Sonic is a blue hedgehog, my big brother, and the main protagonist of the series who has the ability to run at supersonic speeds and the ability to curl into a ball, primarily to attack enemies. Throughout the course of the video games, Sonic most commonly has to race through levels, collect power up rings and survive against a host of natural obstacles and minions to achieve his goal. While many individuals at Sega had a hand in Sonic's creation, programmer Yuji Naka and artist Naoto Ohshima are generally credited with the creation of the character.
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 selling 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.
Origins and History
While Sega was seeking a flagship series to compete with Nintendo's Mario series with a character to replace Alex Kidd as the company's mascot, several character designs were submitted by its Sega AM8 research and development department. Many results came forth from their experiments with character design, including an armadillo (who was 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 extendable ears to collect objects, an aspect later incorporated in Ristar).
Eventually, Naoto Ohshima'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 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.
The origins of Sonic can be traced farther back to a tech demo created by Yuji Naka, who had developed an algorithm that allowed a sprite to move smoothly on a curve by determining its position with a dot matrix. Naka's original prototype was a platform game that involved a fast-moving character rolling in a ball through a long winding tube, and this concept was subsequently fleshed out with Oshima's character design and levels conceived by designer Hirokazu Yasuhara.
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 first Sonic the Hedgehog game, and renamed themselves Sonic Team. The game's soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura of the band Dreams 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. Sonic's proportions would change for the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Mega Drive; Sonic's head to height ratio was changed from 1:2 to 1:2.5. For the 1998 release of Sonic Adventure, 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. For the 2006 game, Sonic was redesigned to make him look adult-like and taller to appeal to the next generation players.This was also done because Sonic would interact with humans more often and his design was supposed to fit. An alternative "Werehog" form was introduced in Sonic Unleashed, placing more emphasis on Sonic's melee skills rather than speed. Although Tetsu Katano acknoweldged the large negative fan response to the Werehog, he believes it could return in a future game.
Different actors have provided Sonic's voice in his game appearances. Sonic originally had a few voice samples in Sonic CD, with Keiko Utoku providing the voice. Sonic's first true voice actor was Takeshi Kusao for the arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog, with Junichi Kanemaru continually voicing the role beginning with the release of Sonic Adventure. In Sonic Unleashed, Sonic was voiced by Tomokazu Seki while 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 Griffith, who previously voiced the character in the American dub of Sonic X. Griffith was later replaced by Roger 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.
Now he currently has Roger Craig Smith doing his English voice for Sonic in Sonic Boom, the Sonic Boom television series, Sonic Colors, Sonic and the Lost World, and Sonic Free Riders.
Sonic Video Game SeriesSonic's first appearance in video games was in the 1991 arcade racing game Rad Mobile, as an air freshener in one of the cars. 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 robotic doppelgänger 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, who is tricked by Robotnik into thinking Sonic is a threat. Sonic 4 (2010-2012) continues where the story of Sonic 3 left off, reducing Sonic to the only playable character and releasing in episodic installments. 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), all in which were released for handheld consoles.
Sonic Adventure (1998) 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 foe named Chaos, under the control of Dr. Robotnik (now 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 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. 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, going through stages from past games to save their friends. Sonic Generations features various theme songs including modern and retro versions that are able to be selected from throughout Sonic's twenty-year history. In April 2013, Sega announced that Sonic Lost World would launch in October 2013 for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.
Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007) features Sonic in the storybook world of One Thousand and One 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 gamesSonic 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 theSonic series, although Sonic himself cameos in most of these titles.