I haven’t played a lot of Sonic The Hedgehog games. I played one of the Game Gear games once, some emulation of Sonic Spinball, and I own a collection that features PC ports of the second and third game along with Sonic & Knuckles as well as Sonic Heroes but like a lot of games I never really finished them. The games are beloved as a franchise but mentioning certain games to certain fans and they’ll curl up in a ball without doing a spin dash move. Sonic ’06 comes to mind given the responses I’ve seen.
I have however seen many cartoons based on the games…well, loosely based. There have been a number of them, four created in the US and one in Japan that I’m aware of, not counting the movie which isn’t a TV show and thus won’t be on this list. And these shows have intros. Long time readers know I love a good intro, so I decided to do one for the Sonic shows. (Doing the games would take too long and the early games were just Sonic and either Tails or Knuckles popping up in the logo.) Unlike my Transformers intro-spective from last year this one will be rather short, but due to not overloading someone’s device (a problem I was worried about with all the Transformers intros) I’ll be doing this in two parts, which I’ll be splitting into the “White” years and the “other years”.
By “White” I’m of course referring to Jaleel White, mostly known for playing Steve Urkel on Family Matters, who had tried to break out of his potentially typecasting famous character though voice acting. His portrayal of Sonic even continued to a fan film I have yet to watch. He also played the blue hedgehog in the three shows we’ll be looking at tonight, all of which were produced by animation distributor DiC Entertainment, so I could also call this the DiC portion of the list. Since he didn’t play them in the other two I’ll look at them tomorrow, one of which has a Japanese intro. That means three videos per part. I like how that worked out.
Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog (1993)
While not the first attempt at making a Sonic cartoon it was the first one to air on US TV. The show featured Sonic and Tails running around Mobius and stopping Dr. Robotnik and his robot minions Scratch, Grounder, and occasional third member Coconuts. Unlike most of the other shows we’ll be looking at, this was pure comedy, and I never got into it. I felt it was like another poor 90s attempt at doing Looney Tunes or Tex Avery (though thousands of times better than the crapfest that was The Wacky World Of Tex Avery). The “Sonic Says” segments are those kind of end-of-show PSAs I never really cared for, like the show was pandering to the parents by showing them their kids could learn something. (To some parents a kid’s show needs to shove learning into their kids brains or it isn’t good for kids. Apparently you’re allowed to actually just enjoy a show when you grow up.) At least when Filmation did it most of the time the advice was tied to the theme of the episode.
However, the intro does serve the show well. The sight gags, augmented for the intro but this was surprisingly close, the frantic speed of the show, the goofball villains…it all works here. The show also uses a variation on the early game’s iconic theme song, which I appreciate and you won’t see on the rest of this list. As a sort of trailer to the show, one of the key components of a good intro, this is quite good. If you like the intro you may enjoy the show.
Sonic The Hedgehog (also 1993)
I just gave some 90s kid a nostalgia attack.
While Adventures aired weekdays in syndication Jaleel White would also play the hero in the more series Saturday morning version for ABC (which has earned it the nickname “Sonic SatAM” from fans as a way to tell the shows apart in discussion). Robotnik here is a serious threat, probably the only time he ever has been in this franchise outside of some of the later comics. (The Archie comics run took cues from both shows, though eventually SatAM would be the dominant influence on the series.) Having taken over Mobius and turned many of its anthro citizens into robots, a small band of survivors form the Freedom Fighters in the hopes of taking his operation down and restoring the planet. Robotnik also had a nephew named Snively. While Adventures played with the geography and other ideas from the games the show very loosely adapted the games, introduced new characters not seen outside of the show and Archie comics, and took on the darkest tone of the franchise. It’s still very well remembered.
And like with the previous intro this sells the tone and quality of the show very well. We get to see a Freedom Fighter rain on one of Robotnik’s facilities, and showcases the type of action you could expect from this version versus the more comedic weekday show. It’s beautiful animation. My only complaint is that it doesn’t really show off what most of the fighter can do. Bunnie uses her robo-arm to get everyone in, Sally does most of the work while Sonic distracts the SWATBots, and then we do see him use the ring to boost his speed (how the rings from the game work in the show) and they get away. None of the other Freedom Fighters get a moment to shine, including poor Tails, who got to show off his flying ability more in the Adventures intro. (Tails is my favorite character thanks in part to the Archie run.) Otherwise it’s a great intro and properly shows off what this version is like.
Sonic Underground (1999)
So um…this exists.
A few years after the ABC series ended DiC gave the franchise one more go, this time taking everything out of the games away except for Sonic and Robotnix. Even poor Tails was tossed out, though Knuckles would make his debut at some point. At least that’s what the Sonic fan wiki said. Honestly I never got on with this show either and stopped watching it early after finally learning it even existed. White returns as Sonic, but for some reason he also played Sonic’s sister Sonya and brother Manic, and they all start a rock band because it was the tail (no pun intended) end of the 1990s. It takes elements from the ABC series in that it was still serious and taking place in a world where Robotnix had created a city world where he ruled but also brought in some of the comedy from the first syndicated series. It didn’t quite mix well together and the show only lasted one season.
I do have to give the intro credit though. It does show of the show’s tone properly (yes, a dude uses a remote to turn his buddy into things…no, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in the show either) and it tells you everything you need to know going in. Sadly this includes the quality of the songs sometimes as the intro is rather clunky exposition, though I give it credit for trying to get viewers coming in late up to speed on the premise of the show.
That’s the DiC shows and the shows that feature Jaleel White as Sonic. Tomorrow we’ll look at the other two shows, one of which is dubbed anime and thus giving us another intro since I’m otherwise sticking with the English intros or we’ll run into possibly the same issue as trying to do the game intros. Watch the X because that’s where the boom is coming. That will make more sense tomorrow. It won’t improve the outro, but it will be explained.