Sonic's unequaled popularity in the '90s led to a smothering pile of merchandise. When something's whored out to that extent, you accept there's going to be some cash-in flotsam that shouldn't even exist. But, at least the product doesn't tarnish the brand's image, so even though there's no reason for Sonic to endorse shampoo, hey whatever, kids want Sonic shampoo. Fine.
Then there are the two cartoons. Yes two, launched in the same season at the same time. One was Monday through Friday, the other only on Saturday morning. Neither followed the game much, though you can't exactly fault them for that - the games' plots were all "Robotnik did something, let's go undo it and find some Chaos Emeralds." Still, they managed to suck a lot in their own special way, enough so no one really liked them despite Sonic's immense appeal; they were gone within a year.
First was Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, which made Ren & Stimpy look like a rigid, strictly story driven opus of animation:
Robotnik's used as a vehicle for every fat joke in the Fat Lexicon circa 1993. Sonic is a chili-dog obsessed idiot. The supporting cast is wholly uninteresting, unfunny and just all around annoying. We like Sonic, not random assemblages of robot parts and chicken heads passed off as genuine characters. It's a damn mess. But, as hard as we are on this version, the Saturday cartoon was even worse:
Whoo yeaaaah! Are you ready for some SPEED? How about some CHILI DOGS or MORE UNWANTED CHARACTERS YEEEEEAAAAH???
This has the balls to take itself seriously, to craft a nonsensical 33rd-century plot about a hedgehog wearing nothing but red shoes. Then look at his Freedom Fighter pals - a female lead that also wears nothing but shoes, a walking European stereotype passed off as a fox, a dopey walrus mechanic and, best of all, a half rabbit half robot chick named Bunnie Rabbot. They never really say how she lost her arms and legs, just that Robotnik turned her into one at some point, but general game history says she had to have those limbs removed and then surgically added. A bit much for a Sonic cartoon, no?
Both shows came and went right in the middle of Sonic's zenith. That must be some kind of record, to create two cartoons that fail even though the property is red hot.
Next we got Sonic Underground. The arena-rock pseudo Stan Bush intro is hilarious. How do you even end up with lyrics like this and then tie it to the game? "Underground... what rhymes with ground? Pound, found - yeah found! They have to find their mom! THEY MADE A VOW THEIR MOTHER WILL BE FOUND!"
More characters, more overly complex plot. This led to Sonic X years later. Of all the cartoons, X comes the closest to following Sonic's core concept. Too bad it incorporates all the piss-poor Adventure characters into a story that also involves humans. Yes, that's what the Sonic cartoons desperately needed - kids.
At least the song fits. Can't imagine Sonic listening to Underground's wailing Meat Loaf light rock, but he'd definitely jam to Sonic X. Still can't get over the mingling of animal-people with real people. It just looks wrong.