There are a handful of games that one could point to and say they forever changed the course of the video game industry. Among them? Sonic the Hedgehog. First released on the Sega Genesis on June 23rd, 1991, it challenged Nintendo’s dominance. It introduced a new kind of platformer to the masses. It sparked the imagination of an entire generation. Nearly 30 years later, the world of Sonic continues to grow and thrive, but it all started in a little black cart with six unique zones hiding inside, waiting for someone to plug it in and explore South Island.
As the kids who played the game grew up, it was only a matter of time before many became curious as to how this game came to be. Through research, interviews, and a lot of persistent digging, much of the game’s development has come to light. The process as to how Sonic and Eggman were designed. The months spent perfecting Green Hill Zone. The debates between the American and Japanese branches of SEGA, arguing how the game would be formed, advertised, and all the million little details inbetween that could make or break the company’s hopes in the 16-bit era. It’s a fascinating story, but there was always one piece that was missing. An early piece of media that would let someone take a peek into the development process, to experience a version of Sonic just a bit different than the one that hit store shelves.
That puzzle piece has finally been discovered. And it is glorious.