Words by Frances Leones
Graphics by Althea Catipon
June’s a pretty special month. Aside from Pride Month, the official start of the rainy season in the Philippines, and the start of school for most people, June also happens to be the birthday month of one of the most iconic video game characters ever. On June 23, 1991, video game company SEGA introduced us to its speedy blue mascot: Sonic the Hedgehog.
A video game icon for the 90s kids and kids-at-heart, Sonic’s been racing through our gaming screens while foiling the plans of Dr. Robotnik AKA Dr. Eggman for over two decades. And this 2019, the Blue Blur celebrates his 28th anniversary.
If you’re a gamer who wants to learn a little more about this famous ring-collecting blue speedster or if you’re trying to recover from seeing that recent fan “redesign” for the upcoming live-action Sonic film (which has been proven to look nothing like what the film’s designers are currently working on, by the way), we at When in Manila hope you enjoy this collection of timeline graphics—inspired by the iconic Green Hill Zone from the Sonic games—highlighting some of Sonic’s biggest games and appearances along with some added trivia about the Sonic franchise.
Sonic Trivia, Part 1
- Sonic was already being conceptualized in 1990. In April of that year, Sega organized a competition to design the company’s mascot. Naoto Ohshima, Yuji Naka, and Hirokazu Yasuhara would ultimately be the ones with the winning design of a blue hedgehog named “Mr. Needlemouse.” Eventually, that name would be changed to “Sonic the Hedgehog.”
- Archie Comics began publishing the Sonic the Hedgehog comics in 1993. The comics ran for over 20 years with 290 issues, earning a place in the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records for “Longest-Running Comic Series Based on a Video Game.” The comic would eventually be canceled in July 2017. In Archie Sonic the Hedgehog 1, it’s revealed that chili dogs are Sonic’s favorite food.
- Around the same time that The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon premiered, another Sonic cartoon called Sonic the Hedgehog started airing. This second Sonic cartoon – popularly known as “SatAM” due to it being a Saturday morning cartoon – had a more serious tone than Adventures, following Sonic and the Knothole Freedom Fighters from the Archie Comics in their fight against Dr. Robotnik. Jaleel White provided the voice of Sonic in these two cartoons.
- The 1996 Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie was originally split into two episodes and served as an origin story for Sonic’s robotic counterpart, Metal Sonic.
Sonic Trivia, Part 2
- Sonic Underground, the third Sonic cartoon, expanded more on Sonic’s family tree, giving him siblings named Sonia and Manic. In this series, the three siblings embark on a quest to find their mother, Queen Aleena, in order to overthrow Dr. Robotnik and take their places as the rightful rulers of New Mobotropolis. Jaleel White reprised his role as Sonic.
- Shadow’s original name during conceptualization was “Terios,” which translates into “reflection of” – a play on the concept of Shadow being Sonic’s doppelganger.
- Sonic X is a loose anime adaptation of the Sonic Adventure games with added elements. It comprised of two seasons split into eight sagas: New World, Chaos Emerald, Chaos, Shadow, Egg Moon, Emerl, Homebound, and Metarex. Jun’ichi Kanemaru (Sonic’s Japanese voice actor since 1998) voiced Sonic in the Japanese dub while Jason Griffith (Sonic’s English voice actor from 2005 to 2010) provided the character’s voice for the English dub.
Sonic Trivia, Part 3
- Silver the Hedgehog’s original name during his conceptualization was “Venice.”
- In Sonic Unleashed, players are introduced to Sonic’s Werehog form—a mutation caused by the corrupted Chaos Emeralds—that is playable during the game’s nighttime levels. During the daytime, Sonic reverts back to normal.
- The Sonic Storybook series are games that transport Sonic into worlds based on famous storybooks. Sonic and the Secret Rings is based on the “Arabian Nights” while Sonic and the Black Knight is set in “The Legend of King Arthur.”
- In 2010, Roger Craig Smith replaces Jason Griffith as Sonic’s English voice actor.
Sonic Trivia, Part 4
- Sonic Generations, released in 2011, allows you to play as both Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic in 2D and 3D levels spanning different locations from all the Sonic games in the past 20 years.
- Sonic Boom is the latest Sonic cartoon series, known for its comedic humor and breaking the fourth wall on multiple occasions. Shortly after the show’s premiere, two games—Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric —were released.
- In 2015, the official Sonic Twitter started doing the “Sonic Twitter Takeover” – where fans can tweet questions to Sonic’s Twitter page and receive answers from Sonic (voiced by Roger Craig Smith) and Eggman (voiced by Mike Pollock). Eventually, Shadow (voiced by Kirk Thornton) joined the Twitter Takeover in 2017. You can watch the latest Sonic Twitter Takeover here.
Sonic Trivia, Part 5
- Sonic Mania is a throwback to Sonic’s original 2D side-scrolling platformer gameplay days and was released in 2017. A year later, 7 short animated specials were released on the official Sonic YouTube channel.
- Ben Schwartz, known as the voice of Dewey Duck in the 2017 reboot of Ducktales, lends his voice to Sonic in the upcoming live-action film. Jim Carrey, known for his roles in the 2004 film adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events and Mr. Popper’s Penguins among others, plays Dr. Eggman.
- Prior to the release of Team Sonic Racing on May 21, a two-part special of animated shorts, Team Sonic Racing Overdrive, was released to promote the game.
And this is just a small portion of Sonic’s history throughout the gaming world and popular culture. There are tons of other games where the Blue Blur has made an appearance, and I’m sure that he’ll be having more in the future.
Happy 28th Anniversary, Sonic! Gotta Go Fast!
What do you think? What’s your favorite Sonic game? Let us know in the comments!