When the gods dance...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sonic the Hedgehog is 20 Years Old

Sonic the Hedgehog is 20 Years Old

June 23, 1991: The first entry in Sega's flagship series is released.

By Chris Pereira, 06/23/2011

Sonic the Hedgehog 20 year anniversary

20 years ago today, the first Sonic the Hedgehog was released on Sega Genesis in North America. Sega had been looking for a character to counter the increasing popularity of rival Nintendo's Mario. The titular Sonic would go on to become the company's iconic mascot and perhaps the company's most important franchise.

Sonic was developed by the appropriately titled Sonic Team, which consisted of designers Hirokazu Yasuhara and Naoto Oshima as well as programmer Yuji Naka, who would serve as the developer's head for years before going on to found Prope. The game was a hit thanks to its straightforward, super-fast sidescrolling action. It's gone on to be ported to a great number of systems and the franchise has appeared on more than a dozen platforms.

The series has tried to stay current with the times over the years. Sonic Adventure did away with the 2D sidescrolling of previous games in favor of 3D platforming, a change that some love and many hate. Sonic has also starred in other genres of games including a BioWare-developed RPG, a party game, and racing games. He's also predominantly featured in several Olympic Games titles along with Mario and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Sonic even had his own educational game back in the mid-90s, Sonic's Schoolhouse.

The 2D and 3D styles of Sonic platformers are being combined for the upcoming Sonic Generations, a title being created to celebrate the 20-year anniversary. Certain levels from the original Sonic serve as the inspiration for some of those in Generations, including the much beloved Green Hill Zone. To exemplify perfect timing, a demo of it was released on the Xbox Live Marketplace today. The game is also set to come to PS3 and 3DS.

Over on the European PlayStation Blog, Sega announced a limited time 'Sonic 20th Anniversary Bundle' that's now available on the PlayStation Store. It's unknown if it will be making its way to North America. It offers a 50% savings over buying its contents individually, which include Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic Adventure (with the DX Upgrade pack), Sonic 4: Episode 1, and a Sonic 4-inspired dynamic theme. It will only be available for 20 days, as will a Generations demo on PSN.

[Image courtesy of Flickr.]

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