Sonic the Hedgehog (Japanese: ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Hepburn: Sonikku za Hejjihoggu?), trademarked Sonic The Hedgehog,2 is the title character and protagonist of the Sonic the Hedgehog series released by Sega, as well as numerous spin-off comics, four animated shows, and an animated OVA. The first game was released on June 23, 1991, to provide Sega with a mascot to rival Nintendo’s flagship character Mario (see 1991 in video gaming).34 Since then, Sonic has become one of the world’s best-known video game characters, with his series selling more than 80 million copies.5 In 2005, Sonic was one of the first game character inductees into the Walk of Game, alongside Mario and Link.6
While many individuals at Sega had a hand in Sonic’s creation, programmer Yuji Naka and artist Naoto Ōshima are generally credited with the creation of the character.7 Sonic is a blue 15-year-old anthropomorphic hedgehog, who has the ability to run at supersonic speeds and the ability to curl into a ball, primarily to attack enemies. Throughout the course of his video games, Sonic most commonly has to race through levels, collect power up rings and surviving against a host of natural obstacles and minions to achieve his goal.