A classic report that I have missed in the beautiful 4Players archive so far was Sonic the Hedgehog. So I guess I had to write it myself. There would be more suitable people for the job: Because ich only fell in love with the blue hedgehog with Sonic Adventure in 1999, so I had to catch up on his 16-bit escapades in the 3D age. Also, I always struggled (and still do) with his early adventures. Because they are challenging – or unfair? Because I don’t feel like looking for paths and memorizing them – or because the design of the stages wasn’t that great after all? All right, I’m silent – the story has spoken: Sonic the Hedgehog was a gigantic success, selling millions of consoles and providing platformer with a whole generation of gamers.
Final battle: Sonic hops in the shape of a ball on his archenemy Dr. Robotnik.
But how did it actually come about? Sega wasn’t happy with Alex Kidd, who until then had acted as a kind of mascot for the Japanese video game company. A livelier, younger, wilder hero was needed to overtake the competition from Kyoto with their model boy Mario. All in all, the creation and release of the first game could be described as an extremely successful marketing coup. Not a coincidence, but a meticulously planned undertaking in which many cogs interlocked and ultimately produced a formidable result. Mainly involved: Naoto Oshima, who designed the character, Yuji Naka, who as a code witcher was primarily responsible for Sonic’s pace, as well as an aggressive advertising campaign that staged the blue flash as a cool character with a punk attitude – and in the USA scored points with swipes towards Nintendo. Of course, Oshima’s fat hedgehog was not the first draft, but faster animals such as rabbits and kangaroos were quickly discarded. Also because Yuji Naka, a gifted programmer, had previously designed a tech demo in which the figure rolled through the level, Sega ultimately decided in favor of one Animal that could curl up into a ball. Hedgehog stung armadillo, and after several iterations, Sonic was done.
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