While Mario is already since 1980 a symbol of Nintendo, Sega has Alex Kidd as the only mascot until 1991, but it is widely downgraded by Mario. Faced with Nintendo and its famous plumber, Sega decides to create an endearing character who could become the new mascot of the firm. A competition is organized internally and many characters are suggested. There is among others Sonic, a wolf, a bulldog, a rabbit and a man with a mustache (which later becomes Dr. “Eggman” Robotnik, the villain of most games in the series). The announcement of the game is made and Sonic is on the poster of the rock band who composed the musical themes of the game, Dreams Come True. The game is launched in the US on June 23, 1991, and landed in the same month in Europe and on July 26th in Japan, in a slightly reworked version. Although similar, Sonic the Hedgehog stands out from Mario games by offering a different gameplay based on speed.
In the first installment of the series, Dr. Robotnik, a crazy scientitst, captures innoncent animals to make out of them evil robots. Sonic encounter on its route many Dr. Robotnik’s robots that he can destroy, delivering at the same time the animals. Sonic’s attack, the Super Sonic Spin Attack, consists of Sonic curling itself into a ball while running to charge his enemies. Sonic may also collect rings that à he finds on his way. Collecting 100 rings gives him an extra life. When hit by an enemy or a trap, he loses all his rings and they disperse, leaving only a few seconds to recover them. If he is touched when he doesn’t have any more rings, he loses a life and starts again at the last checkpoint.