Sonic the Hedgehog celebrates 20th birthday

23 Jun 2011

Sega’s gaming mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, is celebrating his 20th birthday today.

The blue hedgehog debuted in his first game, Sonic the Hedgehog, in 1991 on the Sega Mega Drive. He was created to rival Nintendo’s Mario and was given super speed and an attitude to give him an edge over the platforming plumber.

The game was a huge success, selling a reported 15m copies. Sega followed this up with a number of sequels on the Mega Drive, also selling millions each.

Along with featuring in numerous cartoons, comics and a slew of merchandise, Sonic became the first video-game character to be seen in the US Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and he even has a gene named after him.

At the height of his success in the Nineties, he became more recognisable than Mickey Mouse, according to a study of American children at the time.

After featuring in many spin-off titles for the Sega Saturn, Sonic returned to platforming in Sonic Adventure for the Sega Dreamcast with a streamlined new look.

After Sega’s exit from the console market, Sonic moved to other platforms, including those of former gaming rival Nintendo. Recently, Sonic and Mario buried the hatchet, both starring in numerous games related to the Olympics, allowing gamers to play as characters from each franchise’s cast.

While many of his 3D outings have met mixed reviews, his games are still quite popular. Collectively, there have been 80m sales of Sonic games to date.

To celebrate his anniversary, Sega will release a demo of the upcoming Sonic Generations today, a game where the older and smaller Sonic of the Mega Drive generation teams up with the newer and taller Sonic of recent games.