23 April 2013

History of Sonic the Hedgehog Book

Edit: I was contacted by one of the authors as well as UDON and it was requested that I remove this post. I wish to respect the author's wishes, so I have done so.

12 March 2013

Sonic In Print

These are mentions of Sonic the Hedgehog I've found in books over the years.

One of the most delightful things about these is that there are often glaring errors, sometimes very humorous ones.

(So, uh, yeah, if this post has any errors itself - which is probably inevitable - feel free to point and laugh.)

  1. Cyber Dictionary – Your Guide to the Wired World
  2. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Third Edition)
  3. The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (Second Edition)
  4. Animation on DVD – The Ultimate Guide
  5. From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog – A History of the Software Industry

Cyber Dictionary – Your Guide to the Wired World edited by David Morse (1996)

Google Books page

This is a dictionary full of "cyber" terms, back when that was a buzzword. It's too old to have "Google", "tweet", or "blog", but golly, if you forget what "IEEE" stands for this is a must-have.

There's a picture of Sonic next to their definition of "Sega", on page 249.


Japanese video game company that, together with Nintendo, dominates the worldwide video game market.

Sega, like Nintendo, manufactures proprietary video game consoles that can only play Sega games. In 1993, Sega released mega-CD, a new format of CD-ROM. The company also provides interactive entertainment for PCs, portable game systems and location-based electronic theme parks.

The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Third Edition) (2001)

Google Books page

Near the end of Long John Baldry's entry, on page 43, they mention his role in AoStH:

He has become something of a star to the kiddie set as the voice of Captain Robotnick [sic], sworn enemy of the popular cartoon hero Sonic the Hedgehog.

"Captain Robotnick" indeed! I think Doctor Robotnik would be rather upset about this. =P

The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (Second Edition) by Jeff Lenburg (1999)

Google Books page

This book (at least, the edition I have) is positively lousy with errors. There's practically one on every page, I'm not kidding. For example, just look at these Sonic entries.

The one for AoStH, on page 358:

The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

Programmed for daily syndication, this 65-episode companion series to the ABC network series, Sonic the Hedgehog followed the trials and tribulations of the popular video-game star as he tries to save the planet Mobrius [sic] from his favorite enemy, Dr. Robotnik. The series debuted five days before the premiere of the ABC series.

A DIC Enterprises Production in association with Sega of America, Inc. and Bohbot Entertainment. Color. Half-hour. Premiered: September 13, 1993. Syndicated.


Sonic the Hedgehog: Jaleel White; Tails: Christopher Welch; Dr. Robotnik: Long John Baldry; Scratch: Phil Hayes; Grounder: Gary Chalk

And the one for SatAM, on page 513:

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Jaleel White of TV's Family Matters) encounters famed archenemy Dr. Robotnik as he attempts to free the people of the planet Morbius [sic] in this 26-episode half-hour network series version of the best-selling 1991 Sega Genesis video game. The series premiered on ABC on September 18, 1993, five days after the debut of a second 65-episode syndicated series, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. (See entry for details.) Two different versions of the show were produced for ABC and syndication, the latter of which ran six days a week. It marked the first time since the premiere of Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters that a character had debuted in syndication and on a network at same time. [sic]

A DIC Enterprises/Bohbot Production in association with Sega of America, Inc. Color. Half-hour. Premiered on ABC: September 18, 1993–June 3, 1995.


Sonic the Hedgehog: Jaleel White; Tails: Bradley Pierce; Dr. Robotnik: Jim Cummings; Antoine: Rob Paulsen; Rotor: Mark Ballou; Snively: Charlie Adler; Princess Sally: Kath Soucie; Bunnie: Christine Cavanaugh;

Did you catch that? In one entry, the planet is called "Mobrius" and in the other, it's called "Morbius"! What's with the oscillating rogue R?

Animation on DVD – The Ultimate Guide by Andy Mangels (2003)

Google Books page

Entry for "Super Sonic", a collection of SatAM episodes, on page 359:

Sonic the Hedgehog: Super Sonic

Trimark, 2002, 85 mins., #VM7919D. Directed by Dick Sebast. Written by Jules Dennis, Pat Allee and Ben Hurst.

He's little, he's blue, and he's a hedgehog that runs really fast. He's Sonic the Hedgehog, and he's working with the Freedom Fighters to free Mobotropolis – and the world of Mobius – from the tyranny of the evil Dr. Robotnik. First up, Sonic takes an undercover trip to the city to search for a missing microchip. Then, Robotnik clones Princess Sally and sends her to spy on the Freedom Fighters. Later, Sonic agrees to race Speed Bot in the city, but it's all a clever plot to capture Sonic. And finally, Sally takes on a dangerous mission even as the other Freedom Fighters try to reprogram Robotnik's droids!

Based on the arcade game [sic] by SEGA, Sonic the Hedgehog debuted in September 1993 as an ABC series, and a completely separate (though with the same creative team) syndicated series called Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. The animation is acceptable for what it is, but anyone over the age of eight will likely be bored to tears by the stories.

The DVD features four adventures: "Super Sonic"; "Sonic and Sally"; "Sonic Racer"; and "Sonic Boom."

Special Features

Game • Other Title Trailers

Technical Features

Fullscreen (1.33:1) • Subtitles/CC: Eng. • Languages: Eng. dub • Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 • Keepcase • 1 Disc • Region 1

Genre & Rating

Animals/Adventure • Not Rated (Kids)

They seem to think the show was based on an arcade game. But the real mistake is their poor opinion of the show. =P

Entry for the Sonic OVA, on pages 359-360:

Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie

ADV Films, 1999, 60 mins., #DVDHH/001. Directed by Kazunori Ikegami. Original Story by Masashi Kubota.

Sonic is back with more races to run, and the villainous Dr. Robotnik has dastardly plans yet again, starting with Hyper Metal Sonic, a robot version of the hedgehog! But when the Robot Generator is sabotaged, all life on the planet is in jeopardy. Will Sonic be forced to work alongside his archenemy, at the behest of the President's daughter, Sara?

The "Blue Blue" based on the SEGA game is back, this time with a pair of 1996 Japanese-produced OVAs, combined into a "film" for the U.S. market. There's nothing exceptional about the project, though it does sometimes look a bit better than its television counterpart. If you're a fan of Sonic, here's another helping.

Special Features

Character Bios • Character and Art Galleries • Other Title Trailers

Technical Features

Fullscreen (1.33:1) • Subtitles/CC: Eng., Span. • Languages: Jap., Eng. dub • Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 • Keepcase • 1 Disc • Region 1–6

Genre & Rating

Animals/Adventure • Not Rated (Kids)

"There's nothing exceptional about the project"? >:| To each their own, I guess!

From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog – A History of the Software Industry by Martin Campbell-Kelly (2003)

Google Books page

Oh, gosh, where to even begin on this one. Even the cover is problematic - there's an airline reservation, yeah, and then there's... a PlayStation controller? It couldn't have been a picture of Sonic? Or even a Genesis controller?

Okay, let's start with page 284, where it is erroneously intimated that Sonic, like Mario, began as an arcade game.

Later, the Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog made the transition from arcade machines to home consoles.

However, a couple pages later (on page 286), there is talk about Sonic being a "secret weapon", launching with the Genesis:

In any case, Nintendo's time in the sun was coming to an end with the arrival of 16-bit home consoles and Sega's secret weapon: Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sega introduced its $200 16-bit Genesis console in 1989. Besides the anticipated improvement in computational speed and visual experience, the Genesis came with Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega's answer to Mario Bros. Visually, Sonic was a blue-furred amalgam of Felix the Cat and Superman. Sonic was a worldwide sensation, eclipsing even Mario Bros. and bringing in his wake animated cartoons, comics, T shirts, and lunchboxes.

Now, that was worded a tad ambiguously, but it almost makes it sound like Sonic launched with the Genesis in 1989. We all know that's not true - the Genesis was indeed launched in 1989, and Sonic was indeed a pack-in game for the Genesis, but two years later in 1991. Only sloppy journalism would conflate these two things and assume the game launched in 1989 as well. Surely no one could be that lazy, right? Think again; here's page 268:

Sonic the Hedgehog was introduced to American gamers in 1989.

There it is in black and white! Holy cow. I mean, this is just sloppy. (And am I the only one who thinks it's super lame to show a picture of an Archie Comic yearbook instead of the actual game under discussion? This is a book about software, you wouldn't think it'd be that hard to show some software.)

By the terrible logic implied by this author's poor fact-checking, Sonic 2 - also a pack-in game with the Genesis - would have been launched in 1989, on the same day as the Sonic 1. Bizarre! But not as bad as this table on page 282:

Classic Examples (publisher, year introduced)

  • Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega, 1985)
  • Prince of Persia (Mindscape, 1989)

(It's a list of examples of video game in a bunch of genres, accompanied by the publisher and year of introduction for each.) But here the error is even worse, where Sonic is listed as having been introduced in 1985!

If you believed this book, you'd think Sonic started as an arcade game in 1985, alongside Mario Bros., and was ported to the Genesis in 1989. I mean, how can anyone take any of the data in this author's book seriously after this? Wow.

There's also another pointless mention of Sonic on page 309:

The tone of the British committee's "analysis of technological development" was set by the opening sentence: "Software engineering is the application of sound scientific, mathematical, management, and engineering principles to the production of programs, within estimated costs and at a competitive level of performance and price." Try telling that to the developers of Sonic the Hedgehog. This was a statement addressing yesterday's problems. It could have been written in the 1960s.

What's that even mean? This paragraph perfectly illustrates what I hate about this book: the author doesn't seem to care (or even know) anything about the things they are writing about, but is perfectly happy to sling nouns around in order to sound more hip and relevant.

Finally, the index (page 370):

Sonic the Hedgehog, 284, 286, 309

The index doesn't mention the pages with the table (282) and the picture (268)... I don't know if that's an oversight or standard practice for books like this. I wouldn't know - I get all my information from the internet, where I can be more confident about its accuracy.