Sad you don't see Alex Kidd around anymore
Welcome to the World of is an idea Ive had for the longest. I wanted to make it a YouTube series, and still do someday. Id select a series of something I like and know well about in pop culture and celebrate it with a slew of related stuff on said series. From its history, music, main releases, side releases, canon to non-canon, best of fan made stuff, ect. So I figured Id make a thread based version for now, and start off with what is to those who know me is obviously my favorite game series of all time, Sonic the Hedgehog. And its a good time too. This year marked Sonics 20th anniversary, as it comes to a close I think celebrations in order. So lets get this started with a brief origin of the character and series.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT AND POST. THIS THREAD IS ALSO A DISCUSSION THREAD ON ALL THINGS SONIC, AND FEEDBACK IS ALWAYS APPRECIATED.
CHAPTER 1: BIRTH OF A LEGENDSpoiler Alert!The tale begins not with a hedgehog, but with a kid, horribliy loosing a popularity contest against a mustachioed Italian plumber.
Alex Kidd, Segas former mascot, predating Sonic.
Before there ever was Sonic the Hedgehog, there was Alex Kidd. In the mid to late 80s, Alex Kidd peaked in his popularity. A character with roots of inspiration from Bruce Lee (Chinese martial arts movie star legend) and Sun Wukong (Monkey King from the old Chinese tale Journey to the West) Alex was Segas top selling series and the flagship mascot for the gaming company, but the sucess of the series could never seem to hold a candle to Nintendos highly successful Super Mario Bros. series. At the turn of the decade, Sega dared to do something nobody had yet to dare, they challenged the Nintendo power-house in dead on competition. Their secret weapon? A revolutionary new 16 bit console capable of processing data 10 times faster than the NES, making for faster and smoother gameplay and better quality graphics than Nintendos' NES, the Sega Genesis.
Shown above: Blast Processing
But even if the DVD is supperior to the VHS, youre going to watch the movie with the better actor and story, right? Sega knew that in order for the Genesis to be as successful as they knew it could be, itd need a new character, a new mascot, to lead the way. They got to thinking. And the ones in charge of thinking ordered the fellas working for them to get to thinkin too. Everyone working for Sega at the time was ordered to be creative and come up with the most suitable mascot for this new attitude they were going to show, and a character with attitude is what they got, but it didnt happen right away. There was some trial and error to be had that would eventually lead to other game ideas in the near future.
Mascot idea: Theodore Roosevelt in PJs. Look familiar?
Mascot idea: A rabbit that uses his ears to grab and throw things. Later this concept is worked on to create the Sega character Ristar.
Mascot idea: A werewolf wearing a patriotic American flag shirt. How tacky.
None of the character designs seemed to click with what they were hoping for, then one fatefull day, after all the failed attempts, a Mr. Naoto Ohshima was in a local resturaunt, probably eating something really freakin awesome being as he is equally as freakin awesome, made this little doodle on his napkin while waiting for his sweet ass meal.
Pictured: Kickass napkin
Oshimawesome showed this little guy he named "Mr. Needlemouse" around to the guys at work and apperantly he was on to something. A rename and art touch up later and we eventually got
Sonic the Hedgehog
Wasnt that simple though. Some crazy ideas were made that were so over the top and tacky for the blue dude that it might have been the nails in the coffin in the early grave for Sonic. Thankfully, the good ole' US of A was there to set things straight when the original Japanese ideas got a little too out there. When Sega of Japan sent the concept over to the western marketing department of their yankee counterparts, Sonic was named Mr. Hedgehog, he was in a rock band of crazy animals, the villians name was Dr. Badvibes, the goal of the game was to save the band groupie Madonna from ol Badvibes, so on and so forth. Sega of America saw potential, but told Sega of Japan to change said ideas. A big arguement that almost kept Sonic from being fleshed out in a game insued but eventually SoJ gave in, in which theyd later be glad they did.
So sega now had the mascot they wanted. He was a cool blue dude with an attitude that showcased the speed of the Genesis with his abilities and had a highly memorable look about him. They handed the project over to Sega legend Yuji Naka to start work on the game and start work he did. As he slaved away over a hot computer all day, a rock star tended to the beats and sounds of Sonic.
If you activated the video above, you are listening to the music of Green Hill Zone, the first stage in Sonic the Hedgehog. The soundtrack was composed by Masato Nakamura, a member of the Japanese rock band Dreams Come True.
With the game near complete and ready for release, Sega began to advertise the crap out of it. Counting chickens before they hatch? Maybe. But hell, if youre that confident, you cant be wrong... right? Well apperantly they were right. June 1991 came around and anybody who was anybody has heard an earfull of how freakin awesome Sonic is going to be. In advertisements, Sega focused on some key things that would help them overthrow Nintendo from their perch. They made sure people knew that the Genesis was many times faster than the NES and playing Sonic the Hedgehog will let you truely experiance that. They advertised Sonic's cool dude attitude, making it clear that Sonic was edgey while Mario was a plump dopey boyscout.
Things like these made Sonics debut a huge success. The day of Sonics release was the best day Sega had seen buisness-wise up to that point. Needless to say, the demand for a sequel was very soon to follow, and seeing how loved their new series had become in such a short time, that was something Sega was more than happy to get to work on.
Up next, two is a big word. Game number two, the big sequel challenge for Sega, a game trying to be twice as big, and a deformation resulting in two tails. I'll continue Welcome to the World of: Sonic the Hedgehog with the story of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 shortly.
CHAPTER 2: ANOTHER RUNSpoiler Alert!
Now, the group from Sega that worked on the Sonic the Hedgehog game is the famous Sonic Team. (Originally named Sega AM8 before the release of Sonic the Hedgehog) It would only make sense to have them get to work on the sequel right? Well that doesnt seem to be the case for Sonic 2. The higher ups at Sega felt like letting someone else work on the sequel title will help keep the series to stay "fresh" and not keep it from feeling too much like the same game as the first. The Sega Technical Institute of America was tasked out to make Sonic the Hedgehog 2 shortly after the success of Sonic the Hedgehog in June 1991. Yeah, big friggen shoes to fill. But all was well, as they had Sonic Team to oversee their progress and advise them if they needed so the whole way.
Actually, believe it or not, Sega Tech Institute of America was growing quite a bit from Sonic Team at the time. Rumor has it, legend Yuji Naka got sick of some of Sega of Japans policies and moved over to STI of America shortly before Sonic 2s development began.
Screw you guys. Im leaving, Im taking him with me.
After that a few others left and did the same aswell.
Work began on Sonic 2, but shortly in an idea was had. People love sidekicks. What was a huge appeal to Nintendos Mario Bros is that they were, well two brothers. Its no surprise that back then, and still today, Luigi of the Mario franchise had his own little fanbase. It didnt take much to decide that Sonic 2 should introduce a new character and loyal buddy to the blue blur. Another Sega-wide competition was held to decide who would be fitting for Sonic to race around levels with. For a while it was pretty much decided to be a rocket-powered turtle named Boomer, but then Yasushi Yamaguchi drew this up and turned it over to his boss.
Pictured: landslide vote
He thought up an orange two-tailed fox by the name of Miles Prower, a pun on the term "miles per hour" which he rightfully felt fitting for the series. The idea was loved by all he showed it to, but the higher ups decided to go with a name more simple and memorable. Thus the character would come to be known as Tails, much to the disliking of Mr. Yamaguchi. Yasushi still snuck his original name into the game here and there and a comprimise was made. Miles Prower would be the characters actual name, while Tails would be his more widely known nickname.
Now Im going to briefly skip over a few years for the next little bit of information regarding Sonic 2. Something nobody outside of Sonic Team and STI knew about until years later. Apperantly, a few years later the game was hacked to find some interesting discoveries about Sonic 2s original concept that didnt fully make it to the game, but would sound familiar to those who has played other, later games in the series.
The reason I bring this up in the middle of Sonic 2s little story, is because this shines a little light on how the story was originally shaped. Now if you know anything about Sonic you would recognize what is in that picture above but find it increadibly odd to see it in a section about Sonic 2. What you see up there is the Master Emerald in a stage that was cut out in the final product named Hidden Palace Zone. Get this, in the original concept idea for Sonic 2, Tails was to be the guardian of a powerful gem that Dr. Robotnik so wanted to get his hands on.
"Back the f**k off mah emaruldz!"
Ofcoarse, the idea was scraped, what we did get though is the first chapter in what we fans like to call the "Death Egg Saga."
The ability to destroy entire planets is insignificant next to the power of the hedghog.
As for the finished story, being as nice a guy as he is, Dr. Robotnik creates his most powerful creation he has ever created, the Death Egg. (Star Wars!!!!!1!0ne!!) With a weapon capable of destroying the world in a single blow its up to Sonic and his new pal Tails to save the world. The game featured more levels, new abilities like the spin-dash which besides his speed has become Sonics claim to fame. And a certain Masato Nakamura returned from touring with Dreams Come True, and groupies that undoubtedly came with the territory, to get to work on some of the most memoriable pieces in Sonics history.
That there is the music behind Emerald Hill Zone, the first stage of Sonic 2. With the game complete, the release on the way... they made a pretty fricken huge deal about it. A whoping $10 million advertising campaign was initiated for the highly awaited sequel. The name of the release date was dubbed "Sonic 2sday." (Hows that for your everyday holiday thread?) See for yourself.
Sonic 2 released on November 21, 1992 in Japan and on November 24, 1992 everywhere else. As already mentioned, fans called the release days "Sonic 2sdays" and the game totaled up to selling more copies than any other video game for the next three years. I shit you not.
Up next, a gaming mascot becomes an icon symbolizing the times. How a little blue hedgehog became a pop culture phenomenon considered to be the embodiment of the 90's itslef.
CHAPTER 3: SEGA CREATED A MONSTER - post #7
CHAPTER 4: A SPINJUMP IN TECHNOLOGY - post #8
CHAPTER 5: A GAME WAY PAST COOL - post #9
Last edited by Bodine; 12-29-2011 at 08:51 PM.
Sad you don't see Alex Kidd around anymore
Last edited by bxym; 12-24-2011 at 05:32 AM.
"The Self Proclaimed King of Rhode Island"
If ya don't mind, what do you think of the Sonic franchise today?
3DS FC: 1478-4144-3572
Trying to motivate myself to play: Project X Zone, Etrian Odyssey IV.
Ive updated the op with Sonic 2. Ill do work on the next section later but may have to wait for after Christmas day, got a lot to do till then.
Last edited by Splash_King; 12-25-2011 at 12:14 AM. Reason: If this DP wasn't in the lounge, I'd rage Bodine. :P
So I started to continue with chapter 3, but Ive hit a bit of a snag. I forgot that there is a limitation to the amount of pictures and videos that can be posted in the op, so Im trying to figure a way around this while asking mods to maybe lift this rule this once as an exception. sorry for the inconveniance(sp?).
CHAPTER 3: SEGA CREATED A MONSTERSpoiler Alert!What Sega had done was the unthinkable. They were able to boast higher sales than Nintendos "golden boy of games" only two main installments in. It was appareant to Sega, to the fans, to anyone paying attention, that Sonic was meant for greatness. With a game this popular it was clear that Sonic sales, and so after Sonic 2 was release the pandemic began. T-shirts, keychains, wallets, belt buckles, mugs, happy meal toys, wrist watches, cereal brands, special edition Sonic Spaghettios, and on and on the merchandise went through the roof. But little trinkets, apperal and food cameos is just barely scratching the surface. Back in those days you couldnt watch tv, listen to the radio, read a newspaper or walk through any kind of store without seeing or hearing about the blue dude with the 'tude.
September 1993 marked Sonics very own tv series debut in the animated show Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. The show lasted for one season, but almost every kids tv was tuned in on its regular scheduled hours. The show featured Sonic and Tails in a comical adventure stopping the bumbling oaf Dr. Robotnik and his two mechanical misfits of minions Scratch and Grounder.
above: child humor of extreme cartoon violence and fat jokes
Shortly afterwards in the same month Sonic had another animated television series released, making him the only video game character to this day to have two television shows running simultaneously. A lot more serious toned with an aim for more action and adventure rather than slapstick cartoon humor the AoStH was known for the series simply named Sonic the Hedgehog (dubbed SATAM by fans) showed Sonic, Tails and many characters made in the show as freedom fighters survivng in a world ruled by a much more sinister Dr. Robotnik.
above: epic animated adventure... with a 'tude
The series ran until December of the next year and ended on a cliffhanger, making it obvious that another season was planned but never fleshed out. By the by, in both series, and the series next to come, Sonic was voiced by Jaleel White, none other than the actor who played as Steve Eurkle in the sitcom Family Matters.
"Gee Dr. Robotnik, did I do that!?"
Think what you will, the guy did a pretty damn good job with the role. Its called acting and he gets paid to do it for a reason.
Later another cartoon series would premier in 1999 for once again one season. This one actually failed because of, well, how bad it was.
Two successful and one not so much tv shows in a single decade? Not bad, not bad at all right?
Sega struck a deal with Archie Comics back in 92 that would become the most successful and long running, still running today, comic book series based on a video game character. The series, simply named Sonic the Hedgehog, started originally as a short 4-part story based on the SATAM tv show published from November 1992 to Feburary 1993.
After the short series ended, fans wouldnt shut their mouthes about how much they wanted more of Sonic, so the series picked back up in May of 93.
pictured: The first of many products Sega shoved off to get them the fans to shut the hell up.
The comics would reintroduce familiar faces from the games and tv shows alike, aswell as introduce newer characters from the games as they debut in new game installments, and make characters exclusive in the Archie comic along the way. The comic is non-cannon to the games and often branch into stories of its own, but usually will cover its own version of a stroy of a new Sonic game as they are released.
Shown: Sonic fighting Chaos 0, this issue is to tell a story similar to the DreamCast game Sonic Adventure.
Example of characters exclusive to the comics. Scourge, also known as the most unoriginal idea ever made.
In 1996 a two part hour long anime film titled Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie was released in Japan. In 99 the film was dubbed into English and edited into 1 full hour long film and released in America. The film featured characters Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Dr. Robotnik, Metal Sonic, and an old owl man exclusive in the film. The movie was completely seperate story-wise with any game, comic or tv show and was in a world of its own made of the Land of the Sky/Heavens and the Land of Darkness below AKA Robotropolis. In the movies the heroes are duped by Robotnik and go to the Land of Darkness only to be trapped where Sonic is forced to battle it out somewhat Dragon Ball Z style with Metal Sonic. More on the character Metal Sonic later.
In the 90s, if a movie wasnt made of it, it sucked
Meanwhile, on planet Namek...
The voice cast was a completely different roster from the animated tv shows. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Robotnik were played by Martin Burke, Lainie Fraiser, Bill Wise and Ed Neal, respectively. Appearantly Tails seemed to Miss Fraiser to envoke a stuffy nostril feel upon her, and Martin Burke felt as if Sonic should sound like a hooker with a sore throat, which is probably common amongst those hard working girls.
But all of this Im feeding you is just other forms of media. Gaming icons do that all the time. What seperated Sonic and classified his fame as a world wide frenzy? Well...
In 1993 at the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Sonic the Hedgehog was present, as the first video game character to be featured as a parade balloon. Up till that point video characters werent really picked for that sort of thing, but as I said back then Sonics fame showed he was more than just that.
Suck it Mario. Kiss my giant inflatable butt.
Also he was the first video game character to have his balloon get blown off coarse by a gust of wind, impaled by a light post, knocking said lightpost over and injuring an off-duty police officer and a small child...
Guess he didnt have any rings
Between 93 and 97 Sonic appeared on the uniform of the JEF United Ichihara Chiba football team.
But they wouldnt go for painting the soccer ball like a blue curled up Sonic
In the 93 Formula One Championship, Sega was the sponsers for the Williams Grand Prix team (No, it wasnt normal for game companys to do stuff like that, but this is 90s Sega we're talking about here) as well as lead driver Alain Prost, who in fact won, by the way.
Good job winning, but back in those days the guy wearing the big Sonic costume probably had the best chance of getting laid.
While we are on racing, the 93 European Grand Prix was littered with Sonic advertisment and promotional stuff... including the trophey itself. You only wish I were kidding. People literally thought its actual title that year was the "Sega European Grand Prix."
What appears to be going on: Ayrton Senna caliming his victory
Whats actually going on: Segas one step closer to world domination
In the early 90's a poll was taken aimed at American children to see who was the most recognizable media personallity amoungst them. Sonic the Hedgehog beat Mickey Mouse, Ronald McDonald and Mario outright.
Some of the things I mentioned span all the way to the end of the decade sure, but the reason I interupt the history to brief you on the unbelievable fame Sonic gained throughout the 90s is cause the world wide Sonic frenzy started around Sonic 2s release. The world wont see a craze over a video game series nearly that big untill near the very end of the decade, when Pokemon takes the world by storm.
Up next, compact disks. Theyre the way of the future! While Segas Sega CD attatchment was a flop, it did give us one of the best Sonic games ever, with its own little cult following. And it itroduced the most powerful villian to ever grace the series. In chapter 4, we're going to cover the little gem, Sonic CD.
Last edited by Bodine; 12-29-2011 at 09:01 PM.
CHAPTER 4: A SPINJUMP IN TECHNOLOGYSpoiler Alert!
Jumping back to the year Sonic the Hedgehog debuted, in December of 1991 at the Tokyo Game Show, Sega showcased a little device that was an attatchment to the Sega Genesis. They called it the Mega CD. It connected to the Genesis and played games on a compact disk. The graphics were slightly better than the Genesis alone and had the capability to play video and much better, complex sound files. Jump to 1992. Remember when I said while speaking on Sonic 2 that Yuji Naka and other Sonic Team members moved to Sega Technical Institute of America shortly before the development of Sonic 2? Well appearently that action didnt only split up Sonic Team, but split the initial project meant to be Sonic 2 into two different games entirely. While Sega Tech Institute of America worked on Sonic 2, Sonic Team back in Japan were left with an idea that would work best as a seperate installment. Another thing besides Tails being the guardian of the Master Emerald that was originally planned for Sonic 2 was the concept of time travel with a very Sonic twist. This idea getting the boot from Sonic 2 would birth one of Segas greatest Sonic games, Sonic CD.
Headed by Naoto Oshima, the mastermind behind Sonics creation via napkin, Sonic Team put their heads together to come up with radical new ideas that would make Sonic CD a revolutionary breakthrough. Sonic CD was the first Sonic game to use animated cutscenes, though only for the opening and ending of the game. The cutscenes were created by famed anime and media production company Toei Animations and Studio Junio.
Now the music for Sonic CD is a particulary interesting subject for a few reason.
A. The Sega CD allowed for more advanced music tracks
B. The soundtracks are freakin amazing
C. The soundtracks are the first to feature vocal tracks
D. The fact that I had to say soundtracks
See, the soundtrack of Sonic CD is completely different between the original Japanese and PAL region release and the US release. Both versions contain excelent music that will be a favorite mix of music of Sonic fans for years to come. The Japanese soundtrack was composed by Nafumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata and featured songs Sonic - You Can Do Anything (composed by Masafumi) and Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself (composed by Nafumi) sang by 90s Jpop singer Keiko Utoku. The Japanese versions boss theme was also noted for sampling 70s American artists Xavier, Bootsy Collins, and George Clintons song Work That Sucker to Death.
The US versions release was delayed to work on the seperate soundtrack. Not to judge but I dont really understand that move, but hey, it gave us more great music. This soundtrack was composed by Sega CD soundtrack pro Spencer Nielson who altered all music save for the tracks played during the levels while in the past. The theme was replaced by Sonic Boom, performed by rock band Pastiche.
US Sonic CD opening animation featuring song Sonic Boom
JP Sonic CD opening animation featuring song You Can Do Anything
Heres a comparison of the US and JP version of the BGM to Stardust Speedway Bad Future.
Sonic CD introduces two new characters to the Sonic universe. One is a villian made to be a match for the blue blur, and the other... sigh, the other, well...
Amy Rose was at first meant to be a love interest for Sonic. What we got though is a raging Sonic fan thats obsessed with the hedgehog and follows him to the ends of the Earth. Yep, Sonic has an official, fully canon, legitament stalker.
Stalker is a strong word. Shes just a little quirky. Regularly checks Sonics Facebook updates, texts him 30 times a day, pictures of him on every wall of her house, gives him strange drinks, he wakes up to her staring at him whispering "We will be together forever." over and over again. You know the type.
A Mr. Kazuyuki Hoshino can be blamed for bringing Amy, originally named Rosey the Rascal and based a lot on characters found in a Sonic the Hedgehog manga selliing in Japan at the time, to Sonic CD. Although Sonic was thought of as somewhat of a ladies man, shortly after this love interest was created it seemed more fitting to have Sonic have little to no interest in her romantically. Unfortuantely for him Amy is no exception to the "wanting what you cant get even more" concept and it only strengthens her obsession. Her role in the game is to be the dumb broad that, like all dumb broads in games, gets kidnapped and needs rescuing. Although Sonic would be better off letting her be used as a robot fuel source in my opinion, Sonic cant ignore someone in trouble. Who kidnaps her? None other than a new, awesome villian, and my personal favorite, Metal Sonic.
Pictured above: pure steel born badass
Kazuyuki isnt all that bad, he is infact the one who came up with Metal Sonic. Its possible that Sonic Team caught wind that STI of the USA was planning to have a mechanical version of Sonic to be a near final boss in Sonic 2, so Sonic Team set out to outdo them. If thats the case they certainly succeded. Kazuyuki began thinking up of a mechanical match to their mascot and presented this at work.
Metal Sonic is the deadliest mechanical creation by Dr. Robotnik still to this day in the series. According to the story of Sonic CD, Robotnik created Metal to be superior to Sonic in every way and he did just that. Metal Sonic is capable of traveling faster than Sonic, top speeds around mach 5. Hes cold and calculating and the most intelligent of Robotniks creations. He is capable of charging his body with power incasing him in a shroud of light able to blast and melt through any and all obstacles in his path, aswell as charge a laser canon from his chest. He can overcharge his energy to create an outward explosion leaving everything around him utterly destroyed but no harm made to himself. Later in the series it will be shown that Metal Sonic is also able to learn, adapt, and evolve. He can learn abilities from foes he fights and can grow to stronger forms given a supperior power source. All in all, Robotnik really outdid himself with this one. The only problem though with having such an advanced, dangerous and intelligent being is that it is subject to the "Self Aware Phenomenon" and may go against the wishes of his creator from time to time or even realize that he is supperior to Robotnik and try to beat him at his own game for world domination, but Im getting ahead of myself.
Sonic CD would go to have a successfull release world wide. In Japan on September 23 1993, Europe in October, and the US in December. It became the most successful Sega CD game in Sega CDs entire product life. Its a game thats held dear in the Sonic fandom, as a gem that has its own cult following.
Up next, the big one. How every fiber of Segas being went into one game that was just too big to be only one game. Ill continue next time with the epic tale of Sonics biggest adventure ever, and how it had to be split into two games. Read up next time for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.
CHAPTER 5: A GAME WAY PAST COOL
As we discussed, after Sonic 2 and the short to follow Sonic CD, Sonics fame took off at an ubelievable rate. With absolutely no doubt that another sequel will be demanded, Sega immediately began to look to ideas shortly after CDs release. The idea they would have would prove to be a challenge, and impossible... then they had another idea, which would prove aswell to be a challenge yet possible, but with some comprimise. For the next big thing Sega looked again to Sega Technical Institute of America and the now pros of Sonic, Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara. Just having finished with dishing out Sonic 2, Mr. Naka hit the same snag as last time at first when beginning Sonic 3. He didnt want to make the same game twice. He agreed to be a part of the project only if he was allowed to work exclusively with the Japanese half of STI to avoid the drama of different work culture like in Sonic 2s development. Yuji Naka was also hoping for a promotion, in which Sega gave knowing how important this project would be. Yuji Naka made it to the rank of Producer which gave him the freedom with the project in which he desired since the first game and allowed him to once again take his spot as staff of Sega of Japan. With SoJ and Sonic Team back in the saddle holding the reigns for Sonic 3, Yuji Naka tasked Sega Technical Institute of America with another Sonic game titled Sonic Spinball.
The smug face of someone who knows theyre in charge
As with every Sonic game the initial idea and the game we got were two different things. Originally the game was to be developed with new technology Sega was working on at the time. With Hitachi as a partner, Sega was making an answer to Nintendos FX Chip that was created to make simple 3D images on their SNES and was responsible for their revolutionary Star Fox game. The licensed SH-1 chip AKA the Sega Virtual Processor was to do the same for the Sega Genesis. The plan was to make a Sonic game in a 3D isometric world similar but far supperior to Sonic 3D Blast, but that was scrapped for two different reasons. The SH-1 chip wouldnt be complete in time for Sonic 3s release and they figured it to be a bad idea to change up the formula too much for an official numerical sequel. It was decided that Sonic 3 would be in the traditional 2D sidescrollind platforming format, but that alone wouldnt satisy Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara. The new plan, stick to what they knew, add some improvements, and make the game freakin grand. Huge. A Sonic game of epic purportions. This in itself would prove to be equally as challenging for the developers, but they met the challenge head on. Roger Hector, one of the directors at STI and the Executive Coordinator of the Sonic 3 project felt at the start that the ideas everyone was spilling out for the game may be impossible. According to him,
"There were so many creative ideas that it would take too much time to develop such a massive project. The team brainstormed up two games' worth of material initially and it was decided, before the Alpha stage I think, that it would make more sense to split it into two games."
Though the possibility of it needing to be split into two different games was appareant early in development, the team still went ahead with the project developing it as a whole, probably with a "we'll cover that when the time comes" attitude.
Once again it was decided that a new character would be introduced into the Sonic universe with the new game. Another Sega competion was had inside the company to come up with a new character. Takashi Yuda would take the victory with his design for a character meant to be a fighter at heart, Knuckles the Echidna.
I mean, spikes on his freakin fists, what else would give it away?
In the beginning Knuckles was meant to be a friend of Sonic that would aid him through the game, but it was later decided that he would become a rival instead, doing the opposite and hindering Sonic from completing his task. When Knuckles was presented to a focus group primarally composed of kids, everything about the character was loved except for one thing, his color. Originally Knuckles was meant to be green. This caused his change to be red but his desgin wasnt complete just yet. While working on Knuckles, Sega was working out a merchandising deal with Nike. To suck up to the shoe company Sega added a white Nike swoosh to Knuckles chest. Yep, Knuckles was to be an advertisment and product placement tool. Luckily for him the deal fell through, but the swoosh stayed but was slightly altered to look a bit less like the Nike official logo.
While the developement for the game began, the developers took inspirations for levels in the game from places they know and have seen in reality. For example, Angel Island was inspired by an island off the cost of San Fransisco, name and all, which back then was a medium for immigrants to legally enter the United States. Carnival Night Zone was inspired by many local carnival and fairs the developers would see come and go in the area while working on Sonic 3. Ice Cap Zone, and Sonic snowboarding at the beginning of the level, was inspired by regular snowboarding trips the team took around that time. As Yuji Naka said in an interview-
"While developing, we went snowboarding a lot at a nearby resort. People kept getting injured though… (laugh) Originally, this stage was planned to begin after zone 8 (Flying Battery Zone). Sonic was going to break down the door from the airship and make a snowboard out of it on the way down. The other characters can fly, so they wouldn't appear in that event."
Its hinted above that in development the line up of levels was intended to be different if the game was going to be all in one, but the order would be changed around when the game was split in two. The team split the roster of levels in two, edited some of them to make them for changing difficulty to make levels meant to be in the middle of the game to be harder near the end of the first half game and easier near the beginning of the second half game. With this, we got two halves of a whole, but Sega wondered how they would be presented. The first half would be presented simply as Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
Sonic 3 released in the US on February 2, 1994 and on February 24, 1994. Its US release was dubbed "Hedgehog Day" in reference to Groundhogs Day. Toys "R" Us rewarded preorder buyers with an additional music CD titled Sonic Boom, which had remastered music from Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball.
Japan wouldnt see Sonic 3s release until May. There was no official statement said as to what the reason of the delay was, but rumor has it an exclusive 24bit version was to be released, but fell through.
Then October 14th of that year Sonic & Knuckles was released worldwide.
Sonic & Knuckles logo
For Sonic & Knuckles, they felt like fans would feel like theyd be paying for the same game twice. To combat this, Sega developed a backwards compatibility cartridge for the game. S&K featured a lock on device at the top of its cartridge. This system allowed for connecting Sonic 3 to Sonic & Knuckles to allow gamers to play the fully intended experiance. It also could connect to Sonic 2 to allow fans to play as Knuckles throughout Sonic 2s levels.
pictured: adventure of epic purportions
Now, the two games had very different yet very awesome music soundtracks. This was due to a certain someone working on the tracks. Sonic soundtrack pro Masato Nakamura and his band Dreams Come True was starting to see a lot more success in their career at the time. His usual price for working on a Sonic soundtrack was now significantly higher and he expected composition pay for every time the games or atleast their music would be used again in the future. More or less he was starting to become a real premadonna. A famous 80s popstar in America heard of the vacant spot for the games sound producer, and offered to work with Sega to make a killer soundtrack for an increadibly low pricetag for someone of his stature. The popstar was none other than...
MICHEAL FREAKING JACKSON
Mr. Jackson, being a huge Sonic fan himself, humbley offered Sega the oppurtunity to have him on board the project in which Sega immediatly and enthusiastically jumped to the offer. Now you wont see his name in the credits, or back then hear about it on the news or anything. It seems there was a bit of a falling out between the gaming company and the popstar. Its said that Sega later denied having anything to do with Micheal Jackson due to a scandel that went down on the pop star shortly after working on the porject, but this is untrue. Truth be told, Micheal Jackson had a hard time doing what he envisioned with Sonic 3s music, becoming frustrated with the Genesis' sound limitations during the process and dropped his own name from the project when done as to not dissolve his image as a "musical genious". After he was done and decided to leave the project the music was slightly edited to not be completely Mr. Jacksons work. But listening to Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles music you can definately hear Micheal Jacksons presence still strong in the finished tracks with the precussion strength, beats and tones used and the several "yeah" "woo" and "c'mon" voice bits used.
The two games together would go to be cherished by fans throught the years as Sonics biggest, most epic journey in his entire lifetime as a video game character. Future games will go to try and trump and outdo this but in the fans eyes this was Sonics biggest moment, and an end to a great era. But before I go on to foreshadow devestating events to come for Sonic, the next segment of Welcome to the World of: Sonic the Hedgehog we'll discuss the games that filled the void between the major numerical installments, and some games lost in time and forgotten that are still highly unknown even to the biggest of Sonic fans. Look forward to it!
Last edited by Bodine; 12-29-2011 at 08:47 PM.