Ah the good old days, coming home from school, turning on your SEGA Mega Drive, excitedly slotting in that Sonic cartridge and playing for hours upon end. This is exactly what I remember, and whenever someone asks me about the game I love the most, my answer is always Sonic the Hedgehog.
Sonic the Hedgehog drew me in from the young age of 4, shortly after it was released in back in 1991. I remember my Dad taking me into town on my birthday and buying me the game, I was so excited. Even now, when I hear about an upcoming Sonic game, the excitement I got when I turned 4 is recreated instantly. No other game has or probably will ever have that effect on me for as long as I live.
The good thing about Sonic the Hedgehog is that it appealed to gamers of all ages. In fact, it’s the same reason why millions of people still play and love it to this day. Even now, I remember watching my Dad go through the game with great amazement. That was the key thing about the game, it didn’t matter how old you were or whether you were into gaming, you were just guaranteed to have fun.
Of course, Sonic titles are still released regularly today, but it can be argued that none of these games represent the true feeling of Sonic the Hedgehog. Personally, I feel that recent Sonic titles have been all about the fancy graphics and gimmicks, rather than the simple fun that made Sonic the Hedgehog such a joy to play. Sonic 4 Episode 1 came close to representing the true essence of Sonic, but still failed to match up to the old master.
When I ask people what they liked about Sonic the Hedgehog, they all come back with the same answer – it was easy to pick up and play. The fact that you controlled the on-screen action by using just the d-pad and one button, meant anyone could just come along and play Sonic the Hedgehog with great ease. Nowadays, most games utilise every single button on the control pad and whilst that approach might work for a shooter or RPG, it doesn’t do much good in the world of the Sonic. It’s one of the reasons I still regularly play the Sonic Mega Collection on the PlayStation 2, I can just pick up the controller and get into my Sonic groove without any fuss.
Gameplay wise, I could recall so many instances, but my fondest memory has to be collecting all the chaos emeralds and feeling a great sense of pride. Even though the game was fairly easy, it was one of my first gaming accomplishments and it paved the way for a certain ability in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which I absolutely loved. I am, of course, talking about the ability to play as Super Sonic. The sense of invincibility combined with the speed, made for one exhilarating and unforgettable gameplay experience.
The fact that developers still use Sonic the Hedgehog as a reference point when producing a new entry in the series speaks volumes about the quality of this 20 year old title. It truly is an iconic title, and one that will surely be passed down from generation to generation.
Happy 20th birthday you speedy blue hedgehog.