Ask anyone on the planet what a hedgehog’s natural rival would be, and they’ll all say the same thing – a fat, bald human being. Exactly like me, in fact. Of course there are outliers; while I feel no particular affinity for hedgehogs, I wouldn’t say that I hated them by any means.
Nonetheless, Sonic the Hedgehog’s avowed nemesis Dr Ivo Robotnik has spent the vast majority of his life dreaming up mad ways to kill off the pesky Erinaceinae, and I think it’s only fair to catalogue a few of the more notable ones here for historical record. Such achievements demand recognition from the scientific community, but unfortunately there’s no Nobel Prize for hedgehog murder. Despite my extensive letter-writing.
Antlion Mecha (Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sega Master System/Game Gear)
The egg-obsessed psycho-killer has built a robotic antlion and is so desperate to see it strip Sonic’s flesh from his bones that he rescues “old blue bollocks” from lava-based certain death and gives him an Uber to the boss battle. Bit of an own goal there, chief. In fact, Robotnik’s confidence in the antlion lasts only a couple of seconds, whereupon he announces “sod this for a game of soldiers, I’m just gonna launch bombs at him”. So he does. And, in the Game Gear version, you die repeatedly, never advancing to the second zone.
Egg Dealer (Shadow the Hedgehog, Xbox/PS2/Gamecube)
Far from Machiavellian, our dear Doctor is quite the altruist, in some respects. The four-legged robotic Egg Dealer, you see, operates the reels of a slot machine, which Shadow can stop using a homing attack. The symbols the reels stop at indicate which attack the Dealer will use. While this is a lot of fun, Robotnik was also certain to abide by gambling laws with a high-percentage “payout” rate, meaning that it’s entirely possible and indeed likely that his machine will damage itself in the interests of fairness. Yes, getting three bombs or three missiles on the slots causes the Egg Dealer to use said implements of destruction to bring about its own downfall. Is it possible that Dr Robotnik is just… kind of a great guy?
“Eggman Mark”/Robotnik monitor (Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Sonic and Knuckles, Sega Mega Drive)
Sonic’s got these televisions, yeah? When he jumps on them, he gets power-ups related to the image they’re outputting. Say he jumps on a telly with a picture of a ring on it, he gets ten rings. Picture of some sneakers, he gets a speed boost. Robotnik sees these and thinks, hang on a tick, I could make one with me on the screen and when Sonic jumps on it, he gets the immediate effect of being kicked up the arse with my Doc Martens. So the good doctor puts these into production and sneaks them all over the place – mostly in the final two Zones of Sonic 3 because, as we’ve established, Dr Robotnik is a man of integrity and unrelenting fairness.
Diabolical traps (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sega Mega Drive)
At times when playing Sonic 3, you may find yourself irrevocably stuck in the scenery, unable to continue without waiting out the ten-minute time limit or simply hitting “Reset”. And you’ll throw up your fist and curse those lazy developers for their oversight, so you will. But you mustn’t. Because it’s all by design. You see, the manual (pictured above) reveals that Robotnik himself snuck in these inescapable traps in yet another of his brilliant schemes. Yes, indeed, that is a satisfactory-ass explanation and in no way a last-minute cover for the crunch-ravaged Sonic Team who really don’t have the time or inclination to take yet another pass on the collision detection. Yeah. Cheers.