Nowadays, Sonic the Hedgehog is the single most recognizable symbol of Sega, so much so that new material for the franchise of the same name is still being produced on a regular basis. This makes sense because Sega ordered the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog because it wanted something iconic for the Sega Genesis, which was a significant change of direction from its previous lack of interest in long-standing characters in preference for something disposable that could be used up before being tossed out. As a result, it is no exaggeration to say that Sonic the Hedgehog is exactly what he was created to be.
What Were the Other Options Instead of Sonic the Hedgehog?
With that said, it should come as no surprise to learn that Sonic the Hedgehog wasn’t set in stone from the start. Instead, the character went through a fair amount of revision, which was the natural result of the team exploring their options. In the end, they settled upon a hedgehog because of the animal’s ability to curl up into what amounts to a ball with spikes, which would’ve been useful in gameplay. However, they came up with a number of other concepts as well, though no more than two managed to make it onto a short list along with what would become Sonic the Hedgehog. One of these was a dog, whereas the other was an old man with a mustache.
The team went on to ask people in Central Park which of the three characters they liked best. It turned out that said individuals liked the hedgehog, the old man, and the dog in that order, which the team attributed to the idea of the hedgehog being able to transcend race, gender, and other boundaries. Once the hedgehog was confirmed as the ultimate choice, the team proceeded to add on the various attributes with which the character is associated in modern times, which went as far as to tack on a fictional backstory for the creation of the character. Meanwhile, the concept of the old man wasn’t tossed out but instead repurposed into Dr. Eggman, meaning that at one point in time, Dr. Eggman was a potential option for the lead of what became the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
What Would That Have Meant?
Of course, if the team had gone with the old man rather than the hedgehog, the end result would have been very different from the Dr. Eggman that we have in the present. After all, the various characteristics of Sonic the Hedgehog are not coincidence but rather an intentional decision to create a character who could represent Sega’s status as an upstart at the time, meaning that those considerations would have influenced whatever would’ve been made from the concept of the old man. With that said, it is still fun to think about what might have been if the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise had been headed by the mad scientist that we have now, whose obsession with machines would have certainly resulted in a very different feel for the games than what we got with Sonic the Hedgehog.