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Writing About Stuff I Read: Speedrun: The Unauthorised History of Sonic the Hedgehog (Julian Hazeldine)

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Last week, I stumbled across a piece that called for the death of Sonic the Hedgehog. Author Mike Diver explained that a long spell of lackluster games — including the most recent (and purportedly unplayable) Sonic Boom for Wii U — are only tarnishing the reputation of the once-celebrated mascot of a once-prestigeous hardware/software company. Thus, Diver implored that the spiky blue character be euthanized posthaste, as a means of being spared from further humiliation.

Between the ages of ages six and ten, Sonic the Hedgehog was a significant part of my childhood. I owned most of the games for Genesis and Game Gear (and no, I wasn’t good at most of them), watched both animated cartoons religiously (although my preference was the lighthearted slapstick version over the darker SatAM show), collected the comic books, and even had an army of plush dolls. I (pretended I) could run fast and forced myself to like chili dogs, just like my virtual hero. I even went as far as creating my own Sonic the Hedgehog comics, complete with original characters, including a pink hedgehog called Sonia. (Sigh. Apologies to Amy Rose.) When I was in grade school, I got into an argument with a classmate who criticized me for not faithfully following Sonic canon in my homemade creations. (IT’S CALLED FAN FICTION, YOU PUNK.)

The last time I played a Sonic game in earnest had to have been Sonic Adventure for Dreamcast in the early 2000s. I have vivid memories of racing home to fire up the game after being dismissed early from school for midterms. (I didn’t fail any of those midterms. I think.) Beyond that, I picked up some of the handheld titles, such as Sonic Advance for Game Boy and Sonic Pocket Adventure for Neo-Geo Pocket (!!), but with minimal investment of my time. I have a vague recollection of playing Sonic Adventure 2. I think I liked it, but I was more fascinated by its soundtrack. Post-Dreamcast, I haven’t paid much attention to the ever-growing collection of Sonic games, but if the review snippets I’ve seen are any indication, I ain’t missing much.

Shortly after reading Mike Diver’s acerbic piece on the proposed fate of the world-famous hedgehog, by sheer coincidence my boyfriend surprised me with a thinking-of-you eBook: Julian Hazeldine’s Speedrun: The Unauthorised History of Sonic the Hedgehog. To cleanse my palate of the bitterness left by Diver’s article, I dove into this book immediately as a means of revisiting the glory days of Sonic, and remembering ever so fondly the days of my Sonic Youth. (Er, wait…)

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