How Sonic scored two different animated series at the same time

In 1993, there wasn’t a character in America more popular than Sonic the Hedgehog. According to a New York Times report from that time, in just two years, Sonic had become, “a $1 billion dollar business all to himself.” Because of Sonic’s initial success, the Times claimed that Sega was not only “threatening to topple Nintendo,” but also “aiming at Disney for control of the world of entertainment.”

With surging popularity, it made sense that Sega wanted kids to have their eyes trained on Sonic even when they turned off their consoles. The chili-dog-loving speed demon would soon appear in comic books, merchandise, and that fall, animated series. And not just one; Sonic became the first character in animation history to star in two separate series that aired at the same time.

Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, developed by Kent Butterworth (The Ren & Stimpy Show), Phil Harnage (Captain Planet and the Planeteers), and Bruce and Reed Shelly (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!), premiered on Sept. 6th, 1993, was a screwball, Tex Avery-style comedy that ran for 65 episodes (and one special). Every episode followed Sonic and Tails as they went up against Dr. Robotnik and his robot cronies, thwarting their plans to takeover the planet Mobius. The show aired Monday through Friday on syndication in various markets.

Sonic the Hedgehog, usually referred to as “SatAM,” premiered two weeks later, and ran for 26 episodes split over two seasons. The series had a higher production value than Adventures, and told a more cohesive storyline, despite airing on ABC Saturday Morning. Even though SatAM and Adventures shared the same main character and was even voiced by the same actor (Steve Urkel himself, Jaleel White), the former couldn’t have been any different than the latter.

SatAM’s story was darker, taking place in a post-apocalyptic Mobius where Robotnik is almost in complete control of the planet. Sonic, Tails, and the rest of the Knothole Freedom Fighters, a group of characters created specifically for the series (so, sadly, no Big the Cat), attempt to overthrow Egg Man and free Mobius from his evil tyranny.

The series separated itself from the usual Saturday morning cartoon fare by having the heroes, at times, fail to stop Robotnik’s evil schemes. The characters also had to deal with grief over the loss of fellow freedom fighters. SatAM was also more mature than Adventures and most other Saturday morning cartoons when it came to the relationship between two of the main characters, Sonic and Princess Sally, his childhood friend and the planet’s rightful ruler. In the second season finale, “The Doomsday Project,” Sally and Sonic share a celebratory and passionate kiss, certainly not something you would see on Tom & Jerry Kids.

SatAM was developed by Len Janson (The Real Ghostbusters), and Bruce and Reed Shelly. Both series were produced by DIC, producer of Inspector Gadget and Captain Planet, and it was their Executive Vice President of Creative Affairs at the time, Robby London, who came up with the idea to produce two different series. After pitching the darker take to ABC, the network surprised DIC executives by not only expressing interest in having Sonic appear on their network, but offering them an on-air commitment. “Usually they’ll do a development deal,” London told Polygon in a phone interview, “but this property was so hot they said, ‘you know what? Let’s do it.’”

With a deal in place, DIC wanted to take things one step further by not only having SatAM air on ABC, but also have it air on first-run syndication, which had never been done before. DIC did something similar with The Real Ghostbusters in the late 1980s. After the first season of TRG aired on ABC, the second and third seasons aired simultaneously, the second in syndication, the third on the network.

DIC went back to ABC and pitched their idea to Mark Pedowitz, former Senior Vice President of Business Affairs and Contracts at ABC (and currently the President and CEO of The CW). Pedowitz, who London remembers as being, “ a formidable, intimating guy,” swiftly rejected the idea, telling him, “If you guys want to do syndication, be our guest, go with God, but you won’t be on our network.”

Disappointed, DIC almost dropped the idea, as the clear choice between syndication and network was network every time. “Network was always the preferred placement,” London said, “the license fees were better, and you got one license fee upfront, without having to piece together the financing; plus network shows got better ratings.”

However, even with his initial idea shot down, London wasn’t deterred. He went to his boss, Andy Heyward, and presented him with an alternative, “What if we re-approach ABC and do the following, we do two series simultaneously, but they will be completely different, so no one will confuse the product?” Heyward liked the idea, they ventured back to ABC, and pitched what would become Adventures. To their surprise, ABC obliged.

London had no idea as to why this wasn’t done before, however, he did know why it was done at the time. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said, “one thing about Andy Heyward and DIC at the time, we were extremely innovative when it came to the marketing and distribution of our ideas, and they had to be. While DIC was the biggest independent animation studio in North America, it still had to consistently come up with unique ways to stay competitive against animation studios with major studio backing like Disney, Warner Bros., FOX ( who also owned TV networks), and other independent studios like Sunbow and Nelvana. There was a lot of competition for a limited number of time slots, so to stay competitive London said that he and his team at DIC, “were required to find innovative ways to finance our shows.”

sonic the hedgehog kisses his girlfriend Image: DIC

SatAm ran until December 1994. A third season of was planned but before production could start, ABC canceled the series. As to why SatAM, London assumes it was either a ratings decision or change in direction. ABC was bought by Disney in 1995 and in a video interview for the SatAM DVD release, writer Ben Hurst said that the show’s second season was up against the most popular children’s show airing at the time, FOX Kids’ Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. And if it wasn’t getting pummeled by Power Rangers in the ratings, SatAM wasn’t airing at all, as episodes were delayed whenever ABC decided to air sports instead of cartoons on weekends.

DIC produced one more Sonic series, 1999’s Sonic Underground, a complete reboot where Sonic and his siblings Sonia and Manik go on a quest to find their missing mother, and again try to overthrow Robotnik, who rules over Mobius. The show ran for 40 episodes, and was followed by two more Sonic cartoons: TMS Animations Sonic X in 2003, the first Sonic anime series that aired on FOX, and 2015’s Sonic Boom, a CG animated series produced by Technicolor Animation Productions. Both ran for two seasons.

Hurst, who passed in 2010, became quite active in the SatAM fan community, and even shared details with fans on his attempts to revive the series, either with a full third season or a feature film. Sega passed, however, the series does live on thanks to Fans United for SatAM, a fan group that has kept the show going in the form of a webcomic. They’ve also funded a fan film, and a subsection of that group, Team Sea3son, have been producing a fan-funded, unofficial third season since 2012.

Much like the balloon that flew above midtown Manhattan in the 1993 Thanksgiving Day Parade, the hype around Sonic deflated. Almost 30 years since his first appearance, and days away from his big screen debut, Sonic is mainly an afterthought as far as video games are concerned. The blue buzzsaw couldn’t make the transition to 3D and now it’s a small miracle we can get anything close to a good Sonic game. So while today he’s just another face on the character select screen in many Nintendo party games, there was a time where Sonic was king, so popular that he was able to get two animated series based on him made at the same time, something that hadn’t happened before or since.

Sonic the Hedgehog is streaming on Starz, CBS All Access, and for free on Tubi TV. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is streaming on Starz, CBS All Access, and Netflix.


Animal Crossing Nintendo Direct coming this week

Nintendo will broadcast a new Nintendo Direct episode this week, revealing new, “in-depth” details about Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch.

The new Nintendo Direct presentation will be broadcast on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT. Nintendo will broadcast the episode, which will run roughly 25 minutes, on its YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Facebook channels.

Originally announced in 2018 during a Nintendo Direct presentation, Animal Crossing: New Horizons sends players on an island vacation planned by Tom Nook’s new travel agency. The Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package will fly travelers to a deserted island, where they’ll establish a new life, craft and build custom items, and interact with newcomers as they arrive to the island destination. The Nintendo Switch sequel will add brand-new customization options and support for up to eight players in local and online multiplayer.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is coming to Nintendo Switch on March 20. Nintendo will release a special Animal Crossing-themed edition of the Nintendo Switch on March 13. It’s available for pre-order now.


Pokémon Go’s eggs are getting a fossil shake-up

Pokémon Go has changed what hatches out of 7 km eggs. While normally the yellow and pink eggs host baby Pokémon, they’re now only hatching fossil Pokémon.

This means that Omanyte, Kabuto, Aerodactyl, Lileep, Anorith, Cranidos, Shieldon, Tirtouga, and Archen are the only Pokémon coming out of eggs you get from friends’ gifts. With this shift, none of these will hatch out of any other eggs and Riolu will now hatch out of 10 km eggs.

There isn’t a set date for this fossil bonanza to end, but you can use this opportunity to grab a bunch of Cranidos, if you’re lucky. Its evolution, Rampardos, is one of the best rock-type attackers in the game. Bastiodon, the evolved form of Shieldon, is also a pretty solid Great League PvP Pokémon.

Tirtouga and Archen are still fairly new additions to this game, so this is also a good chance to grab them and enough candy to evolve them. Of course, you could be unlucky and end up with a bunch of Omanyte or Lileep that you don’t need anymore.

Note that this change does not affect any 7 km eggs you may have gotten before today. Those will still have older Pokémon in them, but any egg you get from friends starting now will hatch fossil Pokémon.


PlanetSide 2 is getting a big update as developer tries to build interest in a sequel

PlanetSide 2, the multiplayer combat game that first launched in 2012, is getting a big update on Wednesday. Executive producer Andy Sites tells Polygon that it’s part of an effort to pave the way for a potential PlanetSide 3. He says the sequel has not formally been announced, but his newly reorganized studio is committed to doing “whatever” it needs to do to keep the franchise viable. For now that means “shoring up” the live version of PlanetSide 2 with new features and content.

Rumors of a PlanetSide 3 have been circulating for a while, reaching newfound intensity in October 2019. That’s when Sites himself seemingly confirmed that the game had been greenlit in an official blog post. Now, he says that’s simply not the case.

“I did not officially announce that PlanetSide 3 was in development,” Sites told Polygon during a telephone interview in January.

The last few months have been a tumultuous time for Daybreak Games, the company behind not only PlanetSide but also EverQuest, DC Universe Online and H1Z1. It recently transitioned to the role of publisher, reorganizing its major brands under three separate studios. Rogue Planet Games, which Sites leads, is now solely responsible for the PlanetSide franchise. But that studio itself is enduring its own set of challenges, including the decision to wind down PlanetSide Arena, an early access game that was only live on Steam for a few months.

Now Sites says his team is putting all its energy into reinvigorating PlanetSide 2, which is available on PC and PlayStation 4.

“Like all games and franchises that have been running for almost 17 years like PlanetSide, we’re always thinking about the future,” Sites said. “We’re not by any means ready to start talking about PlanetSide 3 in any sort of extensive detail. […] Our emphasis is really shoring up PlanetSide 2.”

The new update, which goes live tomorrow for PC players, is called Escalation. It will include Bastion Fleet Carriers, which Rogue Planet describes as a “massive interplanetary craft can be called into battle once refueled and rearmed.” Bastions will serve as a mobile base of operations for factions as they do battle across the game’s massive 64-kilometer-square battlefields. It’s something the community has been looking forward to for a long time, and will hopefully breathe new life into the game.

“There will be no PlanetSide 3 if we don’t continue supporting PlanetSide 2, and we don’t continue showing that the PlanetSide experience is unmatched and amazing,” Sites said. “So our focus right now in the short term is continuing to reinforce that with the live game. In due time we’ll be ready to start talking about the future, which would be a PlanetSide 3.”

When asked if, given the new studio structure, Daybreak would publish Planetside 3 should the game get made, Sites said the studio would do “whatever [it needs] to do to continue moving the franchise forward.”

“Ideally that’s with Daybreak,” Sites said. “If there’s alternate means of publishing, and Daybreak’s okay with that, then we’re good to go as so long as that means we’re able to continue delivering what we want to with PlanetSide.”


Cooking Mama: Cookstar will turn you into an Instagram chef

Mama is returning to help you be the best cook you can be in Cooking Mama: Cookstar.

A trailer for the cooking game showed off a bunch of the fun Cooking Mama minigames that we’re used to seeing, like mixing ingredients together or chopping up vegetables. The best part of the trailer showed off making an Instagram staple: the rainbow grilled cheese.

After you’re done making your food, you take a sweet snap of it for the ’gram, and you can even deck out the photo with stickers. Mama has mastered both the kitchen and social media. We love to see her thrive and succeed.

Just like old games, you can still upset Mama by messing up your food, but it seems like she’ll fix it up for you as usual. She’s so reliable.

The trailer first appeared on the Dutch game store website, Nedgame. It’s since been made private, but it has luckily been re-uploaded for us to bask in all its rainbow grilled cheese glory.

Cooking Mama: Cookstar will come to Nintendo Switch in March 2020. According to the trailer, it’ll cost $39.99.


Yakuza 0, Kingdom Hearts 3 come to Xbox Game Pass in February

Xbox Game Pass subscribers will get access to games like Ninja Gaiden 2, Kingdom Hearts 3, and Yakuza 0 on console as part of the subscription this month. Those titles join recently added games like Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Final Fantasy 15 on Xbox One with Game Pass.

Here’s a full rundown of what’s coming to Xbox One for the remainder of February with Xbox Game Pass for Console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate:

  • Ninja Gaiden 2, Feb. 20
  • Kingdom Hearts 3, Feb. 25
  • Two Point Hospital, Feb. 25
  • Wasteland Remastered, Feb. 25
  • Yakuza 0, Feb. 26
  • Jackbox Party Pack 3, Feb. 27

Subscribers to Xbox Game Pass for PC (and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) will also get access to the following:

  • Indivisible
  • Reigns: Game of Thrones
  • Two Point Hospital
  • Wasteland Remastered
  • Yakuza 0

This makes February a good month for Yakuza fans, who get to experience the series prequel that sent players late ’80s Tokyo, exploring the rise of yakuza Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima set against Japan’s economic bubble.

Some Xbox Game Pass titles will soon leave the service, Microsoft warned today. Games departing the subscription service include:

  • Fallout 3
  • Just Cause 4
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Snake Pass
  • The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
  • Batman: Return to Arkham – Arkham City
  • Batman: Return to Arkham – Arkham Asylum

Xbox Game Pass for Console costs $9.99 per month, and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (which includes access to Xbox Live Gold) costs $14.99 per month. Xbox Game Pass for PC, currently in beta, is priced at $4.99 per month. Microsoft is offering promotional pricing — just $1 per month — for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Game Pass for PC.


Destiny 2 cutscene teases Rasputin vs. Osiris next season

Destiny 2’s Season of Dawn only has three weeks left, and players know very little about the game’s next season. But after Destiny 2’s usual weekly reset on Tuesday, the game started showing players a short cutscene featuring Osiris and the Warmind, Rasputin. The cutscene doesn’t offer much in the way of story, but seems to suggest these two characters will go head to head in Destiny 2’s next season.

The cutscene starts with the disgraced Vanguard leader, Osiris, walking into the chamber of Rasputin. Rasputin is a Warmind, a super powerful computer on Mars that humans built during the Destiny universe’s Golden Age. Some people believe Rasputin was responsible for the collapse of that Golden Age, and based on the cutscene, Osiris is one of them.

Osiris raises his weapon and refers to Rasputin as “old man.” He walks down the corridor, gun pointed at Rasputin’s control panel. Osiris accuses the AI of being a murderer, betrayer, and thug. At the end, Osiris declares that the galaxy is being split into light and dark, and angrily asks Rasputin which side it will fight for.

Osiris and Rasputin were the focuses of Destiny 2’s first two expansions — Curse of Osiris and Warmind, respectively. But in season 10, likely called Season of the Worthy, it seems the two characters will finally share the screen.

As far as what players will actually do in Destiny 2’s 10th season, we still aren’t sure. However, it seems very likely the Trials of Osiris mode will return. Bungie will likely reveal more details about Season of the Worthy in the next few weeks, before it hits live servers on March 10.


Overwatch and Diablo are being adapted as TV shows, according to LinkedIn profile

Blizzard Entertainment is known for exploring its games’ stories through in-game cinematics, but it looks like the Overwatch and Diablo series will be getting a new way to tell their tales. Nick van Dyk, President of Activision-Blizzard, posted an intriguing description of a new project on his LinkedIn page.

The text below is listed under his current position at Blizzard, among other achievements like Skylanders Academy and a Call of Duty cinematic universe.

Executive producer of Diablo, a TV adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment’s IP, rendered in anime style. The show is currently in pre-production for distribution worldwide through Netflix.

With my creative partner, developed and sold an animated series based Blizzard’s Overwatch franchise.

While the Diablo series specifically mentions Netflix as the distributor, the Overwatch show doesn’t have the same information, and there’s no shortage of streaming services that could serve as a potential home for the show.

Fans have been hoping for an Overwatch show since the early days of the game, as Blizzard has explored the lore through a series of cinematics released over the years.

The Diablo series may also be welcome news to fans who are waiting for the release of Diablo 4, which was announced at BlizzCon 2019, but sounds like it’s very early in development.

We’ve reached out to both Blizzard and Netflix for comment, and will update this story upon receiving a response.


Modern Warfare February 18 Playlist Update

Infinity Ward has released the latest playlist update for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The new playlist update brings a refresh to the playlist and store bundles for the week as Season 2’s second week kicks off.

Here’s a look at what’s new:

  • Removed 2XP from playlists
  • NEW Playlist: 1v1 Rust
  • NEW Playlist: Flotation Oxidation (Rust & Shipment 24/7)
  • NEW Playlist: Reinforce NVG
  • Update: Added Tavorsk District back into Ground War

Here’s a look at the new Shop Bundles, via @InkSlasher:

Beyond this, Double Weapon XP will be activated on February 20 at 10AM PT and be live in game through February 24 at 10AM PT.

Stay tuned for the latest news as Season 2 continues.

The post Modern Warfare February 18 Playlist Update appeared first on Charlie INTEL.


RUMOR: Call of Duty: Warzone is set to release in early March

According to a new rumor from gaming website VGC News, they are indicating that “development sources” have informed them that Call of Duty: Warzone is set to release in early March.

Per their article, Warzone is set to be released around Tuesday, March 10. This information and date is not confirmed at the time of this writing.

VGC states their sources tell them that Warzone has been a co-developed project between Infinity Ward and Raven Software, which lines up with many information around the web over the last few months and information that has been mentioned to CharlieIntel.

The report notes that the mode will be unlocked for Modern Warfare owners on the launch day in early March. Per VGC, the company will also then release a free to play standalone version of Warzone with the option to upgrade to the full Modern Warfare experience.

This information is not officially confirmed by Activision at this time. The company has not even acknowledged Warzone as a mode yet, with many information on the mode coming out via leaks and information through data mining of the game’s files.

VGC states that Warzone will support up to 200 players, which matches what we’ve seen too from in-game files.

Update: Industry insider Daniel Ahmad has retweeted VGC’s tweet of the Warzone release happening in early March. Ahmad is well connected in the gaming industry and has accurately leaked information on the gaming industry, including Call of Duty info in the past.

Stay tuned for the latest news.


The post RUMOR: Call of Duty: Warzone is set to release in early March appeared first on Charlie INTEL.


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