Thursday, June 23, 2011

Five Facts about Sonic the Hedgehog on his Birthday

June 23, 1991 brought one of my personal favorite characters to gaming, Sonic the Hedgehog.  To celebrate his birthday, here are five facts I dug up about the original 1991 Genesis cart.

1. Naoto Ōshima
Naoto Ōshima came up with the characters for Sonic but also is credited with other titles over the years including Phantasy Star I & II, Fatal Labrynth, Silent Hill 1 & 3, and Yoshi's Island DS.  An impressive resume.

2. The US and Europe gamers got a lesser product
The US and Europe versions of the game lacked graphical content that the Japanese cart had including independently scrolling clouds and water effects.  Couple that with the SuperGrafx only being released there (for some reason I always wanted one) and it is safe to say back in the 80's and 90's the Japanese got the better end of the video game stick.

3. Conceptually, Sonic was a whole different hedgehog
The literal translation for hedgehog in Japanese is Mr. Needlemouse and that was the original name that he was given.  He also was originally brown, couldn't swim, played in a band, had fangs, and had a girlfriend named Madonna because apparently everyone in America would just go gaga for anyone named Madonna.  Happily, all of that changed, thank heavens for market research.

4. Altered Beast was asked to return to the grave
Replacing a poor port of Altered Beast with Sonic was one of the best moves that Sega could have made.  Six months after his birth, in January 1992, Sega took control of the 16-bit console market with 65% of the market share against Nintendo and TurboGrafx (does TurboGrafx even require a mention?)  Sonic would go on to be the Genesis' most sold or shipped title with over 4 million sold of the individual cartridge and 15 million as a pack-in.  Yes, I know that Sonic 2 individually sold more but I count the pack-in because...I am the one writing this.  Also, talk about polar opposites.  Altered Beast was one of the slowest moving games with large, clunky characters who walked at a snail's pace and Sonic is the fastest moving creature in the world.

5. A little bit about the hedgehog himself (and Japanese thoughts on American culture)
Sonic is 15 and never aged.  His favorite food is chili dogs and his favorite beverage is soda.  In pure Poochie fashion, he was made to be a hip teenager who can run faster than the speed of sound and has attitude.  A lot of attitude.  Sonic is, "one outrageous dude."


  1. Nice piece :) I wasn't too thrilled with Altered Beast on Christmas morning. Sonic wasn't out by then but luckily I also had Golden Axe, Revenge of Shinobi, and Thunder Force 2 to keep me occupied! :)

  2. Great post, good sir!

    Sonic was my favorite gaming character for the longest time. I watched both cartoon shows that came out around '93, read the comics religiously from around '93 to '97, and then, once Sega put out Sonic 3D Blast - and started botching the Saturn - I saw what I thought was the beginning of the end for my beloved hedgehog. Sadly, things got much, much worse.