Naka: Sonic 3 & Knuckles Special Stage Was Inspired By Dragon Ball Z

It is no revelation that Sonic the Hedgehog has drawn upon pop culture in its creation (the Death Egg probably being one of the more obvious tributes to Star Wars), but it appears that the influences from Dragon Ball extend further than super forms and collecting 7 powerful objects!

In a recent translation of an interview article from a Japanese gaming magazine, Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka revealed that the 3D special stage (sometimes referred to as “Get Blue Spheres”) was inspired by the miniature world of King Kai’s planet, which featured in Dragon Ball Z.

Other revelations from the interview include:

  • Initial ideas for names for Sonic included “Raisupi” and “LS”, truncation and plays on the word “light speed”
  • Naka quit SEGA after finishing work on the first Sonic game with aspirations of joining Nintendo
  • Tails was initially a Tanuki, modeled after a UFO catcher plush
  • Sonic was purposefully made more of a “bad boy” for Sonic Adventure, so that his character didn’t become too cutesy like so many other character mascots (Naka stated that Hello Kitty already owned the market in cuteness)
  • Naka saw protecting Sonic’s image as being very difficult, citing Sonic Underground as an example of something damaging to the character’s image (making reference in particular to Sonic’s siblings)

Check out the full interview translation, along with other Sonic Team interviews at Shmuplations.

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Adam Tuff

With a decade under his belt, Adam is one of The Sonic Stadium's most seasoned writers, with interests in the music and merchandise of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. Adam is the co-organiser for the Summer of Sonic convention.


  1. “Naka saw protecting Sonic’s image as being very difficult, citing Sonic Underground as an example of something damaging to the character’s image (making reference in particular to Sonic’s siblings)”
    Especially difficult when your own team is burying Sonic’s image in gallons of mud, Underground is barely even a footnote while Sonic Team’s flunkers are infamous.

  2. The Nintendo thing would have been interesting.

    Sonic Underground for me is almost right up there with Boom in regards to the worst Sonic cartoons. The sibling thing didn’t bother me, to me it was the singing/band theme formula. Who wants to see Sonic singing? It’s weird and I found it disappointing, more so than AoStH.

    I think if the first Sonic related thing I’d come across was SU, I would not have grown to like the franchise as much as I did (and still do, of course) thanks to Sonic X.

    Funny story, back in elementary school like, 2003-ish I had a friend who had told me about SU but the way he explained it made it seem like he was making it up, and when he mentioned siblings I always thought they would be blue. It totally blew my mind when I eventually came across it thanks to having a compy+internet.

    I eventually caught a re-airing on a channel called Sorpresa!(~2011), that channel strangely had some good line-ups like Static Shock, Batman Beyond, Megaman NT, Tiny Planets. It was Spanish dubbed and I recognized Sonic’s voice actor also did Dexter in Dexter’s Lab, which made the experience all the more awkward.

      1. For the sake of argument, Boom is a great cartoon for sure but it is not a great Sonic cartoon. There’s hardly anything -Sonic- about it. Everything is generic and they trashed the best characters. If you’re OK by those changes more power to you but I’ll never accept that, and there’s no reason to.

        Anyway my post was talking about Sonic’s image, NOT whether SU or Boom were alright funny shows. *I am also not saying SU and Boom are of the same quality. And in regards to that, at least SU has classy 2D animation going for it.

  3. The funny thing is that I love Sonic Underground, but could understand why people didn’t like it. Sonic Boom (the show) however, makes Underground a gourmet steak compared to Boom’s soggy chips. I guess at the time of Underground, Sonic’s image was relatively simplistic compared to how things went post-Adventure with so many characters, timelines (Archie, Fleetway, Sega pre/post Adventure), that it seems rather quaint nowadays!

  4. At least Naka understands that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to admit paying homage to DBZ, meanwhile modern Iizuka-led Sonic Team seems committed to trying and retcon all of those homages. Look, people are clearly okay with how much Sonic borrows from it, and it’s enough in a way where it’s not too derivative to the point of having no unique identity of it’s own, so there’s really no need to try and sweep certain things like Hyper Sonic under the rug just because you’re too embarrassed to own up to and embrace your inner weeb. But I guess like with everything else these days, it’s up to the fans to try and keep that spirit alive.

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