Friday, 23 November 2007
The time around 1993 to 1995 was huge for Sonic fans, including myself as a wee lad. Not only did they release a truck load of games for the many Sega systems out at the time, but you could buy Sonic as almost anything, even spaghetti! One of the biggest things to push Sonic into stardom in these early years was the release of not one, but two completely different TV cartoons, which appeared on the scene no more than a week between each other. Named 'Sonic the Hedgehog' and 'The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog', the two cartoons have are affectionately known as 'SATAM' (Saturday morning) and 'AOSTH' so as not to confuse their similar titles.
This was an in-genius idea on Sega's half; instead of going for one particular style of cartoon, risking the chance of losing half an audience, they had two series' produced that would appeal to different audiences, so Sonic could potentially appeal to any kid. SATAM went for a deep continuing story with a dark edge to it much like other favorites of the time like Gargoyles and Batman, whereas AOSTH was a more slapstick Looney Tunes like cartoon with lots of daft animation and gags.Both were developed by the same studio - DIC, known best for Inspector Gadget, and they made yet another Sonic cartoon in 1999 (just before the Dreamcast released in the west) called Sonic Underground, although to be honest I didn't like that much.
While I have a soft spot for SATAM, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is the cartoon I remember best from my childhood. This is mainly because in the UK most of the episodes were released on video, and I owned the lot of them. They also showed the two cartoons regulary on a channel called TCC (The Childrens Channel) where they would often get the intros and credits of teh cartoons muddled up sometimes, so you'd think they were about to air an episode of SATAM, but after the intro a AOSTH episode would pop up. Weird. This is the one Sonic cartoon that seems to keep springing up on TV as well. It was most recently screened on ITV2 and a kids channel called POP.
I have wrote about this cartoon a few times before at my personal blog, mainly because a guy who worked on the series, and designed this cartoon's cone headed version of Dr.Robotnik, Milton Knight, has posted some wonderful concept art he did for it as well as some early footage on YouTube. Please make sure you check out all these blog posts HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. Being a big fan of both Sonic and good animation in general gives the series a double interest to me even now, not just when I was a tyke.
Just this year both of these cartoons have been released on DVD, and this week I got my hands on the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog box set, which contains every single episode on 8 discs, a run time of 24 hours! The box set takes up the same space on a shelf of just one of the ten or more videos I had as a kid! Ain't technology wonderful?
The discs are packed in 4 extra thing DVD cases, 2 in each. One thing I can't congratulate them on is the lazy presentation. The box and discs use the same artwork of Sonic over and over again, and they haven't even drawn him well! For starters, his arms are blue rather than the skin tone they should be, and his shoes are all wonky looking at the bottom. Even the logo is squashed to buggery, and the back of the cases has artwork of the WRONG Robotink, it's the more menacing Robotink from SATAM rather than Milton Knight's crazy lard-arse. Compared to the wonderful presentation of the original videos this is just plain amateurish. There is a set of stickers in the box as well, again using artwork from the wrong cartoon. Doh!
The interactive menus on the discs themselves also leave a lot to be desired, with no extras and dull layouts. They also haven't really gone into any effort to re-master any of these cartoons, but these be honest it's hardly considered to be an important cartoon so it was obvious they were not going to bother. The company that has put this out have done the bare minimum but it's the content that counts in the end and there's a LOT of it. Some episodes are clearly better than others, but the cartoon is just as daft as I remember it, with it's surreal backdrops, occasionally great animation (again mainly thanks to Milton Knight's input) and plenty of laugh out load moments, wrapped up with a forced moral at the end of the episode. I'm sure you've all heard of the 'Sonic Sez' clip in which Sonic teaches kids about sexual harassment. In case you've never seen it, here is is!
The RRP of the set is about £35, and Play.com sells it for £28, but HMV.co.uk has this week been flogging the set off for just £13, so I naturally jumped at that bargain! It's still that price right now, so if you're interested now would be the time to go get it! They also do a DVD set in America that is only 4 discs of the 22 episodes, but has a few short extras that you can find on Youtube anyway. Oh, and it has nicer box art but that's about it.