SEGA

SEGA






(You know this is one of the first things you hear when you think about this game, so I had to include it!)

  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 Nakaand designer Hirokazu Yasuhara are the most notably credited.


  SEGA requested the creation of a new character in April of 1990. They wanted… no… needed… a new character and game capable of selling more than 1,000,000 copies; for a character who could compete against Nintendo‘s Super Mario… and a character to replace Alex Kidd as the company’s mascot.


Which wasn’t a bad idea, because this was Alex Kidd.


  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 idea to grasp and throw was later adapted into a game called Ristar (Ristar the Shooting Star in Japan).


  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.


  The game’s soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura of the band Dreams Come True. Sega sponsored the band’s “Wonder 3” tour, and painted Sonic on the side of their tour bus. Sega also distributed pamphlets advertising the game, and had footage of the game broadcast above stage before its release.


  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.


  All members of the band were scrapped due the time constraints of programming. Yuji Naka stated that they were also removed in favor of the iconic “SEGA” chant used in Japanese TV commercials.

Extra Fact: Remember that single iconic SEGA intro I showed you at the beginning of this read? Well it took up 1/8 of the game cartridge’s 4-megabit ROM. An eighth of the stored memory on that old game cartridge is just the intro. Damn.



  Years after the game’s release, one of the original members of the Sonic the Hedgehog Band made a comeback. Vector the Crocodile is the only member of the band so far whose made it into a game, when he was officially introduced in Knuckles’ Chaotix.



 With Father’s Day just passed, I thought of this game for two reasons: I remember playing this game with my Dad, and I play it with my son today. It’s funny how much you can still learn about something you thought you already knew. So, if you enjoyed this read make sure to stop back and find out what else you could learn – or reminisce – about in Nothing Normal Here’s Haphazard!

Happy belated Father’s Day!


N.

N.


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