As much as I love all things Nintendo related, there is one video game character that has maintained a special place in my heart for many years, and his name is Sonic the Hedgehog. Hate me if you want to, but there was just something more appealing about him than Mario when I was a kid. He had a sarcastic, teenage-esque attitude, a need for speed, and some really cool looking spiky hair. Last Thursday was the blue blurs 20th birthday, and I thought what better way to celebrate it than to share some of my most fond memories from some of the classic Sonic games.
1. Playing the original Sonic The Hedgehog for the first time
If you thought that this countdown was going to start any other way than shame on you. After aquiring the original genesis back in 1991, the first game I ever played on it was the original Sonic The Hedgehog. At first my thoughts were “ok, so all you have to do is run through loops, can’t you already do that with hotwheels”. Over time, something about the overall level of challenge, and variety in the overall gameplay really impressed me. Who ever said boss fights were the hardest part of a game hasn’t tried to survive underwater in the Labyrinth Zone while an entire building is collapsing on top of you. This title set the path for what would be one of the most memorable franchises in video game history.
2. Aquiring Chaos Emeralds in so many different ways
Most sonic games nowadays only require the player to get to the end of a level in order to get a Chaos Emerald. What ever happened to earning something instead of just having it handed to you? The emerald stages for the Genesis Sonic games were some of the most crazy, elaborate, and challenging parts of each and every game back then. Sega always found a clever way to change things up so you never got comfortable with just one way of collecting these priceless gems. Being a kid during these days meant that frustration was very easy to come by, so most of the time I just gave up on them. Looking back at them now makes me appreciate how much this idea really catered to the hardcore crowd, because it took alot of hard work and determination in order to succeed.
3. The lock-on compatibility of Sonic & Knuckles with Sonic 2 and 3
One of the first of its kind, Sonic and Knuckles decided to do something completely off the beaten path than any other game in the series before it. What I’m talking about of course is the addition of a cartridge lock-on feature that would allow players to play as Knuckles in either Sonic 2 or 3. The best part about this was the fact that it gave us more to do with the games that we have already completed. Seven new emeralds could be obtained, each character had a special form of themselves now, and many new ways of exploring levels opened up as well. And I still remember trying to see if Sonic 1 was compatible with the device, only to be presented with an easter egg that I’m sure most of you know about already.
4. Being unable to complete certain levels even to this very day
Every gamer out there has to admit to their failures every once in awhile, and mine are the fact that are specific levels in Sonic 3, and also in Sonic and Knuckles that i can still not complete to this very day. In 3, it is the final part of the second act of Carnival Night Zone, the part where you have to jump on top of a certain object in order to make enough space for sonic to being able to sneak through. As far as Sonic & Knuckles goes, the second act of the Sandopolis zone always gives me the most trouble. Trying to figure out where to is feeling like a rat in a maze, and the fact that those stupid sand waterfalls keep pushing me in the wrong direction makes this an even more impossible task to accomplish. Definitely not a positive memory by any means, but it is without a doubt, the one that sticks the most in my mind.
I’m sure that there a re plenty of things that I’m leaving out, but keep in mind that these are the things that I remember the most about the little blue hedgehog. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years already, man I am getting too old for this stuff. If you have any memories that you would like share, please feel free to do so in the comments below. It’s been a great, and sometimes disappointing ride these past twenty years Sonic, thank you for giving us some of the most fun experiences that the video game industry has to offer.