Sonic the Facthog
If there was an award for 'most fanatical fans', then Sonic's followers would be in with a shout of winning it. They just love to pore over every little detail, not only of the games themselves, but every little scrap of pre-release footage and information, in the hope they'll find out something new.
Why? F*** knows. But what it does mean is that there's a load of information around that is absolutely fascinating if you have even the slightest interest in ol' Spikey Head. I've collated the most amazing facts and displayed them here for your eyes to gawp at. How many did you already know? Let's find out...
Sonic's first appearance was NOT in Sonic 1
He was featured in coin-op racer Rad Mobile months before Sonic 1s release, dangling from the rear-view mirror as a little toy. Awwww, how cute. Of course, he also appeared in Super Monaco GP II before Sonic 2 came out, running across the bottom of the Select Your Rival screen as the cars race on. But that was when everyone knew who he was. Still cool, mind.
There is a Sonic game that doesn't have Sonic in it
Knuckles Chaotix on (recites from gamz journalism handbook) Segas ill-fated 32X was a Sonic game that didnt feature Sonic. Instead, Knuckles takes centre stage. Yes, that is really weird. But whats weirder is that its never been ported to any other console. GBA could probably have run the game, so quite why Chaotix has never appeared on a Virtual Console service or compilation package is anyones guess. Sonic does technically appear in the 'good' ending credits, but that hardly counts. You can't play as Sonic. In a Sonic game.
Sonic is really 'Sonny'. From... Nebraska?
Sonic wasnt always blue. There is a document written by Sega of America (with several necessary revisions) that sets out the official origin story for Sonic, which was later used for comic adaptations. The earliest draft is called the Sonic Bible and reveals some strange back-story decisions, like Sonics dad dying after falling into some toxic sludge, Sonic being called Sonny (no mention of Cher) and that hes from Nebraska. The only other notable character I know linked to Nebraska is Ike from South Park. And he didnt even want to go there.
Robotnik/Eggman used to be a nice guy
Dr Ovi Kintobor was a genuinely nice character who wanted to save the environment... until a strange radiation wave combined him with the evil of six Chaos Emeralds AND a half-eaten egg. Honestly, Im not making this up. This is all from that first draft of the Sonic Bible origin story, which is absolutely bonkers. After the radiation blast, his name badge on his jacket read 'Ivo Robotnik' (backwards, see?) and the rest is history.
Sonic is blue because he ran faster than the speed of light
On a treadmill on Kintobors lab, Sonic ran faster and faster simply through training really hard. He passed the sound barrier, then managed to travel faster than light itself. Technically he should have finished running before he started (or maybe the treadmill should have been the time traveller Im not a physicist), and when Kintobor slowed down the treadmill, Sonic was blue and his spikes were now like a Mohawk. Cool.
Sonic Team had to slow him down for Sonic 1
Sonic was too darn fast in early prototypes. One early build of the game looked amazing, featuring 7 layers of parallax scrolling (according to Yuji Naka), but early builds moved so quickly, it was a little too dizzying to be playable for any length of time. So Naka slowed him down to a pace that was controllable and enjoyable. Still brain-meltingly fast in some sections, but crucially that speed was used sparingly, for maximum impact.
There is an arcade Sonic game
It's called SegaSonic The Hedgehog and featured an isometric perspective, with some reasonably impressive special effects for its time. It has never been ported to home consoles, which is no great loss in my opinion. Interestingly, however, it does feature Mighty the Armadillo, disproving the theory of anyone who says Mighty was actually meant to be Sonic in Knuckles' Chaotix on 32X. Mighty's been around since 1993. Fact. That other character is 'Ray the Squirrel', who only ever appeared in comics after that. Too many 'Something the Something' characters, perhaps.
Sonic's enemies weren't always robots
A playable demo of Sonic exists, made for a 1990 Japanese toy fair (before the days of E3), using different sprites and even featuring enemies from the original concept art. Look at the picture--that's a pre-Badnik Sonic enemy right there. Sadly, we were supposed to be playing this build already in Sonic Mega Collection, but Yuji Naka cant find it. He wishes he knew where it was and wants it back. Meh.
Ice Cap's amazing music is a real song by the Jetzons
An unreleased song by 1980s band the Jetzons (whom Id never heard of until this came up--sorry) called Hard Times is clearly the source for Sonic 3s sensational Ice Cap Zone music. Its long been a fan favourite, so it was weird to hear it being sung (with words and everything) when the bands record label, Fervor Records, released the previously unpublished song in December 2009.