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Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Sonikku za Hejjihoggu) is the main protagonist of SEGA's flagship franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. Created in 1991 as a new mascot to replace the previously unsuccessful Alex Kidd, and to competently compete against SEGA's rival Nintendo, Sonic gained enough popularity to become a mascot and earn notoriety in the hands of Sega.
This speedy Sam (sonic) has appeared in a number of video games released by Sega, as well as numerous spin-off comics, cartoons, books. Debuting on June 23, 1991 (also Sonic's birthday), SEGA released the first game in the series, Sonic the Hedgehog, since then having sold over 80 million copies across all games by 2011.
Artist Naoto Ohshima, designer Hirokazu Yasuhara and programmer Yuji Naka are generally credited with the creation of the character.
There have been several animated television series featuring Sonic. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was the first and featured Sonic, voiced by Jaleel White, and Robotnik, voiced by Long John Baldry. It had a very comical take on Sonic and Tails's adventures and battles against Robotnik. SatAM (A colloquial name for a cartoon simply titled "Sonic the Hedgehog"), originally broadcast on Saturdays on ABC, was broadcast concurrently with the syndicated Adventures series in the United States. Sonic was voiced by Jaleel White, and Robotnik was voiced by Jim Cummings. The Archie comics were based heavily on this series's continuity; both SatAM and the comics are far darker and more brooding than Adventures. It ignored the game series and was instead set in the 33rd century. Sonic belonged to a team of "Freedom Fighters" trying to free their planet from Robotnik, who had already conquered the world and ruled as a psychopathic tyrant. Sonic Underground, a combined Franco-American-British production, ignored the continuity of the previous series and introduced two siblings and Sonic's mother, additionally putting a heavy emphasis on music both in the lore and in the episodal structure. The plotline of Robotnik already being in power and Sonic being tasked with toppling his rule is retained, however. White returned to voice Sonic, with Samuel Vincent providing his singing voice, while Robotnik was voiced by Gary Chalk.
Additionally, there was an anime OVA in Japan which featured Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Eggman, and Metal Sonic among others, based on Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. Sonic was voiced by Masami Kikuchi in Japan, and Martin Burke in the United States where the OVA was marketed as Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. Another anime production, called Sonic X, involves a massive Chaos Control blast that results in Sonic and his friends being transported from his world to Earth (however, Season 3 mainly takes place in Sonic's own world). Like the other television series, it has an original storyline not present in any of the games, although it can be viewed as an elaboration upon the Sonic Adventure games' expanded universe. Music from the games is used during select key moments in the series, and several animation sequences strongly resemble cut-scenes from the console titles. In addition, the characters' designs are based upon the more recent Sonic games' character designs. Sonic is voiced by Jun'ichi Kanemaru in the Japanese version, and by Jason Griffith in the English version.
Books and Comics
Sonic's first comic appearance was in a promotional comic printed in Disney Adventures magazine, which established an origin for Sonic involving the transformation of kindly scientist Dr. Ovi Kintobor into the evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik.
The American comics published by Archie Comics are largely based on the settings established by the ABC SatAM cartoon. Following the Super Genesis Wave, the Archie Comics came more in line with the main games and remained so until their cancellation, after which they were superseded by the IDW comic series. In the United Kingdom, Fleetway produced Sonic the Comic, which strayed heavily from previous Sonic canons. One of its most famous and drastic changes was the relegation of Super Sonic to a psychopathic alter-ego of Sonic. The printed version of Sonic the Comic was discontinued in 2002, but many of the staff have continued the series online as Sonic the Comic Online. An unofficial continuation of the Archie Comics continuity is also known to exist.
In Japan, Sonic manga have been published by various companies. One particularly notable publication is the one by Shogakukan. In this series, Sonic is an alter-ego / transformation of the much younger Nicky (In a way curiously similar to how Sonic the Comic handles Super Sonic, albeit without the vile change of personality), who is also a hedgehog. Both are unaware of the other's existence and have no memories of each other.
Sonic comics and books have also been published by Sirène (Sonic Adventures), Troll Associates, Virgin Books, Ladybird and Fantail. Sonic comics were also present in the British newspaper News of the World, and a promotional comic was produced by SEGA of America itself in 1991.
Cameos and popularity
Sonic has proven to be an extremely popular character. After having been around only three years, he had already surpassed Nintendo's Mario in popularity according to a June 1993 Q-Survey in the Gameplayers magazine. As a result of this popularity, he has been referred to in various parts of culture. One of a class of genes involved in fruit fly embryonic development, called hedgehog genes, has been named "sonic hedgehog" after the character.
Sonic has sometimes appeared in relation to various sports teams Sega have sponsored. Between 1993 and 1997, Sega sponsored the JEF United Ichihara Chiba football team, during which period Sonic appeared on the team's uniform. During the 1993 Formula One championship, Sega sponsored WilliamsF1, which won the season. Sonic was featured in the cars, helmets, and rival McLaren used to paint a squashed hedgehog after winning races over Williams. In the 2K series of sports games, Sonic can be picked as a logo to be placed on the uniforms of the created team.
Sonic has also made appearances as a character in parades. In 1996, Sonic was the first video game character to be seen in a Rose Parade. Sonic was also in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; the only other video game character to ever be in the parade was Pikachu.
Other references are present in television programs, including a brief appearance in the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Marge Be Not Proud". Voiced by Dan Castellaneta, he appears (along with Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, and fictional pro golfer Lee Carvallo) attempting to convince Bart Simpson to steal a video game. Other humorous references to Sonic have appeared in TV series such as Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (in the episode "Camp Capers"), Megas XLR, 15/Love and Space Ghost Coast to Coast. The Sonic character and games have also made brief appearances in films, including Jingle All The Way, Hitch and Wayne's World . He was also mentioned in an episode of MADtv & Roseanne.
It was once rumored that Sonic & Tails were unlockable characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee by clearing Cruel Melee. This turned out to be a hoax when the cheat was entered. In August 2006, however, it was confirmed that Sonic was the most requested third-party character to appear in its sequel Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. Around the same period of time, Tips & Tricks reported that Nintendo has already contacted Sega and Yuji Naka, but Nintendo is still waiting for a final decision. In the October 2006 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Shigeru Miyamoto stated that Sonic would be a perfect character for Brawl. On October 10th, 2007, Sonic was officially announced for Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Smash Bros. Dojo.
- Sonic is known as "the Fastest Thing Alive", with the ability to run at speeds higher than Mach 1 (one source states his top speed is about 765 mph, though it's not confirmed if it's true or not). He can run backwards just as well as forwards. In the games, his super speed has not been explained, although according to the official American Sega website, he was born with this ability. A promotional comic printed in Disney Adventures magazine and other publications in 1991 established an origin story (later used in numerous British publications including Stay Sonic and Sonic the Comic) in which his running ability was achieved through training on a high-tech treadmill until he surpassed the speed of sound. Stay Sonic also gave his fastest recorded speed was 761mph, while in the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, a response to a piece of fan mail stated that the fastest he ever ran was Mach 15, and that in his super form, he can travel at faster than the speed of sound. It has also been suggested that in the comics, Sonic has run so fast that time had stopped around him for a little while and that in Super Sonic form his speed is incalculable. In both Stay Sonic and the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon, Sonic's distinctive "Power Sneaker" shoes are used to protect his feet from the heat arising from the friction involved when running at such speeds. Soap shoes with a similar design and color scheme were featured in Sonic Adventure 2, which introduced Sonic's ability to grind on rails.
In the original 2D games, once Sonic had reached his top speed, he ran with his arms fixed pointing forwards. However, in the 3D titles, Sonic CD, and the Sonic Advance series, his top-speed running animation was altered so that his arms trailed behind him and that he leaned forwards more. This animation is copied by most of the other, super-fast characters.
Many of his abilities are variations on the tendency for hedgehogs to roll into tight balls for protection. His primary offensive maneuver is the spin jump (or "Sonic Spin Attack"). As Sonic jumps, he curls up and spins round, damaging any enemies which come into contact with him. This ability was enhanced in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 with the introduction of the "Insta-Shield", which allows Sonic to momentarily surround himself with a spherical force field, giving him a split-second's worth of protection, and slightly increasing his attack range while jumping. Sonic has also been known to hold back his power when fighting strong enemies, because of this, many fans believe that Sonic is not the toughest character in the series.
He can also curl into a ball while running, allowing his momentum to carry him along in an equally dangerous attack. Although well-protected, in this position, he cannot maintain his top speed, and curling up limits the amount of control he (and the player) has over his movements. The "Spin-Dash", introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, allows Sonic to quickly accelerate into this roll from a stationary position. The "Super Peel-Out" introduced in Sonic CD (also known as the "Figure Eight" move in the comics, so called due to the shape his feet take when he does this) accelerates him in a similar manner, but allows him to remain running in an upright position and the camera sticks to Sonic when in maximum speed.
Another of Sonic's moves is the "Homing Attack", introduced in Sonic Adventure. Sonic performs the Homing Attack in midair during a jump, speeding towards a target in his ball form to damage or destroy it. Sonic can perform multiple Homing Attacks in rapid succession; as he bounces off of one target, he can aim for another one and attack it. Alternatively, Sonic can use the homing attack to hit a single target multiple times.
Sonic can run or bounce across the surface of water, but he cannot swim. In the early games, Sonic could hold his breath underwater for a period of time, but in the 3D Sonic games, landing in water is usually the equivalent of instant death. In the Fleetway comic book Sonic the Comic, his inability to swim was one of his major weaknesses for a long time, while his fear of water is often alluded to in the animated series Sonic X and Sonic Underground'.
Sonic's basic abilities may be enhanced through the use of various items. The Chaos Emeralds, a common feature of most Sonic games and comics, allow him to transform into his "Super form" of Super Sonic, and also give him the ability to trigger Chaos Control like Shadow the Hedgehog. Power-ups featured in the Sonic games have ranged from temporary items such as the Flame, Thunder, and Aqua Barriers featured in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles and the numerous gems featured in the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game, to more permanent accessories such as the Light Shoes of Sonic Adventure
Sonic has been described as being "like the wind", and is noted for being free-spirited and adventurous. He enjoys relaxation, but is never one to rest in the face of injustice. He is extremely benevolent, and willingly puts himself at risk to help others, taking on any challenge that confronts him without hesitation. He shows that it takes determination and faith to overcome a problem. He is never the one to back down from a fight, he always puts others before himself.
Sonic is an all around, fun-loving kind of hedgehog, but is very impatient, often jumping into situations without thinking. He displays an interest in rock music. Some official character art and a television commercial for Sonic Adventure suggests that he has a personal hobby as a DJ. Furthermore, it is displayed in Sonic Rush for the Nintendo DS that Sonic also enjoys breakdancing as it is one of his primary ways for filling up his Tension gauge. His battle moves in Sonic Battle are also based on breakdancing, as mentioned in the attack descriptions. Lastly, he breakdances in Sonic Advance 3 if he finishes a level in a short-enough time. His favorite food has always been chili dogs, seen in both his comic book and video game continuities.
In Sonic & Knuckles, a mural deep in Angel Island's Hidden Palace foretells the battle between Super Sonic and Eggman for the Master Emerald that would occur in the game's "Doomsday Zone". Knuckles initially misread the mural to mean that Eggman would protect the Master Emerald from a villainous Sonic, but he eventually realized the truth. There is also speculation that Gerald Robotnik had studied Echidna culture, and that at some point had seen the mural and that image played a hand in the appearance of Shadow the Hedgehog, given that Shadow looks similar to Super Sonic's Sonic Adventure design, although this is entirely speculation, not yet proven to be true.
In Sonic 06,(while Sonic and friends were still on Earth) Silver the Hedgehog, born 200 years into the future of Earth, is led to believe that Sonic is the "Iblis Trigger", the one responsible for starting a situation which plunges the world into ruin. This turns out to be a half truth created by Mephiles the Dark. The threat in question, Iblis, was sealed within Princess Elise who had grown emotionally attached to Sonic. Mephiles misinformed Silver in the hopes he would kill Sonic, which in turn would cause Elise enough trauma to release the seal on Iblis. The word Iblis relates to the equivalent of Satan in Islamic culture.
Game Sonic's home planet is Mobius (In Japan, it's Earth). He lives at a location known as South Island (The location of Green Hill Zone) during, and (according to early written material from Sonic Team) was originally born on Christmas Island.
Although Sonic has always lived on Earth to players living in Japan during the 1990s 16-bit era, players elsewhere then believed that Sonic's home world was called "Mobius" because of localized information provided by some later American and European instruction manuals. This name stemmed from a mistranslation of the word "Mobius" in a 1992 Sega Visions interview with Yuji Naka; he was in fact referring to a Mobius strip used in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. However, games produced since 1999's Sonic Adventure have clearly taken place on Earth, and all of them use the same story and names regardless of the language they are played in. Sonic Adventure 2 was the first game of the franchise to consistently use the term "Earth" in-game, a standard which holds true down to the present day. Its remake Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, and subsequent game Shadow the Hedgehog even show views of Earth from space.
In other media, the following locations are used:
- Printed media: Sonic's true home planet is Mobius.
- Sonic OVA: Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie took place on a planet known as "Planet Freedom". During the course of the movie, it is explained that the world is split into two dimensions: The Land of the Sky, which is home to Sonic and his friends, and the Land of Darkness, where Dr. Eggman resides. It is heavily implied that this planet is in fact a future Earth.
- Sonic X: Sonic's home in the Sonic X anime series is an unknown planet in an alternate reality that shares the same space as Earth, as revealed in Episode 49. This logically suggests that the planet is indeed an alternative Earth(Mobius) in another dimension, although this has not been explicitly confirmed. This planet however appears only briefly in the show, with the majority of the action first taking place on "our" Earth, and later in outer space.
Enemies and rivals
Sonic's eternal enemy is Doctor Ivo Robotnik, also known as Dr. Eggman. Eggman is a brilliant but insane scientist who uses his numerous machines to attempt to conquer the world, but Sonic has always intervened. The opposition between Sonic and Eggman symbolizes the conflict between technology and nature. Sonic originally fought Dr. Eggman because he was turning his animal friends into robotic slaves (known as "Badniks" in the West). After that, Eggman tried multiple times to conquer Mobius by using the Chaos Emeralds, Time Stones, and Master Emerald. Often, these would be used to power the doctors huge Mech suits. These were often gigantic and incredibly powerful images of himself. However, in the recent games, Dr. Eggman has taken a different approach, using more realistic warships and even a nuclear missile in his bid to conquer the world. Despite their hostilities, Sonic and Eggman have frequently worked together in many instances in order to save the world from a much greater threat, though Eggman usually does so so that he can take over the world himself.
One of Sonic's major rivals is Shadow the Hedgehog, the "Ultimate Life Form". They became rivals when they first met in Sonic Adventure 2, and they have fought and argued with each other whenever they meet in every game since, though they have a certain amount of respect for each other. They fight for different reasons, yet have similar opinions about each other. Sonic finds Shadow to be violent, humorless, and arrogant, while Shadow finds Sonic to be foolhardy, irritating, and arrogant. However, near the end of Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow willingly fought the Biolizard to allow Sonic to go with Knuckles to stop the Chaos Emeralds. Various other situations have caused them to team up in later games. Sonic seems to treat Shadow as a friend, and Shadow seems to be beginning to see Sonic more as a friendly rival than as a cutthroat one (example being Shadow saving Sonic from Silver during Sonic the Hedgehog).
Before Shadow's introduction, Metal Sonic was one of Sonic's fiercest adversaries. During the older days, Eggman tried to beat Sonic at his own game by creating numerous Sonic robots to destroy his nemesis. Though they all tried and failed, Metal Sonic was by far Eggman's most successful creation, having the same capabilities as his counterpart. Even with Shadow in the spotlight now, Metal Sonic still remains a serious threat, as the storyline in Sonic Heroes demonstrated. In the game, Metal Sonic became so powerful that only three Super forms could defeat him. Sonic later vows to battle him again in the final cutscene.
Another one of Sonic's rivals is Jet the Hawk from Sonic Riders. Jet mocks him for being inexperienced with Extreme Gear (an air powered hovercraft that comes in the form of skateboards, motorcycles & rollerblades) and does not respect Sonic's title of "fastest thing alive", sparking a rivalry between them. Later, after Sonic beats Jet in a race, they become more friendly, but are still competitive as racing rivals.
Black Doom is also one of Sonic's enemies, along with the Black Arms aliens who try to invade Earth in search of the Chaos Emeralds. While Black Doom is primarily Shadow the Hedgehog's main enemy, (or ally, depending on the route the player takes) he is still considered one of Sonic's enemies due to his actions against innocent people. Sonic can battle Black Doom along with Shadow in one of the game's boss battles against him.
In Sonic 06 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, a new character with vast psychic abilities by the name Silver the Hedgehog makes his first appearance. Silver comes from the future(by 200 years), where Mephiles the Dark]] told him Sonic was the "Iblis Trigger", who would cause a world wide catastrophe. Silver then travels back in time to kill Sonic before he destroys the world. When they first meet, the two battle it out. It is later revealed that Sonic is not the real Iblis Trigger, and the two hedgehogs set aside their differences. However, the time line is reset at the end of the game, and Sonic and Silver meet again for the first time in Sonic Rivals. They at first do not see eye-to-eye, but they work together in the end.
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