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Sonic The Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler’s top 5 video games

EXCLUSIVE: Retro game movie director digs into his gaming past.

Sonic The Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler’s top 5 video games
14 February 2020

Blink and you might miss him - but there’s a super speedy blue hedgehog racing into cinemas this week. It may be one of the most iconic pop culture series of all time, but now for the first time ever, Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog has been adapted into its first ever live-action feature film.

Director Jeff Fowler takes the helm of the video game adaptation in his feature directorial debut, with Jim Carrey giving classic, Ace Ventura-grade Jim Carrey as the bonkers evil genius Dr. Robotnik, James Marsden as Sonic’s human pal Tom, and Ben Schwartz as the voice of animated hero Sonic. It’s a CGI animation and live-action hybrid, in the vein of last year’s ‘Detective Pikachu’, and it’s loud, mad and action-packed. Basically, you can bet your gold rings that kids are going to love it.

Fowler has always been a big Sonic fan, he tells Shortlist, “Oh yeah, I would not have been comfortable dedicating three years of my life to making this movie if I wasn't a huge Sonic fan!”

“I love video games; I play everything that I can get my hands on,” Fowler adds. Naturally, he’s been playing Sonic recently, too: “Recently, I’ve been playing ‘Sonic Mania’, which is the remastered version of the original game, which came out a couple of years ago. It’s beautiful and it all in HD, with that 16-bit look and some new levels. The graphics are amazing and it’s a really fun game.”

Here, Fowler reveals his five favourite ever video games to Shortlist. You never know, maybe we’ll see movie adaptations of these other games from him in the future…

1. Sonic The Hedgehog

(Sega Genesis, 1991)

Sonic The Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler’s top 5 video games


“In 1991, along came this little blue guy and it was such a fun game, and just made such an impression when I was 13 or so. I think that's why he's such a beloved character almost 30 years later. Actually, ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ was the last game I played: Sega sent me their little Sega Genesis Mini that they released recently. It’s got thirty pre-loaded games on it, but I was like, ‘Well the first thing I’ve gotta do is play Sonic The Hedgehog!’

"It's still incredibly hard. The nice thing about the Genesis Mini though is that you can save your game along the way to back up your progress - so I was saving about every 12 seconds. I was very, very careful about going through it. I mean, the irony of the Sonic The Hedgehog games is they're built for speed but the faster you go, the more likely you are to you fall to your death. It’s the caution, mixed with the thrill of going really fast.”

>> Vote for the best reto game console

2. Sonic The Hedgehog 2

(Sega Genesis, 1992)

Sonic The Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler’s top 5 video games


“Obviously the original game is what kicked the entire series off. But the best thing about the second Sonic game is that you could play with a friend! It introduced Tails, and you could both play. And it was always down to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who got to be Sonic and who was Tails. Tails was a lot of fun but everybody really wants to be Sonic.”

3. Golden Axe

(Sega System 16, 1989)

Sonic The Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler’s top 5 video games


“There's another Sega title, called ‘Golden Axe’ which was one of my favourites. It was a big arcade cabinet, and it was a side-scrolling, fantasy game. Almost like ‘Lord of the Rings’, with all these knights, and battles, and stuff. I definitely enjoyed that as a kid.”

4. The Legend Of Zelda

(NES, 1986)

Sonic The Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler’s top 5 video games


“I really liked ‘The Legend Of Zelda’. I know that is sacrilege, because it's a Nintendo title, and Sonic is from Sega. But it’s another that I played all the time as a kid. In fact, my sister even played that one too. We would have to take turns.

"Even just that original little gold cartridge that ‘The Legend Of Zelda’ came on: it was a gold cartridge. How cool is that? I haven’t had time to play ‘Breath Of The Wild’ on the Nintendo Switch yet, even though it’s won Game Of The Year awards and other things - it’s certainly huge. When you’re working on a film, it is literally an all-consuming, 24-hour job. There’s so much I feel like I need to catch up on. It’s on my queue of stuff to catch up with playing and watching.”

  • Check out more of the best NES games of all time, and vote for your favourite

5. Red Dead Redemption 2

(PS4, Xbox One, PC, 2018)

Sonic The Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler’s top 5 video games


“The last game I remember spending a ridiculous amount of time with was ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’. I just really enjoyed riding around on my horse and upgrading all my stuff. I really loved that. But that was also before I got really busy with ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’. My Red Dead Redemption game had to all get put on hold. Hopefully I can get back to it now!”