wide range of characters - Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, Eggman etc. I can't wait till Sonic Generations hit the screens!

Karn Bianco, Previews Editor

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesI was raised on Sonic the Hedgehog; my favourite colour is blue for a reason. I was two years old when Sonic first burst onto the Mega Drive, and my parents assure me that I was hooked (with their assistance) from the start. I had no problem sharing my love between Nintendo and Sega during the 16-bit years and beyond, but I always felt a special connection with Sonic. An attack on Sonic felt like an attack on me. I don’t feel that way nowadays - some of Sonic's more recent outings attract far too much hatred for that to be healthy - but my fondness has never subsided.

Naturally I have a lot of favourite moments, but a few in particular come to mind: battling Knuckles in the Hidden Palace Zone under a prophetic mural before entering the master emerald’s chamber; running along the golden sandy beaches of Emerald Coast, collecting gloriously beautiful 3D golden rings; finally besting Metal Sonic and Dr. Robotnik before watching Sonic plummet from space, swiped out of freefall by Tails' immaculate piloting of the Tornado; watching the opening FMV and listening to Sonic Boom at full volume with my mouth agape; and so on.

Image for Nintendo Special | Sonic the Hedgehog Turns 20 - Our MemoriesWhat makes these (and the dozens of other fantastic Sonic moments) so memorable, particularly in the case of the 2D Mega Drive games, are the glorious soundtracks that accompanied them. I have spent countless hours listening to original and remixed Sonic tracks over the years, and I never get tired of them. Robotnik’s theme from Sonic the 2, the Star Light Zone theme, the Flying Battery Zone theme, the Green Hill Zone theme, The Doomsday Zone theme (so very tense); to name just a few personal favourites. The list goes on and on.

While the classic tetralogy of Mega Drive games remain favourites, I also have very fond memories of some lesser-known Game Gear gems. Tails Adventure - a spin-off starring Tails that mixed platforming with role-playing elements (plus bombs!) - is a particular favourite despite the total absence of the blue blur. Sonic Triple Trouble was a more traditional Sonic game that doesn’t get remembered nearly often enough, and the 8-bit version of Sonic 2 was painfully difficult in places, but able to redeem itself by allowing Sonic to use a hang glider.

With Sonic Generations on the way - and looking rather fine I must say - it doesn't look as though Sonic is going anywhere soon, and that's perfectly fine with me. Sonic introduced me to games as a hobby, but they've since become my career. It's strange to imagine what my life might have been without him. Happy Birthday, old blue buddy!

It is clear that Sonic the Hedgehog has influenced and shaped the lives of many gamers over the years, earning his spines as one of gaming’s most famous characters - here’s to another 20 years.

You’ve read some of our ponderings - but what are your favourite memories of SEGA’s speedy spinball?

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The first time I played a Sonic game was back in 1994 when I got home from school and there was a MegaDrive in the living room with a cartridge of Sonic 2. I was too young to play games when the first batch was released, so I had to wait a few years to play them. I have always been a SEGA boy, more than Nintendo, SEGA just nailed it for me in my youth. I got all of the MegaDrive games, even the not so entertaining Sonic Spinball. I never let my older brother play it when it was his turn, because I was just in pure awe when I was speeding through Emerald Hill Zone. The music has been a prime for the MegaDrive games. I did play a lot of the GameGear games, But not until Sonic Adventure DX was released. If I had to pick my all time favourite Sonic game that has ever been made it would have to be Sonic 3 and Knuckles, best Sonic game to have been developed.

SuperYoshi6 PSN name
3DS friend code 2878-9581-8999

"the two characters are almost complete opposites, but if anyone can make it work, it's Nintendo."
--> Yet it wasn't Nintendo but Sega who did it. Smilie

ennan (guest) 27.06.2011#3

For me the highlight of the sonic series was sonic 3 and knuckles. Epic doesn't cover it - especially from hidden palace onwards. The prophecy on the wall, the fight with knuckles, robotniks motivations revealed, the Chase up to the death egg and the fight with Mecha sonic... All leading up to the mind blowing doomsday zone. Perfect game.
The music for the megadrive Sonics was also superb.

MR Mobius III (guest) 27.06.2011#4

SOnic Generations better be good I've been waiting Sega, I have been waiting!!!

RobotnickEggman (guest) 27.06.2011#5

Sonic 1 2 and 3 are perfect for me
Number four we'll speak of no more
Sonic Adventure was the best
Heroes put you to the test
Sonic I love your chilli

Canyarion said:
"the two characters are almost complete opposites, but if anyone can make it work, it's Nintendo."
--> Yet it wasn't Nintendo but Sega who did it. Smilie

Yup, I meant in regards to a platformer, which I honestly would rather Nintendo handle. Anyone can make a mini-game collection. Smilie

Greg (guest) 27.06.2011#7

I liked the roast in the other one. Could that be posted in here. I feel it will be ignored due to the newer thread. Could the user please repost it? It was epic!

Oh, I guess I liked Sonic Adventure the best.

Greg (guest) said:
I liked the roast in the other one. Could that be posted in here. I feel it will be ignored due to the newer thread. Could the user please repost it? It was epic!

Oh, I guess I liked Sonic Adventure the best.

Sure. I guess I can put it back up.

Sonic da Hedgehog was said to be the "greatest and most attractive character of all time" (Guptil89). He was loved by many and fantasized by many more. He was fast, blue and a children hero to many. Sonic is so perfect that if anyone criticized him, he will have the utmost support from his most hardcore fans. Here is an ideal line used by his fans to defend him.


He's had some decent games in which they had some good but cheesy rock music that anyone can make at least 20% cooler. Proof is located down below.

Sonic's glory days came to an end when Shadow the Hedgehog was annouced. Possibly the WORST Sonic character in existance. He's a flamboyant angst filled individual who has no self esteem and yet always figures that he is one to blame. It is like Robotnik (Eggman for the hard core fans ;D) took Sonic's actual DNA to make a clone but instead, ripped Clouds p*ssy ass personality and stuck it into Shadow. Long story short, I hate him. -.-

But SEGA team is realizing that they do not need to cater to the mounds of 12 year old Sonic fanboys to make a good game. Instead, they go back to making side scrolling games and actually brought Sonic's actual eye color back and made him 20 lbs heavier. SEGA's next step in the right direction would be to halt any hedgehog related and actually make a third Jet Set Radio. It would truly be the best thing for them to do with all money that is spent on getting 12 year olds a game of humans having love interest with anthropomorphic animal people.

In the end though, it doesn't stop that Sonic is now one year away from being able to do anything. (Well anything except rent a car.) Until then, Happy Birthday Sonic! Your fans will be partying hard!

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Mario, Mega Man and Rayman FTW!!!

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