I first witnessed Sonic in the pages of Mean Machines magazine, and from the moment I saw those insanely detailed screenshots, I just knew we were going to get on just fine. Sonic's effortlessly cool attitude totally vindicated my support for Sega at the time — like most Mega Drive/Genesis owners, I suffered from a certain degree of envy towards Nintendo fans, purely because the gloriously playable Super Mario Bros. 3 was never going to come to a Sega machine. Sonic changed that — finally, Sega fans had a mascot worthy of taking on Mario.
I recall getting a copy of the game and playing it endlessly for weeks on end. I even forced my parents to let me take my Mega Drive console with me whenever we visited relations or friends, purely because I could think of nothing I wanted to do more than play Sonic over and over again. I even went as far as to record the game's soundtrack on audio tape so I could always have Sonic by my side — even in those moments where there wasn't a TV set to plug my console into. At school, I would draw Sonic doodles all over my books, and whenever there was an art project on offer, I'd pick Sega's hedgehog hero as my subject. In short, I was totally and utterly obsessed.
Like so many fads, my love for Sonic cooled by the time the sequel arrived, although I do recall thoroughly enjoying it, all the same. The third title bypassed me entirely, as did Sonic & Knuckles. Throughout the Saturn era Sonic was practically MIA — aside from Sonic Jam and Sonic R, the spiky mascot failed to give long-suffering Saturn owners the game they wanted. To tide me over I picked up a Mega/Sega CD and a copy of Sonic CD — a game I hadn't experienced when it was first released — and that softened the blow somewhat.
By the time the Dreamcast came around, I was ready to worship at Sonic Team's altar once more. I can't recall being as excited for a game since — Sonic Adventure promised so much, and despite the bugs, it delivered. Looking at it now, I struggle to see how I got so passionate about it; the control is iffy, the graphics are basic and the storyline makes little sense — but at the time, it truly felt like the hero had come home.
Since then I've not really kept a close watch on Sonic's escapades; his recent console outings have largely passed me by. However, I'm still glad he's around and that he continues to entertain people of all generations. Hopefully he will endure, as Mario has done. He certainly deserves to — this industry is seriously lacking when it comes to instantly appealing lead characters.
For me, playing Sonic will always be intrinsically tied to gangsta rap.
Like Zach, I too cut my gaming teeth on the original NES, but it wasn't long before SEGA's extreme branding blitz worked its marketing magic on me as well.
I chose to "upgrade" to a Genesis for my 10th birthday, the February after Dr. Dre's The Chronic was released. My first travel through the lava filled depths of the Marble Zone was set to the tune of Nuthin' But a G Thang, which played several times on the radio throughout that Sonic-filled day.
When I see the myriad of Sonic games out knowadays, I can't help but think back to that platforming bliss he delivered me on my 10th birthday. Sonic my man, you used to be so gansta.