Sonic the Hedgehog Co-Creator Shares His Surprising Inspiration for the Game

Sonic the Hedgehog holding a Chaos Emerald from Sonic Frontiers.

Naoto Ohshima, the co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, shares the surprisingly surreal original idea that inspired the hit video game franchise.

Naoto Ohshima, the Japanese character designer credited as the co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, revealed a rather intriguing inspiration for the game’s conception.

While the blue-furred blur Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most recognizable characters in the video game industry and beyond, his launch title was originally imagined as a completely different game. As Ohshima recently explained on Twitter, the idea for the Sonic games started as a concept called Twin Stars, which was to take place in a dream-like world. It focused on twin brothers who save a dream world from an evil boss named Thirteen, who came from a world of nightmares. He also shared how this thematically different idea evolved into Sonic the Hedgehog by posting early concept art showing how one of the twins has a similar color design of red, white, and blue as Sonic — right down to the blue spiky hair.

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Sonic the Hedgehog’s Dream World Roots

The game’s evolution is further demonstrated by more shared attributes in the two pieces of art. For example, the evil face seen in the concept art for Twin Stars is present in an early piece of Sonic the Hedgehog artwork. The latter image also shows Sonic standing among Twin Stars monster concepts such as enemies and even Madonna, Sonic’s initial human love interest, who never made it into the series. Moreover, Sonic is flanked by a round, mustachioed figure bearing a strong resemblance to his eventual archnemesis Dr. Robotnik, albeit dressed with a black-and-yellow bee theme.

As the tweet thread continued, Ohshima addressed a rumor about the first Sonic game being meant to take place in a dreamlike world akin to Alice in Wonderland and would feature strange-looking monsters as enemies instead of the series’ mechanical baddies. “It was an idea for a game that I came up with on my own,” Ohshima wrote. “We became a team, we became Sonic, and the idea of ​​​​speed and balls was born. And evolved into the current Sonic. Since I switched to Sonic, I needed time to create a Sonic world.” According to Ohshima, the “smooth terrain, loops, and the fastest run” were the only things from Twin Stars that carried over to Sonic. He also made it clear that, despite being a platformer with similarly dreamy themes, there’s no connection between the original concept for Sonic the Hedgehog and the 1996 Sega Saturn game Nights into Dreams.Twin Stars was made around 1989, Nights is irrelevant,” he said.

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Sonic the Hedgehog eventually took shape in 1991, debuting that June for the Sega Genesis in North America, followed quickly by releases in Japan and Europe on the equivalent Mega Drive. The game achieved Sega’s goal of establishing a signature mascot and a must-have high-speed platformer for the 16-bit console, giving the company an edge in its competition against Nintendo. It would lead to an array of Sonic sequels for Sega systems, with the franchise eventually transitioning to third-party titles after the company got out of the console game.

Of course, Sonic remains one of the most prominent video game characters in pop culture worldwide. Outside the video game industry, he has appeared in multiple media projects such as the IDW comic book series, the successful live-action Paramount movies, and a CG-animated TV series for Netflix. However, the latest title, Sonic Frontiers, marks the biggest change for the franchise by placing the character into an open-world environment similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The game came out on Nov. 8, 2022, but a second wave of content is planned for 2023.

Sonic Frontiers is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

Source: Twitter


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