23 Sonic facts to know on Sonic’s 23rd Birthday

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It’s time to end our week-long Sonic the Hedgehog 23rd anniversary celebration with 23 Sonic facts. Since Sonic the Hedgehog is quite a popular character you might or might not have read some of these. Let’s get started!

Sonic was originally called “Mr. Needlemouse”

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Mr. Needlemouse was given to many prototype and early concept characters that would later become the blue blur that we know and love. The name is an alternative translation of ‘Mr. Hedgehog’ since it’s the literal translation for the Japanese word hedgehog.

SEGA would later use the name when they teased Sonic the Hedgehog 4 as ‘Project Needlemouse’.

Yuji Naka thought Hedgehogs couldn’t swim

Yuji Naka was a designer, programmer and later former head of Sonic Team. He is the reason that Sonic the Hedgehog doesn’t know how to swim. Why was this done? He said he didn’t think hedgehogs could swim.

Hedgehogs can actually swim quite normally, check out the video above for some cute hedgehog swimming.

Sonic the Air Freshener: Sonic’s first appearance

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Did you know that Sonic the Hedgehog made his first video game debut in AM2’s Rad Mobile in the arcades on April 26th, 1991? He was an air freshener in the game, which was released a little less than a month before his official game, Sonic the Hedgehog.

I’m still waiting for my official Rad Mobile Sonic the Hedgehog themed air freshener, SEGA!

Death Egg vs Death Star?

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We are big Star Wars fans around this site so I had to add the whole Death Star homage. Who wasn’t a big fan of how awesome the Death Star looked? You know who else loved the design? Eggman, so much so that he literally created his own and called it Death Egg.

There was almost a Sonic game called: Sister Sonic

Sister Sonic

SEGA America was trying to bring over as much Japanese software as possible and make it work for American audiences. They turned the Japanese Magical Hat no Buttobi Turbo! Daibouken into Decap Attack, Puyo Puyo into Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. SEGA America wasn’t done yet, they had plans to turn Popful Mail into a game called ‘Sister Sonic‘.

The game was set to feature a long lost sister of Sonic generically named ‘Sister Sonic‘. Yes, that is the best they came up with.

Out Run and Sonic

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I love Yu Suzuki and all the great gems that he released when he was part of AM2, so that’s one of the reasons this fact made this list. Did you know that the skidding sound found in the Sonic games was lifted from Out Run?

Might not be much, but I’ll take any AM2 cross over I can get.

Breaking Bad: Dr. Eggman was intended to be a hero

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Hey, when you want to design a character to take on Mario, you probably go through lots of drafts of characters that actually resemble his qualities. That was no exception for Naoto Ohshima, designer of Sonic the Hedgehog. Above is art he had for one of his mascot designs.

Sonic Team didn’t want to scrap the design, and he slowly was incorporated into the evil Doctor we know and love today.

 Sonic was born on Christmas Island

ChristmasSonicWhen I first heard that the Japanese manual of Sonic the Hedgehog said he was born on ‘Christmas Island‘, I started thinking about how bad Sonic Team was at naming stuff. Then I looked it up and there is in fact an actual ‘Christmas Island‘. Would you look at that.

Obviously since Sonic is a nomad badass, he doesn’t really consider any place home.

 That’s Doctor Eggman to you!

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I’m one of those people who loves the name ‘Dr. Robotnik’, it just makes sense with the villain. It sounds like a person who would be a crazy doctor who creates robots. Regardless, the Japanese name has always been ‘Doctor Eggman’, due to his shape (and original concept for the character being egg like).

Yuji Naka went on the record saying that ‘Robotnik’ is his true last name but that ‘Doctor Eggman’ is a nickname. Regardless of this, the last Western game that embraces both names was 1999’s Sonic Adventure.

US Presidents influenced Sonic and Eggman creations

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Did you know that US Presidents had a lot of influence when it came to Sonic the Hedgehog? First is Eggman’s trademark style that looks very much like the 26th US President Theodore Roosevelt. But that isn’t all. Did you know Bill Clinton shaped Sonic’s attitude?

Sonic the Hedgehog’s attitude was influenced by Bill Clinton! Ohshima felt that he embodied an attitude of getting this done right and righting all the wrongs. Of course, when Oshima was influenced, Bill Clinton wasn’t the President, but would later run and win.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s level select code is Yuji Naka’s birthday

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Who doesn’t know the level select code for Sonic the Hedgehog 2? It was embedded into the brains of tons of kids in the early 90’s. 19, 65, 09, and 17. What’s the meaning of these mysterious numbers?

They are actually the birthday of former head of Sonic Team’s Yuji Naka: September 17, 1965.

Sonic break dancing and Sonic Band

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The original Sonic the Hedgehog originally was going to have a sound test menu which featured an animation of Sonic break dancing while a ‘Sonic Band’ played in the background. The Sonic Band consisted of Sharps Chicken on guitar, Max Monkey on bass, Mach Rabbit on drums, and Vector the Crocodile on keyboard.

Vector the Crocodile eventually made it out of the cutting room floor and was used a few years later in Knuckles Chaotix. Since Sonic Team had room to spare due to the scrapped sound test menu, that meant they had space for….

The SEGA chime!


Did you know that the intro SEGA chime actually took 1/8th of the space on the Sonic the Hedgehog 4-megabit cartridge? That is quite a bit of space for such little amount of time on screen.

Thankfully for SEGA, the intro paid off and has become a classic.

Knuckles is actually Jamaican?

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If you didn’t notice Knuckles’ Jamaican colored shoes and the fact that his hair looks like dreadlocks (popular Jamaican hairstyle) then where have you been? But did you know that Knuckles was supposed to have a Jamaican accent?

Personally a bit glad they changed this, mostly because I can’t stand cheesy Jamaican accents.

Sonic was the first video game character in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Due to Sonic the Hedgehog’s popularity during 1993, he was the first video game character to appear in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The only other video game character to receive this honor was Pikachu a whole 8 years later.

This isn’t the last time that Sonic the Hedgehog hit the parade. He did so again in 2011 for his 20th year Anniversary and then once more in 2013.

Sonic CD: The creepy secret screen

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Did you know that there’s a hidden screen if you do a combination of things in Sonic CD’s sound test? If you want to know the combination to try it yourself, check out this page.

So what does the page say? It actually translates to:

“Infinite Fun
 Sega Enterprises 
 Image by Majin

The thing is, in Japanese there are two ways of writing this word, and actually it’s a play on words. Majin in kanji normally means ‘supernatural human-like’ or ‘god-like’ being. The message was snuck in by Masato Nishimura, as Majin was his childhood nickname. This isn’t the only time he did this, he only got his son’s name into Shenmue.

How NiGHTS killed Sonic on Saturn

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It’s obvious that if you’re launching a new console, you need your mascot to release a game on it. Sadly for Saturn Sonic fans, Sonic Team was taking a break from all things Sonic-related to bring out their new franchise: NiGHTS into Dreams. That didn’t stop SEGA West from trying to get a Sonic the Hedgehog game developed. SEGA used Sega Technical Institute to develop Sonic X-treme.

When the team started using the tools from NiGHTS into Dreams they where forcibly stopped when Yuji Naka found out that his work was being used without his consent. The team mustered on but ultimately couldn’t make the deadline. Director for the project Chris Senn recently joined SEGA again to work on Sonic Boom. Talk about full circle.

Sonic Adventure on SEGA Saturn?

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Its hard to believe that Sonic Adventure was first started on the SEGA Saturn, and was cancelled shortly after the team realized that the Saturn might not be around as long as the Genesis/Mega Drive did. After they found out SEGA was working on Project Katana, Yuji Naka went and made suggestions on the hardware. This would ensure that Sonic Adventure would be ideal to run on the Dreamcast.

What could have been…

The Japanese version of Sonic Adventure was only in development for 8 months


In less time than it takes a human female to fully carry a child in her womb, Sonic Team turned around and created Sonic Adventure for its Japanese release. The game was less polished than its Western counterpart, due to the newly opened (at the time) Sonic Team USA working for an additional 9 months on the title before it was released.

Japan later got in on the updated title when they re-released it as ‘Sonic Adventure International’.

Super Sonic Adventure? 

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We know that Super Sonic is playable in Sonic Adventure when (plot spoiler) you fight the last boss. But did you know that originally you were going to have the ability to turn into Super Sonic in action stages?

This was put together due to scrapped voice work telling the player how if you collected 50 rings, you turn into Super Sonic. Why was it cut? Most likely time restraints.

 Mario Maker? Sonic did that!

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One of Nintendo’s big announcements this year at E3 2014 was that they were making a ‘Mario Maker’ game which allowed users to make retro Mario levels. Surprisingly many people turned around and asked why SEGA never did anything like this and disappointingly, I have to remind you that they have.

Back in 2009 SEGA launched a Sonic the Hedgehog level editor as part of their ‘Play SEGA’, which at the time was full of flash game ports of Genesis classics and other original titles. Just one more ‘SEGA does what Nintendon’t’.

Sonic Colors: Super Sonic everywhere!

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Even though Sonic Team planned on using Super Sonic in action stages, it was scrapped and never used until 2010’s Sonic Colors. By completing Game Land and gathering all 7 Chaos Emeralds, you earned the right to turn Sonic Super Sayian and have him playable on all levels.

Of course the only time you can’t use Super Sonic is during boss battles, but hey, at least he’s back in regular stages.

Sonic Generations: Classic Sonic playable again after 14 years!

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It’s hard to believe that classic Sonic the Hedgehog hasn’t graced a Sonic video game since both Sonic Jam or Sonic R on the SEGA Saturn. When Sonic Team got prepared to launch Sonic Adventure, they wanted to redesign the character for a new audience. Sonic got longer, leaner, and developed green eyes.

Personally I’m a sucker for classic Sonic’s look, its just a classic. When Sonic Generations was announced, thousands of 20-something year olds screamed for joy. Me being one of them.

 

If you want to know more about Sonic and SEGA make sure to visit our sister site’s wiki pages: Sonic Retro and SEGA Retro!

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8 responses to “23 Sonic facts to know on Sonic’s 23rd Birthday

  1. cube_b3 says:

    I’ve played the Japanese build of Sonic Adventure and the American one, it doesn’t look like extra 9 months of work went into it. Think about it?

    Another thing I fight strange is the Sega chime or choir, I know it is stated that it took 1/8th of the cart but there are so many games that have voice acting, and quality voice acting on the cart.

    We had all those Sports and wrestling games with commentary, though my favorite voice acting game from Comix Zone.

    As a whole I really enjoyed this article, I did not expect to find any new Sonic factoids but I learned a few new things.

  2. Needlemouse says:

    Argh! As soon as I saw the headline, I knew what the first fact was going to be.
    No, Sonic was NOT originally called “Mr. Needlemouse”! This goes back to an old sketch by Naoto Ōshima, showing Sonic with the text “Mr. ハリネズミ” above. Do a quick google image search if you’ve never seen the sketch.

    ハリネズミ = harinezumi = Japanese for hedgehog. Thus, it’s simply “Mr. hedgehog”!

    Yes, harinezumi is a so-called compound word, consisting of two parts; hari, meaning needle, and nezumi, meaning mouse or rat (remember Erazor Djinn from Secret Rings?). Compound words are very common – “hedgehog” is one itself! – but you do not split them into their parts for translation. You translate the whole, unless you’re trying to be silly.

    Ergo: cite any sources for the “Sonic was originally Mr. Needlemouse” claim that are believable and NOT clearly based on Ōshima’s sketch. If you can’t do it, “Mr. Needlemouse” is most likely just a retcon, made popular again by the hype before Sonic 4.

    • George says:

      Thanks for reading the article, but no.

      It can mean either and the folks over at Sonic Retro even have a nice article on it:
      http://info.sonicretro.org/Mr._Needlemouse

    • Needlemouse says:

      Apparently you didn’t properly read what I wrote. It cannot mean both. Harinezumi doesn’t mean “needlemouse” anymore than hedgehog means “bush pig”. You don’t translate words from one language to another by splitting them into atoms, then translate those individually. You translate the whole meaning.

      Again: Unless you can provide proof to the contrary (and a Sonic Retro wiki article that doesn’t even refute what I wrote does NOT count), “Sonic was called Mr. Needlemouse” is a myth. It was Mr. Harinezumi / Mr. Hedgehog.

    • Ross says:

      Sorry George, but he’s right on this one. Harinezumi(針鼠) has only one meaning and that is hedgehog. The word for elecricity/electric is also made up of two kanji 電気, one means electirc and the other means spirit, but it does not mean electirc spirit, it has one meaning and that is electricity.

  3. SkyBlue says:

    Loved all the facts on here, but the last two felt like you ran out of steam with the 23 facts of Sonic.

    No mention of Sonic Crackers? Or maybe even Ristar running on the Sonic 1 engine? D:

    • George says:

      I didn’t want to make it all based on Megadrive era SEGA. I wanted to do a history of facts, starting with the conception of his name ending all the way in 2011’s Sonicel Generation.

  4. Nemo says:

    Amazing facts, but I think fact #9, Robotnik’s name was used once more in Sonic Generations.

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