The first video game Sonic The Hedgehog, appeared at the dawn of the 16-bit console era. It was the development of the Sega Corporation, which wanted to get ahead of its main rival Nintendo with its highly popular platformer Mario. The original version was released in 1991 and immediately became successful thanks to an interesting storyline and unique game mechanics. The authors continued to develop the project so that soon the series was replenished with new hits. Later it turned into a global media franchise. Other companies began to create on its basis feature-length and short films, animated series, comics, and books, united by a common character – a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog.
Meaning and History
When Sega executives decided to bring Sonic The Hedgehog to life, they didn’t even know what the character was supposed to look like. A huge team of specialists worked on its appearance, who were tasked with coming up with a concept. The artists came up with many ideas, and if they liked the management, then Sonic could become the double of Theodore Roosevelt, an armadillo, a rabbit, or a flying squirrel. But Naoto Oshima, a look inspired by Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse, won. The designer depicted a bipedal hedgehog with arms and legs and made it blue to match the color of the Sega logo. The red elements were supposed to be reminiscent of Santa Claus clothes, and the shape of the shoes was to remind of Michael Joseph Jackson’s boots.
Game designer Hirokazu Yasuhara is considered the second “father” of Sonic The Hedgehog. He and Naoto Oshima once shared their legend of this character’s origin. They came up with a whole story inside another story. According to them, even in the fictional universe, Sonic was never real. Instead, there was a talented pilot who flew an airplane with a painted hedgehog on the nose, for which he received the corresponding nickname. Then his new wife wrote a story about Sonic The Hedgehog because she was the author of children’s books and had limitless imagination.
The unusual concept has never been highlighted by Sega, but Naoto Oshima and Hirokazu Yasuhara don’t back down. This is how they explain the extravagant emblem that is used in the game and resembles the patch on the pilot’s trigger due to the three-color ribbon, ring, stars, and wings. However, the official logo of the franchise looks different. It contains the name of the series, written in an individual font. It is a two-level text with a colorful color scheme. It has been changed several times. The modifications coincided in time with those moments when new parts of the video game appeared.
1991 – 1999
The debut international version of the logo was created in the early 1990s. Its alleged author is Michael Patrick Partners, a creative agency that markets itself as a video game packaging developer. The employees of the same company were responsible for character development, so the final appearance of Sonic is partly their credit. The original cover of Sonic The Hedgehog features a colorful wordmark.
At the top was the first word — blue, with a slight white gradient and raised orange outlines. The second half of the inscription was at the bottom and occupied two lines: “THE” on the left, “HEDGEHOG” on the right. The designers positioned it in the form of an uneven arch, or rather, a wavy strip. The size of the letters varied: at first, they were small, and by the end, they became one and a half times larger. This effect gave the impression that the text was hanging in three-dimensional space. The pink color with blue shadows added visual dimension to it.
1999 – today
The brand’s current wordmark emerged in 1999, a year after the successful debut of Sonic Adventure. Around the same time, game designer Takashi Iizuka and 11 colleagues founded the Sonic Team USA division. Expansion into the US market prompted the owners of the video game cycle to adopt a new English version of the logo.
It contains the same inscription, “SONIC THE HEDGEHOG,” but in a more modern form. The developers changed the colors in places, making the first word yellow and recoloring its outline in a dark shade of blue. The gradient has become more pronounced, the white highlights have been removed. As for the phrase “THE HEDGEHOG,” it now fits completely on the second line. Unlike the previous version, its font is unified: all letters are the same size. Moreover, they are white and are located inside a horizontally elongated red rectangle.
In 2006, Sega introduced the new 3D platformer, Sonic Next-Gen, for seventh-generation consoles. Its full official name is the same as the franchise’s Sonic The Hedgehog. It was what his designers used to create the logo for the game. They retained the unusual font of the first word: an asymmetrical “S,” an inverted “O,” and a beveled “C.” The letters remained large, bold, with rounded edges. The blue has become darker, and a light blue gradient has been added at the bottom. Each character had a thin, silvery outline that appeared three-dimensional due to the gray shadows.
The phrase “THE HEDGEHOG” was on the bottom line. It was styled in the same way as the word “SONIC,” but the logo designers flipped the gradient to move the light bar upward. They also shrunk this part of the lettering and created a bold italic serif font for it in the upper left corner of most letters.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
The franchise’s logo has a simple structure, but it conveys the meaning behind Sonic The Hedgehog. The original character can gain record speed, so the word “Sonic” also looks dynamic. First of all, we are talking about “O” and “C,” the in-letter gaps of which are in the form of diagonally inverted ovals. The elongated red rectangle at the bottom resembles a speedline – a line that emphasizes the energy of movement. So even though the emblem of the video game series contains only text, it is very symbolic.
The first word in the franchise’s title is written using custom glyphs inspired by Syntax UltraBlack. This style served as the basis for the similar typeface Nise Sega Sonic – a free bold sans serif with an asymmetrical design. The font on the bottom of the logo is similar to the modified Compacta Bold BT.
The color scheme immediately grabs attention because the designers combined white, blue, red, and several shades of yellow. Moreover, blue has something in common with the color of Sonic The Hedgehog.