For the past several months that I've had this book on pre-order, I've often wondered just what sort of book would it be when it finally arrived. Would this be an in-depth look at Sonic's real-life history as a video gaming mascot and the champion of Sega? Would this be an in-universe encyclopedia with entries on the characters, locales, and events in the Sonic series? Would it be more of a concept art book with cool commentary from some of the main people behind the Blue Blur? Turns out, it's all of these. As one who has been a massive fan of Sonic since his childhood, I think it's safe to say I am super happy with this book.
The book is broken down into several big sections with quite different focuses for each one. The first hundred pages or so goes into great detail about Sonic's real life history. Starting all the way back in the 1960's when Sega Enterprises was formed, to Sonic's inception as a character, all the way until the present, the book goes into great detail. It's a really fascinating read that gives a lot of insight into Sonic's history in the context of the bigger Sega picture, and the even bigger picture of the video gaming industry as a whole. Sonic is a trailblazer in many ways, and the history section of this book really makes you appreciate that. To end the history section are a series of really interesting interviews with some of the most important people behind Sonic, such as the ingenious Yuji Naka, arguably the father of Sonic, Naoto Oshima, the man who gave him his iconic look, and Takashi Iizuka, who has been his artistic director since Sonic Adventure. I love these kinds of interviews in books of this nature, and the quality of writing and information in this book is fantastic. I love it all. Great start.
After the history section, there are four big sections that are all about Sonic's games. They are broken down into 2D, 3D, handheld, and spin-off categories respectively. Some games get a lot of page space, such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which has about five or six pages. Other, more obscure titles, such as Sonic Shuffle, has only one or two. Some get less than that. The majority of the info is a summary of the game itself, its content, its innovations, a little real life history, features, a bit about the story, some really interesting trivia, etc. Each game also features a lot of great visuals, ranging from concept/official art to actual screen shots of the games they're from. It's all really well-done and classy. Even screenshots from the older systems and handhelds look very crisp and colorful. It's great.
Next is a rather large section about the characters of the Sonic universe. From the obvious like Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, to the totally obscure like Jet the Hawk, there's quite a few characters represented. I was saddened, however, to see some of the more obscure ones don't get their own page, such as Fang the Sniper (aka Nack the Weasel), Ray the Flying Squirrel, or Mighty the Armadillo. Characters as obscure as these are thankfully referenced in the entries regarding the games they appear in (Sonic the Fighters in Fang's case, and SegaSonic the Hedgehog for Mighty and Ray). Each character that does make the cut in this section gets some history and in-universe information, as well as lots of beautifully printed pictures ranging from concept art, to official art, to actual screen shots. Again, as is the case in the entire book, all of the pictures are beautiful to look at, and the information is quite intriguing. The only let-down is the entry for the "Badniks and Bosses," where each game only gets about three pictures to show, and only 11 (with most being totally obscure or downright horrendous in the case of Sonic 06').
The book ends with an "Extra Zone" section that just boils down to a list of all the obscure, bizarre cameos that Sonic has made in other games over the years, like being able to use Sonic as bait in Sega Bass Fishing, or having him appear as a map shape in Shining Force II (A real classic). This part is quite silly and and enjoyable, but nonessential if you ask me. I would have preferred they ditched this section in favor of putting more pictures and info in the "Badniks and Bosses" part of the character section, but oh well.
All in all, this is an awesome book for a Sonic fan. Seeing as how Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was my first video game as a child and is still one of my all-time favorites, and given that I spent years of my life obsessing over Sonic's next adventure for years as a kid even into my teens, I think it's safe to say I'm a massive Sonic fan. I've been with him in the best of times, and endured his worst of times. That been said, this book was a real treat for me to read. The information is fascinating and full of insight, the art and pictures in the book scream high-quality and attention to detail, and that cover, featuring Classic Sonic on the front and Modern Sonic on the back, is just downright rad. The whole book is just awesome, and really captures Sonic's trademark "coolness" and attitude. Go ahead and add this book to the ever-growing list of fantastic publications from Udon (this book actually was made by the French comapany "Pix'N Love, and localized and published here by Udon). So whether you yourself are a big fan of the blue blur, or you have one in your life that you want to buy a gift for, look no further than this book.