Warning: SPOILERS for Sonic The Hedgehog are in play. If you haven’t seen the film yet, turn back around and Sonic speedball your way out of this easter egg rundown.
When it comes to making a movie out of a nostalgic favorite like Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog, you can always tell when the finished product has been made by those that actually enjoy the property they’re adapting. Serving as the major reason director Jeff Fowler’s film works as well as it does, this fast and funny journey is made by fans, for the world, with tons of great easter eggs included to satisfy the hardcore loyalists.
In particular, there are 13 references to characters, lore, and aspects in the Sonic The Hedgehog games that made it into this past weekend’s video game blockbuster. Surely there’s more probably hiding inside the film, but this batch of references were the most noticeable in this fast and funny blur of a film.
The Echidna Tribe
At the beginning of Sonic The Hedgehog, we see Baby Sonic and his caretaker, Longbeak, intruded upon by a tribe of Echidnas. The most notable member of that species was none other than Knuckles, a red Echidna who was once a series antagonist in Sonic The Hedgehog 3, but eventually became one of the many animal allies of Sonic and Tails’ fight against Dr. Robotnik and his forces of evil. So you can probably bet on Knuckles showing up at some point or another, provided Sonic The Hedgehog goes into full franchise mode.
Hill Top Road
As the adventure of Sonic The Hedgehog takes place between Sonic’s world of origin and the small town he settles down in for the decade before the film’s events, familiar sights are to be seen on either side of the dimensional divide. When we see Sonic playing ping pong by himself in his cave of solitude, there’s a road sign/table which suggests the existence of a Hill Top Road, a direct reference to the fifth world in Sonic The Hedgehog 2.
Green Hills, Montana
Referring to another world from Sonic The Hedgehog’s video game past, the adventure starts in the sleepy Montana town of Green Hills. Hitting the Sonic nail on the head, this reference is pulled from the first world of the first Sonic game, the Green Hill Zone. So where better to start an adventure on Earth than Green Hills, Montana? Though that particular zone lends one more special aspect to the film’s overall package.
The Green Hills Zone Theme
Composer Tom Holkenborg, better known to the world as Junkie XL, took inspiration from the Green Hills Zone himself when it came to some of the musical cues used in Sonic The Hedgehog. Throughout the musical score of the film, you’ll notice that the main melody to that introductory zone is worked in at various points, most notably towards the end of the film as the tune pops up as a calmed down piano cover.
Mushroom Hill Zone
As if seeing Knuckles potentially appearing in the opening of Sonic The Hedgehog wasn’t enough of a hint towards the future, there’s a lot to be interpreted in the world that Sonic was looking to escape to upon being discovered. Seeing that mushroom-laden world for ourselves upon Robotnik’s exile to another world, it looks like Sonic And Knuckles’ introductory world, the Mushroom Hill Zone, is in play.
The Piston Pit
While the rowdy roadhouse known as The Piston Pit isn’t a direct reference to any of the worlds in Sonic The Hedgehog, it’s a pretty cheeky nod towards one of Dr. Robotnik’s favorite machine parts. Particularly in the first Sonic game’s big finale, aptly taking place in the Final Zone, there’s quite a few pistons that the bad doctor uses to try and crush our small blue hero. Thankfully for him, the only thing that’s dangerous in the Piston Pit is all of the bikers that start up a random bar fight.
Sonic’s Obsession With Chili Dogs
In both the super serious Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon series and its sillier counterpart, The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic’s favorite food was established as the Chili dog. Everything that would follow, from games to comic books, would pick up on this love affair, only further tying it into canon to the point that when Sonic actually eats a Chili dog during that random bar fight, you probably heard fans cheering with delight.
Robotnik’s Egg Hornet
Not all of Sonic The Hedgehog’s references are direct rips from the original source material; some of the easter eggs come in the form of obvious influences. Dr. Robotnik’s final gadget, his own personal hovercraft, is a good example of such a reinterpretation, as there’s one particular Robonik vehicle that this fearful flyer is reminiscent of. Those of you who have played Sonic Adventure will notice that the Egg Hornet looks to be the jumping off point the film’s designers started out with. Only, the design is slimmer and more functional in the cinematic version, just like Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Dr. Robotnik himself.
Sonic’s Spin Attack
How else was Sonic going to take out the major obstacles that he faced in Sonic The Hedgehog? Using his trademark Spin Attack, Sonic not only finishes off the larger vehicles that chase him and James Marsden’s Tom Wachwoski, but he also uses that move to knock Dr. Robotnik through the portal into the dimension that resembles the Mushroom Hill Zone in the movie’s final battle.
“Gotta Go Fast”
Just when you thought that the filmmakers behind Sonic The Hedgehog couldn’t go any harder with their fandom, a rather infamous meme found its way into the cache of references on display. When Maddie (Tika Sumpter) wakes Sonic up with the smelling salts, the first words out of his mouth are “Gotta go fast,” which is catchphrase that’s linked to the Sanic meme surrounding poorly drawn fan art of the Sonic character.
A strange quirk in the Sonic The Hedgehog lore has always been the fact that from game to game, Dr. Robotnik’s name has been swapped out for the more cartoonish moniker of Eggman. What started out as a derogatory nickname Sonic gave his nemesis, due to his obsession with eggs and egg-shaped robotics, has been used as the character’s actual name in certain iterations of the Sonic games. Though the film makes it an extra disrespectful barb, as when Sonic calls Robotnik “Mr. Egghead” in the San Francisco rooftop scene, he totally disrespects his antagonist’s possession of a doctorate.
Robotnik Does The Death Egg Robot Walk
While Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik is known to exhibit some extremely robotic mannerisms in the name of humor, there’s a pretty fantastic payoff to those shenanigans in the mid-credits sequence of Sonic The Hedgehog. With Robotnik trapped on what could be the Mushroom Hill Zone, we last see him robot walking across the landscape of this alien world, in a manner that’s almost identical to that of the giant robot he pilots as the final boss of Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog 2 game.
The End Credits Sequence
The final easter egg that caps off Sonic The Hedgehog’s loving adaptation of its source material is a particularly charming end credits sequence, which can partially be seen in the music video for the tie-in single “Speed Me Up.” Showing both moments that took place in the film and images that reference traps and special stages of Sonic games past, everything appears in glorious 16-bit inspired visuals, tying everything together for old school Sega fans.
If a video game movie can pack as many references and nods as Sonic The Hedgehog, and still remain a functional film that isn’t constantly winking at the audience, there’s hope for video game movies after all. With this success under Paramount’s belt, and with a treasure trove of Sega titles that could be next in line for the adaptation process, there’s no telling what the next surprise may be.
Then again, it would also be good to get an official confirmation that Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is on the way. If you feel the same way, chances are you may have already seen Sonic The Hedgehog, but if you haven’t seen this thrill ride for yourself, or need another round of excitement, it’s in theaters now for your enjoyment.