Sega were in a dire situation when they were pushing their Genesis console in 1991. The Super Nintendo (SNES) release was looming in North America after a quite successful launch in Japan. Sega was hurting. Nintendo had Mario and it was well known that Super Mario World was going to be the pack-in title with the SNES. What was Sega to do? Altered Beast was simply not the system seller Sega thought it would be. They already tried Alex Kidd as the mascot- fans didn’t really take to him. They could have really bucked the system and tried Phantasy Star, a role playing game (RPG), but they didn’t have one ready to battle the SNES. No, it was time for fresh blood and that is exactly what Sonic the Hedgehog represented for the company.
The release of Sonic the Hedgehog, as the pack-in no doubt, helped Sega keep neck in neck with Nintendo’s SNES. It was not going to be a steamroll process like it was in the 8-Bit days. Sega was ready and able to fight and it was quite clear, they were in this for the long haul. Sonic represented more than just a new game, he represented a new era for Sega. Sega was going after the teenage market while Nintendo was still focusing on the pre-teens. It was a gamble and it paid off.
Sonic went onto star in several direct sequels on the Genesis, stiffed fans completely on the 32X and sort of cold shouldered the fan base on the Sega Saturn. By the time we got to the Dreamcast, Sega had remembered what brought them to the dance but it was too late to turn their ship around.
Sonic launched Sega into the company that many of us retro gaming fans loved- a company that was not scared to take on Nintendo in a David vs Goliath matchup.
Thank you Sega. The memories will last a lifetime.