Note: Contains spoilers for Sonic the Hedgehog.
You don’t need to have any prior Sonic knowledge to enjoy the speedy hedgehog’s big-screen debut in Sonic the Hedgehog.
However, if you’re a fan of the games, there’s plenty of Easter eggs and references to savour which work as fan service, without getting in the way of the plot. There is one major reference though that proves to play a significant part.
The set-up of the movie is that cute baby Sonic is being hunted down on his home planet due to his speedy skills. So he has to use rings to travel to other worlds and keep hidden from anyone who might want to abuse his powers.
This eventually saw Sonic end up on Earth, specifically Green Hills (a nod to the very first level of the games, Green Hill Zone). But he makes a reference to another safe world that he could use, populated only by giant mushrooms.
Of course, Sonic doesn’t want to go there as he’s a people hedgehog. But when he unwittingly sets off a power outage, he’s tracked down by Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and finds himself with the possibility of having to go to the mushroom planet.
If this feels familiar to fans of the video game, that’s because it’s a nod to Mushroom Hill Zone that debuted in Sega Genesis game Sonic & Knuckles. It’s since appeared in the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic Dash.
The Mushroom Hill Zone reference was confirmed by director Jeff Fowler to Digital Spy: “I think that anywhere we could lean into a visual that fans would be aware of, that they would be like, ‘Oh, I know that’ that certainly felt like a very appropriate decision.
“The mushroom planet and all those visuals were extremely fun to design. And yeah, it was an exciting way of just tying in another thing fans might be familiar with.”
But in the end, it’s not Sonic that has to go to the mushroom planet, it’s Dr Robotnik who is banished there in the final battle. We catch up with him in the first credits scene sporting a look more in line with his video game appearance.
The mushroom planet is far from the only Easter egg and reference to the wider Sonic franchise though.
Fans should be able to spot the most recognisable ones, such as Sonic being given his iconic pair of red sneakers by Tom’s niece, the very familiar ‘level complete’ tune that Sonic plays on some frozen missiles, and the amazing animated end credits in the style of the original games.
One of the more unexpected nods is to the infamous Sanic meme that’s a poorly illustrated take on the character. It pops up in the movie when Green Hills resident Crazy Carl is showing everyone the “blue devil” (the name of a car in Sonic Rush 2) he keeps seeing.
The biggest bits of fan service come in the credits scenes with Dr Robotnik sporting a look more in line with the video games in the first scene, while the second credits scene has a surprise Tails appearance setting up the sequel.
There is also a nod to the other major Sonic character Knuckles in an early scene that’s set on Sonic’s home planet. His home is attacked by a tribe of animals that look a lot like the Knuckles Clan that could lead to a Knuckles appearance in the sequel.
Talking of Dr Robotnik, Sonic taunts him by calling him “Eggman” because Sonic thinks Dr Robotnik’s army of drones look like “flying eggs”. This is a reference to the character’s original – and still most commonly used – Japanese name of Dr Eggman.
Other subtler Easter eggs in Sonic the Hedgehog include a Chaos Emerald drawn on Sonic’s map of safe planets he can travel to, a nod to Badniks (AKA Eggman’s robots) in Dr Robotnik’s headquarters, and the Sonic video game logo featuring on his headband (minus Sonic in the middle of the logo).
“It’s not like you’re going out of your way in terms of the story to put these things in. They are what they are, which is just Easter eggs and things that could be dropped in there along the way,” Fowler told Digital Spy.
“It’s just a way of rewarding fans for their years of enthusiasm and getting to see some things that they would recognise but some that the rest of the audience might not.”
Sonic the Hedgehog is in cinemas now.
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