Happy birthday, blue guy

Well, this sure as heck makes us feel old. Sonic the Hedgehog, speed-demon and beloved mascot of Sega fanboys everywhere, is 20. The first Sonic game was released on 23rd June 1991. Unusually, it came out in America and Europe before Japan. It was one of the first games for the new Mega Drive, known as the Genesis in the US, which would go on to be Sega's last really successful console.

Sonic's task was not an easy one: he was to give Sega a mascot as beloved, and games as millions-selling, as Mario had given Nintendo. He never really quite managed that (anyone remember the live-action Sonic movie? Exactly) but he did star in some of the best games for the Mega Drive and its doomed follow-ups, the Saturn and Dreamcast.

Then the revolution happened: Sega, sent sprawling by the one-two punch of Sony and Microsoft, quit the hardware arena, and Sonic suddenly found himself on Nintendo consoles. It was a shocking symbol of Sega's decline - but it also meant some great games, from classic Sonic action like Sonic Rush on the Nintendo DS, to the once-unthinkable crossover Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games on Wii. In recent years, he's even made the leap to phones, with the ultra-enjoyable Sonic 4 on iOS.

So happy birthday, Sonic. Long may you dash, spin and leap across our virtual world. Just don't invite Tails to the party, yeah? He was always a little annoying.

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