10 things you might not know about SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

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Geek Dave runs through the Green Hill Zone to bring you 10 things you might not know about Sonic The Hedgehog.


1. In 1990 Sega ordered its in-house development studio, AM8, to develop a game featuring a mascot for the company. Sega president Hayao Nakayama wanted a character as iconic as Mickey Mouse which could rival Nintendo's mascot, Mario. Sega tried out several different designs before deciding upon Sonic, one of them was an old man with an orange brown mustache, who was wearing pajamas - almost Mario-esque...


...look a little familiar to you? He should do. After Sonic was eventually chosen, SEGA decided to rework the old man design, and he went from potential mascot to main antagonist...


...It's kind of apt if you think about it. For many years Sega and Nintendo were console rivals, with new Sonic and Mario titles competing with each other. The original Dr. Robotnik/Eggman was designed to compete with (and he does look similar to) Mario, and so it can almost be said that Sonic has actually been battling 'Mario' in his own games since he first appeared in 1991.

2. Amongst the other ideas mascot SEGA looked at before choosing Sonic the Hedgehog was a character named Feel the Rabbit....


...Feel used his/her ears to pick things up and throw them. Again, not wanting to throw the concept away completely the coding design became the blueprint for Ristar, another SEGA game released in 1995, and the idea of a rabbit which used its ears for special abilities would later be revisited in the Cream the Rabbit, who used her ears to fly.


3. When SEGA decided upon a hedgehog as its mascot, AM8 set to work on the game. Originally the character was referred to as Mr. Needlemouse, and the game's development went under the title Project Needlemouse (a code reused for the development of Sonic 4). But the 15-member AM8 team didn't like the name and so during development changed it to Sonic, and re-branded their studios to Sonic Team.


4. The original concept of the first game was for Sonic to be trying to save his girlfriend from Dr. Eggman, instead of the little forest critters he rescues. At this stage Sonic's girlfriend was called Madonna...


...A hot blonde girl in a red dress who dates a hedgehog? Yeah, even SEGA thought that was inappropriate for younger gamers, so they nixed the idea completely.

5. As was common with many video games of the time, elements were borrowed from other titles. You may be surprised to learn that Sonic's iconic skidding noise was actually first used in Outrun!

6. Talking of racing games. Although the first Sonic The Hedgehog game was released on June 21st 1991 in Europe and Norther America (surprisingly it arrived over a month later in Japan, on July 26th), Sonic had already made his in-game debut earlier that year...


...yep, the hedgehog can be seen as a novelty air-freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror in the arcade game Rad Mobile, released April 26th 1991.

7. Many Sega games included a Sound Test section, and Sonic was set to be no exception to this. However, the development of the game was taking too long and so it was cut to save time. This lead to a space becoming available on the cartridge, and not wanting to waste the iconic SEGA splash screen chant was created...



...Go on, listen to it again. 3, maybe 4 seconds long. Would you believe that took up one eighth of the whole available space on the cartridge, which was actually more than some whole levels!

8. Back at the top of the page I referred to Eggman as Dr. Robotnik. That was the name he went by in the European and North American releases but in the Japanese release he was given the name Eggman, as he was always intended to be called. Some years later during Sonic Adventure, there is a scene where Sonic calls Dr. Robotnik “Eggman” to make fun of him. This was incorporated because SEGA wanted to ret-con their initial decision and have him known as Eggman the world over.


9. Fun fact about hedgehogs - they can swim! Something the Sonic Team did not know about during development. So if you drowned in the Labyrinth Zone, blame that on some bad research by the programmers...



...mind you, Hedgehogs also don't run on two legs, so...!

10. Michael Jackson was originally hired by SEGA to write the in-game music for Sonic The Hedgehog III - no, really. Really, really!


He did it too. But just prior to the games release the controversies about his personal life hit the press and SEGA decided to remove all his music from the game.

Or did they?

They certainly didn't credit him but it may have been way too late to compose an entirely new score. For years many gamers claimed to have noticed similarities between Michael Jackson's music and that featured in Sonic The Hedgehog III, as the video below explains...



...After his death Brad Buxer, who composed Black Or White with Michael Jackson confirmed his involvement with the game, but revealed the reason he wasn't credited was nothing to do with any controversy...
“And if he is not credited for composing the music, it's because he was not happy with the result sound coming out of the console,” Buxer continues. “At the time, game consoles did not allow an optimal sound reproduction, and Michael found it frustrating. He did not want to be associated with a product that devalued his music... “

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