Sonic was the 90s in America. Sega wasn’t like Nintendo with getting scared off of licensing out their mascot after one or two monstrously off brand adaptations. So my childhood was just Sonic everything and everywhere yet seemingly nobody but me liked the Blue Blur. Then again you never saw many Spiderman things around and no one talked about him but he seems to be everyone’s nostalgic go to for childhood superhero. That is fitting because I ask you a very basic question. Does Spider-man shoot his own webs or does he make them with science?
Exactly, the correct answer is who cares? The 90s had two major Spider-man franchises one with we shooters one with natural webs. They stayed self contained and both went in dramatically different directions. So did the American adaptations of Sonic. Arguably the SatAM Sonic is the true series. As it was based inline with the Archie Comics. So it was more a show based on the comics not quite the games.
Dark gritty and amazing the Sat AM show was just called “Sonic The Hedgehog” back then. It got the Sat AM title as it came on TV Saturday mornings. Bigger budget animation coupled with the most terrifying bad guy to ever grace children’s television.
A long time fan favorite series and a ridiculously long running comic only recently had it started bleeding over into the main series games. I personally like to consider Sonic Forces a soft reboot of Sat AM.
Not to mention it has the first appearance of Sonic’s best friend ME!
Yeah I made him as close to the character I used to doodle in school. Sonic Forces has most of what made Sat AM so great with just worse writing. Now just as rare as seeing the Freedom Fighters in the video games so too was actually getting to watch Satm AM Sonic. Monday through Friday before school was a completely different Sonic.
A genuinely okay show. It was as true to Sonic as the Super Show was to Mario. Levels and places more often than not being paid lip service and having similar color pallets to the games it was based on. A more light hearted and slapstick take treating Sonic and Tails like Rocky and Bullwinkle. Just a pair of do holders going about their lives while being persistently hounded by the antagonists. Robotnik in this run is more a menace than a despot. Not yet having conquered the world.
The show also has those iconic PSA messages at that end that range from fair enough to down right silly. This show is an absolute fever dream of slapstick hijinks and long pause pun based humor. A good amount of Sonic’s attitude had it’s base work laid out here. Robotnik as well actually. Even though this one is way sillier he still does a good job of being pretty evil. Like in one episode he wants Sonic out of the way just so he can flood a town he doesn’t like. Almost pulls it off to. It was a nice way to start a morning for sure, atleast before Pokemon came around.
That was my mornings 6 days a week. One of those Sonic shows. My long white Sonic t-shirt and red plastic snap Sonic Lunchbox carried me through school until I could get home and have some Sonic pasta.
The 90s was very Sonic forward in America largely because Sega wanted to make a push into the american homes. Which the got easily with their agressive and attitude filled marketing as well as slapping Sonic anywhere they could and to anyone who gave them enough money. Sega of Japan only really realized it once they started looking into the advertising that the American branch was up to. Got upset and suddenly did a big switch around while trying to push new add ons and games did them no favors. Sonic was suddenly gone from TV and the tie in toys and foods started to fade away. Most of those deals were based on Sonic the show, not the game. And even though Sega was getting most the money legally no show means no deals and Sega of Japan was starting to go all Nintendo on brand deals.
But taking on Mario at his own game was, and still is, a big mistake. There was also an honest attempt to bury the american made canon of the Archie comics filled with lawsuits and all sorts of crazy over kill tactics. Which is really sad because the Archie comics single handedly kept Sonic relevant with all of Sega’s missteps and bad choices. The Archie comics Sonic did runs based on all the games. Not just the big 4 (Sonic 1-3 and Knuckles) but CD and Chaotix.
They wanted a fresh start with Sonic Adventure. The struggle to tone down the “offensive and aggressive” marketing tactics caused them such a loss in the industry as a whole they couldn’t properly communicate with or possibly didn’t even care to tell Sega of America what they were releasing when. Sega Genesis had the Sega CD and Sega 32X add ons that each cost about as much as a system to purchase. Not to mention the average consumer did not know what they were. Most non gaming parents saw no point in it as their kids couldn’t properly explain what a bit was let alone why more was better. Then the Sega Saturn came out with next to no games because well development teams saw no real returns on the Sega CD or 32X. The best Saturn games happened to mostly be Japanese tie in ones like Dragon Ball which had no North American distribution. South America and Europe were still playing the dang Sega Master System so they weren’t helping. So we had a terrible crash in brand awareness. In America Sega and Sonic were just “Those old Nintendo competitors” same way we look at Bonk or Bubsy. The drop in sales hurt Sega so bad they panicked and dropped Sega Saturn support to fast. Sure it was in Japan for a bit but it was less than a year out in America before they already started on the Sega Dreamcast. Cancelling the new Saturn Sonic game called Sonic eXtreme.
Dumping it’s assets into a compilation game called Sonic Jam and starting the trend of just rererereleasing Sonic 1-3 usually without Sonic and Knuckles lock on support. So I was done.
I didn’t even buy my first Dreamcast. Some kid I ate lunch with in school just gave me his to borrow. Like for a few months and sure I played Sonic Adventure, but it was so different from the Sonic I knew. Both American and Japanese versions of his story. If it wasn’t for the fact we used the Dreamcast as our internet browser we probably wouldn’t have bought our own when he finally asked for it back. Actually having my own Dreamcast now I bought the other Sonic games on it and slowly started warming up to the new “Modern” Sonic.
It got brownie points for seasonal and holiday changes that you could download as free DLC for Halloween, Christmas, and New Years. And mind you all this happened in just like 8 years. From Sonic 1 to Sonic Adventure. Sega was over saturated with self competing hardware and a track record of not supporting their own systems shortly after launch so once it was discovered that you could easily pirate Dreamcast games it was the end. With the writing on the wall Sega was preparing for bankruptcy. The split the Sonic IP into it’s own company and doubled down on the new Sonic Adventure style stuff with a brand new and terrible show, from Japan this time, Sonic X.
Oh God I wanted to like this show. Just it wasn’t doing it for me at all. Not to mention they dropped the Adventure series setting in the next game Sonic Heros. Kept the characters but reset everything else and well I started to lose interest until it happened. 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog. For this I will defer to a certain angry video game critic. Fair warning he has a potty mouth.
That’s right Angry Video Game Nerd, who is used to shitty games, took over a year to be able to finish his review of that trainwreck. I didn’t say much about it because I never finished Sonic ’06 so I tend to withhold my opinions. I mean it is awful, and bad, and terrible, and the antithesis of fun. I can safely say that much about it. The other thing is it was Sega Japan still trying to push that awful Japanese Sonic mentality.
Like the original Sonic: The Movie that was just plopped into existence. Sonic is just suddenly in a pre populated world loosely connected to the video games where he saves a very close to human princess. That OVA (Original Video Animation) was an anime that would roughly translate to a direct to VHS/DVD/Streaming service movie in America. It’s pretty okay, not much to it. Funny how a Sonic movie about Sonic running around a bunch of places and fighting robots without much plot is actually pretty decent. Almost as if fans want something resembling the series they enjoy.
From here we start the darkest decline. Once they saw their plan wasn’t working they desperately pumped out anything they could think of. Sonic as a werewolf?
That didn’t work, obviously. So how about Sonic is Aladdin? Sure why not?
Oh because it’s baaaaaaad. Then how about he is a knight? Would you like him as a Knight?
Yet I still stuck with him from all this garbage hoping for one single bit of hope. When out of nowhere a beam of golden light broke from the heavens rending the dark storm clouds away. A big glowing ring with a familiar ribbon descended.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4! Wait a second, Episode 1? Little did I know this wasn’t the divine light of salvation but rather the subtle short lived yellow light that hangs in the heart of a hurricane. They promised me extras for a prepurchase of all three episodes. Then they only released 2 episodes and never wrapped up the story. Not a huge loss, they played heavy and sluggish and almost devoid of heart. Yet still playable. This was when I finally stepped away from Sonic. I couldn’t handle anymore disappointment. Until finally a surprise one two punch from Sega. They have coasted by on goodwill from the few good GBA and DS games they squeezed out but I never liked paying 40 bux for a passable Sonic game I can only play on an itty bitty screen. So I was just startled when I saw this.
An amazing 2D Sonic game made by one of their most vocal members of the fanmod community?! I was sold instantly and then just to make it extra perfect it was the lead in title to this!
Japan finally trying to make the Sonic I always wanted as a kid with a create-a-character to boot. Sure the game wasn’t perfect but it was fun. Which is all I really wanted from Sonic in the first place. So where are we right now? What with the new movie and all I must say we made it. We are back to where I like Sonic. Sure it could be better. Only that would cut down it’s appeal to others. Sonic is for everyone even if sometimes those people want his arms blue.