Everybody who owns a Genesis knows about Sonic The Hedgehog. In fact, everybody who has played video games in general knows about Sonic The Hedgehog, even the Atari people. If you don’t know about Sonic, then I pity you friend. But even if you do or you don’t (especially if you don’t), read on about what made Sega a household name, everybody’s favorite blue blur, Sonic The Hedgehog.
Sonic The Hedgehog
On July 26, 1991, Sonic The Hedgehog is released and becomes the biggest franchise to hit the scene since Mario. He’s super fast, super cool, and the exact opposite of Mario, something Sega ran with (pardon the pun) in its advertising. With Sonic’s awesome gameplay, extreme graphics, and catchy sound, gamers eat it up, and we have the start of a legend, the legend that even gamers of today know about. During the course of his debut adventure, Sonic The Hedgehog races through six zones fighting the evil minions of Dr. Robotnik to take back the land being mechanized and free the animals from their robotic prisons that Robotnik has put them in.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
In 1992, Sonic 2 comes out, and it wows everybody. Playing even faster than the original, it becomes the new pack-in game with Sega’s new model 2 Genesis, where it goes on to sell an unprecedented six million units, two million more than the original Sonic game. Sonic travels through eleven zones this time, but each zone only contains two acts this time around. The sequel also marked the first appearance of Sonic’s ultimate fan, Tails the Fox (no, I will not say his real name).
In 1993, Sonic CD graces the Sega’s new add-on for the Genesis. Though not developed by the Sega Technical Institute or Yuji Naka, it has been revered as one of the best Sonic games in the series to date. Sonic CD adds in a new time travel element to the mix, and with this new element adds in three different versions of each zone, and three acts to each zone, creating even more exploring to do for the gamers controlling the blue blur. Sonic CD also features the debuts of the characters Amy Rose and Metal Sonic. It was originally going to be the same game as Sonic 2, but when Yuji Naka left for STI, thing changed.
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine & Sonic Spinball
Two Sonic spin-off games were also released in 1993, both taking the series in new directions. One was Sonic Spinball, where you play as Sonic in a pinball game with platformer elements. It received mixed reviews, but it is still considered a classic by many. The other title was Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, which was a puzzle game where you stuck jelly bean-like balls together to make groups of three. This was done by going head-to-head against any of several opponents, including Robotnik and all his machines from The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon. The game is known as Puyo Puyo in Japan and did not feature the Sonic characters.
Sonic The Hedgehog 3
The following year, Genesis owners were treated to Sonic 3. Sonic gets a new look, and a new music composer too, with some speculating him to be Michael Jackson. Also added to the gameplay is a new type of item in which Sonic is encased in a bubble and gets a new kind of power based on the elements of Fire, Water, and Lightning.
Sonic & Knuckles
1994 also saw the release of Sonic & Knuckles. Its new cartridge lock-on technology allows you to put a game on top in a Game Genie-esque way. Storywise, Sonic & Knuckles picks up right where Sonic 3 leaves off. The game also allows you to play the game as either Sonic or Knuckles all the way through this time rather than just Sonic. Furthermore, the lock-on technology is designed to combine Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles into one game as it was originally intended, and allows you to play as Knuckles in Sonic 2. Knuckles wasn’t put into the first game due to sprite palette issues, but having Sonic 1 unlocks all of the Blue Sphere special stage games for you to play.
1995’s Knuckles Chaotix is released for the ill-fated Sega 32X and features Knuckles and his band of friends in an all new adventure to stop Robotnik. Knuckles Chaotix is the only Sonic platformer game where you can’t play as Sonic The Hedgehog, although it was originally planned for you to play as Sonic and Tails. Knuckles Chaotix offers a major change in the Sonic gameplay, while still retaining the core platforming style. It allows for you to be connected to another character in a bungee cord-type manner, and both characters must work together to progress through the stages. This one of the hidden gems of the Sonic series, featuring superior graphics and sound compared to the rest of the games and has not been re-released since its release on the 32X. If you don’t have a 32X, you should get one just to play this game.
Sonic 3D Blast
During the twilight years of the Genesis, Sonic 3D Blast was released. Rendered in 3D, not unlike Donkey Kong Country, this isometric-playing title has Sonic collecting Flickies trapped in robots by Robotnik. It is often considered to be the worst of the Sonic games, as it takes out the speed that characterizes the series and replaces it with more of a puzzle feel. Sonic can’t progress until he has found all the Flickies, and that means a lot of backtracking, something not particularly fun for a series based on speed. It’s probably the only Sonic game you should stay away from. Sonic 3D Blast would also receive a re-release on Saturn after the cancellation of Sonic X-treme.
Run Sonic, Run
In conclusion, Sonic The Hedgehog had a very nice run of titles on the Genesis, and we can see why the series is still going strong today even after Sega went out of the hardware business. Almost all of the Sonic games on the Genesis and it’s add-ons were hits. Here’s to another eighteen years of the Blue Blur!