On June 23, 1991, Sega’ 16-bit revolution forged one of its brightest stars.
|YOU CAN'T CATCH WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE. (No, not chlamydia.)|
Sonic’s popularity boomed as players all over started noticing Sega’s 16-bit powerhouse for the first time. Finally, Sega had the “killer app” they needed to become a threat to the Nintendo juggernaut; and though the Super Nintendo had yet to hit the market in the United States, it could be said that Sonic the Hedgehog was the first victory in the 16-bit wars that characterized the era. Sonic 1 also planted the seed for Sega’s “gaming with an attitude” campaign, which lasted throughout much of the ‘90s and gave birth to the iconic SEGA! scream.
Notably, the original Sonic the Hedgehog is home to what just might be the worst kept secret in gaming history: The level select code. By pressing up, down, left and right at the title screen, then holding the A Button and pressing Start, players were brought to a screen containing every zone in the game, including the special stage. Perhaps because of its ease of use, the code spread through seemingly every playground and schoolyard in America. Players who used the cheat were likely surprised to find that the zone order in the level select menu was not the same as in the game itself, a curiosity that, we would find out later, was evidence of just how quickly the game was rushed to the market.
|I'm out of order? YOU'RE out of... no, wait, you're right.|
|North American cover art|
Sonic’s fall was as swift as his rise, beginning with his second Dreamcast appearance. After Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic titles experienced a massive decline in quality. Sega, it seemed, couldn’t recapture the glory of Sonic’s 2D days. Whether Sonic is an outdated hero from a bygone era or if the franchise was handed poorly for the last decade is debatable, but recent Sonic efforts such as Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and Sonic Colors on the Wii were much better received than almost all Sonic games of the mid and late 2000s. Perhaps the upcoming Sonic Generations, for PS3, Xbox 360 and the 3DS, will settle the debate once and for all.
However, this is not the day to think about the future of Sega’s Blue Blur – this is a day to concentrate on his past. Take some time to pick up Sonic’s first crusade against evil today and you’ll see just why a hedgehog of all creatures took the gaming world by storm 20 years ago.
|Sonic's so fast, he can run UPSIDE DOWN.|
But don’t knock yourself out just yet: The summer of Sega is only just beginning.