My life changed after I first played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Genesis. All of us look back on the games of our childhood with a certain unique fondness. This love can often be rose-tinted, and it is a love that is very much forgiving. Some of these games haven’t aged well. Some of these franchises have lost their steam or died out entirely. Sonic the Hedgehog, for all his glory, has had a life of more downs than ups.
Somehow and despite this, Sonic keeps going. He never stops running.
And neither should we.
Gotta Go Fast
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was a life-changing game in that it opened my young eyes to the pure feelings that I would come to enjoy while playing video games. Different from every other platformer at the time, Sonic 2 was about more than just speeding through levels and collecting rings. It provided the sort of pure, adrenaline-fueled fun that injected itself into my stream of consciousness. It turned my brain off in a way that felt beautiful and freeing. No matter what rough moments I experienced, no matter what pains addled me, I could turn on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and be magically transported to Green Hill Zone (or the absolute banger Chemical Plant Zone), where my only care in the world was freeing my animal friends from Robotnik’s vile schemes.
In this way, Sonic has never changed. After many years spent as a side-scroller, Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 entered the lives of myself and my siblings and become our primary obsession. Sonic Adventure 2 remains a high point in the series and a game beloved by people all over the world. It’s a messy, flawed game that wears its heart on its sleeve. It is a whole vibe, a collection of meandering gameplay elements that somehow pull themselves together to be a singular and enjoyable package. This is what is so phenomenal about Sonic, despite his three decades of trial and error: he’s fast, he’s cool, and he’s fun.
Pure, Cool Fun
It’s difficult to put a finger on the pulse of what exactly it is about Sonic that keeps his games so endearing. Even now I can sit down with Sonic the Hedgehog 3 or Sonic Mania and the world simply falls away. These games scratch a specific cerebral itch, their gameplay enjoyable beyond the manipulation of simple button presses and the desire to go just as fast as I possibly can. It’s the design of these games, their streamlined levels, beautiful colors, and explosive soundtracks. The simple elegant nature of speeding along while popping mechanical robots and collecting rings strikes the very nature of the video game, an experience that can outwardly be looked upon as a time sink but feels as necessary as any hobby.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a being of pure, blissful fun.
As we look forward to the celebration of Sonic’s 30th anniversary, I can’t help but reflect on a life spent with the Blue Blur and all his amazing friends. I can’t help but think of all the times I’ve enjoyed, the friends I’ve made, the moments I’ve spent enjoying Sonic with my family. Whether it’s cruising through Green Hill or Death Egg or enjoying Sonic’s lesser beloved entries, there is something here for everyone. Sonic has always attempted to be a being that calls back to the nostalgia and simplicity of childhood, a game series that wants nothing from you but your enjoyment. Sonic, for all his flaws, wants only to lift your spirits.
I’m not sure what is on the horizon for the franchise, though I desperately hope it’s a Sonic Adventure Collection Switch port, a remaster of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle or even Sonic Adventure 3. As I ruminate over our favorite blue hedgehog, I think we can all admit that whatever we love about him, that’s the right thing. Sonic is an indelible part of the video game meta, a standard in our medium that has long been a champion of the simple and impassioned enjoyment video games represent.
You don’t need a reason to love Sonic the Hedgehog.
You just do.
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