Sonic the Hedgehog is probably one of the most iconic video game characters to have ever existed. The spikey, blue, anthropomorphic hedgehog has been the mascot of Sega since 1991 and is known for his exploits against the evil Dr Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik.
But his backstory was almost very different, according to game designer Hirokazu Yasuhara and character designer Naoto Oshima. At the Game Developers Conference last week (March 19-23) shed some light on the initial ideas for Sonic, and it was quite different from the character you know today.
The backstory of Sonic the Hedgehog used to involve a fighter pilot who had the Sonic you now know painted on the nose of his plane, as many pilots did to their planes during the war.
The pilot tirelessly sought to fly his plane at ridiculous speeds, and his hair was always standing up on end, which led to him earning the nickname “Hedgehog”. The pilot was then married to a children’s author who wrote a story of a hedgehog that was based on the exploits of her husband.
The story of Sonic v Dr Eggman that takes place in the game was originally supposed to take place in a story told by the wife of the pilot, essentially being a story within a story.
Oshima was reportedly fascinated with nose art during the design stage, which is why the original backstory started out in this way. The first reported example of nose art was in 1913 on an Italian flying boat and was initially used as a way of identifying friendlies.
However, the artwork progressed during World War I and II into more of a way of soldiers expressing themselves and trying to boost morale. Many squadrons would emblazon their planes with insignia associated with their squadron’s name. One example, the Flying Tigers - First American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942 – had their flying Bengal tiger logo designed by a Disney artist.
So, this is why the original Sonic logo that you see on the first game’s title screen (pictured at the top of the article) makes him look like the art you would find on a WWII fighter plane; because that’s what he was meant to be! He’s also blue, as it turns out, to match the Sega logo.
The original transcript of Sonic’s backstory was shown at the Game Developer’s Conference in its original form, and currently, we cannot seem to track down a translated version. However, it has been noted that it includes a mention of Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the speed of sound, which would make sense with how the backstory was originally planned to go.
Sonic was also supposed to be a rather nifty dancer, who would bust out some pretty killer moves in the game, presumably at the end of levels or if left idle for too long. Unfortunately, these were cut from the game as the animations wouldn’t fit on the cartridge!
If the original backstory had gone ahead, chances are we would have seen some very different Sonic the Hedgehog games than we are used to! We’ve already seen Shadow the Hedgehog wield guns, but could Sonic have been the same?
In all fairness, we’d play Call of Duty: Sonic Warfare and would happily get the little army version of the blue hedgehog emblazoned on our airsoft guns just like the nose art, but the mind boggles as to what could have been… What do you think of this tale? Let us know your thoughts on our social media channels!