Sonic the Hedgehog is an undeniable gaming heavyweight. Since his initial dash onto the scene, everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog has dominated consoles and run circles around the competition. The Sonic franchise has created an extremely dedicated fanbase, tons of spinoffs, and forays into almost every medium imaginable. Now, with the release of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, Sonic looks to capture the hearts of a whole new set of fans. Things are looking good for the little blue legend.
But there’s a lot more to Sonic than meets the eye. Here are 50 fast facts about the Blue Blur. Gotta go fast!
1. Step Aside, Kidd
Before Sonic took his place as Sega’s mascot, the role belonged to Alex Kidd. The Alex Kidd games predate Sonic and were meant to combat Super Mario Bros., with Alex Kidd hopefully being the face of Sega the way Mario was with Nintendo. Unfortunately, Alex didn’t catch on in the US, so they decided to try again with Sonic.
2. Sonic the Rabbit
Sonic was originally designed as a rabbit! When Sega decided they needed a new mascot, they held an internal design competition. They designed over 200 characters, but the team gravitated toward a rabbit who would throw objects with its ears. The team ultimately chose to go with the hedgehog, however, as the throwing mechanic slowed down the pace of the game.
3. To The Streets
Before he was created, Sega took to Central Park and asked passersby their opinions on their initial designs to determine what Sonic should look like. The blue hedgehog was a clear winner, and SEGA says it was because the hedgehog “transcends race and gender.”
4. Sharp Rat
Sonic’s original codename was “Mr. Needlemouse!” Probably good that didn’t stick.
5. Gotta Go Back
The premiere of the Sonic The Hedgehog movie trailer didn’t go as well as Paramount wanted. Fans showed outrage with the “realistic” look of the titular character. They complained about the teeth (teeth!?!), eyes, lack of gloves—everything, really. This convinced the team to push the release date and take the time to completely reanimate Sonic.
6. That Can’t be Cheap
Unsurprisingly, the complete redesign was costly for the company. The original rumor was that it cost around $35 million. This estimate, however, was allegedly too high, and a source told IndieWire.com that the number is closer to $5 million. Well, it’s already made that much back at the box office, so I’m sure they’re feeling good about it now.
7. Rapping About Hedgehogs
Rap heavyweights Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty, and Sueco the Child perform the lead song on the Sonic the Hedgehog movie soundtrack, “Speed Me Up.” The release of the song comes with a pixelized music video featuring the rappers in the Sonic universe.
8. Famous Friends
Horror legend John Carpenter is a huge fan of the Sonic games. In an interview, he said, “I even like the one where he turns into a werewolf,” referring to Sonic Unleashed, a universally panned entry of the series. Come on John, really?
9. The Rolling Green
Many aspects of the Sonic games took inspiration from pop artist Eizin Suzuki. Suzuki creates extremely colorful, cartoon-ish scenes. The team also took inspiration from the State of California for the iconic Green Hill Zone!
10. Getting Slippery With It
Every iteration of Sonic features his red-and-white shoes. With the release of Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast, these shoes were branded as Artemis Innovations “Soap” shoes. These were shoes you could actually purchase. They have plastic under the arch to let people grind on railings, much like Sonic does in Sonic Adventure. Like Heelys, but way more dangerous!
11. Jackson and Clinton and Santa, Oh My!
Sonic’s shoes take inspiration from Michael Jackson’s boots. Santa Claus, of all people, inspired the color, as well as Michael Jackson’s Bad album cover. Sonic’s “can-do” attitude took inspiration from an even stranger source: Bill Clinton!
12. That’s a Banger
It was long rumored that Michael Jackson created the music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3—and finally, the game’s music director revealed the truth. Jackson was a huge Sonic fan, and had been involved in the game’s music. However, he had to drop out at the last minute. His music was mostly reworked, and he went uncredited. Apparently, SEGA still has a demo tape lying around—but is the world ready to hear it?
13. Carrey-ing the Film
One of the most exciting aspects of the Sonic film is the inclusion of Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. When asked about playing Robotnik again, Carrey said, “I wouldn’t mind going to do another Sonic the Hedgehog movie because it was so much fun.”
14. Speeding Through Your Brain
A team of neuroscientists named a set of proteins in your brain “Sonic Hedgehog.” The proteins help separate the right and left halves of the brain. The person responsible is a huge fan of the Sonic…comics. You read that right: they knew Sonic from the comics, not the games.
15. Snatching the Title
The first Sonic game was a huge factor in the Sega Genesis’ success. The year Sonic the Hedgehog was released, the Genesis outsold the Super Nintendo Entertainment System two-to-one between October and December. This was the first time Nintendo was outsold since 1985.
16. Walking Proud
Sonic is so important that he earned a star on the Walk of Game. The Walk of Game emulated the Hollywood Walk of Fame on the ground of the Sony Metreon in California. Other video game characters with stars were Mario, Link, and Master Chief.
17. Silver Screen Sneak
The Sonic the Hedgehog movie isn’t the first time Sonic will appear on the big screen. He first appeared briefly in Wreck-It-Ralph, alongside Robotnik!
18. The Speed is a Lie
According to the first Sonic game’s instruction manual, it’s his shoes that give Sonic his speed! Mystery solved, folks.
In case you haven’t noticed, hedgehogs aren’t typically blue. The company decided to make Sonic blue to match the iconic SEGA logo.
20. Water Wings, Please
Sonic can’t swim, even though hedgehogs in real life can. Apparently, Yuji Naka, Sonic’s creator, “assumed that hedgehogs can’t swim […]” He later saw a photo of hedgehogs swimming. We can only assume it blew his mind.
21. Credit Your Team!
Back in the days of the Genesis, Sega had some interesting opinions on credits. They refused to allow post-game credits, as they wanted Sonic and other games to be associated with Sega rather than the individuals who made them (not a great look today). Sonic creator Yuji Naka didn’t like this, and hid pre-game credits in the games. He made the text black on black, and only visible through a cheat code.
22. Hear That, Kids?
Yuji Naka also stated in an interview that Sonic needs eight hours of sleep per night. If he doesn’t get that, he can’t run as well. Take a lesson from Sonic!
23. Not Fast Enough, Bye
If you wait for three minutes without moving in Sonic CD, Sonic will say “I’m outta here” and jump off-stage, resulting in a game over. Should’ve gone faster!
24. The Reason…For Sonic!
A number of notable musical acts have performed theme songs for Sonic games. Crush 40 produced the music for Sonic 3D Blast, and Zebrahead’s Ali Tabatabaee and Matty Lewis did the music for Sonic ’06. The best credit though? Hoobastank’s lead singer sang the theme for Sonic Forces. Hoobastank!
25. Speeding Into the Hearts of Millions
The original Sonic the Hedgehog game sold 15 million copies, with Sonic 2 coming in at six million. That’s a lot, especially compared to the more recent title Sonic Boom, which sold 490,000 copies following its release. Sorry folks, the 90s are over.
26. Getting Animated
Sonic first sped onto television in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, an animated series from DiC Animation. The show featured Jaleel White (best known for playing Urkel on Family Matters) as the voice of Sonic! Each episode even featured a PSA at the end, given by Sonic.
27. Bolting Into First
Sonic’s first appearance in video games wasn’t actually in his own game! The arcade game Rad Mobile, which released about four months before the original Sonic, featured the blue hedgehog as an ornament hanging from the rear-view mirror of a playable car.
28. X-Tremely Cancelled
With the release of the Sega Saturn came the promise of a new Sonic game, Sonic X-treme. This would have been the first 3D entry in the series, but sadly, it got canceled for a bizarre reason: Staff illness made it impossible to meet the release date. And to make things worse, the lack of a flagship Sonic game is considered a major factor in the failure of the Saturn.
29. Sonic the Alien
In Sonic movie’s trailer, Sonic says, “Looks like I’m going to have to save your planet,” leading many to believe Sonic is an alien. The film’s location manager confirmed this, saying, “Sonic is a video game character, who is an alien. The story is kind of ala E.T.. In the sense of a small town coming together to help the sheriff save our alien.”
30. Now That’s Fast
Video game speedrunning is exploding in popularity, and you’d better believe people try to beat the Sonic games as fast as possible. These records are changing hands all the time as new strategies are discovered, but currently, a runner named Phozon holds the record for beating Sonic the Hedgehog with a blistering time of 14:59. That run marks the first time anyone has ever broken the 15-minute barrier.
31. Not Our Sonic
Even the creators of Sonic weren’t pleased with the movie’s first trailer. Sonic’s original designer, Naoto Ohshima said, “Sonic is a fairy of hedgehog, so he doesn’t need to be designed closer to a real hedgehog […] Mickey doesn’t become a mouse in live-action, does he?” Oh gosh, Disney, please no…
32. Now That’s Our Sonic
Thankfully, the updated trailer was more pleasing. Yuji Naka said of it, “The design is much more Sonic-like.” He still had one criticism, though: “His eyes still aren’t joined together. I feel that is a bit strange.” Right?!
33. Trusting the Fans
Sonic Mania is one of the most praised Sonic games in recent memory. Released in 2017, Sega actually hired members of the Sonic fangame and hacking community to make the game! They made Sonic Mania emulate the look and feel of the original Genesis titles, but with all-new levels and characters. It was exactly what beleaguered Sonic fans had been looking for after decades of mediocre 3D entries.
34. Bear, Meet Hedgehog
The filmmakers used Ted of the popular Ted film series as a reference point for inserting a CGI Sonic into the real world. Who else kind of wants a Ted and Sonic crossover film? Anyone? No? Yes?
35. The Name Game!
Want to see who your hedgehog is? Simply Google “your name + the hedgehog,” and a fan-made hedgehog with your name will probably pop up! Thank you, Sonic fans.
36. DIY Sonic
Sonic Forces was the first Sonic game to allow players to make their own character! When asked about the choice to include this, Takashi Lizuka said, “this whole understanding of how American fans are interacting with the character was the seed.” Another instance of Sonic Team showing love to the fans. Unfortunately though, as with just about every 3D Sonic, the game was a flop with critics and fans alike.
37. Most Meme-able Hedgehog
Like many characters, Sonic has seen his fair share of memes. These include the notoriously popular Ugandan Knuckles and “Sanic hegehog,” a poorly-drawn MS Paint Sonic. Even Sonic’s official Twitter account is known to share these memes, with the account runner saying, “Half the time we post a meme and we look at the responses and they just crack us up. People are in on the joke, and they’re joking back with us.”
38. Come Together
Sonic and Nintendo tend to get along these days. The regularly released Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series has the two competing in Olympic sports, Sonic Lost World features a Zelda DLC level, and of course, Sonic has been a playable character in the last two Super Smash Bros.
39. Slow Down!
In Sonic 3, it’s possible to go too fast! One developer of Sonic Mania says in an interview that it’s possible to go so fast that Sonic clips through aspects of the stage, effectively breaking the game.
40. I See What You Did There
The tagline for the Sonic the Hedgehog film is, “Every hero has a genesis.” This is a sly reference to the Sega Genesis, Sonic’s debut console. Get it?!
41. Hands Off, Sega
Sega Europe president Gary Dale said that the company has had a very “hands-off” role in the film. He stated, “Obviously we have a very deep knowledge of the character and the brand. [Paramount] has a very deep knowledge of how to make movies. The trick is just to bring those two skillsets together to make the best film we can.”
42. Running from Panel to Panel
Among countless other properties, Sonic also had a comic book! Developed by the Archie Comics team, Sonic the Hedgehog is the longest-running monthly comic book series to never be relaunched. The comic ran for 24 years before cancellation.
43. A Rocky Road
Sonic has been trying to bolt onto the silver screen for a while, now. The first Sonic film was to be a tie-in with Sonic X-treme, but Sega canceled it alongside the game. Next would be Sonic the Hedgehog: Wonders of the World, which writers pitched to Sega and DreamWorks, who ultimately rejected it. Then Sony got the rights and worked on an animated film for a while, until Paramount took over and changed the whole thing up. What a journey!
44. Buried and Forgotten
In order to maintain some integrity for the series, Sega delisted a few negatively reviewed Sonic games in 2010. This means retailers wouldn’t get restocks. Some of these games included Sonic ’06, Sonic and the Black Knight, and Sonic Unleashed.
45. Breaking the Curse
Movie studios have been trying to crack the “Video Game Movie” nut for decades, but just about every single movie based on a video game has been a failure both critically and financially. Sonic was by far the biggest character to get a movie adaptation in decades, so Paramount had high hopes…and they were rewarded! Sonic the Hedgehog raced to a $70 million dollar opening weekend in the US, and over $113 worldwide. It was the most successful opening for any video game movie ever.
Plus, while critics aren’t exactly in love with the film, anything better than a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes is pretty much a critical success for a video game at this point. Since Sonic is currently sitting at a 66%, we’ll call it a win!
46. Pick a Name, Any Name
There’s some debate over the name of Sonic’s greatest enemy, Dr. Robotnik. The first English game claims his name is Dr. Ivo Robotnik, where the Japanese version says Dr. Eggman. And to make matters even more confusing, Sonic Adventure uses both names! It’s now canon that his full name is Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik, with Eggman being a nickname based on his weight. Rude!
47. Sonic Sinks
Sonic was a balloon in the 1993 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! But the wind did not carry success that day. The Sonic balloon ended up bursting and deflating, resulting in two injuries. Oh, the humanity!
48. Not the Best Anniversary
The 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game came out for Sonic’s 15th anniversary. It was meant as a reboot of the franchise, and fans were insanely excited for its release. Only…it wasn’t very good. In fact, it was awful. The game is frequently touted as one of the worst of all time for its glitches, loading times, and the decision to give Sonic a human love interest….who he kisses…on the lips…
49. A Ladies Hedgehog
If that wasn’t bad enough, Sonic almost had a human girlfriend before the arrival of Sonic ’06! Her name was Madonna, and she played in a rock band with an alligator and monkey. The idea never made it off the cutting room floor for…some reason.
50. Marketing Black Magic
Some conspiracy-minded folks saw the whole Sonic redesign debacle as an advertising scheme. Their theories claim that the “good” Sonic redesign already existed, and Paramount revealed the “bad” one to generate interest and outrage across the internet. The company never intended for Sonic to look that way. What do you think, was it New Coke all over again? Maybe we’ll never know…