In an alternate universe, Sonic the Hedgehog instead looks like a little human boy with spiky blue hair. That’s according to the original Sonic character designer, Naoto Ohshima, who recently shared some concept art of what would go on to become the iconic Blue Blur as we know him.
On Twitter (via CBR), Ohshima posted two images of concept art for early versions of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. Ohshima wrote that the concepts were for “an action game about twin brothers who protect the dream world from Nightmare World’s boss ‘Thirteen’.
Ultimately, this concept evolved into Sonic.
I made a draft of the game. An action game about twin brothers who protect the dream world from Nightmare World’s boss “Thirteen”. It evolved into Sonic.
私はゲーム原案書を作った。 ナイトメア世界のボス「サーティーン」から夢の世界を守る双子のアクションゲーム。 ソニックに進化した pic.twitter.com/nJECKnsI4w
— Naoto Ohshima (@NaotoOhshima) January 21, 2023
Taking a look at the images, it’s easy to see how this concept eventually morphed into Sonic. The nature in the background is reminiscent of Green Hill Zone, complete with the loop, and the villain’s evil grin isn’t a far cry from Dr. Robotnik. Plus, Sonic retained the spiky blue hair in his final design.
Ohshima worked on the Sonic franchise from the beginning all the way until 1998’s Sonic Adventure, which saw the character’s first major redesign. The developer would then go on to direct Blinx: The Time Sweeper and its sequel.
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Over three decades after Ohshima and Sega settled on the hedgehog design for Sonic, he’s still one of the most recognizable video game characters on the planet. 2022 was a big one for the Blue Blur, with the release of the Sonic Frontiers video game, the second live-action Sonic movie, and the new Sonic Prime Netflix show. And it’s only set to continue, with DLC coming to Sonic Frontiers later this year.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.