SONIC THE HEDGEHOG SERIES: An Overview

For almost 30 years, gamers from all over the world are so familiar with the blue super-speed hedgehog in many of their memories. The world-famous franchise was created and published by SEGA – one of the biggest game companies with many great titles to the gaming communities, and Sonic The Hedgehog is undoubtedly one of their biggest achievements until now.

Sonic The Hedgehog has influenced many other media platforms, including comics, anime, cartoons, etc. But this article will only focus on its gaming aspect. Hence, here is all you need to know about this video game franchise.

1. History

Though many people are involved in the process of creating Sonic The Hedgehog, it is Naoto Ohshima, Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara who’re known as the creators of the franchise.

The first game, Sonic The Hedgehog (1991), was developed and published by SEGA for their popular console platform, then the SEGA Genesis. The fresh gameplay, featuring an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog sprinting at the speed of sonic, jumping and kicking everything stand in its path, collecting as many rings as possible to gain awesome bonuses, has really made kids from all over the world going crazy.

Following this very first success, SEGA released their second game Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992), which was enhanced in both gameplay and speed. It took no time to become popular and later was awarded SEGA’s second best-selling game on the Genesis platform.

sonic the hedgehog green hill zone 1

Sonic The Hedgehog 3 came in two years later with new features that change the series forever. For the first time, players can play the game along with their friends using the new playable character – Tails. Moreover, “insta-shield” – a new skill was added, allows players to create temporary shields which are able to immune to anything while Sonic is in the air. But of course, you have to be really good at playing in order to use it. Most dedicated fans love this skill.

It was not until later in that year when SEGA decided to add Knuckles – the additional antagonist in Sonic The Hedgehog 3 as a playable character. Sonic & Knuckles was released in the late 1994 and soon received positive signs from the players. The new gliding and wall climbing skills from Knuckles have really added up to the gameplay. Moreover, players are able to connect the game with Sonic The Hedgehog 3, thus being able to experience the full gameplay.

Along with the traditional gameplay, SEGA has also introduced several Sonic games on the Genesis platform. Sonic Pinball, a pinball simulation game featuring both Spring Yard and Casino Night Zones gameplay, was released in 1993 along with Sonic 3D Blast.

After the SEGA Genesis, the Saturn platform didn’t prove to be a success for both SEGA and Sonic as there aren’t many new games being released. As a result, Sonic 3D Blast was released in 1996 along with the Genesis version. It came with additional FMV cutscenes and a more advanced 2.5D graphics. Other than that, there isn’t any significant change or good Sonic game on the SEGA Saturn.

Sonic Adventure, arriving on the SEGA Dreamcast in 1998, comes with serious gameplay and various graphical improvements, which makes the game a really popular one on the Dreamcast. It was even received re-releases on the GameCube, Gameboy Advance, PC, Xbox, and even PlayStation platforms. But that alone doesn’t save the dying SEGA Dreamcast, and Sonic Adventure 2 was the last game being released on the system as well as on any SEGA platform.

sonic the hedgehog 1991

With the withdrawal of SEGA from the gaming platform market, the later Sonic The Hedgehog games were released on other non-SEGA platforms. For the first few years, SEGA only focused on making remakes of their previous games. It was not until 2004 that Sonic Adventure 3 arrived on the Gameboy Advance platform. Following that was Sonic The Hedgehog Genesis, which features an additional 15-anniversary mode along with the main gameplay.

Not many significant changes were made until the Nintendo DS made it release. As a result, Sonic Rush Adventure (released in 2007) comes with some cool new elements, such as the driving of vehicles like jet skis or submarines. Sonic fans witnessed the first combination between Sonic and Mario in Nintendo’s first Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, which was released on both the DS and Wii. In the sequel, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games was released on 2009. The next few years witnessed SEGA putting their Sonic series in various experimental directions, but not many of them were as successful as expected.

SEGA continues their cooperation with Nintendo by partnering up with them in their later Sonic games, which were released exclusively on the 3DS and Wii platform. The trio is Sonic Lost World, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Sonic has also made a few crossovers in other games, such as a playable Lego character in Lego Dimensions, and a fighter in Super Smash Bros from Bandai Namco, but none of those could bring back the good old Sonic.

It was not only until the recent time that Sonic fans are receiving a few positive signs from their beloved title as Sonic Mania (released in 2017) received many critical acclaims as a great return of the original Sonic. Not long after that, Sonic Forces arrived with many new features and customizable characters. The two are expected to bring the series back to its glory days, but that is still to be considered.

sonic mania

2. Main Characters

  • Sonic The Hedgehog – The blue anthropomorphic hedgehog we’re all familiar with. His greatest ability is the super “sonic” speed, and he is known as the world’s fastest hedgehog. By collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds, Sonic can even achieve greater speed and power.
  • Doctor Eggman – He is the main antagonist in the Sonic The Hedgehog series. The mad scientist’s goal is to conquer the world and turn all animals in the land into his robots.
  • Miles Prower – This two-tailed fox is Sonic’s best friend who has been with him since their first adventure. His unique power is to swing his tails at speed fast enough to make him able to fly.
  • Amy Rose – She is Sonic’s proclaimed girlfriend whose first appearance was in Sonic CD, but she was not a playable character until Sonic Drift. Despite having no special skills or abilities, her “Piko Piko Hammer” is feared by many.
  • Metal Sonic – Created by doctor Eggman with the sole purpose is to defeat Sonic. But that doesn’t seem to work either.
  • Knuckles The Echidna – Being the last of his kind, Knuckles’ duty is to guard the Master Emerald. He is considered one of the most powerful characters in the series with his martial art skills. Knuckles is also Sonic’s best frenemy.
  • Fang The Sniper – This wolf/weasel hybrid character isn’t entirely good nor bad. He is just a man of business and will use his mischievous skills to gain benefits. But that doesn’t happen very often as he is quite naive.
  • Big The Cat – As you could’ve guessed from his name, Big The Cat is, an obese, dull and useless cat who doesn’t seem to fit in this game. In fact, he even makes his appearance in the list of the worst video game characters. Despite that, he is still loved by many thanks to his cuteness and a good heart.
  • Tikal The Echidna – She is a cute echidna, daughter of Chief Pachacamac, Knuckles The Echidna’s ancestor, who story set in thousands of years before the main events.
  • Shadow The Hedgehog – It is an artificial life form created by Professor Gerald Robotnik (Dr. Eggman’s grandfather). His extreme speed makes him the only one who can match Sonic.
  • Rough The Bat – She is a cute-looking bat girl who makes her first appearance in Sonic Adventure 2 in 2001. She only cares for profit and would care a little for good or evil causes.

There are many more interesting characters in the series, but the above is pretty much all the main ones that you should know.

3. Common Concepts in Sonic The Hedgehog

The Rings

sonic the rings

These collectible golden rings are an iconic feature on all Sonic series to help spread through all levels of skills. In Sonic The Hedgehog, you must sustain at least one ring in order to survive an enemy blow. After being attacked, instead of losing health like other games, you will simply drop a few rings. Depending on your opponents, the numbers of rings will be different. And when the rings are dropped, you can recollect them in a short amount of time before they disappear.

But don’t think that holding these will keep you alive no matter what happens to you. In fact, damages caused by curses, drowning, falling into the abyss, will usually result in death. On the other hand, if your character can collect up to 100 rings, you will often receive a bonus life.

In a few Sonic games, rings are used as currency in the shop. And there is also the Giant Rings, which are hidden portal designed for you to jump through. Once you’ve crossed it, you’ll be transported to a hidden level which might reward you a Chao Emerald or a lump sum of rings

Chaos Emeralds

They consist of seven powerful emeralds which come with mystical abilities. Using the Chaos Control, these emeralds can grant people the powers to alter time and space, messing with other’s thoughts, or provide energy enough for countless nuclear blasts. Hence, players are often required to collect the emeralds to defeat Dr. Eggman.

As if the power of the Chaos Emeralds weren’t enough, another type was discovered, and it is the Master Emerald. Guarded by Knuckles the Echidna, the emerald is said to have the power to control all the Chaos Emeralds. It’s also the power source that keeps the Angel Island floating in the sky.

Super Transformation

super transformation sonic the hedgehog
Super Transformation. Image from Sonic Wiki.

As you could’ve imaged, this is a special state of characters which, once they’re in, will grant them a near-invincible speed and power, not to mention some flashy color transformations. But it is worth to keep in mind that you’ll still be vulnerable if you are falling down a pit, being crushed, or drowned. Depending on the games, the condition to obtain this form is varied; you must contact all the Chaos Emeralds or the Master Emerald.

The ability first appeared in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and turned Sonic into an unstoppable high-speed tank once you’re in control of the Chaos Emeralds. But don’t think that it would last forever as Sonic will lose a ring after each second, and once he lost it all, he’ll return to his normal form.

Other characters including Tails, Knuckles, Metal Sonic, Shadow, Blaze, and Silver can transform into their hyper form, which significantly enhances their abilities.

4. 5 Fun Facts about Sonic The Hedgehog

Sonic The Rabbit

In the beginning, SEGA’s main goal was to create a character that would be able to compete Nintendo’s Mario, in both appearances and in game. In their early drafts, Sonic was portrayed as a weird-looking rabbit that could use his two huge ears to grasp items and fight enemies.

The design was good until SEGA recognized that it would be difficult to create such a character at that time, not to mention that the character’s playing style will also reduce the fast pace of the game. So, a rolling animal was considered instead, and what could be better than a hedgehog?

Mr. Needlemouse

Once SEGA is through with the design, it’s the naming process which really tantalized them. They’re even going to name the character Mr. Needlemouse, can you imagine that? But fortunately, the name Sonic The Hedgehog came out and was immediately accepted by the creators.

Fastest-Moving Video Game Character

Did you know that Sonic The Hedgehog was the fastest-moving video game character at the time the game was first released? Quite surprised, huh? It was the never-before-seen fast-paced gameplay and the suitable designs of the characters that make this game so popular at that time.

The Sneaker Grants Sonic’s Ultimate Speed

Though he is known as the fastest hedgehog in the world, it’s not known by many that his power mostly comes from the pair of sneakers that he wears. It’s just like Hermes’s Talaria, which granted him unmatched speed among the Greek Gods.

Influenced by Many Different Pop Culture Icons

The creators of Sonic The Hedgehog have borrowed the design from Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, and even Michael Jackson footwear in their creation of Sonic. You could easily notice the head is from Felix The Cat, the body is from Mickey The Mouse, and the famous lightning sneakers slightly resemble Michael Jackson’s boots from his famous album – Bad.

5. Some of the Best Games in the Series

Here are some of the best Sonic games that you should definitely spend your time to experience:

Sonic The Hedgehog (Game Gear/Master System)

If you’ve played through all 2D Sonic games on the Genesis, it’s time to try out these 8-bit versions of the series which were released on the Game Gear and Master System. Despite sharing some relating cosmetic elements, these games are completely different and feature entirely different adventures.

Sonic The Hedgehog (Genesis)

It’s the game that starts it all. It is also where an iconic character was born and become one of the most influential video game heroes. If you’re already a Sonic fan since the beginning, you would probably have played Sonic The Hedgehog (Genesis) several times and are familiar with every aspect of the game. For others, it would be a waste not to have this game on your gaming inventory, especially when you can easily play this game on any device using a simple emulator app.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

sonic the hedgehog and knuckles

Back in the old days, there isn’t anything called DLC since the publisher must release a single standalone cartridge for any game they introduce. Sonic 3 & Knuckles does not only feature the main Sonic game but also a “DLC” where you can play as Knuckles the Echidna in his own adventure. Not to mention that the ability to switching between Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails makes this game super exciting at that time.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Probably the best Sonic games of all time where SEGA had done a great job improving their already-great Sonic gameplay from the first version. The game also become a solid standard for any Genesis player’s game collections due to its awesome gameplay and popularity. The elements introduced in this game will later lay a foundation for the future Sonic games that we see today.

Thank you for reading. Hope you like our video game discovery about the Sonic The Hedgehog series. See you in our future posts.

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