30 years of Sonic the Hedgehog - article

30 years of Sonic the Hedgehog - article

Green Hill Zone. Act 1. The music loads a cheerful crescendo and we are catapulted into Sonic's first adventure. In the background there are waterfalls and in the foreground there are sunflowers with sharp and rotating petals.

Here, after the first impact with the scenario, the funny blue hedgehog designed by Akira Watanabe is controlled. He is wearing red running shoes, apparently inspired by those of Michael Jakckson in the Bad album. When he jumps he rolls into a ball, when he walks he begins to pick up speed.

Waterfalls and sunflowers suddenly become irrelevant. The background behind is moving at such a speed that you can no longer focus on anything. The automatons unleashed by the evil Doctor Robotnik explode when crushed or hit by Sonic's sharp head.

In doing so, the little animals return to freedom but to find out more, in those years, you had to read the paper booklet. Wheels of death, ramps, trampolines and meandering tunnels roll by in a flash and in less than a minute, Green Hill Zone is here. Act 2. The ringing of rings collected along the road remains echoing in the ears.

Watch on YouTube. Sonic is thirty years old. It was 1991 when he appeared as the new mascot of SEGA, successor of the less charismatic Alex Kidd. The Sonic Team that had conceived it, led by Yuji Naka and that a few years earlier had taken care of the JRPG Phantasy Star, was preparing to become the most important team of the Japanese production company. After all, they were shaping another way of understanding platformers. If in Mario it was necessary to have quick reflexes, in Mega Man patience and careful gaze, in Sonic it was necessary to have speed, intuition, knowledge of the maps in order to try real speed runs.

It is no coincidence that alternative paths are incredibly important in Sonic the Hedghehog's game design. From the lowest and in many ways slow route, bristling with rocks and walls, to the higher routes, where you have to jump on the chains of flying enemies in order not to lose the rhythm and fall. But it's not always that simple: sometimes mixing the different paths guarantees a better record and hence the great re-playability of each Sonic, including chapters in three dimensions.

In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3 l exploration took on further facets with the introduction of new playable characters. For example, Miles 'Tails' Prower, Sonic's yellow fox and shoulder, could fly by waving his tails as if they were propellers from a helicopter. This introduced a new vertical exploration component, one that changed the whole approach to gameplay. Another example is Knuckles, the red echidna, who could glide and climb using his sharp knuckles. Playing with Knuckles, you had a slower and more reasoned game pace.

The logo with the typical Sonic gesture. If Mario's word of mouth was based on passing the positions of the most important pipes and teleporters, in the Sonic the Hedgehog trilogy it was essential to understand how to reach the special levels and obtain the infamous Chaos Emeralds, crystals capable of enhancing the hedgehog and unlocking the ending. in which Dr. Eggman is "definitely" defeated. Over the years these hidden objects have increased, the conditions for obtaining them have changed, and the final reward has often grown in importance, with extra long game stages and final bosses to face in the form of Super Sonic.

The saga has hosted chiptune composers of great skill. Yuzo Koshiro was in charge of arranging the 8-bit soundtrack of the first Sonic, while Masato Nakamura of the band Dream Come True composed and edited the soundtrack of the first sequels. Among the different names behind the music of Sonic 3 was Michael Jackson, who according to Brad Buxer (another of the composers) had directed the whole, without being particularly satisfied and thus deciding not to be mentioned. In the post Sonic Adventure age (1998) are added Crush 40, a band capable of defining the atmosphere of the three-dimensional counterparts of the franchise.

As the recent film adaptation has taught us, Sonic's design is not always was spot on on the first try. Originally it was thought to draw it green, later it was thought to give it an almost punk look and put the gel on the quills. He would even have a musical rock band in tow and a human girlfriend, called Madonna, who would follow him on rock star tours.

Sonic is one of the best known and most important videogame mascots of all time, despite being away from the spotlight for some years and the Sonic Team, since 2009, has changed its face with Takashi IIzuka. The spin-offs in which the blue hedgehog appears are of all kinds, from racing games to crossover mini-game collections with Mario. After Sonic Rush, Generation and Mania, moments in which SEGA had understood how to exploit and re-propose Sonic's 2D mechanics properly, there have been no titles capable of taking the IP out of the niche in which it has gone to ball up over time. >
There are several ways to complete a zone and not lose speed. But Sonic has a long history and has overcome several generational leaps, often reinventing itself completely. It's a matter of time, but he might be able to do it again. In 1998, in fact, the Sonic Team not only managed to transpose the proverbial speed of the hedgehog on Sega Dreamcast, but also managed to update the character design, to better dialogue with what will then be the public of the late 90s and early new millennium. In fact, Sonic becomes more slender and his curls become sharper.

These first tests in the realm of polygons are not perfect. There is no shortage of glitches and technical inaccuracies, so much so that the playful offer will be refined in 2003. On Nintendo Game Cube, in fact, the improved editions and with additional content of the first two Sonic Adventure, called Adventure DX and Adventure 2 Battle, respectively, are published. .

In both cases, minigames and secondary challenges increase. Knuckles is a more hack 'n slash and treasure hunt character. Tails controls a Mecha in a third-person shooter game section. The Chao Garden introduced a management component, in which creatures had to be fed and trained to participate in AI-managed challenges. Even the skeleton of the gameplay dares more: Sonic Heroes introduced a system of tag team, never taken up again in the sequels, to give more variety to each level.

Even the plot has an evolution, with particularly sci-fi and action drifts. If on the one hand we begin to explore the mythology of the Chaos Emeralds and characters like Knuckles, on the other we are witnessing curious experiments, such as the 2005 video game on Shadow the Hedgehog, in which Sonic's new rival comes into possession of weapons from fire of all kinds. These strange combinations are now part of the charm of each new chapter, in which it is not uncommon to witness time travel and extras of alien creatures.

The first meeting with Eggman, still on a rudimentary medium. This change of approach was then poured into the 2D games released for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, which are linked to the plots of the main saga. The aforementioned Sonic Rush, for example, using the two screens of the console, expanded the size of the maps and told a story in line with the more adult and less jaunty tone of the teenage Sonic. The Advance trilogy, on the other hand, introduces characters who believed themselves unsuitable to challenge Doctor Eggman, such as the sweet Cream, with a moveset similar to that of Tails.

Over the years we have also tried to explore the multiplayer possibilities of the franchise. From Sonic Drift (1994) to Team Sonic Racing (2019), the IP has tested different avenues to create a compelling racing chapter, capable of competing with Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing. Unfortunately, Sonic doesn't always work on karts, surfboards or other vehicles. The public prefers it when it whizzes one step after another, and the potential of this type of competitive gameplay has not been fully explored since Sonic Heroes.

Today Sonic lacks a charismatic, capable title to attract old and new audiences. Sonic Forces, which introduced the customization of the protagonist, failed to get noticed due to a gameplay that is basically not very brave. But things don't necessarily change. The results of Jeff Fowler's recent film, starring Jim Carrey as Eggman, confirm the public's still keen interest in the story of the hedgehog capable of breaking through the sound barrier.

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Sonic Origins is a collection coming soon. On the occasion of this thirtieth anniversary, there are several projects at the door. On September 7, Sonic Colors: Ultimate, a remastered edition of Colors, released on Wii and DS in 2010, will arrive; then there will be a collection of classics entitled Sonic Origins; a new film will arrive and finally, for 2022, a new chapter that is rumored to be called Sonic Rangers and will be part of the main saga. Is it time to pick up speed?

What was your first encounter with the blue porscopino? Which of his many challenges do you remember most fondly? Let us know in the comments!

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