Sonic was not given the ability to swim due as programmer Yuji Naka mistakenly assumed that hedgehogs could not swim.
There are a few minor graphical differences between the US/EU and Japanese releases of the game. The clouds of the Green Hill Zone move along in the sky in the Japanese version (whereas in the other versions they stay still), and the water of the Labyrinth Zone has a gentle rippling effect that slightly distort anything submerged to give it more of an underwater "feel". Also, the Level Select screen has the order of the zones fixed into the correct order.
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Sonic was originally designed to have fangs and was originally in a band with a girl named Madonna, who was his girlfriend. He was redesigned to appear less frightening and his band/girlfriend was later scrapped.
The game's instruction manual lists a 1-Up as a collectible item in the Secret Zone (its picture is that of a bright circle with a picture of Sonic inside it). This item is nowhere to be found within the game, however it was originally included during development as it can be accessed with the use of the debug mode cheat.
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Sonic's look and attitude was inspired by several celebrities. His color was made to match the Sega logo, his shoes were based off of Santa and Michael Jackson's "Bad" album cover and his personality was based off of Bill Clinton.
One proposed name for the title character was "Mr. Needlemouse."
Development of the game began in 1990 when Sega requested the AM8 development team to create an original title that could be marketed as Sega's mascot.
Sonic's "roll" feature originated from a tech demo created by Yuji Naka.
Prior to this game, Alex Kidd held the position as Sega's mascot.
Originally a rabbit mascot with grasping ears was being proposed as the game's main character. This idea was scrapped due to techinical limitiations at the time.
Sonic's body design is a combination of Felix the Cat's head and Mickey Mouse's body.
Sonic's color was chosen to be dark blue so that he would stand out against certain in-game backgrounds.
The game's color scheme was influenced by the work of pop artist Eizin Suzuki, and the aesthetics of Green Hill were influenced by the geography of California.
Super Mario Bros. was a major influence for Yuji Naka and his level design for Sonic the Hedgehog.
One of the inspirations for fast-scrolling gameplay was Shigeru Miyamoto's Super Mario Bros. Yuji Naka enjoyed the game but often wondered why the levels couldn't be cleared faster.
Yuji Naka's relationship was greatly strained with Sega of Japan during Sonic's development, due to not being properly credited for games he had worked on while employed there.
One of the concerns of Sonic's development was for the game to effectively showcase the technical aspects of the Genesis/Mega Drive. This revamping process of the game's graphics took six months to complete.
There were plans to implement a two-player split-screen mode as well as a sound test with Sonic breakdancing. Both of these features were scrapped due to time issues and Naka's programming inability to incorporate two players.
Sonic the Hedgehog was created and tailored to appeal to SEGA's US market - despite being designed by the Japan team. This followed on from SEGA of America's aggressive "SEGA does what Nintendon't" advertising campaign which surprised and somewhat inspired SEGA of Japan to go more head to head with Nintendo
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Scrap Brain Zone's first act and music were inspired by elements from Blade Runner. The stage was inspired by the opening industrial scene of the movie Blade Runner. The music was inspired by the Blade Runner's end theme.
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Of all places, Soinic the Hedgehog has a glitch at the title screen! At the title screen, the text "Press Start Button" was intended to appear, but doesn't. It uses the same chunk of memory as the "Sonic Team Presents" screen, which doesn't clear properly after the screen fades, preventing the "Press Start Button" text from appearing.
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Connection to Other Media
The music for this game was written by Masato Nakamura of the Japanese band Dreams Come True. They would extensively promote Sonic on tour that year, with pre-release game footage shown during the show and pamphlets handed out.
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