Darren Calvert

I grew up gaming on a Sega Master System, but those were pre-Sonic days when Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy ruled the roost. When I heard about the Mega Drive with all its “arcade perfect” ports such as Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Golden Axe, I knew I had to have one. What made it even harder was all the hype surrounding a mysterious platformer featuring a blue hedgehog in the magazines I devoured in my youth such as Mean Machines and C+VG.

My mind was made up and I saved up all my paper round money and promptly imported a Japanese Mega Drive from one of the ads on the back pages of my magazines. I could only afford one accompanying game. That game was of course Sonic The Hedgehog!

The Japanese cover art was fresh and funky. A far cry from the boring grid lines that Sega used to package Master System games up in the UK.

The game itself was a massive step up from what I was used to on the lowly 8-bit Master System. It made great use of the 16-bit Mega Drive’s superior colour palate and soundchip. Most other platformers encouraged you to play cautiously but Sonic had a true sense of speed, and it was great fun to go back and replay levels to try and improve on your best times.

By 1992 the UK was firmly gripped with Sonic fever, and Sega declared November 24th to be Sonic Twosday. I remember double-decker buses visiting my town decked out with Sonic merchandise beckoning kids on to try Sonic 2 out for themselves, and I even won a set of pin-badges for my mad Sonic skillz.

For me these will always be Sonic’s defining moments. Despite his dubious transition into 3D, Sega has stuck by its mascot and from time to time over the years I have been impressed by some of his post-Mega Drive outings. It’s been a bumpy ride, but the world is a better place with our spiky blue friend in it. Happy 20th anniversary Sonic!