If it wasn’t for the Internet and Facebook in particular, we’d forget everyone’s birthdays. Unfortunately, Zuckerberg’s social network doesn’t notify us of video game b-days, which is why we’re a day late with this Sonic the Hedgehog feature.  Our bad. 

Sega’s popular mascot turned 23, and while we have to settle for a belated happy birthday, here are the five most impactful moments in Sonic’s history. To go more in-depth, check out Prima writer Robert Workman’s 15 greatest Sonic moments

Sonic the Hedgehog releases for Sega Genesis on June 23, 1991 

This is without question the best place to start. Sega was doing OK with former Genesis pack-in Altered Beast (“Wise from your gwave!”), but exchanging that game for the original Sonic made the company’s 16-bit console a serious contender to Nintendo’s NES and then SNES.  The much-touted Blast Processing turned out to be a myth (Or did it?), but there was no denying that Sonic’s 2D platformer moved at never-before seen speeds, especially compared to the Super Nintendo launch game Super Mario World; Nintendo’s plumber plodded along by comparison. Couple that with a character that epitomized 90’s attitude, and Sega went on to sell over 15 million copies of the critically acclaimed title, while also kicking off the famous console war with the big N. 

Sonic’s 16-bit Genesis Legacy 

Next to Mario (and Nintendo took Super Mario Bros. 2 in a wild direction) Sonic had the best pound-for-pound lineup of games during his first years in existence. Sega followed Sonic the Hedgehog with the equally enjoyable Sonic the Hedgehog 2, complete with sidekick Miles “Tails” Prower. From there, we received the beloved Sonic CD (Sega CD required), Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and the almighty Sonic and Knuckles, where players inserted Sonic’s nemesis into his older games via lock-on technology; even the pinball inspired Sonic Spinball managed to entertain. Bottom line, Sonic and Sega could do no wrong. Close your eyes and point to a random Sonic Genesis game and prepare for a good time. 

Sonic makes his Dreamcast debut September 9, 1999 

Sonic Adventure suffered from questionable voice acting and a troublesome camera, but neither of those things mattered the moment he dashed across a pier as a humongous killer whale smashed it to pieces.  That first Emerald Coast level is so attention-grabbing that we immediately overlooked the game’s shortcomings and dove headfirst into the at the time next generation. Despite the plethora of cool Sonic moments, we’ll remember this captivating scene the most. 

Sonic CD comes to iPhone, iPad and Android 

Players needed a pile of cash to pick up a Genesis, Sega CD and the sublime Sonic CD in the early 90s, so much that many never experienced arguably the best game in the franchise. Enter Sega and indie developer Christian Whitehead, who joined forces to bring the time-traveling 2D platformer to mobile. Just don’t call it a port. This enhanced version features controls adapted to touchscreens, both the U.S. and Japanese soundtracks, as well as improved visuals; the game is also available on Xbox 360 and PS3.  Now you can pay $2.99 to put this outstanding adventure in your pocket. 

Sonic joins the Super Smash Bros. roster 

Both Sega and Nintendo became partners the moment the former became a third party developer, but this newfound friendship reached a new level when Sonic became a combatant in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii. For the first time in history, fans pit Sonic against Mario to see which big-time character emerged victorious, with Sonic pummeling his longtime rival with trademark moves like the Homing Attack and Spin Dash.  This year, he returns to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS to test his fighting skills against the likes of Pac-Man and Mega Man

What is your favorite Sonic moment? Let us know!