As the Sonic the Hedgehog series reaches the ripe old age of 25 years old, we thought we’d take a look at Sega’s iconic blue blur and all his secrets.
The game originally launched for the Sega Mega Drive back in 1991 on June 23 and birthed Sega’s iconic blue mascot. It wowed gamers with its high-speed gameplay, excellent parallax effects and more, marking the start of a videogame series that defined its platform. It’s sadly lost its way of late, but that doesn’t detract from the original series being one of the best in the industry.
Here are 14 facts you might not know about Sonic the Hedgehog.
1. Sonic didn’t actually make his first appearance in a Sonic game
Before the release of the first Sonic the Hedgehog game, the little blue hedgehog was actually seen dangling from a rear-view mirror as an air freshener in Sega’s coin-operated arcade racer Rad Mobile. Everyone’s got to start somewhere, right?
2. Sonic is blue and has trainers due to a lab accident
The story goes that Sonic is blue and moves at supersonic (get it?) speeds, because of a lab accident. He was originally a slower, brown hedgehog, but after the accident he got a lot speedier.
3. But it’s also a marketing decision
Sega also chose to make Sonic blue because it matched the Sega logo. Talk about on brand.
4. He wasn’t always called Sonic
When Sonic the Hedgehog was first in development, he was actually called Mr Needlemouse. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed.
5. His design is based on a mixture of Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat
If you’ve ever wondered why Sonic looks so familiar, a number of pop culture icons were actually used to influence his design. Naoto Ohshima, the original character designer for Sonic, used Felix the Cat’s head and Mickey Mouse’s body for the basic shape of what would become Sega’s mascot character.
His iconic trainers were also based on Michael Jackson’s boots from the ‘Bad’ video.
6. But he was almost a rabbit
Before he took his spiky blue form, Sonic was almost a rabbit called Feel. This rabbit would pick things up with his ears and then attack enemies or just throw them.
However, this was ditched in favour of the super speedy hedgehog, and the design would later be used for another Sega title, Ristar, that features a star with stretching arms.
Of course, the Sonic the Hedgehog series does feature a rabbit called Cream – which, we might add, is an equally grim name. She has special ear abilities that allow her to fly.
7. He can’t swim because Sega didn’t understand hedgehogs
There’s a very silly reason as to why Sonic can’t swim and instead has to walk underwater collecting air bubbles to keep him from drowning. Legendary developer Yuji Naka actually believed that hedgehogs couldn’t swim in real life, but they can. Just look at this little guy go:
8. He really likes eating
In Sonic the Comic #5, Sonic scoffed 200 burgers for breakfast, followed by 300 hot dogs and 100 thick milkshakes for his second breakfast. That’s around a billion times more calories than your average hedgehog consumes, but it set Sonic up to be one of the hungriest video game characters.
9. But he burns off calories by being the fastest video game character
When Sonic the Hedgehog was released in 1991, the titular hero was awarded the gong for fastest-moving video game character ever created.
“Sonic was delivering [the kind of] high speed no other [game] was capable of, and the Mega Drive allowed this stunning demonstration of rotation during the bonus stages. This was said to be impossible on the hardware at the time,” said creator Yuji Naka to Edge back in 2001.
Sonic was actually so fast that the development team had to slow him down for the first Sonic the Hedgehog game because the effect on the Mega Drive was a little too nauseating to be played for long lengths of time.
Although there were sections of gameplay where Sonic moved brain-achingly fast, these were limited to make maximum impact during gameplay.
10. Although he’s technically supposed to move at the speed of light
Sonic is supposed to travel at the speed of light, which is 186,000 mph. But if he actually moved that fast he would distort space-time and his mass would become infinite.
He’s still pretty speedy either way though, especially when the average normal hedgehog’s max speed is 6 mph.
11. Sonic commits suicide if you left the original game idling for too long
But of course, being super fast can make you impatient, which is why Sonic will leap off the screen if you leave the game idling for too long, forcing the game over sign to appear and losing you precious lives.
12. The hedgehog originally had a girlfriend called Madonna
Mario might be the king at (almost) rescuing princesses, but Sonic almost followed the same gameplay route with a girlfriend called Madonna. But she wasn’t like you’d expect. She’s actually a human girlfriend for our perpetually 15-year-old hedgehog…
However, before launch Sega decided Madonna wasn’t quite right for the game’s younger target audience. Probably for the best.
13. Rumour has it that Michael Jackson composed the music for Sonic 3
There is so much evidence that Michael Jackson composed a lot of the music for Sonic 3, but sadly the King of Pop didn’t put his name to the game.
For a start, it’s rumoured that he believed the sound quality wasn’t good enough, but it’s also said that the game arrived at a particularly bad time for Jackson due to molestation scandals and he was forced to distance himself from the game and Sega itself.
14. The SEGA chant on the original game took up 1/8 of disc space
That iconic Sega chant that appeared at the start of Sonic the Hedgehog (and many, many other Sega titles) actually took up an eighth of the game’s disc space – which is more than some entire levels!
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