Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Sonikku za Hejjihoggu?), trademarked Sonic The Hedgehog,[2] is a video game character and the main protagonist of the Sonic video game series released by Sega, as well as in numerous spin-off comics, cartoons, and a feature film. The first Sonic game was released on June 23, 1991, in order to provide Sega with a mascot to rival Nintendo's flagship character Mario (see 1991 in video gaming).[3][4] Since then, Sonic has become one of the world's best-known video game characters, with his series having sold more than 70 million copies.[5] In 2005, Sonic was one of the first game character inductees into the Walk of Game, alongside Mario and Link.[6]

Artist Naoto Ōshima, designer Hirokazu Yasuhara, and programmer Yuji Naka are generally credited with the creation of the character,[7] a blue 15-year-old anthropomorphic hedgehog, who has the ability to run faster than the speed of sound and the ability to curl into a ball, primarily to attack enemies. This is a major part of the gameplay of the series.

Origins and history

Sega wanted a game capable of competing with Mario and a character to replace Alex Kidd as the company's mascot. Several character designs were submitted by its AM8 research and development department, including an armadillo (which then developed into Mighty the Armadillo), a dog, a Theodore Roosevelt look-alike in pajamas (which would later be the basis of Dr. Robotnik/Eggman's design), and a rabbit (intended to use its extendible ears to collect objects; these aspects were later incorporated into Ristar).[8][9] Eventually, Naoto Ōshima's spiky teal hedgehog, initially codenamed "Mr. Needlemouse",[3] was chosen as the new mascot. (Note that "needlemouse" is a direct translation of the Japanese word for hedgehog ハリネズミ (harinezumi).) Sonic's blue pigmentation was chosen to match Sega's cobalt blue logo, his shoes were a concept evolved from a design inspired by Michael Jackson's boots with the addition of the color red, which was inspired by both Santa Claus and the contrast of those colors on Jackson's Bad, while his personality was based on Bill Clinton's "Get it done" attitude.[8][10][11][12] The character was created without the ability to swim because of a mistaken assumption by Yuji Naka that all hedgehogs could not do so.[13] A group of fifteen people started working on the first Sonic the Hedgehog game, and renamed themselves Sonic Team. The game's soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura of the band Dreams Come True. Sega sponsored the group's "Wonder 3" tour, painting Sonic on the tour bus, distributing pamphlets advertising the game, and having footage of the game broadcast above stage prior to its release.[14]

The original concepts had Sonic with fangs and in a band with a human girlfriend named Madonna, however a team from Sega of America led by Madeline Schroeder, who calls herself "Sonic's mother",[8] "softened" the character up for an American audience by removing these, sparking a heated issue with Sonic Team, although Naka later admitted it was probably for the best.[8] Sonic's appearance varies greatly depending on the medium and the style in which he is drawn. In the video games, Sonic's original design by Oshima was quite short and round, with short quills, a round body and no visible irises. Artwork featuring this design and drawn by Akira Watanabe[15] was displayed on the package artwork for Sonic the Hedgehog, and most subsequent Sonic video games featured similar designs.

When Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Mega Drive appeared, the proportions of Sonic changed. The original 1:2 head to height ratio became 1:2.5.[15]

Beginning with Sonic Adventure, in 1998, Sonic was redesigned by Yuji Uekawa as a taller character with longer legs and a less spherical body, longer and more drooping quills, the addition of shoe buckles, and green-colored irises. Further subtle changes to the character's design have been made in subsequent games. Spin-off media such as comics and cartoons have featured variations on all these video game designs, with restrictions set by the standardized model sheets.[16]

Actor portrayal

Different actors have provided the voice for Sonic in his game appearances. Sonic originally had a few voice samples in Sonic CD, but the actor is unknown. Sonic's first true voice actor was Takeshi Kusao for the arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog, with Junichi Kanemaru continually voicing the role beginning with the release of Sonic Adventure. In Sonic Unleashed, Sonic is voiced by Tomokazu Seki whilst in werehog form. Sonic's first English voice actor was Jaleel White (better known to fans as Steve Urkel on the TV show Family Matters) in the three animated series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Sonic Underground. Sonic's first English game voice was provided by Ryan Drummond beginning with Sonic Adventure, a role he continued until 2004,[17] when he was replaced by Jason Anthony Griffith, who previously voiced the character in the American dub of the anime series Sonic X.[18] Recently, it has been announced that he will be replaced by Roger Craig Smith for future games, starting with Sonic Colors and Sonic Free Riders.[19]


Sonic ColorsSonic the Hedgehog 4Sonic & SEGA All-Stars RacingSonic and the Black KnightSonic UnleashedSonic Riders Zero GravitySonic and the Secret RingsSonic the Hedgehog (2006 video game)Sonic RushSonic HeroesSonic BattleSonic Advance 2Sonic Adventure 2 BattleSonic Adventure 2Sonic ShuffleSonic Pocket AdventureSonic AdventureSonic RSonic 3D BlastSonic LabyrinthSonic & KnucklesSonic the Hedgehog 3Sonic the Hedgehog CDSonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit)Sonic the Hedgehog (video game)

Sonic the Hedgehog series video games

Sonic's first appearance in the video game world was in the racing game "Rad Mobile" (later ported to the Sega Saturn under the name "Gale Racer"), but Sonic's first major appearance was in the platform game Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, which also introduced his nemesis Dr. Robotnik. His two-tailed fox friend Miles "Tails" Prower joined him in the game's 1992 sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic CD, released in 1993, introduced Sonic's self-appointed girlfriend Amy Rose and his robotic doppelgänger Metal Sonic as Sonic traveled through time to ensure a good future for the world. Sonic 3 and its direct sequel Sonic & Knuckles, both released in 1994, saw Sonic and "Tails" battle Robotnik again, with the additional threat of Knuckles the Echidna, tricked by Robotnik into thinking Sonic was a threat to his home.

Other two-dimensional platformers starring Sonic include Sonic Chaos (1993), Sonic Triple Trouble (1994), Sonic Blast (1996), Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (1999), Sonic Advance in (2001), Sonic Advance 2 (2002), Sonic Advance 3 (2004), Sonic Rush (2005), and Sonic Rush Adventure (2007).

Sonic Adventure (1999) was Sonic Team's return to the character for a major game. It featured Sonic returning from vacation to find the city of Station Square under attack by a new, very powerful foe named Chaos, under the control of Dr. Robotnik (now more commonly known as Dr. Eggman). This was also the first Sonic game to have a complete voice-over. Sonic Adventure 2 (2001) placed Sonic on-the-run from the military (G.U.N) after being mistaken for a new enemy, Shadow the Hedgehog, the Ultimate Life Form. Sonic Heroes (2003) has Sonic teaming up with Tails and Knuckles (along with other characters like Team Rose and Team Chaotix) against the newly rebuilt Metal Sonic, who had betrayed his master with intentions of world domination. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) features Sonic in the city of water, "Soleanna", where he must rescue Princess Elise from Dr. Eggman while trying to avoid a new threat to his own life, Silver the Hedgehog. He is the only playable character in Sonic Unleashed (2008), in which he unwillingly gains a new personality, "Sonic the Werehog"; the result of Sonic being fused with Dark Gaia's power. He gains incredible strength and flexibility in exchange for his speed.

Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007) features Sonic in a story book world of the "Arabian Nights". A Nintendo Power cover scan was released spoiling a new Sonic game titled Sonic and the Black Knight. Soon after, Sega confirmed that it was in fact real and was going to be the second title in the Sonic Storybook spinoff series, making Sonic and the Secret Rings the first.

Sonic has also been featured in other games of many genres other than 2D and 3D platform games. The first of these was a pinball game, Sonic Spinball (1993), which expanded upon the pinball sequences in the first three platform games. Then, more spin-offs appeared: Sonic Labyrinth (1995), the racing games Sonic Drift (1994), Sonic Drift 2 (1995), Sonic R (1996), Sonic Riders (2006), Sonic Rivals (2006), Sonic Rivals 2 (2007), and Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (2008), the fighting games Sonic the Fighters (1996), Sonic Battle (2003), the mobile game Sonic Jump (2005) and has made an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008). Sonic is the first playable character in his first role-playing game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (2008). In 2010, Sonic the Hedgehog stars in a new episodic video game called Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Sonic is confirmed to be the only playable character in episode 1.

Video games such as Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (1993), Knuckles Chaotix (1995), Tails' Skypatrol (1995), Tails Adventure (1995), and Shadow the Hedgehog (2005) starred supporting characters of the Sonic series, although Sonic himself cameos in most of these titles.

He appeared in the crossover game Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games as a Speed-type and also appears in its sequel Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games as the fastest character. In the Adventure Mode (DS Version only), he is one of the two starting protagonists and partners with his former rival and friend, Mario, to stop their arch enemies, Bowser and Dr. Eggman from ruining the Olympic Winter Games.

Non-Sonic games

Sonic has made many cameo appearances in different games, most notably in other Sega games, such as being a power-up in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, walking around the main hallway in Phantasy Star Universe on the anniversary of his first game's release (June 23), and appearing in the 2008 remake of Samba de Amigo (he appears in the background for the songs "Low Rider", "UN Aguardiants" and "Mambo #5". He is also a playable character in Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams and Shadow the Hedgehog. Sonic has proved to be popular among other publishers as well, and he cameos in games like Art Alive, Shining Force II, Clockwork Knight 2, Crusader of Centy, Bug!, Rad Mobile, The Simpsons Game, The Incredible Hulk, and the video game adaptation of the film Tom and Jerry: The Movie; he is also seen on a movie poster in "Ed Edd n Eddy-Jawbreakers." He appears as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, being one of two third-party characters (the other being Solid Snake included in the game). Sonic has become the #1 requested character in Brawl for having millions of Sonic-fans around the world. Sonic has also made brief, satirical appearances in two episodes of The Simpsons; That '90s Show and Marge Be Not Proud.[citation needed] Also, in an episode of "Malcolm in the Middle", Malcolm and Stevie can be seen playing Sonic R on a Sega Saturn, but with edited sound effects.


The first animated series to feature Sonic was Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, in which he was voiced by Jaleel White.[20] The cartoon had a very comical take on Sonic and Tails' adventures battling Robotnik. Pierre De Celles, an animator who worked on Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, described the show as "fun and humorous."[21]

In the darker and more serious series Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic was again voiced by Jaleel White.[22] He lives on Planet Mobius in Knothole Village, where he belongs to a band of Freedom Fighters that fight to free their world from the literally iron-fisted rule of the evil dictator Dr. Robotnik.

Sonic Underground featured the introductions of Sonic's triplet siblings Sonia the Hedgehog and Manic the Hedgehog, as well as his mother Queen Aleena, the four of whom were destined to defeat Robotnik and rule Mobius as the "Council of Four". Jaleel White returned to voice Sonic for the third time as well as voicing Sonic's siblings, with Samuel Vincent providing Sonic's singing voice.[23] This series is the only Sonic the Hedgehog series with European origins, as it was a co-production between the United States and France.

Additionally, there where two OVAs in Japan that conformed a single story which featured Sonic, Tails, Robotnik, Knuckles, and Metal Sonic. Sonic was voiced by Masami Kikuchi in Japan, and Martin Burke in the United States, where the two OVAs where treated as one unique, 1 hour long movie under the name of Sonic the Hedgehog: The movie.[24]

Sonic X, was an anime in which Sonic is teleported to Earth by Chaos Control, caused by the Chaos Emeralds (though the final season takes place in his own world). Here, he befriends a boy named Chris Thorndyke, and his infamous aquaphobia is made far stronger; in one episode where Sonic and his friends go on a cruise, Sonic is in a constant state of panic and desperately searches for a way to escape. In this series, he is voiced by Jun'ichi Kanemaru in the Japanese version, and by Jason Griffith in the English version.

SONIC: Night of the Werehog is a short film by Sega's VE Animation Studio, released to coincide with the release of Sonic Unleashed. In the film, Sonic and Chip enter a haunted house, and must deal with two ghosts trying to scare them.


Sonic's first comic appearance was in a promotional comic printed in Disney Adventures magazine (and also given away as a free pull-out with a copy of Mean Machines magazine), which established a backstory for the character involving the origin of his color and abilities and the transformation of kindly scientist Dr. Ovi Kintobor into the evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik. Numerous British publications, including "Sega handbook" Stay Sonic (1993), four novels published by Virgin Books (1993–1994) and the comic book Sonic the Comic (1993–2001) used this premise as their basis.

The American comics published by Archie Comics, Sonic the Hedgehog (1993–), Sonic X (2005–2008), and Sonic Universe (2009-) are based on the settings established by earlier animated TV series, the ABC "SatAM" cartoon, the Sonic X anime, and an expansion to the series, respectively. The former series is currently the second longest-running licensed comic series in the history of American comic books, second only to Marvel's Conan series (first issue released in 1970). In France two comic books named "Sonic Adventures" were published by Sirène in 1994.

Sonic has also been featured in two different manga. One series was simply called Sonic the Hedgehog, and featured a story about a normal boy named Nicky Parlouzer who can change into Sonic. The other series was a compilation of short stories and was separated into two volumes, the first being called Dash and Spin, and the other called Super Fast Sonic!!.


File:Super Sonic.png

Super Sonic's character design from Sonic Adventure onward.

According to various official materials from Sega, Sonic is described as a character who is "like the wind":[25] a drifter who lives as he wants,[26] and makes life a series of events and adventures.[1] Sonic hates oppression and staunchly defends freedom.[27] Although he is mostly easy-going[26] he has a short temper[26] and is often impatient with slower things.[25] Sonic is a habitual daredevil hedgehog who is honest, loyal to friends, keeps his promises,[1] and dislikes tears.[28] He took the young Tails under his wing like a little brother,[29] but is uninterested in marital proposals from Amy Rose.[30] In times of crisis, he focuses intensely on the challenge[25] as if his personality had undergone an astonishing change.[1]

Sonic is known as the world's fastest hedgehog.[27] Sonic's greatest strength is his running speed, which is faster than the speed of sound.[28] Many of his abilities are variations on the tendency for hedgehogs to roll into tight balls for protection with the addition of spinning his body. Since his introduction in 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic's primary offensive maneuver is the basic "Spin Attack" (or "Sonic Spin Attack").[31] Later games in the series expanded on this basic attack and two of these enhancements have become mainstays of his: the Spin Dash which was introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and involves Sonic spinning on the spot before blasting off at full speed,[32] and the Homing Attack, officially introduced in Sonic Adventure, in which Sonic dashes toward a target in mid air.[27] However, Sonic's weakness is that he can't swim, sinking like a rock if plunged to a deep body of water.[28] However, he can overcome his weakness by running on the surface of water.

When seven Chaos Emeralds are collected in most Sonic games, Sonic can initiate a super transformation into Super Sonic, a faster and nearly invulnerable version of himself that can fly.[33] In the 2D games, he enters Super Sonic mode after collecting 50 Rings; in the 3D games where Super Sonic is playable, he starts off in the form with 50 Rings. While transformed, Sonic slowly loses Rings during the time he is in the form and returns to normal when all the Rings are used up; the player can collect more Rings during this time to keep him as Super Sonic.

Reception and legacy


Sonic and Mario in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

As Sega's mascot and one of the key reasons for the company's success during the 16-bit era of video game consoles, Sonic is one of the most famous video game characters in the world. In 1996, Sonic was the first video game character to be seen in a Rose Parade. Sonic is also the first video game character (later followed by Pikachu) to have a balloon in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.[3] Sonic was one of the three game characters inducted on the inaugural Walk of Game class in 2005, along with former rival Mario and Link (both from Nintendo).[6] One of a class of genes involved in fruit fly embryonic development, called hedgehog genes, has been named "sonic hedgehog" after the character.[34]

Sonic has also been used as a symbol for Sega's various sponsorships. Between 1993 and 1997, Sega sponsored the JEF United Ichihara Chiba football team, during which period Sonic appeared in the team's uniform. During the 1993 Formula One championship, Sega sponsored the Williams Grand Prix team, which won the Constructors' Championship that year, as well as the team's lead driver, Alain Prost, winning the Drivers' Championship. Sonic was featured in the cars, helmets, and their rivals McLaren used to paint a squashed hedgehog after winning races over Williams.[35] The 1993 European Grand Prix featured a Sonic balloon and Sonic billboards, and the race's trophy was in the shape of a hedgehog. Sonic also appears on some versions of the willow video store logo. According to polls, Sonic the Hedgehog is more recognizable to American children than Mickey Mouse.[citation needed]

Nintendo Power listed Sonic as their sixth favourite hero, stating that while he was originally Mario's arch nemesis, he seems at home on Nintendo platforms. They added that he has remained as one of gaming's greatest icons.[36] In 2004, the character won a Golden Joystick Award for "The Sun Ultimate Gaming Hero".[37] On October 21, 2008, Sonic was voted the most popular video game character in the UK with a 24% vote while his old rival Mario came second with 21% of the vote.[38] Then in late 2008, MSN held a poll of who's the most iconic video game character, Sonic was ranked #1 as the most iconic video game character of all in gaming while Mario and Lara Croft were voted less in second and in third respectively.[39] Sonic ranked ninth on GameDaily's Top 10 Smash Bros characters list.[40] GameDaily also listed his "next-generation stumble" in their list of video game characters' worst moments, using his relationship with a human female as one of the worst parts of it.[41]

Ken Ballough, Sega's associate brand manager, said that Sonic's appeal endured because the character is "a gaming legend, first and foremost" who originated "from a series of games that defined a generation in gaming history, and his iconic personality was the epitome of speed in the early ‘90s, pushing the limits of what gamers knew and expected from high-speed action and platforming games."[42]

Despite Sonic's iconic status, most of his fame and likeness is derived from the first decade of Sonic games full of 2D sidescrollers; Ever since the 21st century while the character has enjoyed popularity the franchise itself has suffered scrutiny and criticism from multiple Game Reviewers and classic fans. In 2009 Levi Buchanan, an editor at IGN, cited a serious disconnect between what the character was and what is now happening to him, being diluted by a multitude of "would-be mascots" such as Shadow the Hedgehog.[43] stated aside from the series of "tagalong" characters, that Sonic games need to become faster and more reflexive like the classic games, and to conversely slow down on the production of games as well[44]: At least one installment is added per year to the main series of Sonic games which lessens the impact of games like Sonic Unleashed.[45]

Theme songs

The Sonic the Hedgehog video games have featured several theme songs for the character. Most are performed by Crush 40, who have also performed many other songs produced for the franchise.

  • Sonic CD: "Sonic Boom" (US)- Pastiche/ "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" - Keiko Utoku (JPN/EUR)
  • Sonic Adventure: "It Doesn't Matter" - Tony Harnell
  • Sonic Adventure 2: "It Doesn't Matter" (remake) - Ted Poley, Tony Harnell
  • Sonic Heroes: "We Can" - Ted Poley, Tony Harnell. This theme is also shared with Tails and Knuckles, considering that this is also the Team Sonic theme.
  • Sonic '06: "His World" - Zebrahead. This theme also serves as the theme to the entire game and the final boss theme against Solaris' second form as an orchestral, instrumental theme. Other remixes of this theme were done by Crush 40 and Bentley Jones.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: "Live and Learn" - Crush 40. This track played when Sonic was first announced for the game.
  • Sonic Unleashed: "Endless Possibility" - Jaret Reddick. This theme also serves as the final boss theme (Perfect Dark Gaia) as an orchestral, instrumental theme.
  • Sonic and the Black Knight: "Knight of the Wind" - Crush 40. This theme also plays during the credits of the game's first ending.
  • Sonic Colours: "Reach for the Stars" - Jean Paul M.

Voice actors

TV shows


Video games (US)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sonic Team. "Sonic's official character profile". Sega of Japan. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  2. Kent, Steven. "Chapter 23". The Ultimate History of Video Games: The Story Behind the Craze that Touched our Lives and Changed the World. Roseville, California: Prima Publishing. p. 428. ISBN 0-7615-3643-4. the "t" in Sonic the Hedgehog is capitalized. Sega marketing genius Al Nilsen had the "the" registered as Sonic's middle name. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kennedy, Sam. "The Essential 50: Sonic the Hedgehog". Retrieved 2006-06-03. 
  4. Davis, Cameron and Shoemaker, Brad The History of Sonic the Hedgehog, GameSpot. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
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  7. Horowitz, Ken. "Sega Stars: Yuji Naka". Sega-16. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-06-20. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Sonic the Hedgehog GameTap Retrospective. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  9. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Citation/CS1/Suggestions' not found.
  10. Brandon Sheffield. "Out of the Blue: Naoto Ohshima Speaks". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  11. Yahoo Playback. "Yahoo Playback #94". Yahoo, Inc. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  12. Brian Ashcraft. "Sonic's Shoes Inspired by Michael Jackson". Kotaku. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  13. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Citation/CS1/Suggestions' not found.
  14. "Masato Nakamura interview" (flash). Sonic Central. Retrieved 2006-02-07. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Sega Video Game Illustrations. Nippon Shuppan Hanbai (Deutschland) GmbH. 1994. ISBN 3-910052-50-9. 
  16. "Digest Number 1008". Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  17. "Ryan Drummond". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  18. "Jason Griffith (II)". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  19. "Out of the mouths of hedgehogs". Sega. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  20. "Full credits of "Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog"". IMDb. 1993–1996. Retrieved 2006-06-27. 
  21. "Chris Wood (2007-07-25). "Pierre De Celles on Animating Sonic the Hedgehog and Other Tales". Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  22. "Full credits of "Sonic the Hedgehog"". IMDb. 1993–1995. Retrieved 2006-06-27. 
  23. "Full credits of "Sonic Underground"". IMDb. 1999. Retrieved 2006-06-27. 
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  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Sega (2004). Sonic Heroes instruction manual, pp. 6
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Sega (1999). Sonic Adventure instruction manual, pp. 18
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  30. Sega of America. "Amy's official character profile from Sega of America". Sega of America. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  31. Sega (1991). Sonic the Hedgehog instruction manual, pp. 3
  32. Sega (1991). Sonic the Hedgehog 2 instruction manual, pp. 6
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  41. Gallery and Images - GameDaily
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  43. "How the Blue Blur got to here and how he can come back.". 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
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  45. "Sonic Unleashed Review". Retrieved 2010-07-22. 

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