SegaSonic the Hedgehog
|SegaSonic the Hedgehog|
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Arcade system||Sega System 32|
SegaSonic the Hedgehog[a] is a 1993 arcade game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series by Sega. Controlling Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel, the player must escape an island as quickly as possible after they are kidnapped by series antagonist Doctor Eggman. The game is presented from an isometric perspective and players use a trackball to move the characters while dodging obstacles and collecting rings. The game was developed by Sega's arcade division, Sega AM3; it is one of four Sonic games to bear the SegaSonic name and was inspired by the 1984 game Marble Madness.
The game was released in Japanese arcades in October 1993. It has never been rereleased; plans to port the game to Sega's 32X platform never materialized and the game was cut from Sonic compilation release Sonic Gems Collection (2005) due to problems with replicating the game's trackball control system on a standard controller. At the time of release, SegaSonic the Hedgehog received highly positive reviews from Electronic Gaming Monthly and Computer and Video Games for its graphics and gameplay. Journalists writing in retrospect have been more divided. The game marked the debuts of Sonic characters Mighty and Ray; both have reappeared sparingly in the franchise.
SegaSonic the Hedgehog is a platformer action game that has been likened in gameplay to Marble Madness (1984). Players control three characters: Sonic the Hedgehog, Mighty the Armadillo, and Ray the Flying Squirrel, who can be controlled by a single player or simultaneously with two others. The story follows the three characters after series antagonist Doctor Eggman traps them on his island. They team up to escape, and must dodge various hazards and dangers to reach Eggman in his base, the Eggman Tower.
The game takes place over seven levels, which must be completed in the fastest time possible. Players use a trackball to control a characters' speed and direction from an isometric perspective, and a button to make a character jump into a Spin Attack. Each character has a health bar, which is depleted when the player falls into traps; players lose a life if the bar empties. Health can be recovered by collecting rings that are littered around the course or hidden inside obstacles or enemies. Players receive bonus rings for use in later levels they collect over a certain percentage of rings within a level. Upon reaching Eggman at the end of the game, he pushes a button that causes the island to self-destruct. The three heroes manage to escape unharmed, while Eggman is left stranded at sea.
Development and release
Before SegaSonic the Hedgehog, Sega had attempted to create two Sonic the Hedgehog-based arcade games, but these were never released because "they were not the specialness that Sonic was." By May 1993, a new Sonic arcade project was in development. SegaSonic the Hedgehog was developed by Sega AM3, an internal Sega division that created games for arcade cabinets, with assistance from Sonic Team. The game is one of four arcade games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series to feature the SegaSonic name.[b]
According to designer Manabu Kusunoki, the idea for trackball controls was conceived after an unspecified member of the development team—who was a fan of Marble Madness—suggested that it would work well with Sonic's style of gameplay. The game uses a Sega System 32 motherboard, which enables the multiplayer option, and a unique isometric graphics system. It features two new characters, Ray the Flying Squirrel and Mighty the Armadillo. Both were designed by Kusunoki, who chose their species since he thought they would control similarly to how Sonic did and that they, like hedgehogs, were obscure. Mighty was likely based on an early prototype of Sonic. The game also features voice acting, with Takeshi Kusao, Hinako Kanamaru, Yusuke Numata, and Masaharu Satō voicing Sonic, Ray, Mighty, and Eggman, respectively.
The game's title in development was simply Sonic the Hedgehog, but was changed to SegaSonic because Sega lost the trademark to the Sonic name during production. Kusunoki could not recall why it was disputed, but according to video game journalist John Szczepaniak, Sega of America failed to turn in its paperwork for the trademark on July 13, 1993. SegaSonic the Hedgehog was featured at the Summer International Consumer Electronics Show 1993 and the Amusement Machine Show 1993. It was released in Japanese arcades in October that year. A port for the 32X was planned but canceled. Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka said the game was considered for inclusion in the 2005 rarities compilation Sonic Gems Collection for the GameCube and PlayStation 2, but was excluded due to difficulties with emulating the trackball controls on a gamepad. In 2011, Sega's brand manager Ken Balough said there is not much demand for a rerelease; he believes this is because it was not released outside Japan.
Reception and legacy
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave SegaSonic the Hedgehog a perfect score of 10 out of 10. The magazine stated that the game "shatters your perception of what a good game should be", reserving high praise for its graphics and music, and the variety of levels. It also praised the "hilarious" character animations and cinematics, and encouraged readers to play the game. Computer and Video Games offered similar acclaim and praised the game's attention to detail, "highly recommend[ing]" it. The French magazine Mega Force compared the isometric graphics to Sega's Zaxxon (1982) and SNK's Viewpoint (1992).
In the midst of a review for Sonic Gems Collection in 2005, GameSpy expressed disappointment that SegaSonic the Hedgehog was not one of the games in the compilation, voicing hope it would someday be rereleased. In 2014, GamesRadar+ called the game's graphics impressive for 1993, but that its lack of a rerelease was "no great loss". John Szczepaniak offered a negative stance in 2018, due to bland level design and imprecise controls that had "an irritating fuzziness". He compared turning characters with the trackball to feeling intoxicated, and claimed to have watched several individuals try to play but give up.
Mighty appeared as a playable character in the 32X game Knuckles' Chaotix (1995). For many years, Ray did not appear in another game, but he and Mighty were featured in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series published by Archie Comics. Ray became a member of the Chaotix along with Mighty, who is depicted in the series as his honorary brother. The game is referenced in the anniversary game Sonic Generations (2011), where a "missing persons" poster of Ray and Mighty appears in City Escape. Mighty and Ray are playable in Sonic Mania Plus (2018), an expanded version of the 2017 game Sonic Mania.
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The game play is somewhat similar to Marble Madness.
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Yuji Naka: It was done by part of the Sega arcade division at the time. We did think about adding it to Gems Collection, though, but we couldn't implement it in the end because the game used a trackball control scheme that is very, very difficult to replicate with a standard controller.
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Exploring their new direction further, the team looked at animals that rolled into a ball to either attack or protect themselves. They arrived at a shortlist of just two: the armadillo and the hedgehog. It didn't take too long for the former to be dropped: the hedgehog's quills were simply better suited for attack than the armadillo's leathery armor shell.
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MISSING since 1993. Ray the Flying Squirrel & Mighty the Armadillo. Have you seen them?
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- SegaSonic the Hedgehog on Sonic Retro