Happy birthday Sonic: UK games industry execs share their best memories

As the speedy hedgehog reaches quarter of a century old, UK games retailers, publishers, media and developers reminisce about their favourite Sonic games and moments.

Simon Bennett, Roll7:
My earliest memory was one of my most favourite gaming memories, sat on my mate Stu’s sofa, on the Game Gear, playing one-life-one-pass all night long trying to complete Sonic 1. I remember us getting stuck on the jungle boss level with Dr Robotnik – it was like a little halfpipe, but with bombs. I remember thinking just how amazing the graphics were – and how mobile gaming would eventually become the biggest international market for games – well, the first bit anyway. Sonic will always have a special place in my heart.

Svend Joscelyne, IGN:
Sonic 2 was the game that basically took over my childhood. Seeing those bright colours, the loop-de-loops, the speed and the attitude of this little blue critter essentially made me a fan for life. As a kid, my fondest memory was being able to play Sonic & Knuckles for the first time on the Sega Bus at a game show in London. In recent years, my favourite moment was hosting [Sonic’s creator] Yuji Naka at a fan convention I held five years ago, for Sonic’s 20th Anniversary. Not only did I get to meet my childhood hero in person, he also apologised for making that really hard bit in Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic 2. So it’s all kind of come full circle, really.

James Marsden, FuturLab:

Sonic’s Spin Dash: Entering a trancelike state with shoulder and arm muscles seizing up from trying to get the pitch of the spin dash sound effect as high as possible.

Alex Girling, Indigo Pearl:
Sonic was the first game I ever owned and I am still terrified by that drowning music, everybody is. Sometimes I wake up in the night in cold sweats with images of struggling to find a bubble in the Labyrinth Zone flashing through my mind. Consequently I didn’t learn to swim until I was 12.

Dan Marshall, Size Five Games:
I was 12 years old when Sonic 2 came out. I was a massive fan of the first game, obviously, and I have exceptionally happy memories – after a gruelling six-week wait – of Christmas Day sitting on the floor, gaping up at Emerald Hill Zone. I was the luckiest, happiest little boy alive, it was a game full of wonder and charm and promise, and thinking about it to this day spreads a warm smile across my face. An exceptional, beautiful video game.

Stephen Staley, Game Seek:
My best memory was when I borrowed a friend’s Mega Drive and completed Sonic, getting all the emeralds. It took nearly three hours from memory. There was so much hype around that game – at the time it was ground-breaking, which might be hard to imagine now. The gameplay and music was fantastic. Sonic 2 ‘2sday’ was huge when that came around, sold by the bucketload and I really enjoyed the sequel.

Dan Pearce, Four Circle:

My Sonic highlight was a few years ago when I was in sixth form. I was born a bit late for the Nintendo vs Sega console war, so Sonic had never stood out to me. I had played a few Sonic games as part of the PS2 Sonic Mega Collection, but none really felt right to me.

I was staying late after school, and booted up a GBA emulator on one of the school computers and played Sonic Advance. I sat there for three hours and got zero work done. I’d still say that the Advance/Rush games are the best in the series besides Generations.

Andy Tudor, Slightly Mad:
The blue hedgehog has been present throughout my entire life.

Before the original title came out in the shops, I remember crowding around a Mega Drive in my local electronics store with fellow kids being wowed at the insane speed of that iconic Green Hill Zone. Back at home once it was released, it felt like us Mega Drive owners finally had our own Mario – and he was cooler and faster than the Italian plumber. As was the games industry at the time, it kinda kicked off The Great Console War, which was absolutely awesome growing up as a child.

Soon there was a sequel, the introduction of Tails, and other characters. I played it on Game Gear, I played it on SegaCD, and nowadays my kids play it on Apple TV and Wii U. They went nuts when they saw he’ll soon be appearing in LEGO Dimensions. He’s an iconic mascot, and long may he live forever.

James Cooke, Argos:
I remember working in-store for Sonic 2sday – it was one of the first Tuesday launches and a big deal back in the 1990s.

I also remember the first Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, which was a big moment back when the Wii was hot… and if I remember rightly, it outsold the Mario Galaxy game at launch.

Caroline Miller, Indigo Pearl:
My lasting memory of Sonic is actually very hands on. I was helping Sega PR at the launch of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. We branded a London bus and drove around all the iconic London sights on a boiling hot day during the Easter Half Term. To say it was logistically hard is putting it mildly, but also seeing everyone’s face light up when they saw Sonic and Mario really brought home how recognised and loved they both are. Happy birthday Sonic, you sexy blue hedgehog.

Lee Cummings, Tiny Rebel:
My fondest memory of Sonic is the first time I ran into Dr Ivo Eggman” Robotnik in the first game on the Mega Drive. I was happily running around this beautiful hilly landscape crushing the local wildlife when this egg shaped lunatic flies in on his homemade space-seat like some moustachioed Baron Harkonnen and

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