THE CASE FOR: They almost did it, man. For years, the main goal of any video game company was to take down Mario. The king of the 2D video game world was the kid-friendly platform-jumper, and whoever came up with a brightly-colored company mascot that could knock the Red King off his throne would rule. Bonk the Caveman couldn't do it, Master Higgins couldn't do it, Alex Kidd couldn't do it, and even Nintendo themselves eventually tried it with Kirby and couldn't do it. But Sonic was as close as anyone ever got. Because sure, at his core and before internet weirdos got to him, Sonic was just a pretty goofy kid game character. But Sega understood better than anyone else that the 90s were happening, and their anti-Mario had attitude.
He had spiky hair and he smirked, and Sonic the Hedgehog was the extreme hip hop grunge hero to counter Mario's conservative workingman wholesomeness. And he had the speed, he had the Blast Processing, and most importantly, he had the games. Those first three Sonic games (and probably Sonic & Knuckles too, but I was too poor to buy games with fancy attachments and everyone I knew to borrow games from was either moving on to adult pursuits or saving up for a Playstation) were the first of their kind that could square up to the Super Mario Bros. series and go toe-to-toe, and this was around Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World times, aka Mario at the height of his powers. They were masterpieces of side-scrolling art that managed to use speed as a gimmick and chief gaming mechanic without too many instances of "whoa, shit, I bet I missed everything in that level, but I can't go back because it's 1991, and you can't do that yet."
Alas, it was not to be, and both Sonic and Sega itself eventually fell victim to the Big Plumber, who was himself eventually cast down from being the face of video games by a modern dystopia's near-universal embrace of video games as the chief delivery system of Titties, Cussin', and Unspeakable Violence. This is pretty effed up when you step back for a second and realize that these are - and have always been - glorified, high-tech toys for children. But in the meantime, we got a few classics out of the Sonic series before the 32X and the Saturn happened, and the world collectively threw up their hands and stopped putting up with Sega's bullshit.
I'm not ruling out the possibility that they may have been selling us on drug use at an early age.
THE CASE AGAINST: Eventually, game systems got more powerful, storylines with actual spoken dialogue became the norm, and welp, Sonic the Hedgehog games became the closest thing to furry porn that you could purchase at Walmart, at least until the My Little Pony franchise started actively catering to adult male perverts. We are damned, all of us, you know that, right?
INTIMATE CONFESSION: It seriously took me well over twenty years before I realized the pun in Sonic's sidekick Tails having the regular-ass government name of "Miles Prower." I mean, even before the internet and Rule 34 corrupted anything with adorable animals and even theoretical links to nerd culture, (which is a term I hate to use, because nerd "culture" mostly just boils down to "I like to buy stuff," but that's a whole 'nother thing entirely) Sonic games were already clearly on some serious whackadoo shit, so if they were going to randomly give Tails a full given name that sounded like a British TV presenter, I wasn't going to argue.
NOTE ON RANKINGS: Sonics 1, 2, and 3 were all pretty much
the same game with different levels, so they're all clustered
together, but 2 had that awesome casino stage, so it gets the top
spot, and I spent way more time with Sonic 1 than Sonic 3, so it
wins silver by default.
CURRENT TOP TEN AS OF MARCH 24, 2017
1. Fallout: New Vegas (XBox 360, 2010)
2. Castlevania (NES, 1986)
3. Tecmo Bowl (NES, 1989)
4. Brütal Legend (XBox 360, 2009)
5. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out !! (NES, 1987)
6. Fallout 3 (XBox 360, 2008)
7. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis, 1992)
8. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis, 1991)
9. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Sega Genesis, 1994)
10. Fallout 2 (PC, 1998)
14-10,000,000,000,000,000 - TBD
Release Dates: 1991, 1992, 1994
Cool Football Card I Have From 1991: 1991 Pro Line Portraits Neal Anderson front printing plate
Cool Movie From 1992: Mr. Baseball
Cool Heavy Metal Album from 1994: War of Words by Fight