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Feature: Staff Memories of Sonic the Hedgehog

Posted by Nintendo Life Staff

Damien McFerran

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.

Patrick Elliot

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.

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User Comments (25)

LordJumpMad

#1

LordJumpMad said:

The Genesis was my first console, and the only game I had was Sonic 3.
Notthing beats the feeling of getting every Chaos Emeralds, and going Super Sonic!

And when I was 7, I got Sonic R for my B-day.....That game was pure Madness!
I was never the same again...@_@

Deviant_Mugen

#2

Deviant_Mugen said:

Great memories all around, guys...

The only time I recall playing a Sonic game was at a friend's house as a kid, but I didn't really pay much attention it...

@Patrick Elliot: Blasting Nuthin' But a "G" Thang while gaming—You, sir, are the ****...

daznsaz

#4

daznsaz said:

good article think my 1st sega console was master system with snail trail built in had zx81 and god knows what else before that was a right blast when sonic came along didnt try nintendo till the 64 but that was a good time to enter can still get to play nintendos old ones too thankfully but yea respect to sonic and old gaming memories

Nintonic

#6

Nintonic said:

I had Sonic 3 and Knuckles when I was little, I don't know how I got it but it was so fun to play like James said it is so colorful (or colourful) and I did really good at the game specificly the saving made me come back and play. It was so fun seeing my brother get ahead of me and unlocking hyper knuckles while I figured out how to beat the carnival level with sonic. Then we found that sonic and knuckles have alternative endings. I think Sonic 3 and Knuckles is the best sonic game and there is no way sega could make a better one.

TKOWL

#7

TKOWL said:

'Daw, it's little James Newton! :3
I found Corbie's story to be the most touching, so desperate to play S&K despite being really sick.

I personally don't have many Sonic memories (I was born in 1995, when the Genesis was just about dead), but I do remember playing a Sega Genesis with Sonic 2 at my mom's friend's house. Their kids were absolute beasts at that game, but I still had a lot of fun with them at 8 years old.

Pj1

#8

Pj1 said:

To cut a long story short, my first games conolse was a mega drive with Sonic, I was given my mega drive by my parents but I did have to save some cash up for it but the night before my birthday I was given my mega drive! Those old days of tuning in the TV in to playing game consoles, so once the Tv was tuned the 'Sega' screen came and Sonic appeared pointing his finger. My sister was the first to complete the first level, it was her turn! Collecting all those Emeralds was the vain of my life back and even now it's tricky. You got to take your time I suppose, I remember Sonic 2 coming out and what a game that is.

Sadly come 1993 I traded my mega drive in for a SNES with Super Mario All-Stars, even today it is my biggest regret but at the time I couldn't afford to have both. Looking back I should have washed more cars and saved up but I didn't. I have a soft spot for Sonic and downloaded Sonic 1 on one my Wii's to celebrate his Birthday, I had never played Sonic 3 until Sonic Collection was released on the gamecube. Good memories even for a 31 year old.....

What a shame it is that Sega never released a Mega drive controller that you can plug into the Wii-mote, they could have done it! It does feel strange playing mega drive games on classic controllers knowing that three of the buttons don't work for the games!

Lan

#9

Lan said:

i remember when my grandma got me the sonic & knuckles lock-in (or lock-on?) cart. she spoiled me.

Retro_on_theGo

#10

Retro_on_theGo said:

My first and only sonic game was sonic adventure DX :( Probably why I'm not a fan of the franchise. But these memories are all so nice and sweet. Happy birthday sonic.

Punny

#11

Punny said:

I remember my first Sonic experience. I was playing my grandmother's Genesis. Sonic the Hedgehog was the first game I could play without stinking too badly. These memories are great, too. Happy birthday, Mr. Needlemouse! :)

Sylverstone

#12

Sylverstone said:

The farthest back I can trace my first Sonic experience is in 2000 where my cousin took my over to his friend's place and he had a Genesis hooked up with Sonic 2.

How do I remember? The special stages and being pissed off at Tails for being an idiot. Ah, memories. :)

Happy birthday, blue blur!

Xkhaoz

#13

Xkhaoz said:

Back in the ye old days of 2004 if i recall, my brother and I had been begging for a video game console, and as I was only 6, I went with my brothers choice, the PlayStation 2. We had begged and pleaded, but my parents had stayed by their choice of no video games, that is, until one fateful day. My mom had gone out of town, and while she was there, she had gotten a Nintendo Gamecube, along with Luigi's Mansion and Mario Party 5. I barely recall anything from those games from back in the day, but I remember them being great. We had later gotten Mario Kart Double Dash!!, which me and my brother poured hours into, which were wasted as we didn't own any Memory Cards yet.
One day, my mom and I had taken a trip to the video rental place, and she said I could rent a game, and Sonic Heroes had caught my eye. Wow I loved that game, still do. On another out of town trip, we had picked up Sonic Mega Collection. I was bewildered at all the Sonic history and facts. I remember struggling to work my way through the several titles I still haven't beaten any of them hehehe And on my 7th birthday, I had finally received my own copy of Sonic Heroes. I still love that game.
Everything after that is sort of a blur, mostly filled with Mario and Kirby. Though I still loved sonic, picking up most of the GBA games, the Adventure ports, Sonic Gems Collection I LOVE Sonic R Secret Rings and The Black Knight. I still love sonic, as he was one of my first game experiences. Happy 20th Sonic! ~I have a bunch of games to grab.

Ristar42

#14

Ristar42 said:

Wow James, I was almost twice your age in '91 and my first console was the Atari 2600, but I was equally impressed the first time I saw Sonic on the Megadrive. I also had to make do with the Master system version for a while, which is a classic in its own way - its not like the Megadrive had Bridge or Jungle Zones.

I've still got my original carts and consoles, great gaming memories.

BedCommando

#15

BedCommando said:

One thing I have to point out, and it's at James

"Sonic the Hedgehog was the very first video game I ever played."
Nice.

"I remember he had a PC with Wolfenstein which I played for a little while"
You say this before discovering his TV/ Mega Drive, so Sonic really wasn't your first?

"at that time my sole experience of gaming was a few basic games on the 8-bit VIC-20"
But I thought Sonic was your first game?

Sonic never clicked with me, personally. I'll always refer to him as a "Super Saiyan wannabe" thanks to not only his Super Sonic transformation, but his "Piccolo" friendship with Knuckles, and don't forget about Vegeta, I mean Shadow. Also 7 Chaos Emeralds sounds a lot like 7 Dragonballs.

So yeah, Sonic never clicked with me, but he helped drive the pinnacle era of innovation in gaming due to his rivalry with Mario, pushing both Sega and Nintendo to do things they would not have done if the pressure wasn't as tense as it was. For better or worse.

CerealKiller062

#16

CerealKiller062 said:

@Dragoon
I was born that same year! This article was a great read. (Especially Corbie's) I havn't really ever played a sonic game. (Which is sad I know) But it seems most all of you have cookey stories with this series and seem quit fond of it. I might just try it out!

James

#17

James said:

Video game to me is a game played on a console. Wolfenstein was played on a PC, hence is a computer game rather than a video game. Vic-20 was a computer too, in my eyes at least. Semantics aside, playing it was like discovering something for the first time anyway :P

BluTyGer

#18

BluTyGer said:

@Dragoon/CerealKiller062
I was born the same year as well.
The first time I played sonic, we had a family that was friends with mine
over at our house, they were trying to leave but they could'nt get there car to start, one of them who I think was about my older brothers age
brought in the PC version of Sonic & Knuckles, we played that until they got there car to start.
Several days later while at Best Buy we picked up the
Sonic Action 4 Pack for PC and played it ALOT!
Sonic Advance was my first GBA game,
I asked for a GameCube for my birthday because of
Sonic adventure 2 Battle.
So sonic is one of my favorite game series ever.

nefisto

#19

nefisto said:

I was risen as a SEGA boy from the very begining. Sonic 1, 2, 3 Sonic and Knukles, Sonic Spinball, you name it, me and my brothers had it. It was great to have games that no nintendo boys coudl had. Had tour friends at home and say "OMFG new games" cause we had games no one else had. Sonic lost when 3D came up, but SEGA won many exiting new games. I still have my sega master system and the thing still works, something that no 360 can achieve (Kicking ass for more than 20 years). Now a days I stick to mi NDS, but only cause SEGA helped nintendo make it. NDS is actually new generation Game Gear. I admit i'm one of those holding their breath for SEGA to make a new console, but the more they take to make it the better it will be, and when it comes it will rock.

pikku

#20

pikku said:

Corbie man, that was HILARIOUS. I was literally laughing out loud while reading it. Nice job xD
Also, James, your story was quite touching as well. I should try that with Nintendo sometime. :O

pinta_vodki

#21

pinta_vodki said:

These reminiscence articles are the best part of Nintendo Life. After all, we enjoy the games for some period of time, but the memories are always with us. One can say, we game for the memories.

wanderlustwarrior

#22

wanderlustwarrior said:

@James: that was touching. Seriously. And suddenly the corporation cynic shrank a size that day.
@patrick: my first Pokemon experience was Diamond, which is inextricably linked to Aesop Rock's None Shall Pass and Kanye West's Graduation.

My first Sonic experience is linked both to a hospital visit and UK's Sonic Fever. As I'd mentioned elsewhere, I'm a year, almost two, older than the start of the series, and Tails and Sonic are my favorite characters. One of the earliest pictures we can find of me is me in a London hospital bed, recovering of nearly dying of dehydration and germ based disease. To encourage me to get better, my parents had surrounded my bed with pictures I'd drawn or colored in. Sonic was right over my headboard.

We were very poor when I was a kid, so we couldn't afford games. We did have books though, and I would read mine over to over until the covers fell off. One book that is to this day my favorite: "Sonic The Hedgehog in the Fourth Dimension". My introduction to several characters, chiefly Tails. The TVTropes page "In Their Own Image" was written by me over 10 years later, solely with the intent of doing something for that book.

When I moved to America, a couple characters helped me with the transition. Thr cast of both Sonic shows, especially Scratch and Grounder, the best worst villains ever.

My first games I could ever say I owned? The Sonic Action 4 pack: SEGA smash pack 2 (my rpg intro would be the first Shining Force), Sonic R (first game I ever completed, also first I wrote a secrets guide for), Sonic CD and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Not being particularly talented or given the time to play, I never finished the latter two until recent years. The whole thing was $14.99 for pc, my favorite deal ever in gaming.

Sega stopped making consoles, so to continue, I had to get a Gamecube, and a gba, to play Adventure 2 and advance. I stopped my hype aversion to knuckles and started to love game soundtracks with adventure 2, and bonded with friends over chao in both. I don't play adventure 2 anymore, to make sure that my chao are immortal, because i worry if i wasn't a good enough parent. Those nintendo consoles I got to play Sonic are the reason I'm here on this site.

My second time in San Francisco, I detoured my dad for a half hour, because we'd passed the new SEGA of America headquarters on the highway, and I wanted to go in. They had no idea why some teenager would want to visit, nor cared (this caused the birth of the corporation cynic in me). But Sonic had been a friend to me my whole life, and I wanted to return the favor with the first thing that came to mind, a visit to his house.

My copy of Mega Collection has a save file from last month of me and a friend running through the whole thing, splitting skills and secrets to get everything we could find. We missed a giant ring, so no Hyper Sonic. I played Tails, like love to on my own, but don't know how I'm going to tell my friend we're switching player characters once we get to the last stage. Sonic and I are crossing the finish line together.

wanderlustwarrior

#23

wanderlustwarrior said:

I typed this on my phone, which will make it hard to clean up and remove a factual error or two (I still haven't beaten Sonic CD, the gamecube was my first console and a birthday present, not counting the 3 days i had the N64 my dad accidentally got instead), but the gist of it is still there: Sonic the Hedgehog has been more than a media series to me. It's been a friend.

thaantman

#24

thaantman said:

my first offical game console was the N64, when i was 3 my big sister who was 12 @ the time had sega genesis and the only game she had was sonic 2, I watched her play it and it didn't take me long to start playing it, I eventually took over the game system, because all the games brought for it was mines. I believe sonic 2 was the 1st game I ever beat, I'm not 100% sure I do remember getting all the way to the last stage multiple times, It took me forever to beat metal sonic, I eventually beat him but was low on lives than I got to the final boss, that mega huge dr robotnik robot and I know I failed to beat him, but I just can't remember when i actually went back to beat him though. Also remember sonic 3/knuckles when u got all the combined chaos emeralds (i think it's 14 altogether) u turn into ultra sonic or ultra knuckles, but my absolute favorite was tails when he had the birds following him, I just thought that was awesome, I don't believe I ever got all the emeralds more than once per character. I actually played the first sonic the hedgehog last, I didn't beat it on the genesis, I remember making it to the last stage and losing, I believe I beat it on my psp. Also remember when one of m cousins showed us how to get knuckles on sonic 2 & 3 with the cartage, we tried doing it with like ever sega game to see if knuckles would be on there lol like street fighter, earl & toejam, etc. Sonic brings back so many memories, while my cousins had sega & nes they placed mario more than sonic, but I was a sonic man growing up, the 1st mario game I owned not counting mario kart 64 was super mario 64. I began to not like sonic some much when I got a dreamcast didn't care much for the 1st sonic adventure, I had the sonic adventure 2 demo and always wanted it because that 1st stage was fun. sonic shuffle was awful, once I got a ps2 & later on a gamecube I just lost interest in sonic altogether, the 3d games just didn't appeal to me, sonic heroes looked like fun and I played it for a sec @ a gamestop but never brought it. sonic rush was great, it was just a random purchase, the sense of speed was just awesome and I loved how it switched from both screens. sonic 4 ep.1 was good for what it was, a nice throw back, even if it did feel like a tech demo, I guess sega wanted to wipe the slate clean by eliminating tails & knuckles and using similar stages from past games. I think it was a fail to just put sonic even though they're suppose to add tails & knuckles to the future episodes, but still I would had been willing to go through the game 2 more times if I had them to play as, they need to add an update/dlc to add them to sonic 4, it's the least they can do for wii owners that won't be getting there hands on sonic generations as we wait for episode 2 which seems it may have been put on pause. for the time being imma try to get my hands on sonic colors that has been received well. to end this just gonna thank sonic for all the fun times, and being the one that got me into gaming, has been one of if not my all time favorite game franchises :)

Rawk_Hawk

#25

Rawk_Hawk said:

I had saved up money to get the SNES when it was first released, but then one one fateful day I played Sonic. I ended up buying the Genesis instead and loved playing Sonic. One of my favorite Christmas memories was when I got Sonic 2 and SOR 2. That was 2 timeless classics on one day. Sonic 2 lived up to every bit of the hype. My worst Sonic memory had to be playing Sonic R on the Saturn. I had such high hopes for that game and it was a complete bomb.

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