Who could forget this nostalgic game? I’m guessing no one, but here are six things I bet you never knew about Sonic the Hedgehog.
6. Sonic wasn’t one person’s brilliant idea.
The artist Naoto Ōshima, programmer Yuji Naka, and designer Hirokazu Yasuhara are the most notably credited.
With his pointed ears, red jumpsuit, and atrociously long sideburns, I’d say SEGA made the right move in looking for a replacement mascot.
5. Sonic wasn’t always a hedgehog.
Several character designs were submitted before a hedgehog was settled on. Some of the other suggestions were an armadillo, a dog, a Theodore Roosevelt look-alike in pajamas – no joke – and a rabbit.
Sonic was nearly a rabbit, as SEGA envisioned that a rabbit could grasp things and fight with prehensile ears. However, it was decided that a character that had to pick up and throw things would slow down the face-paced game. Instead, SEGA focused on a rolling character, and chose a hedgehog over an armadillo, despite concerns that Americans would have no idea what a hedgehog even was.
The “Theodore Roosevelt in pajama’s” character was used later as well, taking the form of Dr. Eggman, otherwise known as Dr. Ivo Robotnik, the main antagonist of the Sonic franchise.
4. Sonic‘s trademark speed is based on Super Mario Bros. World 1-1, sort of.
Sonic creator Yuji Naka stated in issue 260 of Nintendo Power that “I always tried to get through the level [Super Mario Bros. World 1-1] as fast as I could,” which inspired the initial concept for Sonic the Hedgehog.
Yuji Naka was one of the original Mario speed-runners, I suppose. Who would have guessed!
3. Sonic couldn’t swim because of a mistake.
The reason you and I died so many times in those ridiculously hard underwater levels was because Sonic couldn’t swim. The reason he couldn’t swim was simply because of a mistaken assumption by Yuji Naka, who believed hedgehogs could not do so.
I wasted so many lives drowning, all because someone forgot to fact check. (Nostalgically shaking my head.)
2. A big-name Japanese band composed The Sonic soundtrack.
Above is a Dreams Come True 1990 tour poster. The text on the flyer reads: “Kawaii yatsu ni wa, toge ga aru,”. The literal translation is sort of a pun: “for a cute guy, he has spines,” but the Japanese word for spine, toge, can also mean “harsh words.” Source
1. The original concepts put Sonic in a band.
Yup, that’s right. Sonic the Hedgehog was conceptualized as the lead singer for the Sonic the Hedgehog Band, which consisted of Max the Monkey on bass guitar, Mach the Rabbit on drums, Sharps the Chicken on lead guitar, and Vector the Crocodile on keyboard. All members of the band wore Sonic’s iconic power sneakers, and – according to Yuji Naka – the early idea of the “Sound Test” would involve Sonic break-dancing while his band played the music.
Like many other early ideas, all the characters were scrapped before the final release, but several sketches featured in SEGA Megadrive/Genesis Collected Works art book reveal all the band members had roles in the game.
Mach the Rabbit is shown to be imprisoned along with other animals in a capsule, as each of the band members were to be saved in each of the game’s zones. (This would have been a great touch.)
An early idea for the game’s ending involved Sharps the Chicken saving Sonic from falling back to Green Hill Zone after destroying Dr. Eggman‘s escape plane.