It’s bound to happen sooner or later. A game has become a sensation, copies of it are flying off the shelves and the next thing a 1980’s/90’s parent knows is that their kid LOVES that game/franchise. Being a child of the 90’s I can tell you exactly what it was like on the playground when Pokemon exploded onto the scene. Video games, especially older games, have gone through their fair share of jumping into other mediums. There have been comics, books, cartoon shows, and of course the dreaded video game Hollywood movie that’s just awful. Mortal Kombat being the exception because that movie rules. Now when games have jumped into other media it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes the product you get is great and continue’s on for years on end and sometimes it’s just laughably bad. However despite the jokes there are times when games have branched out and are actually pretty good. However there are a TON of examples for these so this is going to be the first in a series of articles that will showcase a game that branched out into other media. The first one being the first game franchise I fell in love with, Sonic The Hedgehog.
Sonic’s foray outside of games started with a comic book series that was published by Archie comics in 1993 and there are STILL comics being published to this day. It originally began as a small mini series with the writers having free reign with the characters, but it quickly caught on and soon a series was made. The interesting thing about the Sonic comics is that the writers had to incorporate the games story into a world they created that was vastly different from the games. Sure you still had Dr. Robotnik but he was menacing when compared to the Genesis models. Many characters were introduced in these comics such as Antoine D’Coolette, Bunny Rabot (pronounced Ra-BOT), Rotor the Walrus and fan favorite Princess Sally Acorn, who became a sort of love interest for Sonic. The characters who were seen in the games, like Shadow, Rouge, and Knuckles (who had his own line of books for a short while), would make their appearances and become mainstays, but the charm of the book was that it was it’s own thing away from the games. Josh LaFrance wrote about the books in a physical copy of the magazine and I would highly recommend getting the September 2019 issue to read it. The Archie line would last until 2017 when Archie cancelled the 290 issue run, but luckily Sonic comics are still coming out thanks to IDW which started their run in 2018. It’s a new line of books and a ton of characters that fans fell in love with are not all there, but as a Sonic comic fan it’s still a great series.
Besides comics Sonic has had over 5 cartoons to his name, 3 in the 90’s and 1 in the 2000’s and 1 in the 2010’s, the two most famous ones being Sonic SatAM, and Sonic X. Sat AM was the more beloved and critically acclaimed series since it had a cohesive story with a subtle environmental message and it took characters and locales from the comics and put them on the screen. Also when you compare SatAM’s Dr. Robotnik to the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog’s Dr. Robotnik, the difference was night and day. Of course the shows were also vastly different from each other too. Adventures was more of a goofy, kid friendly show with a life lesson at the end of it whereas SatAM was aimed towards the older Sonic fans. The third show, Sonic Underground, was a completely different take where Sonic was actually a prince, had a brother and a sister, and they formed a band to save their world from Robotnik. It truly was different but not bad. Definitely the black sheep when it comes to the 90’s cartoons to be sure. Jaleel White voiced Sonic throughout all 3 shows, Jim Cummings voiced a truly menacing Robotnik in SatAM, and Knuckles officially appeared in Underground and not in the other two. Out of all 3 it was SatAM that got the most disappointing ending, since the season 2 finale ended on a major cliffhanger that never came to fruition. Sonic X was a Japanese developed show where Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose, and Cream the Rabbit were transported from their world into ours with Robotnik (now officially being called Dr. Eggman) hot on their heels. This show incorporates scenes and scenarios from the Sonic Adventure series and introduces Shadow and Rouge the Bat. This series actually had an ending thankfully with no cliffhangers like SatAM and I fondly remember watching it on Saturday mornings and recording all the new episodes I could find. After Sonic X, Sonic Boom (based off the games with the same name) hit the scene and it was received fairly well even though the games it was based on did not. I’ve seen a few episodes and while funny with some great fourth wall breaking jokes it’s not really for me. With the release of Sonic Mania, a short YouTube mini series which was animated by Tyson Hesse (an artist on the Archie books and the man behind the famous redesign for the film) came out and sparked fans wanting more 2D animated Sonic shows. Of course what we did get was the feature film which is a topic for another day.
Outside of comics and TV shows, Sonic has had some toy lines based off of him ranging from the games he appeared in to anniversary figures. There are a ton of collectibles with Sonic out there and there are bound to be more coming out soon with the 30 year anniversary coming up. Of course now Sonic merchandise isn’t hard to find anymore than it was a few years ago and thankfully it seems that the blue blur still has life outside of the games.