“Don’t You Forget About Me” could be the theme song for the Sonic series at this point.
Today, Sega introduced a new character for its upcoming Sonic Boom game and TV show, a jungle badger named Sticks. Like pretty much every Sonic character, Sticks is an anthropomorphic creature with giant eyes and a distinctive color palette.
Will Sticks be an interesting and memorable character? Who knows? But historically, Sonic’s ever-increasing roster of sidekicks has become a bit of joke. Ever since Tails’ debut in 1992’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2, it seems like Sega loves to introduce at least one new animal friend or rival for every new game in the franchise. Some, like Knuckles, are memorable and become a permanent part of the roster.
Most, however, quickly fade into obscurity. And some, either because they were so terrible or just part of obscure games, stick out. That’s why we’re examining Sonic’s worst and most forgettable co-stars.
Nack the Weasel
First appearance: Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble for the Sega Game Gear (1994)
Nack the Weasel, known as Fang the Sniper in Japan (I wonder why they changed that one), actually appeared at a time when Sonic didn’t have all that many animal companions. He even debuted the same year as Knuckles. Of course, while Knuckles is still a roster mainstay, you never hear of Nack anymore.
Part of the reason is that he debuted on a Sonic game for the portable Game Gear, a system that didn’t match the popularity of the Genesis. His weathered, pointy design was also not as appealing as the cutesy, rounded Sonic and Tails.
Nack would appear in a few more Sonic games, notably as a playable character in Sonic the Fighters, but he didn’t survive when the franchise got a major reboot in 1999 with Sonic Adventure. Still, at least he was in a few decent games, even if no one remembers them.
First appearance: Sonic Unleashed for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and Wii (2008)
I hope there’s a special place in Sonic hell for this miserable little imp. He’s the Scrappy-Doo of the Sonic universe. He has an annoying voice and debuted at a time when the franchise already had way too many characters, let alone one with a creepy smile that Hannibal Lector would envy. Oh, and Sonic named him Chip because he liked chocolate-chip ice cream. Thank god parents don’t follow his logic and name all their babies Crushed Bananas or Breast Milk.
Of course, we could maybe forgive Chip a little if he didn’t debut in Sonic Unleashed, one of the biggest disappointments in the series’ history. That game had some decent, speedy Sonic action, but half of it involved Sega’s mascot turning into a “werehog” and forcing players to brawl through boring, slow levels.
Luckily, Sonic Unleashed was the only time Chip had a major role in the series.
Silver the Hedgehog
First appearance: Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Silver is a hedgehog from the future who has telekinetic powers, because who even cares anymore? Sega already got away with Shadow, a hedgehog who looked like Sonic but with darker hair and an even darker (and forced) personality. So, why not just copy Sonic’s design again with a new color?
Honestly, Silver was forgettable and dull, but that alone wouldn’t get him on this list. What really annoys us is the way Sega tried to force him down our throats. His debut game, the 2006 reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog, was a critical disaster, but Sega enjoyed forcing Silver back on our screens, almost as if to uncomfortably remind us of the worst game in the franchise’s history.
Silver was playable in the Sonic Rivals series on the PSP and even in some of the Mario and Sonic Olympic games, laughably put in the same roster as industry icons like Mario, Tails, and Yoshi. He was even a boss in Sonic Generations, one of the few good games the series has seen in recent years. Can we please stop pretending that this guy matters?
Jet the Hawk
First appearance: Sonic Riders for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and PC (2006)
As terrible as Silver was, at least we all know who he is. You’ve probably already forgotten that Jet exists. Sega conceived him as Sonic’s rival for a hover-board racing game. As his name implies, he’s supposedly a hawk, but his bright green feathers make him look more like a parrot.
Jet’s existence is a perfect example of Sega’s “new character for the sake of a new character” philosophy at its worst. In 2006, Sega already had dozens of anthropomorphic friends and rivals; certainly enough to fill out the roster for a racing game. Did we really need to create a new one and plaster his face on the cover?
Jet didn’t make much of an impression, and he pretty much disappeared as soon as the Sonic Riders series ended.
Ray the Flying Squirrel
First appearance: SegaSonic the Hedgehog for arcades (1993)
Now here’s a character you probably didn’t know existed. Ray starred along with Sonic and Mighty the Armadillo in the arcade exclusive SegaSonic the Hedgehog. That game only had a very limited release in America, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t even know it was a thing. It was a weird, isometric game where three players simultaneously controlled Sonic and friends with trackballs, of all things.
SegaSonic the Hedgehog is a footnote in Sega’s history, along with Ray. While Mighty would later reappear as a character in Knuckle’s Chaotix for the 32X attachment for the Genesis, Ray would disappear into the crowded pantheon of discarded sidekicks.
How about you? Any Sonic characters you can’t stand? Let us know!