Gaming

25 things you didn’t know about Sonic the Hedgehog

There was an undisputed king of platformers back in 1990. 

Following on from the success of Super Mario Bros. and its sequels, Super Mario World had made the SNES the only console kids cared about. The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive needed a hero, a saviour who could take on Nintendo's plumbers and make the brand cool again.

That job fell to an unlikely figure - a blue hedgehog by the name of Sonic. A really, really fast hedgehog. The speed of the game blew every other platformer out of the water, with levels flying by at never before seen speeds.

In its release year of 1991, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive outsold the SNES by two-to-one over the crucial Christmas period, thanks largely due to this blue blur. 

Today, to mark the 25th of Sonic the Hedgehog, we've teamed up with AO.com to bring you 20 facts you might not know about the coolest video game mascot ever (no offence, Mario).

  • 25 things you didn't know about Sonic the Hedgehog

    1.

    The only reason Sonic can't swim is because one of the game's original programmers, Yuji Naka, wrongly assumed hedgehogs lacked any aquatic capabilities. As this video proves, they're actually quite capable in the water. 

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    2.

    Yuji Naka has also said that Sonic needs at least eight hours of sleep or else his ability to run will be affected. We hear ya, Sonic.

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    3.

    In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, everybody's favourite speedster will commit suicide if you leave him alone long enough, jumping off the stage into almost certain oblivion. Dark.

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    4.

    Sonic’s iconic blue hue stems from Sega wanting their new mascot to be the same colour as its logo. Makes sense to us.

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    5.

    All the way back in 1993, Sonic became the first video game character to have a balloon at New York’s world famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. In your face, Mario.

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    6.

    Before being named Sonic, Sega used the internal codename "Mr. Needlemouse" to identify the character. Fortunately, that quite literal take on the hedgehog's appearance didn't stick. 

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    7.

    Sega was initially worried that no one in the US would know what a hedgehog was, causing the game to flop overseas. Mercifully, they were wrong.

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    8.

    In 1990, Sega set out to design a new mascot that could compete with Nintendo’s world-famous plumber, Mario. Its then major character Alex Kidd hadn't had the required impact, and a change of pace was needed. Thus, Sonic was born.

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    9.

    Sonic was picked as the new face of Sega after it ran an in-house design competition to see who could come up with the most likeable mascot. Naoto Onshima won the contest with his now globally recognised spiky blue hedgehog. 

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    10.

    Despite those competitive origins, in 2013 Sega agreed a deal with Nintendo to produce three Sonic titles exclusively for the company's console roster. Talk about a change of heart. 

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    11.

    The classic "SE-GA!" intro sound took up one eighth of the original game’s cartridge space, meaning a single four second sound needed more storage space than entire levels. 

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    12.

    Although it’s never been explicitly confirmed by Sega, anonymous sources have reported that Michael Jackson - yes, the king of pop himself - worked on the soundtrack to Sonic the Hedgehog 3. 

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    13.

    Sonic’s first ever appearance in a video game was as… an air freshener. No, we’re not kidding, the hedgehog made his game debut dangling from a car mirror in Sega's 1991 arcade racer, Arcade Rad Mobile

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    14.

    Sonic’s nemesis, Dr. Robotnick - or Eggman, if you're picky - was almost the star of the show, before Sega repurposed the character’s original design to turn him into a villain. 

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    15.

    Sonic has shown up in a number of cartoons, TV shows, and comics, but perhaps his strangest appearance happens in the Sonic Underground animated series, which depicted the blue hedgehog as the lead singer of his own band. 

    Weirder still, that version of Sonic wore a medallion that could transform into a laser-shooting guitar. It’s safe to say that never turned up in the games - but apparently an early back story for the concept of Sonic saw him lead a rock band of other animals. We don't understand either...

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    16.

    Designer Naoto Ohshima has admitted that his drawings of Sonic were inspired by combining he head of Felix the Cat with the body of Mickey Mouse. Which sounds deeply creepy. 

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    17.

    Despite the fact this year marks Sonic's 25th Anniversary, the hedgehog himself is only 15 years old. We guess that means he hasn’t aged since 1991?  

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    18.

    Running is the name of Sonic’s game, but just how quickly can he move? It depends who you ask, but it's generally accepted that he can run as fast as, if not faster, than the speed of sound. 

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    19.

    Originally Sonic was supposed to have visible fangs and a human girlfriend named Madonna, but Sega decided to "soften up" the character for American audiences by removing those features.

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    20.

    Since 1991 Sonic has appeared in over 50 games, and will appear next in Lego form alongside the likes of Golem, Batman, Harry Potter, and Dr. Who in Lego Dimensions.

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    21.

    You probably know this happy little fox as "Tails" - but did you know his full name?

    Miles "Tails" Prower.

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    22.

    Sonic is a hedgehog, Tails is a fox and Knuckles? He's an echidna - an egg-laying mammal from the Americas. Spiny, like a hedgehog, it has a powerful set of claws for digging. But no, it can't glide. 

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    23.

    According to Sonic the Comic, Sonic's colour and super speed are the result of a lab accident. Don't tell PETA.

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    24.

    The mascot that almost was: while looking for a new mascot, one idea tabled by the Sega team was 'Feel the Rabbit'. Everyone is glad it didn't happen.

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    25.

    The Sonic legacy isn't over yet - the Sonic Team made this announcement (roughly translated) on 22 June:

    "We at Sonic Team – are developing a completely new game, as well as developing a full movie, actively done by Sony Pictures, and animation on Sonic Boom. We are also ready to improve sponsor ties. The most important thing is not the fact the series survived for 25 years, but how many games was developed. Our goal – add something new and overcome any potential hardships."

    Fingers crossed...