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Why I Love Classic Sonic

Video game character franchises have always had a good and bad track record with staying relevant out of popularity. A franchise like Bubsy could have a series that tries to be different but stumble worse with each game, or, be like Super Mario and succeed even when making the transition to the third dimension.

Sonic, like Mario, became the face of a game company for many years but unlike Mario I had stopped playing Sonic at a certain point in time. This is my story of why I love classic Sonic the Hedgehog.

Back when the Sega Genesis came out in '89 Sega's only known mascot was Alex Kidd, a series that I'd never heard about until I was a little older, but when Sonic introduced I immediately understood why he was such a big deal to butt heads with Mario as competitors. When it came to playing the games, other kids my age would choose one or the other. Are you the cool and collected kid that enjoys the speedy blue hedgehog, or are you the kid that takes it slow on an adventure with the fat Italian man? That's at least how the others saw it in their perspective.

While I enjoyed both it was such a unique and different experience with Sonic. You start out in a happy, green valley similar to Mario, but you can blaze through a stage at incredible speed and going places that were unexpected to you. A ramp could send you flying into the air, and a loop de loop might have you crash through breakable walls. It's little details like this that just made them so fun to play.

Sonic the Hedgehog tells the simple story of a Hedgehog rescuing his animal friends and stopping a high I.Q. mad doctor, Dr. Robotnik from taking the mysterious and powerful Chaos Emeralds.

As time moved on, so did the sequels of Sonic, having more intriguing mechanics to the new installments, as well as seeing some games on Sega's little handheld, the Game Gear as well as their previous 8-bit console, the Master System. While a certain red capped plumber was also paving the way for new games, nothing was slowing down Sonic, and I was always excited to see the commercials showing the features of the new games coming out.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 pretty much blew the first game out of the water, including a new character, and an even more impressive showcase of their "Blast Processing" of hardware speed, even having Sonic going so fast that the screen couldn't keep up with him! It also became my personal favorite out of the 2D series, with far more level themes than before, all while the Sega CD game, Sonic CD released sometime after.

Sonic CD not only took Sonic to a new concept of time travel, but introduced the first time we would see a game with CD quality music, and animated sequences for an intro and ending.

I still recall my experience playing Sonic CD for the first time, using time travel to see how levels would look in a past era, in a future era when Robotnik has taken over, or a new future that's been saved from Sonic, all looking different from each other, depending on the outcome of how you progress. The soundtrack certainly came off as its own when compared to the usual tunes you'd hear in prior games, but seem fitting for the levels that are represented from.

As the years moved forward and we saw Sonic on the eventual Sega Saturn, I was excited to see how Sonic would look for the first time in full, polygonal 3D. Though, something was amiss. While Sonic did get a 3D look in a Sonic game collection compilation called Sonic Jam, his other Sonic game from Traveler's Tales, Sonic 3D Blast kind of left me with more of an unsure reaction.

Sonic Jam (left) had a 3D overworld where you could take on small mission challenges, while Sonic 3D Blast (right) was mostly a 2D isometric game attempting to give a 3D feel.

Sonic also got a 3D polygon racer in the form of Sonic R, but I can't say it's a racing game I would really get into. The controls and turning felt slippery and loose, and level designs kind of felt like a mess. It was sad to see Mario doing so well with Super Mario 64, and the new contender, Crash Bandicoot also having an impressive first game.

As Sega's last console rose into the horizon in late 1999 in the U.S., Sonic's first actual 3D adventure, known as Sonic Adventure would actually be the last mainline Sonic game I would be interested in. I was impressed with the new world building introduced with the series, now having human characters populating a Sonic game opened up another quality that Mario hadn't even achieved.

Sonic Adventure hosted a boatload of features when bringing Sonic into his first full 3D game, having a story that connects with six different characters, voiced dialogue cutscenes, and even a new virtual pet system with creatures called Chao.

With Sonic Adventure, you weren't just playing as Sonic, but a couple of familiar characters along with two new ones. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big and the robot, E-102 Gamma had different gameplay styles from each other making for a wider game experience and replayability when going through the game, and it was pretty impressive to include so much in one game.

Moreso was that it included explorable hub areas. You could witness the bustling city of Station Square with cars passing by and people inside shops, explore the historical Mystic Ruins to see its maze-like jungle with explorers walking about to make discoveries, or even look around the interior and exterior of Robotnik's flying ship, the Egg Carrier, seeing the cogs turn and watching his cleaning robots wipe the floors on the inside, it was really jaw dropping for its time.

Sonic's second game on the Dreamcast, Sonic Adventure 2 would be my stopping point for all mainline Sonic games.

As impressive as the first game was, Sonic Adventure 2 removed the hubworlds, and had a ranking system that had me step away from the series. What I enjoyed about prior Sonic games was being able to discover and check out what the different levels had to offer with their design, and going at my own pace, even though there was a time limit. With Adventure 2, you had to rely on pulling off tricks like grinding or attacking a certain amount of enemies in a combo, and all of it mattered for getting a good stage ranking at the end. To put it simply, it was a new formula that just wasn't for me.

Sonic may have strayed from having a single basic formula, but the classic games will always have a special place in my heart from when I saw the series in its golden age. From the Green Hills to the Death Egg Zones, there wasn't a journey that took me into a world quite like this series did. Thanks for the memories, Sonic, and never stop running.

What memories do you have with Sonic the Hedgehog? Leave a comment and as always, See you next article!

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Benjanime Posted on Jul 26, 2022 at 03:23 PM

@Mr Magic

i can't say i got to collect every single issue of the comics, it was actually rare for me to get one lol!

@onipar

i actually have the deluxe edition on switch! it's not bad, i just wish some of those sonic 3 music tracks didn't have to get changed.

onipar Posted on Jul 24, 2022 at 03:21 PM

Great article as always, Ben! Man, I love Sonic. I really only ever played the first three games on the original genesis, but it was Sonic that sold me and abandoning Nintendo for Sega back in the day. You planning on picking up the Sonic Origins game?

Mr Magic Posted on May 14, 2022 at 05:40 PM

I also have memories of the comic books from Archie. I had a few of them as a kid.

Benjanime Posted on May 03, 2022 at 09:43 PM

@echidna64

aye, sonic 2 had to have been one of the best game series sequels ever, i dare say i prefer it over sonic 3!

@Julie

only you can have such overwhelmingly pleasant and loving compliments for me, my love ❤ and so intriguing to see your memories too! i love you!

@Mr Magic

i would say sonic 2 is a great introduction to the series, it improved upon so much from the first game!

Mr Magic Posted on May 03, 2022 at 08:01 PM

I was first introduced to the wonderful world of Sonic at a friend's house in 1993. He had Sonic 2 and we played it all night long while the adults were talking somewhere. Then a year later, on my birthday, my parents took a surprise present out of the closet. And what was it? A Sega Genesis system and it came with Sonic 2! You could imagine my reaction. I was like a kid at Christmastime. Since then, I played the heck outta Sonic 2 and other games as well. Good 5imes!

Julie Posted on May 03, 2022 at 06:31 PM

So much charisma to the heart! ❤ How not loving you, sweet little @Benjanime? ❤

To me, the first Sonic games until the first Sonic Adventure, I love them all equally, all fantastic games to this day, since the beautiful graphics, simple plot and awesome musics. ❤ Sonic Mania is also a masterpiece. ❤

The Traveler's Tales Sonic games wasn't that interesting to me either, and Sonic Jam had potential, just the Sega cast that didn't want that 32-bit graphical quality for Sonic. Then, Sonic Adventure came out fantastic. ❤

To me, such good games never get old, on the contrary, they entertain and enchant to this day (just like Pokémon and many other beloved franchises). ❤

echidna64 Posted on May 03, 2022 at 05:09 PM

I remember playing Sonic 2 for the first time with the iconic SEGA intro and the sound of rings. It really blew me away, one my favorite games of that era.

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