Retro Thursday: Sonic the Hedgehog

Thursday, May 31st

Sonic the Hedgehog

Making his debut in 1991 on the Sega Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog quickly became Sega’s response to Nintendo’s ever-popular Mario Brothers franchise. Flying through levels and avoiding enemies, Sonic found himself on a desperate mission to collect the coveted Chaos Emeralds and save South Island from the evil Dr. Robotnik (called Dr. Eggman in Japan).

Featuring frantic, fast-paced gameplay, the game’s platforming consisted of the use of springs, slopes, and loop-de-loops, alongside hazardous spike pits and enemies. The 16-bit game was graphically impressive for the time and still manages to hold up to this day. Sonic used collectible rings to gain access to secret levels and reinforce his health and lives, adding to the standard “life count” prevolent in so many platformers of the time.

The game not only revolutionized the 2D sidescrolling platformer, but also managed to catapult the Sega Genesis to great commercial success. Sonic the Hedgehog became the game bundled with purchase of a new console, and was partially responsible for the Genesis outselling Nintendo during the 1991 holiday season.

The initial installment of the blue hedgehog has since created an identity synonymous with Sega and lives on in multiple sequels and off-shoot titles to this day. Original Sonic games have been ported to nearly every gaming platform, from the PS3 to the iPhone, and he has even been the subject of a number of shows, movies, toys, and manga.

Despite Sega’s poor luck on the console market, Sonic has remained a beloved and iconic character in gaming, and is just as widely recognized as Mario himself. It was the game that started it all in 1991 that made him into the icon he is today, and has cemented him as a standout figure in retro gaming.