In 1993, 12 days after the premier of The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, a second Sonic animated series was launched as a part of the ABC Saturday morning cartoon lineup. This series would be a contrast to the weekday show in every single way. To most fans this series is seen as the premier Sonic animated adaptation and to this day fans are still awaiting its return. This series was called simply Sonic the Hedgehog, or as the fans have come to call it SonicSatAM.
While the weekday show was a campy, colorful, whimsical adaptation of the SEGA video game character, the weekend show took a much darker tone in its delivery. Where as in the AOSTH Robotnik is a bumbling buffoon who is trying to take over Mobius, in this incarnation he is a much more sinister figure who has already done it.
The premise of this series was the planet Mobius was taken over by a man named Julian Kintobor who was the head of Mobius’s War Ministry under the good King Acorn (played by Tim Curry). There was a “Great War” to which Kintobor had won many battles with the help of SWATbots, robotic soldiers under his command. Once the war was over and the King decided to do away with the Ministry and the SWATbots, Kintobor staged a coup and overthrew the King and took over the planet. He would then capture the denizens of Mobius to include Sir Charles Hedgehog, Sonics’ Uncle and famed inventor. Using Uncle Chuck’s invention known as the Roboticizer he would go on to transform most of the populous into mindless robotic drones to do his bidding. With the aid of his nephew Snively, the newly named Robotnik would drown the world in pollution and change the landscape from a fertile, plush kingdom into a metropolis of twisted metal and steel.
The only ones to stand against the evil dictator were the Freedom Fighters led by Princess Sally Acorn, the daughter of the missing king. With her were her loyal friends Sonic, Bunnie Rabbot, Antoine Depardieu (later changed to D’Collette in the comics), Rotor Walrus, Tails and Sally’s trusted computer Nicole. Each week would see the Freedom Fighters taking on Robotnik’s forces, infiltrating his strong holds to rescue captured Mobians or searching from other Freedom Fighter groups to band together to take on the Doctor. Each episode was something different while at the same time connecting to a larger all encompassing story arc.
The art style for this series was leagues ahead of what we were getting in AOSTH. The characters look fantastic and much of the Looney Tune-esque craziness was done away with. What we got instead were characters that actually had purpose and meaning and even built strong relationships with each other. Watching this series you actually were waiting for Sonic to rescue Uncle Chuck from Robotnik and you wanted Sally to find her father. Each character was fleshed out and even given episodes that pertained to them and told their stories. We were shown how Bunnie became partly roboticized and saw growth in Antoine over the course of the series.
To this day I still know people that were heartbroken when this cartoon was cancelled. We were given two seasons and at the end of the last episode once the Freedom Fighters had defeated Robotnik we see Snively emerge from an escape pod saying it was now his turn to take over. This isn’t all though as he goes on to state that he was not alone, we then see a pair of bright red eyes open up in the darkness before the credits began to roll. To this day people say they waited for the next episode because there was so much speculation as to who this character was. Many thought it might be Metal Sonic while other swore up and down that it was Knuckles about to make his debut. Series Head Writer Ben Hurst would go on to reveal that the eyes belonged to the wizard Ixis Naugus who was last seen in the episode “The Void”. Naugus was a powerful wizard that Robotnik feared and had trapped within the Void along with King Acorn. Shown to turn into crystal if he stayed too long on Mobius due to his long exposure to the Void he was returned to it as to avoid death. How he managed to return has never been explained but was to be a major arc in the unproduced season 3.
Sadly SonicSatAM was cancelled after the final episode of season two “The Doomsday Project”. Many have attributed its cancellation due to the fact it was in the same time slot as Fox’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. So Sonic and the Freedom Fighters adventures had ended…or had they?
This adaptation brought so much to the Sonic Universe that to this day it is this series that continues within the Sonic the Hedgehog comics by Archie. The Archie series took the premise of both the AOSTH and SonicSatAM and created a series in 1993 that is still going strong today at over 250 issues. In the comic form the characters where able to be truly given definitive back stories and we even get to see their parents, brothers and sisters if any. We have been able to see Sonics mom and dad, relive the reunions of Sally and her father and so much more. Without SonicSatAM we would not have the great series from Archie that we do and we would not be treated to their continued adventures each and every month. I enjoy it so much that I embarked on a 20-year mission to find the first issue, which I had never gotten as a kid and I am happy to say earlier this year I finally found it!
This is my favorite Sonic cartoon of all time and I feel as if no other will ever live up to what this show was. It was fast paced, amazing and visually spectacular. To this day Sally is a fan favorite character and yes there are a lot of fan art of her (some I dare not mention). The world it created was rich and it truly took something as simple as a platforming game about a fast blue hedgehog and gave it a lot more substance than its weekday counterpart. It created the basis for most of what we know about the Sonic Universe.
The Complete Series was released in 2007 by SHOUT! Factory and Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Make sure to pick up this series, as it is the best Sonic cartoon you will ever watch.
Come back next time as I look at the weirdness that was the third Sonic cartoon adaptation;