Sonic The Hedgehog has an extremely interesting and detailed history when it comes to animation. Between 1993 and the modern day Sonic has been everything from a zany toon, to a freedom fighter, to a royal hedgehog searching for his mother while touring with his brother and sister in a band. Sonic as a character comes with a heavy weight of responsibility and a huge expectation to adapt the character in a way that makes the fanbase happy and makes sense, but do the teams working on these animated projects believe there’s an expectation to make something that pleases everybody? Jasmin Hernandez, producer of Sonic Mania Adventures, certainly believes so, as she told me when I got the chance to talk to her about her work on Sonic’s animated adaptations.
Creating A Lovable Sonic
With the franchise’s long and storied history, it has picked up an insane number of fans over the years. Even recently, successful movie adaptations have thrown the three-decade-old icon back into the public consciousness in a big way. We asked Jasmin if she thought there was any level of expectation caused by the character’s fanbase.
“Yes, there is because Sonic is beloved by so many people and that expectation is always present. However, the love people have for Sonic gives us a boost to match that energy, and so in return, we pour a lot of love and effort into our projects.”
We also spoke to her about her history with the character, the decisions that the team faced, and how that became a reality in the end.
“I first started working on the Sonic IP in 2015. Yes, Sonic is a part of my childhood that I cherish, however, I didn’t stay as current with the IP, so I had a lot of catching up to do when I started at Sega. I did not create my own OC, but maybe one day.”
Sonic CD Inspiration
What Hernandez is known for perhaps the best is the Sonic Mania Adventures animation shorts that were released at around the same time as that game, and that are available both online and as part of Sonic Origins itself. But how DID those shorts come to fruition?
“After the positive response to the Sonic Mania intro, Sega wanted to explore short-form animation. We approached Tyson Hesse and he pitched a style for the project. We loved it and there we no other options thrown out.”
As those who have played the game and those who have been following the marketing for the title may know, Sonic Origins itself features new animations for the start and end of each of the included games. Curiously Sonic CD already had an animation from the very beginning, so one wonders if the team working on Sonic Origins looked to that for ideas.
“The team definitely took inspiration from the Sonic CD opening, specifically for the new animation in Sonic Origins. We wanted to evoke the same style of the Sonic CD opening, so the new animation transitions seamlessly with it. Whenever we can, we love to incorporate elements from previous Sonic animations into our projects.”
The Modern Reality Of Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic in a modern context is an extremely weird character. His 3D outings always tend to err on the side of performing badly, with recent examples being Sonic Lost World, Sonic Colors Ultimate, and Sonic Forces. Even the upcoming Sonic Frontiers has fans worried for the character from the gameplay we’ve seen so far. Yet when it comes to 2D, Sonic tends toward flourishing. Sonic Mania is the best Sonic game in years, a perfect blend of modern design sensibilities and classic platforming action, and Sonic Origins brings back four of the most loved Sonic games (Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles) of all time in one package. Hell as Jasmine says to me, both her first and her favorite Sonic game are in this package.
“My first Sonic game was Sonic The Hedgehog 2, and my favorite is Sonic The Hedgehog 2. It brings back many good memories.”
If Sonic fans are known for anything, it’s having a diverse line of favorite games, favorite characters, and favorite stages. While I’m yet to see anybody who claims that Sonic 06 is a masterpiece, there are people that will swear by Sonic Unleashed being one of the best 3D Sonic games, and people who will swear blindly that Shadow The Hedgehog is a better character than Sonic. Jasmine too has a favorite character, of course:
“When working on a project, I get so attached to the characters in the stories we tell. I really enjoy seeing the characters come to life and their personalities shine through. If I had to choose, Amy comes to mind first but I also want to say Knuckles. I’ll stop there or I’ll just keep listing out characters. It’s a difficult choice.”