Sonic the Hedgehog turns 20

One of the most iconic faces of the video game industry hits a pretty big milestone today.

Sonic the Hedgehog, which remains the face of Sega for millions of fans, made his debut on the original Sega Genesis platform on this day, June 24, in 1991.

It kicked off what would be a highly successful franchise of platformer titles and launched what probably still remains the greatest gaming mascot rivalry the industry has ever seen.

While Nintendo’s Super Mario series focused on slow, methodical puzzle solving, Sonic was all about speed.

In the 1990s, asking a gamer whether he was a Sonic or Mario fan was like asking “Coke or Pepsi?” “Mets or Yankees?” or “boxers or briefs?”

That changed in the 2000s. Sega stopped being a Nintendo competitor after it put the kibosh on the Dreamcast system, which would be its last foray into the video game hardware business.

In fact, Sega became a Nintendo supporter. As a publisher, it now makes games for the Wii and DS line of systems. And in 2007, history was made when Sega and Nintendo collaborated on Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games – the first game in which characters from both series were featured.

Sonic hasn’t passed the test of time quite as well as Mario. Many fans lost interest when 3D graphics came into favor and Sega wildly changed the magic Sonic formula. Recent titles in Sonic’s library left the focus on speedy gameplay and became very slow-paced adventure games.

Sega has since tried to go back to its roots, and it’s now working on retro-style side-scrolling platformers for the iconic hedgehog, much to the delight of long-time Sonic fans.