It's hard to believe that Sonic the Hedgehog is more than 20-years-old, kicking things off in 1991 with the beloved Genesis original.  Over the years, he became one of gaming's most important icons, easily making the transition to multi-console hero, culminating with the release of 2011's Sonic Generations, a game that seamlessly combined visually stimulating 3D stages with classic 2D gameplay.

That fun will continue later this year with the release of Sonic: Lost World for the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS, an exclusive project that will bring the speedy mascot into the next generation.  With that, we decided to look back at his five greatest adventures.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The original Sonic the Hedgehog set many precedents when it released in 1991, but the sequel managed to top it a number of ways.  First, it revolutionized two-player gaming through a split-screen competitive format, where one person played as Sonic and the other his sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower.  The sequel also excelled with its 3D bonus stages, as well as its pleasant soundtrack and classic gameplay.  

Sonic and Knuckles

 

By the time Sonic the Hedgehog 3 rolled around, many gamers were curious about Knuckles, who was initially Sonic's nemesis but eventually became an ally with the release of Sonic and Knuckles.  With this game, Sonic continued his speedy ways, but Knuckles also received his chance to shine, between gliding from platform to platform and breaking through walls.  For that matter, the cartridge introduced "lock-on technology", allowing gamers to plug in their earlier Sonic games to play as Knuckles and access bonus stages.  

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

Instead of following the same platform mechanics, BioWare’s Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood took a role-playing approach involving a completely different storyline, along with comprehensive touch-screen controls and an innovative design that blended Sonic’s world with plenty of new surprises.  If you haven't experienced it yet, you can pick up The Dark Brotherhood on the cheap.

Sonic Generations

Sonic Generations blended classic and modern game design quite nicely, as the blue Hedgehog delved into his past while keeping the current world safe from the evil clutches of Dr. Robotnik.  The side-scrolling stages are quite good, with the classic hop-n-bop action we love, combined with beautiful current-gen graphics that really look good on a HDTV.  If you’re a Sonic fan, Generations is a must-own.  

Sonic CD

Sonic CD introduced a fantastic new level structure that blended time travel and challenging new enemies.  In addition, 3D bonus stages where you run around freely to collect coins provide amusement, and the ability to choose between the U.S. and Japanese soundtracks is a nice touch. Be sure to download it on consoles and mobile devices.