Happy birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog. You are 20 years old today. I trust you enrolled in a good college instead of attempting to simply live off of your many royalties? Look at child stars like Danny Pintauro, Todd Bridges and Macaulay Culkin! I urge you to figuratively tuck yourself into a ball and bowl over any impending life choices you may foresee as negative.
Anyway, here’s what you’ve accomplished during your short time with us.
Sonic, you are a great business-hog. Your series of games has sold over 80 million units, according to a crowd-sourced encyclopedia we’re not supposed to link to.
But you achieved great sales success by leveraging your “brand”—were you the title character in every game? No! Work smarter, not harder. Did you make walk-on appearances from time to time? Yes! That’s branding and you “get it,” as they say.
To type out each and every Sonic title would leave me with Popeye-sized forearms, but let’s go through some of the classics:
Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic 3D, Sonic Adventure, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Drift, Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Tails, Bowling, Olympics, Mario & Sonic, and the unfortunately-named Sonic X-Treme.
Without even doing a cursory search on the internet, it’s powerfully clear that Michelle Branch’s 2001 megahit Everywhere (You’re ev-ry-where to meee!) was written just for you, Sonic.
Your Friends! And Enemies!
They say the mark of any good hedgehog isn’t his accomplishments, but the list of friends he leaves behind. I don’t know who “they” is but the next time someone says that, the “they” will be me.
Your early life started out like anybody else’s. No friends, one enemy. Yours was Dr. Robotnik. You two have battled over emeralds more often than two stay-at-home moms from New Jersey. Can we refer to you as “frenemies” yet? No? Okay, it’s your birthday.
You befriended a fox named Tails. “A fox and a hedgehog?!” we all gasped. “Don’t foxes eat hedgehogs?” Luckily Tails was much smaller than you, and foxes can’t do that weird/gross/cool thing that snakes can. Plus both of you were too busy going after rings, emeralds and doctors—also like stay-at-home moms from New Jersey.
Then we met your first true frenemy, Knuckles. Your relationship status on Facebook would have been “It’s complicated” during this period of your life, but the two of you figured out that it was Dr. Robotnik stirring the pot all along! Then you, Tails, and Knuckles found yourselves in a good place from a friendship standpoint.
You’ve had several additional animal friends and enemies, and you went through a weird robot period which, as any one can tell you, is all part of growing up.
Your TV Show! And Comic Books!
Like any great video game, your stardom spilled over into our TV sets.
Looking back, you’ll recall working on your cartoon, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as some of the longest days you’ve ever put in but that ultimately, it was all worth it. Especially when those long days on the set spilled over into “golden time” and you were pulling in some nice union-negotiated overtime, am I right?
You also partnered up with Archie Comics for your own comic book. Did you need a fancy title for the series? No sir: Sonic the Hedgehog worked just fine, thank you.
And what about Sonic X? That was a nice surprise, huh? What was supposed to be a four-part series to augment a TV show of the same name turned into an ongoing series meant to augment the initial augmentation indefinitely.
But then something sinister happened. Sonic X got canceled. We all suspected either Dr. Robotnik, poor corporate decision-making, or both.
Aside from our suspicions, when the comic book got canceled we also all (thought about but never) rioted in the streets. Thankfully, it got replaced by the Sonic Universe series of comic books eventually.
Your Indelible Mark Upon Society!
You have collected seven Guiness World Records ranging from being the best-selling game on Sega consoles, to being the longest-running comic book based on a video game, to smashing the record for the best-selling game compilation with the Sonic Mega Collection.
You’ve also forced kids and their parents to talk openly and frankly about hedgehogs. While you may merely see yourself as a simple video game hedgehog, you likely have no idea how many kids have asked their parents for a pet hedgehog because of you. Those parents then explain to their children that hedgehogs eat cat food and ferret food and bugs. It’s also illegal to own hedgehogs in some states.
And for kids spoiled lucky enough, the mom is like, “Where the crap did all my gold rings and emeralds go?!” only to find the dumb kids in the living room wondering why their spikey rat won’t roll into a ball and knock some robots around.
Still, though, at least these discussions are taking place. All thanks to you.