Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Sonikku za Hejjihoggu), trademarked Sonic The Hedgehog,is a title character and theprotagonist of the Sonic the Hedgehog series released by Sega, as well as in numerous spin-off comics, cartoons, and a feature film. The first game was released on June 23, 1991, to provide Sega with a mascot to rival Nintendo's flagship character Mario (see 1991 in video gaming).Since then, Sonic has become one of the world's best-known video game characters, with his series having sold more than 80 million copies. In 2005, Sonic was one of the first game character inductees into the Walk of Game, alongside Mario and Link.
While many individuals at Sega had a hand in Sonic's creation, programmer Yuji Naka and artist Naoto Ōshima are generally credited with the creation of the character, a blue 15-year-old anthropomorphic hedgehog, who has the ability to run at supersonic speeds and the ability to curl into a ball, primarily to attack enemies. This is a major part of the gameplay of the series.
Origins and historyEdit
While Sega was seeking a flagship series to compete with Nintendo's Mario series along with a character to replace Alex Kidd as the company's mascot, several character designs were submitted by its AM8 research and development department. Many results came forth from their experiments with character design, including an armadillo (who later developed into Mighty the Armadillo), a dog, a Theodore Roosevelt look-alike in pajamas (who would later be the basis of Dr. Robotnik/Eggman's design), and a rabbit (who would use its extendible ears to collect objects, an aspect later incorporated in Ristar). Eventually, Naoto Ōshima's spiky teal hedgehog, initially codenamed "Mr. Needlemouse",was chosen as the new mascot. Sonic's blue pigmentation was chosen to match Sega's cobalt blue logo, and his shoes were a concept evolved from a design inspired by Michael Jackson's boots with the addition of the color red, which was inspired by both Santa Claus and the contrast of those colors on Jackson's 1987 album Bad; his personality was based on Bill Clinton's "Get it done" attitude. Sonic was created without the ability to swim because of a mistaken assumption by Yuji Naka that all hedgehogs could not do so.A group of fifteen people started working on the firstSonic the Hedgehog game, and renamed themselves Sonic Team. The game's soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura of the bandDreams Come True. Sega sponsored the group's "Wonder 3" tour, painting Sonic on the tour bus, distributing pamphlets advertising the game, and having footage of the game broadcast above stage prior to its release.
The original concepts gave Sonic fangs and put him in a band with a human girlfriend named Madonna. However, a team from Sega of America, led by Madeline Schroeder, who calls herself "Sonic's mother", "softened" the character up for an American audience by removing those elements. This sparked a heated issue with Sonic Team. Naka later admitted that it was probably for the best. Sonic's appearance varies greatly depending on the medium and the style in which he is drawn. In the video games, Sonic's original design by Oshima was short and round, with short quills, a round body, and no visible irises. Artwork featuring this design and drawn by Akira Watanabe was displayed on the package artwork for Sonic the Hedgehog, and most subsequent Sonic video games featured similar designs.
When Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Mega Drive appeared, Sonic's proportions changed. The original 1:2 head to height ratio changed to 1:2.5.
Beginning with Sonic Adventure in 1998, Sonic was redesigned by Yuji Uekawa as a character with longer legs and a less spherical body, longer and more drooping quills, and green-colored irises. Further subtle changes to the character's design have been made in subsequent games. Spin-off media such as comics and cartoons have featured variations on all these video game designs, with restrictions set by the standardized model sheets.
Different actors have provided Sonic's voice in his game appearances. Sonic originally had a few voice samples in Sonic CD, with Keiko Utokuproviding the voice. Sonic's first true voice actor was Takeshi Kusao for the arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog, with Junichi Kanemarucontinually voicing the role beginning with the release of Sonic Adventure. In Sonic Unleashed, Sonic was voiced by Tomokazu Seki whilst in Werehog form. Sonic's first English voice actor was Jaleel White in the three animated series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Sonic Underground.
Sonic's first English game voice was provided by Ryan Drummond beginning with Sonic Adventure, a role he continued until 2004,when he was replaced by Jason Adam Griffith, who previously voiced the character in the American dub of the series Sonic X.Griffith was later replaced byRoger Craig Smith, starting with Sonic Free Riders and Sonic Colors in November 2010.In an interview, Drummond states he was offered the chance by Sega to re-audition for the role of Sonic, but rejected the role since it required him to quit his talent union.
Sonic the Hedgehog series video gamesEdit
Sonic's first appearance in video games was in the racing game Rad Mobile. Sonic's first major appearance was in the platform game Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, which also introduced his nemesis Dr. Robotnik. His two-tailed fox friend Tails joined him in the game's 1992 sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic CD, released in 1993, introduced Sonic's self-appointed girlfriend Amy Rose and recurring roboticdoppelgänger Metal Sonic as Sonic traveled through time to ensure a good future for the world. Sonic 3 and its direct sequel Sonic & Knuckles, both released in 1994, saw Sonic and Tails battle Robotnik again, with the additional threat of Knuckles, tricked by Robotnik into thinking Sonic was a threat to his home. Sonic 4 (2010-2012) continues where the story of Sonic 3 left off, reducing Sonic to the only playable character and releasing in episodicinstallments. The second episode sees the return of both Tails as Sonic's sidekick and Metal Sonic as a recurring enemy.
Other two-dimensional platformers starring Sonic include Sonic Chaos (1993), Sonic Triple Trouble (1994), Sonic Blast (1996), Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (1999), Sonic Advance (2001), Sonic Advance 2 (2002), Sonic Advance 3 (2004), Sonic Rush (2005), Sonic Rush Adventure (2007), and Sonic Colors (DS) (2010).
Sonic Adventure (1999) was Sonic Team's return to the character for a major game. It featured Sonic returning from vacation to find the city of Station Square under attack by a new, very powerful foe named Chaos, under the control of Dr. Robotnik (now more commonly known as Dr. Eggman). It was also the first Sonic game to feature a complete voice-over. Sonic Adventure 2 (2001) placed Sonic on-the-run from the military (G.U.N.) after being mistaken for a new enemy, Shadow the Hedgehog. Sonic Heroes (2003) featured Sonic teaming up with Tails and Knuckles, along with other character teams like Team Rose and Chaotix, against the newly rebuilt Metal Sonic, who had betrayed his master with intentions of world domination. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) features Sonic in the city of water, "Soleanna," where he must rescue Princess Elise from Dr. Eggman while trying to avoid a new threat to his own life, Silver the Hedgehog. He is the only playable character in Sonic Unleashed (2008), in which he unwillingly gains a new personality, "Sonic the Werehog," the result of Sonic being fused with Dark Gaia's power. He gains strength and flexibility in exchange for his speed, and new friends including a strange creature named Chip who helps him along the way. In Sonic Colors (2010), Eggman tries to harness the energy of alien beings known as "Wisps" for a mind-control beam. Building on the gameplay used in the daytime stages of Unleashed, Sonic can harness these Wisps to gain temporary new abilities. The anniversary title Sonic Generations (2011) features two playable incarnations of Sonic: the younger "classic" Sonic, whose gameplay is presented in a style reminiscent of the Mega Drive/Genesis titles, and present-day "modern" Sonic, who uses the gameplay style present in Unleashed and Colors.
Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007) features Sonic in the storybook world of 1001 Arabian Nights. A sequel, titled Sonic and the Black Knight (2009), continued the storybook theme, this time taking place within the realm of the Arthurian legend.
Sonic has also been featured in other games of many genres other than 2D and 3D platform games. These include Sonic Spinball, Sonic Labyrinth(1995), the racing games Sonic Drift (1994), Sonic Drift 2 (1995), Sonic R (1996), Sonic Riders (2006), Sonic Rivals (2006), Sonic Rivals 2 (2007), Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (2008), and Sonic Free Riders (2010), the fighting games Sonic the Fighters (1996) and Sonic Battle (2003), the mobile game Sonic Jump (2005), and the role-playing video game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (2008).
Video games such as Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (1993), Knuckles' Chaotix (1995), Tails' Skypatrol (1995), Tails Adventure (1995), and Shadow the Hedgehog (2005) starred supporting characters of the Sonic series, although Sonic himself cameos in most of these titles.
Sonic has appeared in several crossover titles as well, including a playable appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008), one of only two third-party characters (alongside Solid Snake) featured in the game. He appeared in the crossover party game Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games as a Speed-type and in its sequels Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games as the fastest character. Sonic is also a playable character in all three Sega Superstars titles.
Sonic has made many cameo appearances in different games, most notably in other Sega games, such as being a power-up in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, walking around the main hallway in Phantasy Star Universe on the anniversary of his first game's release (June 23), and appearing in the 2008 remake of Samba de Amigo (he appears in the background for the songs "Low Rider", "UN Aguardiants" and "Mambo #5"). He is also a playable character in Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams.
The first animated series to feature Sonic was Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, in which he was voiced by Jaleel White.The cartoon had a very comical take on Sonic and Tails' adventures battling Robotnik. Pierre De Celles, an animator who worked on Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, described the show as "fun and humorous."
In the dramatic series Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic was again voiced by Jaleel White.He lives on the planet Mobius in Knothole Village, where he belongs to a band of Freedom Fighters that fight to free their world from the literally iron-fisted rule of the evil dictator Dr. Robotnik.
Sonic Underground featured the introductions of Sonic's triplet siblings Sonia the Hedgehog and Manic the Hedgehog, as well as his mother Queen Aleena, the four of whom were destined to defeat Robotnik and rule Mobius as the "Council of Four". Jaleel White returned to voice Sonic for the third time as well as voicing Sonic's siblings, with Samuel Vincent providing Sonic's singing voice. This series is the only Sonic the Hedgehog series with European origins, as it was a co-production between the United States and France.
Additionally, there were two OVAs in Japan that formed a single story which featured Sonic, Tails, Robotnik, Knuckles, and Metal Sonic. Sonic was voiced by Masami Kikuchi in Japan, andMartin Burke in the United States, where the two OVAs were treated as one unique, 1 hour long movie under the name of Sonic the Hedgehog: The movie.
Sonic X, was an anime in which Sonic is teleported to Earth by Chaos Control, caused by the Chaos Emeralds (though the final season takes place in his own world). Here, he befriends a boy named Chris Thorndyke, and his infamous aquaphobia is made far stronger; in one episode where Sonic and his friends go on a cruise, Sonic is in a constant state of panic and desperately searches for a way to escape. In this series, he is voiced by Jun'ichi Kanemaru in the Japanese version, and by Jason Griffith in the English version.
Sonic: Night of the Werehog is a short film by Sega's VE Animation Studio, released to coincide with the release of Sonic Unleashed. In the film, Sonic and Chip enter a haunted house, and must deal with two ghosts trying to scare them.
Sonic makes multiple cameo appearances in the Disney film, Wreck-It Ralph, where he is voiced by Roger Craig Smith.He appears in a public service announcement in Game Central Station telling the video game characters not to die in a video game that they aren't a character in or else they won't regenerate. Sonic the Hedgehog also appears in background shots at Game Central Station. He also appears dancing at Fix-It Felix's party, can be seen walking around game central station in two separate scenes (in background shots), losing his rings when Wreck-It Ralph crashes into him, his picture on the celebrity wall at Tapper's, and he was seen a short sprite-animated scene as part of the end credits.
ComicsEditSonic's first comic appearance was in a promotional comic printed in Disney Adventures magazine (and also given away as a free pull-out with a copy of Mean Machines magazine), which established a backstory for the character involving the origin of his color and abilities and the transformation of kindly scientist Dr. Ovi Kintobor into the evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik. Numerous British publications, including "Sega handbook" Stay Sonic (1993), four novels published by Virgin Books (1993–1994) and the comic book Sonic the Comic (1993–2001) used this premise as their basis.
The American comics published by Archie Comics, Sonic the Hedgehog (1993–), Sonic X (2005–2008), and Sonic Universe (2009-) are based on the settings established by earlier animated TV series, the ABC "SatAM" cartoon, the Sonic X anime, and an expansion to the series, respectively. The former series is currently the second longest-running licensed comic series in the history of American comic books, second only to Marvel's Conan series (first issue released in 1970). In France two comic books named "Sonic Adventures" were published by Sirène in 1994.
Sonic has also been featured in two different manga. One series was simply called Sonic the Hedgehog, and featured a story about a normal boy named Nicky Parlouzer who can change into Sonic. The other series was a compilation of short stories and was separated into two volumes, the first being called Dash and Spin, and the other called Super Fast Sonic!!.
According to various official materials from Sega, Sonic is described as a character who is "like the wind": a drifter who lives as he wants, and makes life a series of events and adventures. Sonic hates oppression and staunchly defends freedom. Although he is mostly easy-going he has a short temperand is often impatient with slower things.Sonic is a habitual daredevil hedgehog who is honest, loyal to friends, keeps his promises,and dislikes tears.He took the young Tails under his wing like a little brother, and is uninterested in marital proposals from Amy Rose. In times of crisis, he focuses intensely on the challenge as if his personality had undergone an astonishing change.
Sonic is known as the world's fastest hedgehog. Sonic's greatest strength is his running speed, which is faster than the speed of sound. Many of his abilities are variations on the tendency for hedgehogs to roll into tight balls for protection with the addition of spinning his body. Since his introduction in 1991'sSonic the Hedgehog, Sonic's primary offensive maneuver is the basic "Spin Attack" (or "Sonic Spin Attack"). Later games in the series expanded on this basic attack and two of these enhancements have become mainstays of his: the Spin Dash which was introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and involves Sonic spinning on the spot before blasting off at full speed, and the Homing Attack, officially introduced in Sonic Adventure, in which Sonic dashes toward a target in mid air. Sonic's only weakness is that he cannot swim, sinking like a rock if plunged to a deep body of water.However, he can overcome this by running on the surface of water.
When the seven Chaos Emeralds are collected in most Sonic games, Sonic can initiate a Super transformation into Super Sonic, a faster and invulnerable version of himself that can fly. He can normally transform into Super Sonic with 50 Rings. While transformed, Sonic slowly loses Rings during the time he is in Super form (usually about one every second) and returns to normal when all the Rings are used up, usually incurring the loss of a life during a boss; the player can collect more Rings during this time to maintain Super form.
Reception and legacyEdit
As Sega's mascot and one of the key reasons for the company's success during the 16-bit era of video game consoles, Sonic is one of the most famous video game characters in the world. In 1996, Sonic was the first video game character to be seen in a Rose Parade. Sonic is also the first video game character (later followed by Pikachu) to have a balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Sonic was one of the three game characters inducted on the inaugural Walk of Game class in 2005, along with former rivals Mario and Link (both from Nintendo). One of a class of genes involved in fruit fly embryonic development, called hedgehog genes, has been named "sonic hedgehog" after the character.
Sonic has also been used as a symbol for Sega's various sponsorships. Between 1993 and 1997, Sega sponsored the JEF United Ichihara Chibafootball team, during which period Sonic appeared in the team's uniform. During the 1993 Formula One championship, Sega sponsored the Williams Grand Prix team, which won the Constructors' Championship that year, as well as the team's lead driver, Alain Prost, winning the Drivers' Championship. Sonic was featured in the cars, helmets, and their rivals McLaren used to paint a squashed hedgehog after winning races over Williams.The 1993 European Grand Prix featured a Sonic balloon and Sonic billboards. Sonic also appears on some versions of the willow video store logo. According to a poll conducted during Sonic's height of popularity in the early 90's, the character was more recognizable to American children than Mario and Mickey Mouse.Nintendo Power listed Sonic as their sixth favorite hero, stating that while he was originally Mario's arch nemesis, he seems at home on Nintendo platforms. They added that he has remained as one of gaming's greatest icons. In 2004, the character won a Golden Joystick Award for "The Sun Ultimate Gaming Hero". On October 21, 2008, out of 500 people, Sonic was voted the most popular video game character in the UK with a 24% vote while his old rival Mario came second with 21% of the vote. Then in late 2008, MSN held a poll of who's the most iconic video game character, Sonic was ranked #1 as the most iconic video game character of all in gaming while Mario and Lara Croft were voted less in second and in third respectively. And he was voted 10th out of the top 50 video game characters of all time inGuinness World Records 2011 Gamers' Edition. Sonic ranked ninth on GameDaily's Top 10 Smash Bros characters list. GameDaily also listed his "next-generation stumble" in their list of video game characters' worst moments, using his relationship with a human female as one of the worst parts of it.
Ken Balough, Sega's associate brand manager, said that Sonic's appeal endured because the character is "a gaming legend, first and foremost" who originated "from a series of games that defined a generation in gaming history, and his iconic personality was the epitome of speed in the early ‘90s, pushing the limits of what gamers knew and expected from high-speed action and platforming games."
The Sonic the Hedgehog video games have featured several theme songs for the character. Most are performed by Crush 40, who have also performed many other songs produced for the franchise. The majority of them also serve as final boss themes as well where stated below.
- Sonic CD: "Sonic Boom" (US)- Pastiche/ "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" - Keiko Utoku (JPN/EUR)
- Sonic Adventure: "It Doesn't Matter" / "Open Your Heart" - Crush 40. The latter serves as the main/final boss theme.
- Sonic Adventure 2: "It Doesn't Matter" / "Live and Learn" - Crush 40. The latter serves as the main/final boss theme.
- Sonic Heroes: "We Can" - Ted Poley, Tony Harnell. This theme is also shared with Tails and Knuckles, considering that this is also the Team Sonic theme.
- Sonic the Hedgehog '06: "His World" - Zebrahead. This is one of the three character theme songs and 2 instrumental versions (one of which is used for the final boss theme) can be found in the game. Other remixes of this theme were done by Crush 40 and Bentley Jones.
- Sonic and the Secret Rings: "Seven Rings In Hand" - Steve Conte. This theme is also played during the final battle of the game with Darkspine Sonic (A dark form of Super Sonic with seven world rings) Vs. Alf Laya Wa Laya (seven world rings transformation of Erazor Djinn)
- Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity: "Un-Gravitify" - Kenichi Tokoi (music), runblebee (lyrics), and Cashell (vocals)
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl: "Live and Learn" - Crush 40/ "Sonic Boom" - Pastiche/ "Angel Island Theme" (remake) (there were at least 2 more Sonic theme songs in this game)
- Sonic Unleashed: "Endless Possibility" - Bowling For Soup. This theme also serves as the final boss theme (Perfect Dark Gaia) as an orchestral, instrumental theme.
- Sonic and the Black Knight: "Knight of the Wind" - Crush 40. This theme also plays during the credits of the game's first ending.
- Sonic Colors/Colours : "Reach for the Stars" - Cash Cash. This theme also serves as the final boss theme in the Terminal Velocity Zone as an orchestral, instrumental theme. A retro version can also be found when any color power is being activated in Game Land.