Two years ago I wrote an article talking about ten falsities that fans believes to be true. But now with nearly 26 years under its belt, the Sonic franchise is hardly limited to just those misconceptions. To follow up on that, here’s six more that portions of the fandom, or even the general market, believe that just aren’t true. From bad science to bad language, we’ve got quite the range to cover.
Sonic’s Animal Friends aren’t Sapient
First off, a very straight forward misconception. Ever since Sonic 1, Sonic has been accompanied by his little animal friends, who he needed to rescue from being enslaved as living batteries by Dr Eggman. The original seven were Flicky, Picky, Pecky, Pocky, Rocky, Ricky and Cucky, with other less famous animals being present in later games. The first point to stress is that those names refer to them as a species as well as on an individual basis not dissimilar to Toads in the Mario series.
Now, what’s the problem with the little animals? Largely in part thanks to SatAM and especially Archie, people get confused on how they can co-exist with real animals and the anthropomorphic Sonic characters in the series. You see, in the Archie continuity, these animals have been given the moniker of “Mobini”, and are on a different evolutionary level to the regular “Mobians”. As such, there are questions as to their sapience compared to other groups, and thus how they can co-exist when presumably evolution creating multiple species with anthropomorphic traits is near infeasible.
Trying to apply this thought train to the main continuity, however, is completely fruitless. From the very start, The little animal friends have been very much sapient, and able to communicate freely with Sonic and co. What’s varied over the years is really what that communication manifests itself as. In the early promotional manga created around the time of Sonic 1, the friends are perfectly capable of speech. Sonic the Comic began with the animals as more full-sized co-stars (while using their localised names of Johnny Lightfoot, Porker Lewis and Sally Acorn) before shifting them to an anthropomorphic style to better match with the main game cast. Sonic 3D: Flickies Island showed that Flickies understood how use dimensional warps of all things, and games as recent as Sonic Lost World and Sonic Runners showed that, while being far more helpless than the anthropomorphic cast, they had very much “human” behaviours and thought processes, even if they did only communicate in onomatopoeia.
Why do most sapient beings appear to be little animal friends while a select few are anthropomorphic (when the game casts don’t consist of mostly humans anyway)? That one isn’t certain. Perhaps it works on a similar principal to the toads as well, seeing they vastly outnumber plumbers and princesses. Whatever the reason, they’re certainly not chilli dog meat!
Vanilla Has Had Official Game Stock Art
Pretty much as long as Sonic has been around, people have been drawing art to imitate the official style. With the development of the internet and tools at people’s disposal, recreating the artwork and renders so well that you can pass it off as the real deal has become more possible than ever.
In terms of 3D renders, there’s a handful of notable artists, such as Nibroc Rock (who’s most notable work is on the fangame Sonic World) and several artists who’ve done renders for Cobanermani456. Rafa Knight is a peculiar case; while she has done several fan renders, some are actually official in the sense that they’ve been done for Archie comics and even SEGA occasionally. But even then she’s never done renders for actual official game stock art, so you won’t see it when you pop in your copy of Mario and Sonic Do Water Polo for Some Reason.
In terms of 2D art, the amount of art replicating those styles is far larger as it’s arguably easier and has been around longer. Sonic Channel style tends to be the go-to now as it’s the one considered the most standard style (given that it’s present on their official profiles and is the most likely to appear on official merchandising). You do a simple search for Sonic Channel on Google or DeviantArt and you will run into hundreds of people doing their fancharacters that way, or trying to put old or otherwise disused characters into that format. Sonic Riders was a popular style to try out for a while when the first Riders game was released, although it became less common when subsequent Riders games dropped that entirely. And before Sonic Channel, there was the Sonic Adventure/Sonic Adventure 2 style to emulate, lasting from those games until Sonic Rush Adventure. And it’s in this period where we find our specific example of something people believe to be official that just isn’t…
Vanilla the Rabbit, while having sprite art (Sonic Advance 2 and Sonic Advance 3) and static 3D models (Sonic Rush), has never received actual official stock artwork for the games. I know what some of you will say; “Hey, but what about this “official” art of her?”
Both Sonic News Network and Sonic Retro have that art up in their official artwork galleries, and even Archie used it on at least one occasion, and multiple different sources can’t be wrong, right? Wrong.
Here’s the story of how this art came about. Once upon a time (2004-2005ish), there was an artist called Kojichan who’d gotten really good at emulating the Adventure/Advance style colouring. So much so, that she even decided to have a go at doing it on actual concept art. Her first go at this was colouring concept art of Tikal from the time of Sonic Adventure. This was mistaken as official for a while as well, but eventually fell out of use when she got actual official Sonic Channel art.
Following this, another user decided to request that she do the same for concept art of Vanilla from around Sonic Advance 2*. She obliged, and the result is what you see above. Unlike Tikal, Vanilla never got Sonic Channel art to supersede the fan colouring, so it has stuck around and now is often assumed to be the real deal when it isn’t. That’s why if you actually look into the assets of Sonic Advance 2 and 3 (or games since), you won’t find it at all.
With the lack of interest the games have in actually using her (she’s mentioned in context to Cream and that’s about it), I don’t think there’ll ever be official game art to supersede the fanart, so I guess it’s the next best thing.
*This concept art was passed to TMS for Sonic X material, and they did colour it themselves so it ended up as official Sonic X stock art.
Espio is a Jackson’s Chameleon
If there’s anything that’s not so strictly adhered to in the Sonic franchise, it’s biology. And why would it? They’re anthropomorphic video game characters, they don’t need to be accurate to real life anatomy and morphology. That said, there are some little biological quirks that people tend to assume that aren’t the necessarily the case. For this entry, I’ll be looking at two of the Chaotix members, the first for something that’s potentially possible in real life, and the second for the actual untrue fact.
Charmy Bee is the only insect in the game series, and is possibly one of the most biologically inaccurate characters in the entire franchise (for a start, he’s basically a mammal with insect wings and antennae). However, there is something that tends to leave people raising an eyebrow. Even though bees are known for having stingers, there’s a couple of crucial stipulations that come with them;
1. True stingers evolved from egg-laying organs.
2. A honeybee stinging a person will die because that sting also tears its body apart if the skin is thick enough.
As Charmy is officially male and doesn’t die after stinging, that’s in conflict with both of these points.
The second point can easily be explained by looking at anything that’s not a honeybee; bumblebee and wasp stingers have evolved to not rip out when stinging things perceived as dangerous, so that’s one place that could have had influence on developing the character.
The first point can also be explained, but it goes a little deeper than that. While males do not possess true stingers, some species of Hymenoptera (aka Bees, Wasps, Ants and Sawflies) still develop defence by possessing pseudo-stingers, although it’s more likely to happen with wasps than bees. These spikes are differentiated from true stingers by not developing from the same organs and lacking any venom. There’s actually no indication that Charmy’s sting has any venomous properties, so it has more in common with a pseudo-stinger than a true stinger.
So it’s possible for Charmy to have a spike that doesn’t share the properties of the commonly perceived bee sting, you just have to look outside of the beehive, so to speak.
There’s much less uncertainty with the actual misconception of this entry though. When you think of chameleons, what comes to mind? You may think of Pascal from Tangled, or Leon from Star Fox, or Francis from Super Paper Mario (which you should do because he’s hi-technical). What do all of these chameleons have in common? They are hornless, as most chameleon species do not possess horns. Whether for visual distinction or as a method of attack, Espio is one of the few fictional chameleons to have a horn. So where exactly did that come from?
Some may think that it’s because he’s directly a Jackson’s Chameleon. It is probably the most recognised horned chameleon, as it is a popular chameleon for beginners. That’s even led it to become an invasive species in places like Hawaii. But what’s weird about that assertion is that the Jackson’s Chameleon has three horns (if male. Females have either one or none), and it’s hardly the only chameleon with horns to boot. In fact, within the genus of Trioceros (which is the genus of the Jackson’s Chameleon), there are several horned chameleons, a good number fairly well known;
- If you think three horns are excessive, the Four-Horned Chameleon takes it up a notch.
- The Wavy Chameleon, Owen’s Three-Horned Chameleon, Werner’s Chameleon, the Flapjack Chameleon and Johnston’s Chameleon have three horns just like the Jackson’s Chameleon.
- Pairs of horns are pretty common as well, as demonstrated by the Cameroon Sailfin Chameleon, the Bale Two-Horned Chameleon and Pfeffer’s two-horned chameleon.
- There is a famous species with just one horn; Meller’s Chameleon is not only the biggest chameleon outside of Madagascar, it’s a popular chameleon to have as a pet as well. There’s also the Sudanese Cone-Horned Chameleon, the Mount Kulal Chameleon, the Marsabit One-Horned Chameleon, and the Cherangani Helmeted Chameleon.
Is that a lot of chameleon species to remember? It is, but the point is that horns are a trait that’s pretty common in this genus, and isn’t reserved for a single species. While some species listed were identified after 1995, even back then it would have been easy enough to look up chameleons and come across a variety with horns.
Moral of the story; in all likelihood, most of the characters aren’t supposed to be a single real species (or at least they won’t just abide by one species’ traits), they’re an amalgamation of traits from multiple individual species or, even more likely, worked off stereotypes of the animals to create their own designs without regards to real life species. It’s not very scientific, but this is a series where the chameleon goes invisible through ninja arts (and hedgehogs can run at the speed of sound, hedgehogs kind of don’t do that) so realism is off the table at that point.
All the Old Games are Part of the Classic Sonic Series
This was briefly touched on in one of the points in the original 10 Facts article (right at the end of “All the classics are Sonic Team made”), but I think it’s high time that the score was settled on this disparity, especially in light of Iizuka’s recent interview with Famitsu on Sonic Mania. To wit, thanks to the text being translated, this is what he said on the subject of the Fang Poster that appears in Mirage Saloon (and apparently an Espio poster, although I haven’t seen it).
Interviewer (ライター 馬波レイ): Ah! There are posters of Espio and Fang in the background. *laugh*
Iizuka: There are also Bark and Bean. They don’t appear in the Classic Sonic series, but they were in the stage when I noticed.*lol* Everyone in the dev team loves Sonic too much, and they put these kind of Easter Eggs in every possible places. For example in Studiopolis a sign on the building in background looks like Club SEGA. *laugh*
But wait, surely they did appear in the classic Sonic series, right? I mean, Fang debuted in Sonic Triple Trouble, Espio in Chaotix and Bean and Bark in Sonic the Fighters, so that’s classic Sonic through and through.
Well, there’s actually two definitions of the classic Sonic series in play here. The first is the simple definition, that being any game made prior to the release of Adventure. Under that umbrella, the likes of the games mentioned before, Spinball, Mean Bean Machine, every Game Gear and Pico game, SegaSonic the Hedgehog and even Sonic’s Schoolhouse would be viable for the classic brand, and so would their characters. For the rest of this entry, we’ll just refer to these as “the old games”.
The second definition isn’t referring to a period of time, but instead to marketing. The classic Sonic series referred to in this interview is the brand of classic Sonic SEGA are presenting to customers in the current age. That image is primarily based on the Japanese classic Sonic (presumably because it’s cuter), so right from the start it doesn’t have the same look as most would remember it. It’s also extremely restrictive on what games constitute the classic Sonic series. As it stands, it’s restricted to Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3&Knuckles and Sonic CD, with Sonic R and Sonic 3D: Flickies Island being strange outliers that may or may not be canonical to it.
The reason why these and not the multitude of other old games is quite simple; these are the very bread and butter of the era, developed by either Sonic Team, SEGA Technical Institute (Japanese side) or SEGA Enterprises, which all contained some core members of Sonic Team at one point or another. Sonic 3D: Flickies Island and Sonic R were the first games which were conceptualised by Sonic Team then developed by an outsourced team (in this case, Traveller’s Tales). As such, it’s easy to see why these titles are recognised in the classic Sonic brand while every other old game is simply in the past.
…That is, every other old title except Chaotix. Chaotix is that one awkward case where it’s technically got its feet in both worlds. It was developed by SEGA Enterprises just like Sonic CD (although staff like Hoshino and Ohshima were moved off the project partway through to work on NiGHTS), but it had elements that SEGA weren’t so keen on keeping around (namely things like Mighty, who was made for an AM3 game, not under Sonic Team’s watch). What they decided to do was a bit of a compromise. Chaotix was completely dropped from the classic Sonic brand like the other old games, but the characters that debuted in that game were given new life as the Chaotix Detective Agency in Heroes and had a second chance at becoming part of the core cast. As they’re still here to this day and set to appear in Sonic Forces, they had a happy ending.
The rest of the old game cast and other elements were…not so lucky, and it seems Sonic Team aren’t planning to change their mind any time soon.
The President saw Gerald as a Saviour in the End
Up until this point, the misconceptions with facts have been from pretty much entirely fan error. That is to say, the correct information is there, but the fans have gotten it wrong for whatever reason (whether through alternate media influence, some fan source popularising the idea, etcetera). But sometimes, wrong facts can come from official sources instead, so the fans have a strong legitimate reason as to why they have the misconception. After all, without knowing how they messed up, that’s how it was presented by the company, so there’s no reason to contest it. This and the next point are related to this, so first up we wade into the cesspool that is bad localisation.
Sometimes, it’s easy to tell when lines have been badly localised, even if you’re not aware what the original version said. Who could forget such immortal quotes as “We’re on our way to the ARK, so I guess that means we’re going too!” or “Look at all those Eggman’s robots!”. But quite often, bad localisation is a lot more subtle and takes the form of script changes that completely scramble the original presentation.
One notorious victim of this is Sonic Adventure 2. Not only were lines just re-said by the English voice-cast without being translated (“Teriaaaa!” and “Yosh!” are just two such examples), some bits were translated in such a way that they lost details in the process or added ones that weren’t there, such as the fact that Sonic never explicitly took out everyone on the helicopter at the start, or that he allowed himself to be captured and taken to Prison Island. But it’s not the only one; one scene in Sonic Riders changed Wave’s dialogue enough to go from being portrayed as Jet’s loyal follower to being a dysfunctional big sister figure (which future games have made sure to correct), while Sonic Heroes had Vector reject Eggman’s offer of being payed when he takes over as it’s obviously an empty promise, when originally he rejected an offer of being given half the world because that’s just not his jam.
For our untrue fact, we’re looking at a different game, Shadow the Hedgehog. Right at the ending, after Devil Doom is down for the count, we catch up with our favourite hedgehog hating Commander in the headquarters of G.U.N. While his troops are celebrating the Earth being saved (English cheers layered over Japanese cheers since it’s another instance of the localisers being lazy…and makes this mistake even more silly), the President talks to the Commander, saying how it’s ironic that despite the way they treated him, they were wrong about Professor Gerald and that he saved them. The President also suggests that they pay homage to him by working towards a brighter future, to which the Commander agrees.
Obviously, this brings to mind a bit of contention, namely the fact that Gerald’s last act was to alter Shadow’s memories to want to eliminate humanity and programme the ARK to fall to the planet if the seven Chaos Emeralds were put into its core. It’s one of the most contested parts of Shadow the Hedgehog…and it’s not present in the original Japanese script. Below is the actual Japanese dub of Shadow’s last story (put on subtitles to see English subs);
This is what was said during that same cutscene between the President and the Commander in the original version, put in text to focus specifically on that;
Troops: *Watching Shadow save the Earth* He did it! Good job! We’re saved!
President: How ironic. Due to the mistakes our human race committed, he suffered the most…to save us all.
Let us build a faultless future as an atonement to him and the ARK’s victims, shall we. Will you cooperate?
Commander: Yes, of course, Mr. President!
Notice how there’s no reference to Professor Gerald anywhere in that conversation. That’s because they’re not talking about Professor Gerald, they’re clearly talking about Shadow. You know, the guy who literally just saved their behinds in front of their eyes. Yes, the localisation team misinterpreted that scene so badly they ended up giving credit to the wrong guy and as a result created one of the most baffling moments in a game that’s got plenty of that. That’s quite the achievement for something that could be avoided!
That’s not to say going to the original script will fix every plot hole or mistake in the series. That difference in ending doesn’t change the fact that Gerald somehow managed to alter Shadow’s memories and reprogram the ARK in such a short amount of time it should have been impossible, for example. It’s interesting to look at the Japanese script for these games and seeing what was changed when it came over though, and I’d recommend it as something to dabble into if you get some free time.
Rouge Has a (Canonical) Crush on Knuckles
Another place you can find official outlets not quite getting things right is when they’re writing biographies or other information pieces. Obviously all in-game biographies have had to be checked over (possible localisation problems notwithstanding, but there doesn’t appear to be any egregious examples in that area), and Sonic Channel is pretty much the standard when it comes to character information as it is the information that game appearances and biographies are checked against. Outside of that, you’ve got a minefield of potential misinformation.
Over the years, these mistakes have ranged from negligible to rather noticeable. Sonic City, a short-lived official website that went up and went down in 2008, took its information from Sonic Channel but brought in a bunch of spelling errors. The official Bradygames guide for Sonic Generations stated that Cream debuted in Sonic CD (she debuted in Sonic Advance 2, a whole nine years later). The character information in the Pix’N Love-published History of Sonic ranged from being current for the time to giving information from about 20 years prior (Espio’s biography talks about him in the context of Chaotix despite it being entirely irrelevant to his current form). Then you have you have the American Sonic CD manual which changed Amy’s name to Princess Sally for the sake of marketing, and the Heroes manual which managed to translate ‘womaniser’ into something opposite.
This untrue fact comes from a different (now defunct) official website called Sonic Central. It was started up in late 2003 and was updated until about 2008, although some parts of the website like the Q&A and the character bios were never updated. And it’s the bios that we’re looking at as we get this little bit from the biography of Rouge the Bat;
She has a bit of a crush (though she would never admit it) on a certain red Echidna that we all know and love. She is secretly inspired by Knuckles’ determination to protect the Master Emerald.
This just isn’t an official thing. It’s certainly easy to interpret as that given that all there was when the section was done was Sonic Adventure 2, but no game, Sonic Channel profile or interview with the actual Sonic Team staff have said that Rouge has an official crush on Knuckles. In fact, the current stance on any romance in the game cast (as said by Ian Flynn, as it’s a mandate for the comic as well) is that it only exists in the form of Amy’s one-sided crush on Sonic. If there were any hints before, they’re not regarded as relevant now.
Now don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t necessarily shoot down anyone who wishes to support it, because you can easily just say that Knuckles and Rouge have that sort of dynamic but it’s just been put to the side and isn’t an explicit thing. It’s just not something that’s considered official, and Sonic Central is a dubious source of information like that. It’s not just with this either; in another example. their Q&A has Sonic, in character, say that he doesn’t know where characters like Ray, Fang and Bean are (thrown in with Tikal and Chaos who are still around…kinda), when Iizuka has gone on record multiple times to say that they’d need to be reintroduced, which means they don’t actually exist in the continuity so Sonic wouldn’t even know them.
Actually ties quite nicely into the fourth point on this list. It all fits together eventually.
Espio’s Favourite Food is Apples
Wait a minute, “Wasn’t this on the last list?”, I hear you ask. Why yes, I did indeed debunk this one back when I made the first list in August 2015. The reasons why back then are still accurate to that time; no source has stated it, his biography on Sonic Channel makes no mention of it, it seems to have sprung from pretty much nowhere.
I also stated this little line to wrap up the debunking;
The truth is that we don’t know what Espio’s favourite food is, he hasn’t expressed any sort of interest in it.
As of Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the Wii U (released June 2016, way after the article), this statement has been debunked as well, and it’s a cool little reference actually! You see, on Sonic Channel, a new piece of character art drawn by Yuji Uekawa is released monthly in calendar and wallpaper format. All the way back in March 2014, to tie into the theme of Japanese festivals, the below was Espio’s art, celebrating the upcoming Hanami festival (a festival which is about watching the cherry blossoms bloom, hence the petals).
The drink he’s holding is green tea, and the balls on sticks on the plate are Dango, which are sweet dumplings made from rice flour which are often flavoured differently depending on the season or festival going on (in the picture, the colours of the Dango are specific to Hanami Dango). At the time, due to the art being themed for Japanese festivals and customs, nothing was really made of it and was seen as something to add a bit of decor. However, this was transitioned into proper canon by being mentioned within an actual game. If you get far enough into the Tournament mode to get Mario and Sonic characters to appear as challengers, get Espio as one when playing a Triple Jump tournament, and then talk to a Mii that’s been selected to talk about the challenging character, one of three possible conversations looks like this;
It’s almost strange to see this. Other character descriptions state things that we already know, and have known for a long time. But no, they decided that for Espio alone, they’d drop in this new little tidbit that hardly anyone was going to see. I’m glad they did though because I love digging for information.
By the way, if you want Vector’s favourite food, the same game heavily implies that it’s bubblegum. Not that bubblegum would be unexpected given how often it shows up with him. Although how bubblegum is really food I don’t know.
So that’s six more misconceptions out of the way. Impress your friends, debunk your rivals, bring it up as useless trivia on the pub quiz. There’s a lot more where they came from, but for now you know the truth about these ones in particular. And knowing is half the battle.
Archie comic panel: Sonic the Hedgehog #245
Manga Picky panel: Sonic the Hedgehog Manga Volume 1 [sonicthemanga (Tumblr)]
Honey the Cat Render: Elesis-Knight (Deviantart)
Bumblebee sting information: Terminix
Pseudo-Stinger information: Matt Miller (blog.nature.org)
Listings for all Trioceros species: Reptile Database
Iizuka interview: Famitsu
Translation of interview: SonicJPNews (Twitter)
Japanese Sonic Heroes – Team Chaotix screenshot: Blackblur7 (Youtube) [20:45]
English Shadow the Hedgehog – Last Story screenshot: BlazetheCat130 (Youtube) [12:19]
Japanese Shadow the Hedgehog – Last Story video: Windii (Youtube) [Sequence mentioned in article starts at 12:03]
Various Mistakes: Sonic City (via Wayback Machine. It’s very broken), Sonic Generations Official Guide [Bradygames], History of Sonic the Hedgehog [Pix’N Love], Sonic CD Manual (Sonic Retro) [SEGA, US Only]
Rouge the Bat Sonic Central profile, Q&A information: Sonic Central (via Wayback Machine)
Rouge’s Sonic Channel Profile: Sonic Channel
Iizuka’s talk on the forgotten characters: Summer of Sonic 2013 (Youtube) [1:11:00]
Espio Themed Wallpaper: Sonic Channel
Dango information: Snakku
Mii conversation screenshot: Captured through Miiverse
Mario and Sonic Information: Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 
All images belong to their respective owners.