If we've learned one thing from this year's E3, apart from the fact that 2006 is going to be very exciting, it's that there's no such thing as a retirement age for game characters. Mario, Donkey Kong and Link are all still going strong, not to mention Pac-Man - who's been popping pills for more than 25 years now.
And then of course there's Sonic, who shows no signs of slowing down in his old age. As we reported previously, the most interesting news is that a Sonic game for Xbox 360 appears to be in development - but that's not all.
Nintendo DS owners have got Sonic Rush to look forward to, which sees our hero teaming up with new sidekick Blaze the Cat. It's 2D but with “3D visual effects”, and promises to make full use of the handheld's dual screens and stylus control. Which is always a bonus. It's on SEGA's stand at E3, so we might have a look at it if we get time.
Next up is previously announced Shadow the Hedgehog for PS2, Xbox and GameCube.
Playing as the title character, you get to decide whether to stay on the path of goodness or head on over to the dark side and achieve a power greater than any Jedi. (Sorry. We've just been to see it. Twice. It's the best thing EVER. [Adventure, eh. Excitement, eh. -Ed])
Anyway, Shadow gets all sorts of goodies to muck about with, from bazookas and blasters to spaceships, SUVs and - wait for it - motorbikes, and he can even construct makeshift weapons from objects in the environment. Smart.
If you prefer your Sonic games old and weaponless, you'll no doubt be pleased to hear that SEGA is also releasing the Sonic Gems Collection for PS2 and GameCube. It includes Sonic CD, arcade beat-em-up Sonic The Fighters and super-fast (well, it was back then) racer Sonic R.
Not to mention six Game Gear titles - Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Drift 2, Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble, Tails' Skypatrol and Tails Adventures. A few “other surprises” are promised too.
And finally, the original and - some would say - best game in the series, Sonic the Hedgehog, is returning for mobile phones. It'll come bundled with Panasonic's new line of GSM handsets, in fact.
In terms of release dates there's a Sonic for all seasons, with the Sonic Gems Collection out this summer, Sonic Rush and Sonic Mobile following in autumn, and Shadow the Hedgehog rounding it all off in winter. All together now, bipbip, bip-beow-beow, bipbipbipbip beow-beoww...