When tasked with creating a mascot to rival the likes of Nintendo's Mario, SEGA research & develop team AM8 proposed a blue hedgehog. Under the programming direction of SEGA's Yuji Naka, this blue hedgehog became the super-fast, rapidly spinning Sonic the Hedgehog.
The first Sonic game, simply named Sonic The Hedgehog (1991), staggered gamers by completely ignoring the common, slow-moving conventions of platformers, pushing high speeds and constant progression. The game was such a critical and commercial success that, after the release of many Sonic titles, the development team eventually came to be called Sonic Team. Since the game's release, Sonic has grown to be a staple of SEGA and the games industry as a whole, becoming one of the most recognised videogame characters in the world.
The Sonic Team has since developed a wide array of Sonic titles for various platforms and genres. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992) was well received and included the addition of multiple playable characters in Sonic's best friend, Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, a feature seen in almost every subsequent title. Games such as Sonic Adventure (1998) and Sonic Riders (2006) saw Sonic depart from the side-scrolling platformer, racing instead on hover boards or exploring an open world, though always maintaining the character's trademark high speed.
The Sonic Team has collaborated with a number of studios and countless talents over the years. With a knack for inventive game design and creative characters, the team has seen the conception of a number of successful titles outside of the Sonic series, including NiGHTS into Dreams... (1996), Samba de Amigo (1999) Chu Chu Rocket (1999), and Phantasy Star Online (2000).
Sonic’s co-creator, Yuji Naka, has since left SEGA to form his own studio, Prope, which has released a variety of popular games for Nintendo consoles and the iPhone. The Sonic Team itself is still active, creating new and successful Sonic games on modern platforms. The recent and highly anticipated release of Sonic Generations (2011), at once a fresh and nostalgic addition to the series, shows that the blue hedgehog still holds a prominent place in the modern games world.