(Bonus points if you know which of the two Sonic cartoons the title of this post references. Hint: They both had the same name.)
Up until 2009 I had never played a singe Sonic game all the way through. In fact, the only Sonic game I have beaten is Sonic 2 and that wasn't even on a Genesis. I pwned Robotnick (not Egmman, damn you!) on my PSP. That said, in terms of the games I've loved Sonic still claims a legitimate place on my list.
Growing up a Nintendo fanboy, I had one early moment of lapsed faith. I absolutely fell in love with Sonic the Hedgehog. It's something you can blame on the fact that my main gaming system up until 1996 was an NES and that every other boy I knew had a Genesis. I would visit them on occasion and always, always they would show it off to me. The console would come to life, the classic, 16-bit Sega logo blazing across the screen and then, unless we were playing Mortal Kombat Sonic the Hedgehog would appear and leave me green with envy.
I wanted a SNES too, no doubt. My uncle Keith had one and without fail whenever we'd visit him I would hunker down with A Link to the Past and play it joyously until the grown-ups stopped talking, but every kid I knew had a Genesis and truth be told, Sega's marketing worked. Sonic was a way cooler character than Mario or Link.
Not being able to play the game, I became enamored with the franchise through other methods. One day, while visiting the grocery store I came across a Sonic the Hedgehog comic book. My parent's bought if for me and I quickly began collecting them. My first subscription was to Sonic the Hedgehog, the comic. Moreover, I fell in love with the cartoon show. No, not the crappy one but rather the cool, edgier, dark one where the world had fallen under Robotnik's cackling thumb. Emboldened by these well fleshed out visions of the game, I yearned for a Sonic game more and more.
When I actually got one, it was a sad disappontment.
One Christmas, I received a Game Gear accompanied by none other than Sonic 2. I was thrilled! I was ecstatic. The game kicked my ass!
If you've never played Sonic 2 on the Game Gear (which I imagine many haven't) the boss of level 2 is about the hardest thing on earth. You wouldn't think it, considering it's basically just a pair of pincers but the damned thing bested me every single time and being but a wee lad at the time my patience soon ran out. With time I grew tired of my Game Gear, and opted to sell it.
The mythos of Sonic remained strong with me though. In my mind the Game Gear version of Sonic 2 was little more than a bastardization of the real deal, which lived on the Genesis. It was a game that lived in my dreams until one fateful event would all but destroy my love of Sonic for years to come.
It's a shallow thing to blame all your problems on your parents, but damn it Mom, why did you have to tell me that the Sonic from the cartoon was voiced by Erkel? I don't know why, but somehow it just demystified the entire franchise to me. Whenever I would sit, watching my favorite hedgehog foil one of Robotnik's schemes, read a comic book, or yes, even catch a chance to play the game, my mind would just wander to that suspender wearing, pocket protecting nerd from Family Matters. It was an ailment that would affect me for years to come.
An ailment would sadly resolve itself after the best of Sonic had already passed. It heartens me a little to know that with the announcement of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 that I may yet have a chance to experience a classic styled Sonic at its release, rather than past the twilight years of its gaming domination.