It’s hard to imagine a time where Sonic the Hedgehog didn’t exist. A time when he wasn’t ever present on video game shelves, where a cartoon featuring the character wasn’t airing on television, when a monthly comic book wasn’t available to buy at your local comic shop. But back in 1990, Sonic was just a dream. Springing from the mind of Naoto Ohshima, there was certainly a time when he was nothing more than a simple doodle scratched upon a napkin. Mr. Hedgehog, one drawing among a sea of many, all of them vying to become the face, and the hope, of an entire video game company.
What was it like when Ohshima sat in Central Park all those years ago, signaling for random passersby to see his funny, slightly strange doodles? How many of those people had the slightest idea what SEGA was? What videogames even were? Did they just think of him as a cartoonist who had made his way to the big city, looking for inspiration among the towering skyscrapers? When shown the drawings of that egg-shaped man, or that spiny blue critter who couldn’t wait to run off the page, what did they say? Did anyone have the slightest inkling they were witness to history?
Likely not. After all, it was just a drawing on a piece of paper. No grander sense of the world that was being created. Of the gameplay slowly being refined in Japan. No idea that this character, who would take the name Sonic, was destined to forever alter the video game industry. If they had been told ahead of time, those who were aware of Nintendo’s dominance would have surely laughed. Video games were dead in America until Mario brought them back to life, how could anyone attempt to overthrow them? Where would you even begin?
Well, with a hedgehog. As blue and cool as the planet he called home.