Did we notice something in here, or are we just trying too hard?
Welcome to Is This a Reference, where we (by which I mean I, the one and only master of assessment) take things that our staff and the broader internet try to dig out from trailers and mercilessly assess their validity and referenceness.
Are they nods to bits of Sonic’s legacy? Are we trying ever so hard to fit a square peg in a round hole? Who’s to say? I’m to say.
This time, we’re taking a look at The Game Awards trailer for Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
COMMENCE THE JUDGMENT!
That’s not just a red biplane, it’s legitimately the Tornado!
The movie poster and much of the trailer show the plane front-facing, but in brief scenes, we’re able to see the side and tail of the plane.
VERDICT: That star emblem? The white “F” on the sides, it’s not just a reference, it’s THE Sonic 2 Tornado, plane and simple. The only differences are some nit-picks, like the wing colors, no visible engine panels near the front, no rear wheel, blah, blah, blah. But beyond that, it’s recognizably spot on. If you freeze frame around the 1:22 mark, you’ll also see the star bumper/emblem designs on the bottom of the wings too.
The opening is a reference to the intro of Sonic Adventure
The opening of the trailer shows Sonic in Seattle trying to play super hero. From rooftops, he watches passing police cars chase an armored car. Sonic overtakes it, but causes the criminals’ lit dynamite to roll into the sewers, and the explosion spews water through the manholes.
VERDICT: There’s the possibility that they’re just standard shots for the type of scene, but the whole dynamite thing seems a bit too contrived to be coincidence. It’s probably a reference, but not an especially direct one considering that the context and order are completely different.
Sonic’s skateboard is from Sonic Adventure’s character art
Sonic rides a skateboard through the living room and halls. He performs a flip using a bunch of furniture duct taped together, and flies over a precarious stack of glassware. His skateboard has a blue, red, and orange design with red wheels.
VERDICT: Oh, this is totally a reference. Open and shut case. That design is unmistakable, even from the weird angle.
The soldiers shown in the trailer are G.U.N.
A group of black-clad soldiers are shown observing a giant green energy-tornado near a small town (probably Green Hill?) The soldiers have helmets, face masks, goggles, and tactical vests with a G emblem embroidered on them.
VERDICT: I’d be shocked if it wasn’t a direct reference. Just look at that emblem. Heck, I’d be shocked if this isn’t an important plot point, setting up the next movie to be Sonic Adventure 2. I can just imagine Paramount foaming at the prospect of including Shadow and a scene where an armored truck barrels down the streets of San Francisco.
During Robotnik’s absence, Agent Stone works at Mean Bean Coffee Co.
Though the trailer doesn’t show the full name, we know from previously shared set photos that there’s a “Mean Bean Coffee Co.” in Green Hills. Agent Stone stands in front of a menu featuring “Mean Brew” and a “Mean House Blend” as he celebrates the return of Dr. Robotnik.
VERDICT: I mean, of course it’s a reference, but we already knew that from before. That said, it’s a pretty good gag to have Stone working there. What will it take to have Arle be his supervisor?
Sonic’s winter weather disguise is inspired by his Sonic the Comic alter ego, Bob Beaky
Sonic and Tails enter a cabin-like tavern wearing full-body winter gear. Sonic specifically has a furry deerstalker cap, a yellow scarf wrapped around his muzzle, and a red coat.
VERDICT: I can’t deny the similarities, though the difference in color scheme is pretty big. I’m going to say no, it isn’t a reference, if only because I like to deny Dreadknux things that would make him happy.
The Emerald temple is Labyrinth Zone
Dr. Robotnik approaches a Chaos Emerald (or possibly Master Emerald) in an ancient looking chamber. In the background, water spills out of large bronze owl carvings. In another scene, Sonic dodges large spike-ball traps while avoiding flames. (There’s also another scene of Robotnik narrowly avoiding a swinging blade decorated with a horned owl’s face, but there are enough screenshots as is).
VERDICT: I’m a bit iffy on this. We certainly know horned owls and echidna have some manner of connection in the events of the first movie, or they at least coexist in connected realms. I have to imagine it’s somehow connected to Longclaw either directly or in some unstated lore sort of way. (Just give me a “Save Martha” moment between Sonic and Knuckles, I dare you.) Stylistically, I’m more inclined to believe this is a bit of an amalgamation of various stone temples from Sonic games like Labyrinth, Hidden Palace, Sky Sanctuary, Lost World (the Adventure stage, not the game), etc…. It’s reference-ish, reference-adjacent, until they show Sonic underwater desperately searching for air bubbles.
In escaping some of Robotnik’s robots, Sonic grabs what appears to be a broken hunk of one of them, and uses it to snowboards down a mountain.
VERDICT: I mean, it’s probably not a reference to any one particular time Sonic was snowboarding. He tends to snowboard a lot in games. I guess since it’s in the mountains, it’s slightly more Sonic Adventure Ice-Cap-ish? It depends on if Sonic’s being cool, being wild, and being groovy.
There’s Emerald Hill music near the end of the trailer
There is a big orchestral sting right before the reveal of Knuckles and as the movie title appears at the end of the trailer.
VERDICT: Oh, you can definitely hear it. 100% the opening bars of Emerald Hill. I mean, the movie is Sonic 2, after all! (Except in Japan)