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The story of Sonic - as originally perceived


Slimybug

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So with the advent of the new film, I've been trying to really look into the history of Sonic the Hedgehog I'm big into learnign the story as the original audience perceived it, not just looking up overall summaries online of what we know now.  So with Sonic, it's a bit confusing. I mean, it's pretty evident having a solid storyline was not the highest priority. Nevertheless, here's the sumary from the original manual. And yes, I'm mainly concerned with the American manuals. Even though the original Japanese ones can be seen to flesh out the entire story better, I don't think an American audience would even have general access to that before the age of the internet really made it commonplace years later. So here it is..

Dr. Ivo Robotnik, the mad scientist, is snatching innocent animals and turning them into evil robots! Only one tough dude can put an end to the demented scientist's fiendish scheme. It's Sonic, the real cool hedgehog with the spiked haircut and power sneakers that give him super speed.

Help Sonic fight hordes of metal maniacs and do the loop with the Super Sonic Spin Attack. Speed down twisting tunnels and swing over dangerous booby traps. Leap across lava pits and dodge burning rocks. Then splash through the chilling waters in an underground cavern. And if you're lucky, you can warp to the secret zone where you spin around in a floating maze! Your greatest challenge lurks in a secret lab where you come face to face with Dr. Robotnik himself!

Spin through space, loop 'til you're dizzy, save the animals and become the super hero. Be Sonic! Be atomic!

Pretty vague, we don't know where this is taking place, who Doctor Robotnik is, or what his endgame is, or really how this blue hedgehog came to be. 

I've gone to youtube to watch some of the original gameplay. It's basically just sooming around to get to the end of the level, and then it says "Chaos Emerald" at the top of the screen during these little interludes. It doesn't really, as far as I can tell, say what these are, or how they are relevant to the story.   I also haven't gotten to the end yet, but from what I've read, I don't think that adds much story detail other than seeing Robotnik beaten, and that goes for the second game too.

So, from the American manual to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, from 1992.

Find the Chaos Emeralds!

Miles "Tails" Prower, the fox, can't sit still when Sonic's around. Ever since Miles was a baby fox, he's dreamed of being like Sonic. He loves to run after Sonic, waving his two tails behind him, trying to keep up with his hero!

Mostly, Sonic lets him trail along. But sometimes, just to show off, Sonic explodes in a burst of super speed and leaves him behind. But Miles doesn't give up. He whirls his tails like a helicopter rotor and takes off flying until he catches up!

All the animals call Miles by his nickname, "Tails", because of his two special tails. And one day they saw an astonishing feat...

They were all together in the forest, watching Sonic perform. Sonic would run, spin and jump in his Super Spin Attack. Then "Tails" would whirl like a turbo engine and blast off in his Super Dash Attack. What a showoff!

Suddenly, "Tails" just couldn't help himself. He took a running start, curled up his tails, and - whoosh - he was spinning like Sonic!

But now something frightening is happening. Sonic's friends are disappearing. In their place, nasty metal robots are popping up all over the island. The mad scientist Dr. Robotnik is at it again!

This time, Robotnik's planning a global disaster. He needs workers to create a doomsday machine that can take over the world. So he's trapping all the animals, turning them into robots, and forcing them to build his ultimate weapon, the Death Egg!

Robotnik now rules the factories, refineries and cities! He's grabbed control of everything - except the 7 Chaos Emeralds. These magnificent gems are believed to hold exceptional powers. With them, Robotnik could have the entireworld in his grasp. And he'd never let go!

The Chaos Emeralds are buried somewhere on the island. Only one tough dude with spiky hair has the speed to find them first!

Help Sonic stop the devious scheme of the demented scientist! Spin like a speedball through space. Grab Power Sneakers and loop 'til you're dizzy. Twirl over twisting speedways and rocket through tunnels. Balance and blast across a bubbling ocean of oil!

Find the Emeralds, free the animals, and squash Robotnik forever!

They mention this is on an island, but not if this is on our world or another, or what the world is, just that Robotnik, whoever he is, wants to take over it. It also specifies there are chaos emeralds, large sources of power, that are, for whatever reason, on this particular island, and which Robotnik wants (so presumably why he's setting up shop on this island to begin with). Again, I'm unsure if these are really supposed to have been a part of the plot of the first game.

Now, if we are going to discuss the Japanese manuals, the first one does mention that the game takes place on an island called "South Ilsand," and that Robotnik is after the powerful Chaos Emeralds. The second game actually states that Sonic, and later Robotnik, are only now arriving at the island where the Chaos Emeralds are kept. So this must really be a retelling or a reboot rather than a sequel, at least in the Japanese version.  This version actually gives a bit of backstory on the emeralds and talks about Sonic and Tails first meeting before Robotnik shows up, looking for the stones. It does not, however, specify that he is building his space ship like the American version does.

But at any rate, the American versions alone seem pretty simple. Sonic is on an island...somewhere, filled with intelligent animals, Robotnik keeps coming back to it trying to get these powerful gems that are stored there to take over the world, whatever world that is.

 

So, let's move on to the third game, Sonic CD. 

"Sonic, where are you going now?"

Sonic the Hedgehog looked over his shoulder at Princess Sally (in actuality, Amy Rose), the young hedgehog who was racing hot on his heels.

"To Never Lake," he called back.

"Why Never Lake?"

Sonic slowed down a little so he could explain. "Ever heard of the Little Planet?"

"Isn't that the tiny world that orbits around Mobius?" Princess Sally asked. "The one with the special stones that alter time and change everything around them? I heard that the planet's full of places that are completely ignored by the passage of time!"

"Yeah. On the last month of every year, the Little Planet appears over Never Lake. It's that time now, and I'm going to check it out. I bet space travel will be exciting!"

"With all those Time Stones, I bet you'll try to outrun time itself!" Princess Sally sighed in adoration.

Sonic didn't reply. He just smiled, eyes gleaming.

When they arrived at Never Lake, the Little Planet was there as expected. But something was wrong. Where there should have been tall trees and bright flowers, there was nothing but dry sand and jagged rocks. The Little Planet was tethered to a rock with a huge chain and its surface was covered with twisted, gleaming metal.

"What happened?" Princess Sally wondered.

Before Sonic could reply, something whooshed over them. Princess Sally shrieked as she was snatched up, and she and her captor vanished in a blue streak of light!

"What the -- PRINCESS SALLY!"

It didn't take long for Sonic to realize what had happened. "This has to be one of Dr. Robotnik's tricks!"

Indeed it was! Upon discovering the location of the Little Planet, the evil Dr. Robotnik and his robot cronies had immediately set about converting it to a giant fortress. When Robotnik saw Sonic approaching, he had dispatched his prize creation, the Metal Sonic, to grab Princess Sally and lure his arch enemy into danger.

"How convenient!" Robotnik crowed, bouncing about like a malicious rubber ball. "This time my scientific expertise will crush you! Once all the Time Stones are in my hands, I'll be able to manipulate time and conquer the world! HO, HO, HO, HO!"

Sonic stood on a rock and thought. Robotnik had control on the Little Planet. He had Princess Sally, and soon he would have the Time Stones...but not if Sonic got to them first!

His adventure on the Little Planet was going to be more exciting and dangerous than he'd planned. It was time to get a move on!

 So this at least tells us that Sonic exists on a planet called Mobius. It's pretty abrupt to just say "and here's a princess!" but I guess that's what that character is, the princess of that planet. And now there's another planet with a different kind of gem that Robotnik wants. I can only hope that as I go along there is a clearer story to this, and I'm going to research the animated series as well.

And yes, I know I may be taking this too seriously, and it's just a game with a storyline meant for kids. But this is what I do. So if I'm missing anything, if there's any way this is made clearer, do let me know, thanks. 

Okay, here's from the manual for the fourth game, Sonic Chaos

 

Could this be the end of South Island? That evil maniac Dr. Robotnik has another twisted idea to take over the world! This time he wants to steal the mystical Chaos Emeralds. The emeralds are the source of vitality for all living things. But in the hands of rotten Dr. Robotnik, they could be turned into nuclear bombs and laser weapons!

The evil doctor has already snatched the Red Chaos Emerald, causing the other emeralds to lose balance and fly into a parallel universe. Now South Island is sinking into the ocean. Sonic and "Tails" will have to use all their super speed and super stunts to stop Dr. Robotnik and restore harmony to the universe!

"OK, Dr. Robotnik," says Sonic, "You're charged with contempt of hedgehog. There's no time to lose. Gotta slide, Clyde!"

 

So even though the last game talked about some form of princess, either of the planet or the island that they inhabit, no further details on that or the world in general. Just Robotnik stealing the gems again. The main wikipedia entry for this game has a more detailed synopsis than this, and I'm not sure where they're getting it from.

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Pretty much everything you've listed here is the origins and the very basic concepts to what the series would become. Also there is a lot in the Sonic universe that is just down to fan individual perception of certain stuff. 

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I don't see what's the big deal, Sonic's lore is pretty simple.

He's a hedgehog from planet Mobius/Earth/Two planets/ I have no idea.

He fight scientist called Robotnik/Eggman/ Julian Kintobor, only human/one of many humans around. He's serious threat/total joke/ something in between.

His best friend is Tails the Fox/Miles Prower, who's smart enough to pilot planes/genius and is completely useless/capable sidekick.

And there are Chaos Emeralds, six/seven/fourteen/hundreds of them/ don't forget Master Emerald.

...forget I said anything.

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It's neat how Sonic Team can't make lore for a series about a talking hedgehog beating up a fat man without repeatedly screwing it all up somehow. It looks ike they want to get away with not giving a damn about lore like Mario does, but don't realize that they blew that shot when Sonic Adventure came around and then when they didn't stop with Sonic Adventure 2.

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3 hours ago, Almar said:

It's neat how Sonic Team can't make lore for a series about a talking hedgehog beating up a fat man without repeatedly screwing it all up somehow. It looks ike they want to get away with not giving a damn about lore like Mario does, but don't realize that they blew that shot when Sonic Adventure came around and then when they didn't stop with Sonic Adventure 2.

To be fair Mario is a constant saga revolving around party's , go-Karting and kidnapping

which now having read that back makes sense. The Princess gets kidnapped - Mario saves her- to celebrate they go Go-Karting and have a party.

Rinse and repeat.

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Here's the manual for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (actually the 5th game) from 1994.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 takes place on the mysterious Floating Island which holds many special powers. The source of these powers are Chaos Emeralds. In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic and Tails thought that they had destroyed the Death Egg, which was Dr. Robotnik's heavily armoured ship. Instead, Dr. Robotnik managed to crash land on the Floating Island. After learning that the island is able to float in the sky by harnessing the power of the emeralds, the Doc decides to steal the emeralds so he can repair his Death Egg ship.

To obtain the emeralds, Dr. Robotnik tricks Knuckles, the guardian of the Floating Island's Chaos Emeralds. He also tells Knuckles that Sonic and Tails are the ones trying to steal the emeralds.

Between battling the new types of Badniks and trying to outsmart Knuckles, Sonic and Tails have their work cut out for them once they arrive on the Floating Island and search for Dr. Robotnik.

You'll soon discover that Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is packed with Zones which are three times larger than those found in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Each Zone is made up of two Acts, and each Act contains dozens of challenges and obstacles for Sonic and Tails to overcome.

Okay, this is confusing has heck. The Chaos Emeralds were supposed to be on South Island, now they're on Floating Island. Are there two separate kinds of Chaos Emeralds?  Like, this seriously makes no sense. Even if the writers aren't taking it too seriously, they had to notice that, right?

Also, this appears to be ignoring the events of the last two games, CD & Chaos. 

And here's the manual from Sonic & Knuckles, also from 1994.

The last time Sonic and Robotnik went head-to-head, Sonic blasted Robotnik's Death Egg in smithereens. The explosion heaved Sonic deep into Floating Island's Mushroom Hills!

Sonic knows that many Emeralds, including the Master Emerald, are hidden somewhere on Floating Island. He bets this Knuckles character knows where they are! Sonic can't let Robotnik get his hands on the Master Emerald. He'd have Death Egg fuel forever -- and Floating Island would be destroyed!

Now Sonic's got two problems. How to protect the Master Emerald? And how to keep Knuckles off his back? He'll have to deal with that wild echidna right away!

Knuckles has problems, too. As Guardian of Floating Island and all the emeralds, Knuckles has a mission -- to wage war on all invaders. Whoever threw that bomb is in DEEP trouble. Knuckles is ready with tricks, traps and bare-fisted attacks to keep Floating Island safe.

Sonic's not taking any changes. Neither is Knuckles! But while they're going the rounds with each other, who's stopping Dr. Robotnik? Could this be the end of Floating Island?

 

So yeah, it appears these are two versions of the same story.

Lastly (for this post, and for the year 1994), is the 7th game, Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble.

While the evil genius Dr. Robotnik is testing the ultimate destructive weapon, one of his assistants makes a big mistake. The resulting explosion scatters five of the Chaos Emeralds across the planet Mobius and sets off a high-speed Emerald Hunt!

Yeah, okay, whatever. I guess this time he actually got the emeralds and....Yeah, whatever...

 

Question: You can only learn so much from a manual. Is there anything in the actual gameplay, like onscreen, that shows what happens in the story, like when Sonic and Tails become allies? The Japanese manual for Triple Trouble also mentions another character named Nack the Weasel or something, I'd imagine an American audience would only know him through the gameplay , unless there's another part of the manual that names him. 

 

 

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Trying to figure out the deal with the Chaos Emeralds, Super Emeralds, etc. in Sonic 3 & Knuckles is guaranteed to make your brain explode. Some have concluded there are two sets of Chaos Emeralds, one on Angel Island and one not, and the Angel Island set might be the same thing as the Super Emeralds, but others think the Super Emeralds are just a powered-up version of the Chaos Emeralds and there are only ever 7, because there being multiple sets of Chaos Emeralds is never acknowledged in any other game, nor are the Super Emeralds.

I guess we have to conclude there are two sets of Chaos Emeralds in Sonic 3? Maybe? Again, it's never acknowledged anywhere that there are two sets of emeralds, so...make up your own headcanon to explain the discrepancy? Or just ignore it... Easily my least favorite part of the Sonic 3 & Knuckles story because it's so confusing. But, I guess I have to face up to the fact that Sonic games aren't actually the type of games that desperately need to make sense in every way.

A lot of story elements aren't in cutscenes, such as Sonic and Tails meeting, except for a brief and non-elaborate flashback in Sonic Adventure. Nack the Weasel is in the manual elsewhere, yes.

There's a lot of stuff that doesn't make a ton of sense, not to mention notable discrepancies between Japanese and Western manuals, and I guess you just have to roll with it. In general, trying too hard will give you a headache. The best way to handle Sonic "lore" is to just appreciate the various scattered bits without trying to dissect them deeply, or to connect the pieces with your own headcanons. The Sonic games don't really have much the most consistent continuity, and sometimes they just don't cover certain things at all even if you would think it would make sense. Sometimes, that's a good thing (pleasing minimalism); sometimes, that's annoying (makes the story/universe feel like it has "gaps"). But, again, you just have to roll with it at the end of the day.

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I'm convinced there are two sets of Chaos emeralds at this point. Sonic possessed the set from Sonic 2 (as he goes Super Sonic at the beginning) and there is a set that has been on Angel Island for presumably millennia. In the JP manual these emeralds are stated to disappear as the Death Egg hits. This I think means the emeralds vanished into the special zone as a reaction of some sort. 

Knuckles becomes aware of Sonic's chaos emeralds through Eggman and Knuckles takes them as we know at the beginning of Sonic 3 (the reason why Knuckles would take these from Sonic is because he now perceives Sonic as a threat, as I don't think he would be convinced that Sonic stole these from him unless he thought Sonic was some sort of god) . But then Sonic finds giant rings and is transported to the special zone to find chaos emeralds. These I believe are the ones that vanished when the Death Egg hit. What happened with Sonic's set AKA the ones that Knuckles now have is he put them in Hidden Palace Zone on those special pedestals (which are notably different than the pedestals that the original Angel Island set was sitting on, as in the manual its stated that Knuckles had to run around the island to see each emerald). For some reason this makes them into those big black silhouettes that you see in Mushroom Hill Zone on, maybe it's the emeralds reacting to the hidden palace altars which hadn't been used for presumably millennia again and the power ratios are different, idk. The reason why he puts them in the hidden palace is because the original pedestals were destroyed as the Death Egg hit. 

When Sonic makes it to the hidden palace, he takes out the set which he got (which is really the Angel Island set) and at this point I imagine the SK special stages are just allegory to show that the two sets are now combining one by one. These combined sets are what are referred to as the Super Emeralds and I think this is how the emeralds were originally thousands of years ago when Angel Island was still part of the planet. 

Of course Super Emeralds and Hyper Sonic aren't canon anymore, but this is the best possible explanation to how Sonic 3's JP manual works. Maybe after S3K the emeralds stay in this diamond cut shape but are released from Angel Island and for whatever reason and they shrink in size, maybe from not being in the hidden palace pedestals which maybe work a certain way to keep them in place and so require a set size for them, idk. 

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