Sega has made numerous video games starring Sonic since his debut in 1991, spanning five generations of console manufacturing. Through numerous aggressive ad campaigns (the most famous being the touting of "Blast Processing," described as being able to render sprites at extreme speeds but actually referring to the CPU's clock rate), Sonic soon became one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, even beating out Mickey Mouse for a time. While his glory days may be behind him, Sonic is still a significant part of gaming, and it cannot be denied that he forever changed the gaming landscape.
By 1990, Sega had grown tired of playing second-fiddle to Nintendo, and sought to redefine their image with a game that would be able to go head to head with the Super Mario Bros. series. Up to this point, Sega had been using Alex Kidd as their unofficial mascot for their Master System outings, but the corporate heads wanted to present something that could directly compete with the Mario character, and in the process knock Nintendo from the number one spot in the gaming world. An internal competition was held to find a new mascot that would both appeal to a wide audience and showcase what their latest system, the Mega Drive, was capable of. While many designs were introduced ranging from a Felix-inspired Rabbit to an American-looking bulldog, and even early designs of what would end up being Dr. Eggman and Mighty the Armadillo, it was Naoto Ohshima's simple hedgehog design that caught everyone's attention.
Originally named "Mr. Needlemouse," the design of the small, blue, spiny being took many cues from American culture. The look of Sonic's classic buckled shoes took direct inspiration from Michael Jackson's boots from the cover of his "Bad" album, while the color scheme was taken from the most famous character of all time - Santa Claus. Sonic's personality, on the other hand, was directly inspired by future-President Bill Clinton, who Ohshima felt embodied a modern sensibility of wanting to get things done right away, righting wrongs as they presented themselves instead of letting them linger.
With character in hand, and the future of Sega riding on them, Sega's AM8 division (who decided to call themselves "Sonic Team") set about making what they would hope become a successful game. While Ohshima was responsible for the look of Sonic the Hedgehog, he was only one part of the team that helped bring him to life. It was Yuji Naka that helped instill Sonic's trademark sense of speed by programming what was, at the time, the fastest game anyone had played on a home console. Having been obsessed with speed as a youth, he relished creating a game engine designed around a character who was focused on the same theme, even going as far as removing the original throwing-element of gameplay because it slowed down the overall flow. Rounding off the classic trio was Hirokazu Yasuhara, the Game Planner and Director, making sure all the pieces of the game fit together, while at the same time creating fun and memorable levels that would make people want more. The work of these three men, along with the other 12 members of the team, helped propel Sonic the Hedgehog to heights not even Sega could have foreseen.
The success of Sonic the Hedgehog caused other companies to take notice, and the trend of anthropomorphic mascots was born. Sparkster, Bubsy, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Blinx, and Sly Cooper are only a few of the characters that have tried to emulate Sonic the Hedgehog over the years. While some were more successful than others, none could reach the heights Sonic skyrocketed to.
Sonic the Hedgehog (Video Game Character)Edit
Origin of SonicEdit
- In the original game continuity, Sonic's past is never explicitly explained, and perhaps purposefully never hinted at. According to the Sonic the Hedgehog Technical Documents, Sonic was born on Christmas Island, although the island has yet to make an appearance within the games. The only other piece of information on Sonic's past is that he and Dr. Eggman have had a fierce rivalry that has existed long before the original Sonic the Hedgehog console game. Though the details of these early encounters are never expanded upon, it is made clear the first time the Chaos Emeralds become a source of contention is during the events of the first game. The first battle over the Chaos Emeralds was retold in the Sonic the Hedgehog Story Comic released in Japan, where Dr. Eggman first fights Sonic over the gems by interrupting a concert the hedgehog is singing in. However, as the comic is based heavily on the early concepts of the game that ultimately never made it in, it is unknown how this relates to the current game continuity. Nevertheless, the ending to both is the same, with Sonic triumphing over the doctor.
- While Sonic has visited and explored South Island many times, Sonic is something of a nomad, never content with staying in one place for too long. Preferring to travel to new areas and locals looking for exciting new adventures, he only slows down when Dr. Eggman appears, foiling whatever new scheme to take over the world the doctor has.
- The same documents which mentioned Christmas Island (which were printed in the Sonic Adventure 2 Birthday Pack) offer an alternate, whimsical story in which Sonic the Hedgehog was originally a fictional character created by Mary Garnet, who used him in a series of children's novels. Inspired by her husband and his dream of being the first man to break the sound barrier, the character adorned the back of his jacket at the airfield he worked, becoming a mascot to those who worked alongside him. After an attempt to succeed in this dream turned tragic, both the man and and the hedgehog were slowly forgotten of as time moved on. Decades pass, and a young camerawoman attends an airshow at the same field, wearing the hedgehog-adorned jacket she recently bought at a flea market, remembering the character from her childhood. Getting caught up in an accident that occurs, she finds herself saved by a mysterious force, who she later finds was Sonic the Hedgehog, a blue blur and familiar shoes being found in her developed pictures. However, this story has never been referenced in the games, and only acknowledged by the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog as an alternate fictional story, solely intended to grab people's attention to the Mega Drive original.
- Sonic the Hedgehog is a 15 year old blue hedgehog who lives in no particular locale on the planet Earth, instead choosing to travel the world looking for fun and adventure wherever he goes. While he may be a drifter, that doesn't mean he only cares about himself. Over the course of the games, Sonic meets other people whom he becomes close with, such as the over-eager sidekick Miles "Tails" Prower, the friendly rival Knuckles the Echidna, and the obsessive fangirl Amy Rose. While some games show Sonic as more of an a-typical hero than others, traditionally he is someone who plays by his own rules, while maintaining a strong sense of justice. Even though he looks out for the underdog, he does not dedicate his life to romanticized ideals, oftentimes fighting Dr. Eggman for the fun and adventure of it all. While he doesn't let others dictate his actions, he won't hesitate if his friends are in trouble, and though he maintains a calm and cool attitude, he knows when to get serious when the stakes are high.
- Sonic is known for his 'attitude', which is shown through his smugness and sarcasm. Sonic sometimes likes to show off in order to 'look cool'. He is often shown posing or adjusting his gloves or shoes. He is also often noted to be impatient and sometimes have a hot temper.
- See Games featuring Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Jaleel White
- Samuel Vincent
- Paula Arundell
- Josh Keaton
- Vincent Martella
- Haley Joel Osment
- Ben Whishaw
- Ryan Drummond
- Jason Griffith
- Roger Craig Smith
- Ben Schwartz