Sonic! Sonic! He’s the fastest thing alive!
Saturday morning cartoons were a ritual of childhood in the 80s and early 90s. Your weekend didn’t truly start until you chowed down on a giant bowl of cereal with your butt parked as close to the TV as your mom would allow. 1993 gave us two Sonic cartoons: The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog. Both of these cast Jaleel”Did I Do That?” White in the starring role, but the tone of these series were vastly different.
Today we’re going to reminisce about Sonic the Hedgehog, the darker of the two Sonic cartoons.
Sonic the Hedgehog (aka: Sonic SatAM) features our favourite blue speedster as an ally of the displaced citizens of Mobotropolis. These Freedom Fighters have take up residence in Knothole village, located within the Great Forest. It is from here that Sonic, Tails, Princess Sally, and her allies fight to regain the city and defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik.
The series kicks off with Sonic, Sally, and a couple other members of the group investigating a message Sally believes to be from her missing father. From the word go you can tell Sonic SatAM is a much more serious story than it’s weekday companion. Sonic battles Robotnik’s minions using Power Rings obtained from the pool in the Great Wood, most often when saving his Freedom Fighter friends from Robotnik’s clutches.
A common theme to all 80s and 90s cartoons was that nearly every episode saw our heroes thwart the villain’s plans and we’d get some fist shaking diatribe about how next time would be different. Dr. Robotnik did exactly the same thing. He even had his own evil animal to pet, a robotic chicken named Cluck. Robotnik’s schemes frequently included using the Roboticizer to transform his opponents, like Sonic’s Uncle Chuck, into doing his bidding, or brainwashing and creating replicas of the Freedom Fighters to infiltrate the group.
Most of the characters in Sonic SatAM were original to the series and, aside from the tie-in comics that were in production at the same time, are not seen in the Sonic video games. I think this is a real shame as several of them are wonderfully developed. Take Bunnie as an example: she’s half rabbit and half machine due to Robotnik’s attack, and as much as she wishes she could be normal again, she’s fighting the good fight hoping to save others from her fate. Sally works hard to protect her people, not afraid to get her hands dirty, all while dealing with the loss of her father and finding time to support her friends as best she can. Simply so much more substance here than Amy Rose constantly fangirling over Sonic in the video games.
A lot can be said about the cheesiness of Sonic the Hedgehog’s Saturday morning offering. We can laugh at how unrealistic the computers depicted were, with their 18 button keyboards or Sally’s handheld device named “Nicole” having voice recognition. But when I am asked which Sonic cartoon I would rather watch again, hands down I’m going with SatAM over Adventures.
Unfortunately we only got two seasons of Sonic SatAM before the cartoon ended. At this point the story of Sonic and the Freedom Fighters was continued in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic from Archie Comics. The comics saw Sonic and his friends battle Robotnik through a few iterations before the series received a reboot in 2013 and Sonic the Hedgehog’s franchise canon went through an overhaul.