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Who Wore It Best?
Who Wore It Best: Sonic the Hedgehog Edition
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 07, 2014   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  

   

Sonic the Hedgehog gives us the finger!
From the first moment I saw him, I knew Sonic the Hedgehog was going to be a bright shining star. With a huge grin, spikey blue hair and a penchant for running real fast, Sonic was on the verge of becoming the biggest mascot since Mario. And like many gamers, I discovered the blue blur through magazine covers. From Electronic Gaming Monthly to GamePro to Die Hard Game Fan, it seemed like every periodical was telling me to be excited for Sonic the Hedgehog. It worked; I had to get my hands on this game.

Looking back at it now, it's easy to see why I was so excited for Sonic. Just look at the covers below, they're full of colorful action and likeable characters. Unlike Wonder Boy and Alex Kidd, it was easy to describe the appeal of Sonic the Hedgehog. In a lot of ways he was the perfect mascot for the 1990s.

To help honor the once-great platforming hero, we're going to take a look back at the early years of Sonic the Hedgehog magazine covers. In this episode of Who Wore it Best, I will be ranking the best and worst Sonic-themed designs. This includes magazines from both the United States of America and Europe, all released between 1991 and 1995. See if you agree when we play Who Wore It Best: Sonic the Hedgehog Edition!

THE BEST:
SEGA FORCE #12

Shocker: It's a Sonic the Hedgehog magazine cover WITHOUT Sonic the Hedgehog. While every other publication decided to use the speedy mascot to sell issues, Sega Force went a much more interesting route. Here we see the aftermath of a typical boss fight. Dr. Robotnik is fleeing the scene after Sonic destroyed an armored military vehicle by jumping on it. Oh the chaos. Compared to the other twelve issues, this is the Un Chien Andalou of magazine covers.

DIE HARD GAME FAN (February 1994)

Now this is a side of the hedgehog we rarely see. Here we have the mascot far removed from the everyday troubles of work, relationships and saving the animal kingdom from an egg-shaped doctor. This is Sonic on the slopes, blowing off a little steam and having fun. This Die Hard Game Fan cover confirms once and for all that Sonic is the fastest mascot around, even when his feet are strapped to a snowboard. Better luck next time, Monitaur.

GAMEPRO (November 1992)

Dr. Robotnik is back and looking for vengeance, but Sonic the Hedgehog doesn't seem concerned. With a determined grin and his favorite running shoes, this speedy hero races through the Green Hill zone trying to avoid the Eggman's flying machine. But while Sonic may feel confident outrunning the evil doctor, Miles "Tails" Prower is starting to doubt the master plan. I've seen that expression before; it's the look I get right before taking a blind date to a strip club. Tails knows he's in the middle of a sticky situation.

MEAN MACHINES SEGA #12

After looking at so many pictures of Sonic smiling, I find myself intrigued by this Mean Machines Sega cover. This is not your typical smart-mouthed hero, but rather a weathered grown-up hedgehog burdened by real world problems. Here he is, yet again, saving his girlfriend from the evil clutches of Dr. Robotnik. One glance will tell you that he's none too thrilled about this situation. And for good reason, as this takes him away from his job and responsibilities. Who knew Sonic CD was such a buzzkill?

SEGA VISIONS (Winter 1991/1992)

Now here's a way to use pre-existing artwork in a unique way. In case you don't recognize it, a majority of this design is from the Game Gear release. However, instead of simply recycling the cover art, Sega Visions edited it in a clever way. Here we see Sonic racing out of the Game Gear, exactly the impression you want from a handheld game. He has a determined look and isn't going to wait for you. He's a hedgehog on a mission, and you're invited ... assuming you own Sega's portable.

MEGA DRIVE ADVANCED GAMING #1

For a guy known for his breakneck speeds, Sonic the Hedgehog sure isn't going very fast in this Sega Mega Drive Advanced Gaming cover. Here we see Sega's favorite mascot dressed up like he's about to run a marathon. He's both wearing and signing the number "2," just in case you missed the multiple references surrounding the blue hedgehog. Or maybe that's a peace sign he's waving, since he doesn't appear to be very serious about this marathon. At least the warm colors are a nice change of pace.

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #22

Arguably the most interesting of Electronic Gaming Monthly's many Sonic-themed issues. While other magazines employed a team of artists to create unique covers, EGM was fond of slapping the official company-provided drawings on the front and calling it a day. Issue 22 is hardly a step up from most Sonic covers, but at least it required somebody with a working knowledge of photo editing and layers. The mixture of art assets and in-game graphics is fine on its own, but the pairing with RoboCop and Ninja Gaiden is a little jarring.

SEGA VISIONS (August/September 1992)

If any magazine can get away with using the official artwork, it's Sega's own bi-monthly publication -- Sega Visions. Gone are the colorful locations and cartoony characters, because this Sega Visions cover is dark and ominous. Dr. Robotnik's face looms in the distance, while both Sonic and Tails are fully engulfed in shadows. It's not terribly original (you can see this artwork in the pages of other magazines), but I like the foreboding vibe and gigantic number.

GAMEPRO (June 1991)

Thanks to nearly a quarter century of fun-loving adventures, gamers around the world know how good-natured Sonic the Hedgehog is. However, you may have had some doubts had this GamePro cover been your first exposure to the speedy mascot. This doesn't look like an adorable cartoon critter running to give you a hug, but rather a mentally unhinged demon racing to punch you in the gut. There's murder in those eyes, and that's not the kind of smile I normally trust. I would say run for your life, but we all know how useless that is.

VIDEOGAMES & COMPUTER
ENTERTAINMENT (October 1992)

I don't include this Sonic the Hedgehog 2-themed issue to criticize VideoGames & Computer Entertainment. It's certainly not a very inspired design, but that's certainly not the reason it's on this list. I include this hologram-enhanced design to point out one of the more obnoxious trends we used to see in old school gaming magazines. Trust me; this dinky faux-3D hologram isn't any more impressive in real life. This is not a very cool design.

SEGA MASTER FORCE #5

There's something weirdly calm and ordered about this Sega Master Force cover. Sonic is giving us the thumbs up, Tails is sporting a giant grin and everything looks peaceful in the Green Hill zone. All that would be fine if Sega was promoting a stress-free vacation simulator named Sonic Paradise, but this is supposed to be Sonic Chaos. Where's the chaos? As it turns out, there's plenty of chaos on the original Master System cover, but somebody decided to edit out the baddies. How subversive.

GAME INFORMER (Fall 1991)

Much like Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Informer opted to use the official Sega-provided artwork. To their credit, this 1991 design is striking, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense. What this cover does is perfectly illustrate Sonic's impressive speed. In fact, he's so fast that he is capable of running right off the side of a cliff. But wait, isn't that a bad thing? What this cover does is paint the worst case scenario for speeding through the levels, highlighting Sonic's worst trait.

THE WORST:
MEGA #2

Perhaps November was a busy month for Mega, the "100% pure Sega Mega Drive" magazine. I don't know if that was the case, but at least it's a plausible excuse for why this cover looks like it was hobbled together in 15 minutes. It's bad enough Mega decided to use Sega's own artwork, but was it necessary to zoom in for an extreme close-up? Even worse is the tagline, "Nice face, shame about the legs?" Is that a question ... or are the writers a little unsure of their material?
More Sonic Covers: As you might have guessed, this is just a sampling of Sonic the Hedgehog covers from the early 1990s. Unfortunately, most of the magazines from that era simply ran with the official Sega-provided artwork. Electronic Gaming Monthly did this with both Sonic the Hedgehog II and Sonic CD. I didn't find either of these covers to be different enough to warrant their own spot on the list. The same goes for Sega Visions, which ran Sonic-themed covers in November/December 1992 and February/March 1994. How droll.

Disagree? Are you confused by my choice of best and worst Sonic the Hedgehog magazine covers? Then let me know what you think is the best cover and why.

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