The Video Game Memoirs #1 — Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Mega Drive/Genesis)

One of the first, what I consider “real”, video games I remember playing, was Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Mega Drive. I say real, as I had played other other smaller games on portable LCD devices, from companies like Tiger, but these were never much more than 5 minute distractions.

Here was something with a fully realised world, a story, a beginning and an end, characters and substance. This blog is meant to be a record of the vivid, often singular, memories that video games have imprinted upon me and it is these aspects that I will often point to as indicators as to why or what I remember them for.

The inspiration for this blog series came from Reasonably Sound, a podcast by the presenter of Idea Channel; Mike Rugnetta. In an episode from June 2015 he spoke about Echoic Memory and our ability to remember sounds. He describes a scene from his childhood, attempting to describe each of the details as best he can. Some are strikingly vivid, others are aptly fuzzy.

This made me think about my memories of video games and my continuing minor obsession with nostalgia. I love things which remind me of others things. I try to not live a materialistic lifestyle, however I have many things (mostly in my parents loft) that I do not need, but have continued emotional importance to me; Lego, dinosaur magazines, the teddy my dad bought me the day I was born. Although I do not get the same feeling of enjoyment from these things now that I did then, I relish being able to have them to memorialise those memories which I sometimes have difficulty forming or recalling.

Now I have provided a premise for this blogpost, I will return to the gaming memory in question; Sonic the Hedgehog on the Mega Drive (Genesis). Specifically Daniel Bennett’s copy of Sonic the Hedgehog. This memory is not of the first time I played that game, indeed that memory is truly lost to the sands of time, it is however the first time I remember playing it.

I sometimes wonder if my love of video games actually sprouted from my inability to access them as a child. They became this holy grail I was constantly chasing. Due to a number of reasons; console cost, only a single TV in the house etc., my family did not get a home console until around 1995. And even then it was a Mega Drive, when my friends were playing the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation.

Anyway, I would often get to play video games at my cousins and my friend’s houses. It turns out I would want to play them so much I would go so far as to go round my friend Daniel’s house, even when he wasn’t there, to play his Mega Drive.

Before the easy access of social media and SMS, I would have to walk a full 5 minutes (!) along the road just to find out if Dan was even in. This memory is specifically of me playing Sonic the Hedgehog in his room, by myself.

He was definitely not there.

This means that either, when I found out he wasn’t in I asked to come in and play his Mega Drive anyway, or his mum suggested I come in and play in his room until he came back.

I do not remember him ever coming back that day.

Fortunately our friendship has endured my childhood compulsions, and we still game together as adults. But I’ll always remember playing Daniel’s Sonic the Hedgehog, on his Mega Drive, at his house, and he wasn’t even there.