The Evolution of Sonic the Hedgehog

The Evolution of Sonic the Hedgehog

Ever since 1991, the blue blur has taken over our consoles, TVs, cinema screens, arcades…even t-shirts sometimes! One thing I particularly love about SEGA and the Sonic series (apart from their consistent talent of pumping out amazing soundtracks) is the love and creativity that they put into each title to add something new, even if the polish can vary! So let’s go back in time and trace the evolution of Sonic the Hedgehog!

The Sonic the Hedgehog Debut in 1991

Gif of the final boss from Sonic the Hedgehog

We see our first instance of our plucky hero smashing badnik, liberating our animal friends and navigating verdant hills, factories, ancient ruins… all to a soundtrack by Masato Nakamura that has held up incredibly well!

The sections, however, feel very slow and without manual momentum (the original release had no spindash) and the platforming can be very punishing! Emeralds appear but with no real benefit.

The evolution of Sonic: Two Player & Split-Screen

Gif of Sonic in the Mystic Cave zone

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the childhood title for a lot of Sonic fans. The sequel introduced the bright and eager sidekick Miles “Tails” Prower! 2 players could now play co-op – Tails helping Sonic through a wide array of levels or even racing against him in VS mode!

We’re introduced to the Tornado, Tails’ pride and joy through levels like Sky Chase zone. Casino Night Zone shows kids the aesthetic appeal of gambling (it did for me!) and as usual, the soundtrack does not fail to disappoint. We can also “go fast” with the legendary spin dash! The emeralds could now power Sonic into the Super Sonic we all know and love. The true evolution of Sonic!

One big Sonic game with Lock on Technology: Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Gif of Sonic meeting Knuckles in the Sonic & Knuckles game

We got so many treats during this period of the evolution of Sonic! The gliding legend Knuckles joined the trio, along with a new piece of tech that allowed us to combine two games into one (it’s still so mind blowing now).

Tails now had the ability to control his flight and swimming – as well as being able to airlift Sonic whenever he pleased! The evolution of Sonic also continued as the hedgehog gained the power of the double jump; giving him a short frame of invincibility or enhanced powers of the different elemental shields (a ring magnet, protection in water and an enhanced jump, or a blaze attack).

We saw a lot more Sonic the Hedgehog lore and story with these games; both individually and connected!

Sonic explores racing games with Sonic R

Concept art of Sonic R by Richard Elson (STC)

Sonic decided to join the racetrack (despite his superior speed) alongside his friends and foes for this new way of racing! With tracks as varied as forests, cities, deserts and space, this unique racing game with an interesting set of features set a new tone in the way Sonic games could be enjoyed.

The evolution of Sonic: The modern rebrand

Sonic Adventure gif featuring Sonic running into a loop de loop

Sonic Adventure was a huge step in the evolution of Sonic! We took to the world of 3D; introducing the light speed dash, homing attack, and a whole cast of characters and stories. This was a hugely ambitious step for SEGA – each path became intertwined and had to keep the threads of continuity until the final battle.

We explored the story of Chaos through the eyes of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, E102 Gamma and Big the Cat with a truly iconic title that we’ll remember fondly and sometimes frustratingly. The soundtrack was unforgettable, continuing this trend in the games to come!

The evolution of Sonic: Three Player adventures in Sonic Heroes

Concept art of Sonic Heroes

Sonic Heroes is another ambitious step, allowing a fresh style of play. Each group of characters is arranged in a trio – showcasing speed, power and flight. The character in the middle would be the one in charge of the skill needed, adding a layer of strategy to the game as switching between dynamics was a constant! A unique chapter in the evolution of Sonic.

Sonic transforms in Sonic Unleashed and Colours

Animation of Sonic transforming into a Warehog in Sonic Unleashed

Sonic underwent another rehaul in Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors – taking on the form of a Werehog at night with a whole new set of controls and dynamics, and harnessing the power of the Wisps respectively, taking on new powers and ways of traversing the world. Transformations were a huge part of this evolution of Sonic era.

The big series crossover with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games

Animation of Tails and Luigi from Sonic & Mario at the Olympic Games

Not entirely content with his adventures in Mobius, Sonic then entered our world with his crew of characters to compete in the Olympics alongside the team of Mario characters to face off in the most important sporting event in the world! This side to Sonic has spawned numerous fun sequels!

The evolution of Sonic: Sonic enters a new frontier

Sonic Frontiers concept art

As open world games transformed the series of Pokemon, Zelda and Mario, Sonic entered the fray of open world exploration with the familiar hints of classic gaming style areas and boss fights.

The cast of Sonic become detectives!

Concept art from Sonic

Imagine seeing an official SEGA game where Sonic and his friends take part in a murder mystery visual novel? Well, you’re in luck – The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog saw the blue blur return to his 2D roots but in a much different way! The amazingly written crew that we know and love help (and hinder) us to find the solution behind this mystery!

Coming full circle: Classic Sonic the Hedgehog, a new look

Sonic Superstars gif showing Sonic running

After many evolutions of sonic, we currently see him playing again in 2D but with adventures where up to 4 players can join! We see Sonic, Tails, Amy and Knuckles helping each other amongst a sprawling world with new challenges, features, and ways to play!

The evolution of Sonic: Speedy Hedgehog Gear

Love the speedy blue hedgehog?  Leap into the evolution of Sonic with unique gear that plays tribute to the hedgehog’s roots, Sonic’s origins, with retro Sonic tees & prints!

About Suzie G

Suzie is singer/songwriter and producer as Suzie.exe - a lover of Nintendo, Science Fiction and Candy! You can sometimes find her on a Teechu stall near you!

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