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Sonic the Hedgehog turns 30: How Sega transformed ‘Mr Needlemouse’ into one of gaming’s most enduring icons

Sega’s legendary blue mascot has just turned 30. He acted in some. best mega drive game He appeared in more than 80 video games at the time, including platform games, racing games, and fighting games. To celebrate Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th birthday, Retro Gamer talks to Sonic creator Yuji Naka about the origins of the original Mega Drive classic.

Previous attempts to create a company mascot for Sega failed before Sonic took the stage in iridescent cobalt blue. Their main intention was to win hearts the same way Mario did for Nintendo, but nothing seemed to fit. The Fantasy Zone’s egg-shaped spacecraft, the Grandpa-Grandpa, is often considered the first mascot, and held honor briefly until a stone prince named Alex Kidd in sportswear appeared and took the crown of his servant.

However, it is debatable whether Sega stumbled upon a key element that would give him a character that rivaled Mario’s powers when creating Alex. Alex was younger and more athletic than Nintendo’s thick talisman, trained in martial arts, and could drive multiple vehicles. He showed many of the same traits that Sega would bestow on its spiky successor. Alex certainly has a lot to offer when it comes to engaging with a younger audience. Unfortunately, it has struggled to compete with Nintendo’s dominating NES, which was once found in 1 in 4 American homes.

Two years after Genesis launched in North America in 1989, Sega was in a pretty strong position in the US. The arcade machines Space Harrier, OutRun and Shinobi proved to be popular coin eaters, and Master System’s powerful new 16-bit successor also sold well, thanks to its stunning graphics and early library of arcade hooks. But knowing that Nintendo was gearing up to release a 16-bit successor to the NES someday, Sega knew he had to find Mario quickly. As is well known, Japan’s Sega has entrusted top designers with the task of creating new heroes to represent the company and its new console.

blur the lines

sonic the hedgehog

retro gamer sonic

sonic the hedgehog

“That feeling must have been the beginning of Sonic’s idea, because if you act well, you can run on stage very quickly. I think Sonic itself has become a completely different concept from Super Mario Bros. But it had a very positive impact on me. I think it was a semi-game, there’s a part in Sonic 1 where Sonic swims under water and eats bubbles and chokes on it, I was very happy when Super Mario Bros. later used a similar system in one of the sequels. Because it was like giving.”

Meanwhile, Yasahura’s approach to Sonic’s level design was to make it appealing to both casual and hardcore gamers. He started to achieve this by mixing fun level elements with challenging obstacles and moving parts. Of the game’s seven zones, Sonic’s opening Green Hill Zone was the most iconic. A lively place with blue skies, lush green grass, chessboard tunnels and loops; It’s the perfect playground for Sonic to show off all his skills. It was a great and attention-grabbing introduction for gamers and those who have never owned a console. So where did the inspiration for this iconic stage come from?

“The Green Hill Zone is California-inspired,” Naka replies simply. “We also wanted to show the modern computer graphics of the time using polygons and ray tracing through pixel art to make it look very new. I think the colors were inspired by Suzuki Eijin’s paintings.”

sonic the hedgehog

sonic the hedgehog

From Sonic’s original concept of seeing him playing in a rock band to the reveal of a sound selection screen that should have been left out, it’s clear that Naka and his team always intended music to play an important role in the game. So we’re excited to see how much planning went into this particular aspect, and whether the team has successfully improved the overall player experience.

“I asked Masato Nakamura of Dreams Come True because it was the first exciting time for game music. [a famous pop band in Japan] So that the music for each stage sounds as if it is based on the image of each stage. Sonic also put a lot of pressure on us not only in terms of music, but also in terms of sound effects and jingles. We often fix these issues to keep players in a good mood during gameplay.”

final spurt

sonic the hedgehog

Naka Yuji

Initially, Sega of America was skeptical of Sonic’s American appeal, fearing that Americans would not know what a hedgehog is. After SOA made some minor changes to soften the character of Western players, changes that didn’t play well with Sonic team members at first, Sonic Hedgehog was finally completed and released in 1991.

Looking more like a slot machine than a console game, Sonic Hedgehog bridges the gap between the two markets more successfully than previously released Mega Drive titles, and became an immediate classic in the process. And later that year, when Nintendo finally released the Super NES in North America, it became one of the biggest and most memorable console wars in gaming history. After SOA’s aggressive marketing campaign, Sonic quickly became synonymous with Sega.

And when Japan’s Sega was initially reluctant to bundle the game with the Genesis console, Sonic played a much bigger role in helping Sega take the majority of the North American gaming market from Nintendo. Sonic’s contribution to Sega’s success certainly cannot be underestimated. something to do. But looking back on this most important Sega success story, what aspect of the Sonic Hedgehog is Naka most proud of?

“The game is designed very quickly, but the fact that it’s so controllable and able to get you through the game is what I’m most proud of. Thanks to the Sonic team who put a lot of effort into this. Many people around the world have I’m proud to be playing . Thank you very much.”


This feature first appeared in issue 100. retro gamer magazine. If you need more cool features like the one you just read, don’t forget to subscribe to the print or digital edition. my favorite magazine.


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Sonic the Hedgehog turns 30: How Sega transformed ‘Mr Needlemouse’ into one of gaming’s most enduring icons

Sega’s iconic blue mascot just turned 30-years old. He’s starred in some of the best Mega Drive games and appeared in over 80 video games in that time – everything from platformers, racing games, fighting games, and more. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, Retro Gamer speaks to Sonic creator, Yuji Naka, about the origins of the original Mega Drive classic.
Before Sonic spun onto the scene in a dazzling blur of cobalt blue, Sega’s previous attempts to create a company mascot had been unsuccessful. Their primary intent was to capture hearts in the same way that Mario had done for Nintendo, but nothing seemed to fit. Fantasy Zone’s ovoid spaceship Opa-Opa is often referred to as the very first mascot, briefly holding on to the honour until a tracksuit-wearing, rock-smashing prince named Alex Kidd came along and took his paper crown. 
But when creating Alex, it’s debatable that Sega had hit upon the key ingredients that would give them a character to match the might of Mario. Younger and more athletic than Nintendo’s tubby talisman, trained in a martial art and able to drive an assortment of vehicles, Alex Exhibited many of the same characteristics that Sega would imbue into Alex’s spiny successor. For connecting with a young audience, Alex certainly had a lot going for him. Unfortunately, he had a tough time competing against Nintendo’s all-conquering NES, which at one time could be found in 1 in 4 American households. 
Two years after the 1989 release of the Genesis in North America, Sega found itself in a fairly strong position stateside. Its arcade machines Space Harrier, OutRun and Shinobi were proving popular coin guzzlers, and its powerful new 16-bit successor to the Master System was also selling well thanks to its impressive visuals and early library of arcade tie-ins. But conscious that Nintendo was preparing to release its 16-bit successor to the NES any day now, Sega knew it needed to find itself a Mario, and fast. So it was that Sega of Japan famously set its best designers the task of coming up with a brand new hero to represent the company and its new console. 
Blurring the lines

“This feeling must have been the beginning of the idea of Sonic, as you get good at playing you can run through the stage really fast. I think Sonic itself turned out to be a totally different concept to Super Mario Bros. But I do feel it was a game that affected me very positively. There is a part in Sonic 1 where Sonic swims in the water and eats bubbles to take his breath to go on. I was very happy when Super Mario Bros. later used a similar system in one of its sequels, because I felt we were inspiring each other.” 
Meanwhile, Yasahura’s approach to Sonic’s level design was to create them in such a way that they would appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers. He set about achieving this by mixing fun level elements with challenging obstacles and moving parts. Of the seven zones in the game, Sonic’s opening stage Green Hill Zone became the most iconic. A vibrant place featuring blue skies, lush green grass, chequerboard tunnels and loop the loops; the perfect playground for Sonic to showcase all his abilities. It was a brilliantly attention-grabbing introduction for gamers, and for those who had never owned a console. So where did inspiration for this iconic stage come from? 
“Green Hill Zone was inspired by California,” Naka answers simply. “Also we were aiming to show the latest computer graphics at that time, which were using polygon and ray tracing, through pixel art to make it look very new. With regards to the colours, I believe they were inspired by a picture drawn by Eizin Suzuki.” 

From the initial concept for Sonic that saw him playing in a rock band to the revelation of a sound select screen that had to be dropped, it’s clear that Naka and his team always intended for music to play an important part of the game. We were therefore keen to find out how much planning went into that particular aspect, and how the team ensured it would enhance the overall experience for players as successfully as it did.
“It was just around the time when music in games was first getting exciting, so we asked Masato Nakamura, a member of Dreams Come True [a famous pop band in Japan] to make the music for each stage sound like it was based on each stage’s image. Sonic also put a lot of pressure on us not only in regards to the music but the sound FX and jingles. We fixed these quite a lot to allow them to make players feel good while they play the game.” 
Final sprint

Yuji Naka

Initially Sega of America had doubts about Sonic’s American appeal, concerned that Americans wouldn’t know what a hedgehog was. However, following a few tweaks by SOA to soften up the character for Western gamers, a change that at fi rst didn’t go down too well with the members of Sonic Team, Sonic the Hedgehog was finally finished and released in 1991. 
Looking more coin-op than console game, Sonic the Hedgehog helped to bridge the gap between those two markets more successfully than any Mega Drive title previously released, and became an instant classic as a result. And when Nintendo finally released the Super NES in North America later that year, it led to one of the biggest and most memorable console wars in gaming history. Following an aggressive marketing campaign by SOA, Sonic quickly became synonymous with Sega.
And when Sega of Japan gave into its initial reluctance to offer the game as a pack in with Genesis consoles, Sonic went on to play an even bigger role in helping Sega take majority share of the North American games market away from NintendoSonic’s contribution to Sega’s success certainly cannot be underplayed. But looking back on this most important of Sega success stories, which aspect of Sonic the Hedgehog is Naka most proud of? 
“I think the fact the game is designed to be very fast but can also be controlled, and allow you to zip through the game nicely, is the part which I am most proud of. Thanks to Sonic Team members for putting great effort into this part. I am also proud of Sonic being played by so many people around the world. Thank you so much.”
This feature first appeared in issue 100 of Retro Gamer magazine. For more excellent features, like the one you’ve just read, don’t forget to subscribe to the print or digital edition at MyFavouriteMagazines.  

#Sonic #Hedgehog #turns #Sega #transformed #Needlemouse #gamings #enduring #icons

Sonic the Hedgehog turns 30: How Sega transformed ‘Mr Needlemouse’ into one of gaming’s most enduring icons

Sega’s iconic blue mascot just turned 30-years old. He’s starred in some of the best Mega Drive games and appeared in over 80 video games in that time – everything from platformers, racing games, fighting games, and more. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, Retro Gamer speaks to Sonic creator, Yuji Naka, about the origins of the original Mega Drive classic.
Before Sonic spun onto the scene in a dazzling blur of cobalt blue, Sega’s previous attempts to create a company mascot had been unsuccessful. Their primary intent was to capture hearts in the same way that Mario had done for Nintendo, but nothing seemed to fit. Fantasy Zone’s ovoid spaceship Opa-Opa is often referred to as the very first mascot, briefly holding on to the honour until a tracksuit-wearing, rock-smashing prince named Alex Kidd came along and took his paper crown. 
But when creating Alex, it’s debatable that Sega had hit upon the key ingredients that would give them a character to match the might of Mario. Younger and more athletic than Nintendo’s tubby talisman, trained in a martial art and able to drive an assortment of vehicles, Alex Exhibited many of the same characteristics that Sega would imbue into Alex’s spiny successor. For connecting with a young audience, Alex certainly had a lot going for him. Unfortunately, he had a tough time competing against Nintendo’s all-conquering NES, which at one time could be found in 1 in 4 American households. 
Two years after the 1989 release of the Genesis in North America, Sega found itself in a fairly strong position stateside. Its arcade machines Space Harrier, OutRun and Shinobi were proving popular coin guzzlers, and its powerful new 16-bit successor to the Master System was also selling well thanks to its impressive visuals and early library of arcade tie-ins. But conscious that Nintendo was preparing to release its 16-bit successor to the NES any day now, Sega knew it needed to find itself a Mario, and fast. So it was that Sega of Japan famously set its best designers the task of coming up with a brand new hero to represent the company and its new console. 
Blurring the lines

“This feeling must have been the beginning of the idea of Sonic, as you get good at playing you can run through the stage really fast. I think Sonic itself turned out to be a totally different concept to Super Mario Bros. But I do feel it was a game that affected me very positively. There is a part in Sonic 1 where Sonic swims in the water and eats bubbles to take his breath to go on. I was very happy when Super Mario Bros. later used a similar system in one of its sequels, because I felt we were inspiring each other.” 
Meanwhile, Yasahura’s approach to Sonic’s level design was to create them in such a way that they would appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers. He set about achieving this by mixing fun level elements with challenging obstacles and moving parts. Of the seven zones in the game, Sonic’s opening stage Green Hill Zone became the most iconic. A vibrant place featuring blue skies, lush green grass, chequerboard tunnels and loop the loops; the perfect playground for Sonic to showcase all his abilities. It was a brilliantly attention-grabbing introduction for gamers, and for those who had never owned a console. So where did inspiration for this iconic stage come from? 
“Green Hill Zone was inspired by California,” Naka answers simply. “Also we were aiming to show the latest computer graphics at that time, which were using polygon and ray tracing, through pixel art to make it look very new. With regards to the colours, I believe they were inspired by a picture drawn by Eizin Suzuki.” 

From the initial concept for Sonic that saw him playing in a rock band to the revelation of a sound select screen that had to be dropped, it’s clear that Naka and his team always intended for music to play an important part of the game. We were therefore keen to find out how much planning went into that particular aspect, and how the team ensured it would enhance the overall experience for players as successfully as it did.
“It was just around the time when music in games was first getting exciting, so we asked Masato Nakamura, a member of Dreams Come True [a famous pop band in Japan] to make the music for each stage sound like it was based on each stage’s image. Sonic also put a lot of pressure on us not only in regards to the music but the sound FX and jingles. We fixed these quite a lot to allow them to make players feel good while they play the game.” 
Final sprint

Yuji Naka

Initially Sega of America had doubts about Sonic’s American appeal, concerned that Americans wouldn’t know what a hedgehog was. However, following a few tweaks by SOA to soften up the character for Western gamers, a change that at fi rst didn’t go down too well with the members of Sonic Team, Sonic the Hedgehog was finally finished and released in 1991. 
Looking more coin-op than console game, Sonic the Hedgehog helped to bridge the gap between those two markets more successfully than any Mega Drive title previously released, and became an instant classic as a result. And when Nintendo finally released the Super NES in North America later that year, it led to one of the biggest and most memorable console wars in gaming history. Following an aggressive marketing campaign by SOA, Sonic quickly became synonymous with Sega.
And when Sega of Japan gave into its initial reluctance to offer the game as a pack in with Genesis consoles, Sonic went on to play an even bigger role in helping Sega take majority share of the North American games market away from NintendoSonic’s contribution to Sega’s success certainly cannot be underplayed. But looking back on this most important of Sega success stories, which aspect of Sonic the Hedgehog is Naka most proud of? 
“I think the fact the game is designed to be very fast but can also be controlled, and allow you to zip through the game nicely, is the part which I am most proud of. Thanks to Sonic Team members for putting great effort into this part. I am also proud of Sonic being played by so many people around the world. Thank you so much.”
This feature first appeared in issue 100 of Retro Gamer magazine. For more excellent features, like the one you’ve just read, don’t forget to subscribe to the print or digital edition at MyFavouriteMagazines.  

#Sonic #Hedgehog #turns #Sega #transformed #Needlemouse #gamings #enduring #icons


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