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These Famous Gaming Characters Almost Looked Very Different

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These Famous Gaming Characters Almost Looked Very Different

Sonic's a hedgehog. Everyone knows that, right? And sure, you're right - SEGA's tearaway mascot is most certainly a hedgehog. But it wasn't always that way.

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Because if you know a little about video games history, you'll probably know that some of the most-recognisable characters in the medium, over the last 40-odd years, didn't start out the way we came to know them. And Sonic sure is one who made a notable change, in his early designs.

Nintendo's Mario, of course, was known as 'Jumpman' in Donkey Kong (well, he was unnamed initially, but that was what players soon called him). Namco's Pac-Man was 'Pakkuman' in Japan, and his debut game Puck Man, before it was altered for Western audiences to avoid certain graffiti problems.

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As for Sonic? A character now with his own live-action movie? When SEGA staff were challenged to come up with a company mascot to rival Mario, with Alex Kidd not engaging players as successfully as SEGA wanted, one of the most popular submissions was a speedy, blue rabbit. This was Sonic - but as history and millions of game sales tell us, Sonic became a hedgehog before the public ever got to rush him from left to right.

Needless to say, there's a lot more to the story than the above. And as someone who's both written a book on retro games and edited a coffee table-proportioned one dedicated to Sonic the Hedgehog, I'm very aware of the full history of the character before anyone's in the comments with an, actually. Stop, just stop. It's not relevant to what comes next.

Sonic the Rabbit / Credit: money.co.uk, SEGA
Sonic the Rabbit / Credit: money.co.uk, SEGA
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Which is: here's what Sonic might have looked like, had he emerged as a rabbit, in 1991. This picture is provided by money.co.uk, who have posted designs for other concept-stage characters who went on to reach the public eye looking quite, quite different. Among the selection: Han Solo of Star Wars as an alien, and Wreck-It Ralph as a furry red monster. It's definitely an interesting read, if you're curious about the development process of a handful of gaming and Disney characters.

The post also notes that Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot began as Willy the Wombat (it was actually Willie the Wombat, but we'll forgive them). Maybe you knew that, maybe you didn't, but again it's a fairly commonly trotted out piece of games trivia. (More amusingly, the original Crash Bandicoot game was codenamed "Sonic Ass Game", for reasons that should be obvious if you've played it.)

And, to go back to Donkey Kong, that game was initially meant to have the Popeye license, meaning that Mario and Kong sort of owe their existence to a deal going south. No spinach-powered sailor available? Let's make our hero a carpenter... and later a plumber.

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Featured Image Credit: SEGA, money.co.uk

Topics: Sonic, Sega, Crash Bandicoot, Retro Gaming

Mike Diver
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