Sonic, also referred to by his full name Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ, Sonic the Hedgehog), is a character from SEGA who appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as one of the two third-party characters (the other being Snake from Konami). Sonic was the first unlockable character to be playable prior to the game's release. He was first playable in Nintendo Media Summit in October 2007, shortly after he was confirmed to be in the game. A swift character, Sonic runs at an extremely fast pace that surpasses even Captain Falcon. Nintendo Power states that since Sonic is not well known for his fighting skills, some of his fighting moves were influenced by SEGA's fighting property, Virtua Fighter. A majority of Sonic's moves are also influenced by SEGA's Sonic the Fighters and (to a much lesser extent) Sonic Battle. He is voiced by Jason Griffith.
Sonic is currently placed at 22nd on the Brawl tier list in the middle tier, which makes him the lowest ranked unlockable newcomer. Sonic is most known for his incredible movement speed, possessing by far the fastest dashing speed, as well as among the fastest walking and air speeds. His movement is boosted farther by his Spin Dash and Spin Charge moves, which allow him to rip across the stage at incredible speed while simultaneously attacking and/or jumping. The aforementioned Spin moves give Sonic a plethora of options to attack and confound the opponent, which can make it incredibly difficult to hit Sonic, while also aiding Sonic's ability to time out opponents. Additionally, Sonic possesses one of the best recoveries, which contains many options, while gaining great distance and generally making it difficult to edgeguard Sonic. Sonic also possesses an effective grab and throw game, and generally great damage racking abilities from his Spin moves, up throw, and effective combos.
Sonic is near crippled, however, by his severe lack of KOing ability, being arguably one of the weakest characters with few finishers, none of which are that effective. Sonic additionally possesses what is considered one of the worst movesets, which, outside his special moves, consists almost entirely of terrible to mediocre moves that either possess little utility or are outclassed by similar moves of other characters. While Sonic's forward smash and back air are fairly strong, those moves, along with the character in general, suffer from generally poor reach, his lack of a proper projectile, and rather poor edgeguarding abilities against many characters (which exacerbates his already poor KOing ability). Overall, Sonic has average matchups, and his tournament results have been above average.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the fourth method, Sonic must then be defeated on Green Hill Zone.
Sonic is the fastest character in the game, in regards to movement speed (fastest dash speed by far, third fastest walking speed, sixth fastest air speed, and very fast rolls). However, only about half of his moveset has speed to match, none of them being KO moves. Sonic's relatively small hitboxes and lack of a projectile (excluding his Spring jump which can only be used in the air, travels downward, and can be used by opponents if used on the ground) mean that he must stay close to the opponent in order to attack, but his aforementioned speed mitigates this problem. His ability to spinshot (holding Spin Dash and releasing as one pushes the C-Stick downwards) allows him to quickly bypass the effects of most projectile campers, and his side special can clank and cancel out the effects of certain projectiles, such as Snake's C4. His tremendous running speed, his Spin Charge and Spring Jump and specials, and down air give him excellent follow up ability on practically every character.
Even though Sonic can easily rack up damage, he arguably has the hardest time landing a KO move, as all of his KO moves are unreliable, he has no guaranteed setups to them, and he lacks an early KO move. Sonic has only four ways to reliably KO the opponent (back and up aerial, and forward/down smash), all of which have weaknesses that prevent them from being reliable KO moves. All of Sonic's smash attacks have too much start-up time to be reliable finishers.
Sonic is one of the more difficult characters to gimp in the game, given his tremendous vertical recovery, as well as his theoretically limitless horizontal recovery (Homing Attack) should an opponent be off the stage with him. Sonic has the ability to wall jump, however; should an opponent be in place at all, invincible or not, Sonic will not have enough time to both attack and successfully grab the edge. Sonic also has surprisingly good survivability despite being a middleweight by nature. His down and side specials serve as excellent momentum canceling attacks, which, when coupled with his ability to recover, can allow him to survive until very high percentages, although they are still incomparable to the survivability of characters heavier than him.
Sonic's attacks are primarily offensive in nature, and his air game and air speed are good enough to accommodate attacking in the sky as well. Sonic can remain in the air indefinitely with careful use of his neutral special, Homing Attack, and with proper placement can either stage spike or gimp in this manner. Stage spiking in general is an excellent offensive strategy for Sonic; by running off the edge and immediately using back air, many characters or opponents who focus on ledge-camping (such as Pit) can be caught off guard for either a KO or a tactical advantage. Sonic's speedy and long-lasting dash attack is another move that can catch opponents unexpectedly, and its traveling distance usually prevents significant retaliation, such as shield-grabbing.
Sonic has good punishment options. Many of Sonic's moves use the same spinning ball animation, making him a very difficult character to predict. Unlike some characters however, practice is required to fully unlock Sonic's punishment potential. Sonic has one of the best shields in the game, because of how quickly it pops out and the multiple ways he can go into it. Sonic can cancel any of his Spin Dashes/Charges into a shield, Spin Dash from the ground, and Spin Charge from the air. This allows Sonic to "fake-out" his opponents, causing them to make hasty moves on which Sonic can capitalize on. When an opponent goes into their knock down animation, Sonic's superior punishment comes into play. By moving closer to the opponent then stopping just outside their range, Sonic has the edge. Because of his speed, if they roll towards Sonic, away from Sonic or use their getup attack, Sonic can grab them as they finish their move. Sonic is surprisingly easy to grab out of his attacks, because many of his moves launch him straight at opponents, only to have Sonic finish the move next to the opponent.
Mastering Sonic's running game is crucial to Sonic's ability to perform at higher levels, and is one of the factors that makes him so difficult to play competitively. Sonic users take advantage of a variety of dash or dash-related techniques that are seldom used by other characters. Dash-dancing is much less useful in Brawl than it was in Melee, but it can be extremely useful for mindgames in Sonic's gameplay, such as by running in one direction and then quickly turning the other way around to bait an opponent or catch him/her off-guard. It is often regarded by Sonic players that it is better to run away from the opponent and run back than to use roll-dodges to avoid opponent. This allows the player to avoid damage, not be as easily punished, have more control over their actions, and be able to punish their opponent's attacks. Dash-dance pivots (consisting of fox-trotting away from the opponent, then quickly dash-dancing backwards) are particularly effective for this, as they can cause almost immediate turnarounds and then grabs can then be used to punish opponents.
Sonic's matchups are difficult to define, as they vary greatly from player to player, possibly moreso than for any other character. Sonic players to this day find it difficult to agree on which matchups are Sonic's worst. Depending on the play-style of the Sonic, he can have a decent matchup against almost any character in the game, even at competitive levels. Because of his prowess for mindgaming and switching up tactics, as well as the inherent strengths and weaknesses to each style of play, some Sonic mains argue that Sonic has no truly disadvantageous matchups as a character, and that his matchups are much more heavily influenced by playstyle than his actual attributes. However, most Sonic mains will agree that he does not have many, if any, truly advantageous matchups.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Around the beginning of Brawl's metagame, Sonic was considered a low tier, non-viable character by many players due to his terrible KOing power, poor moveset (due to many of his attacks having rather small and/or poor hitboxes), and perceived "low priority." At that time, he was ranked as low as 33rd in the first tier list (September 2008). However, dedicated Sonic players starting placing much more favorably in tournaments; this caused Sonic to jump up eight places on the third tier list (June 2009), which is currently the biggest tier list jump in the history of Brawl, tied with Olimar from the first to second lists. Despite Sonic dropping mildly after this rise, players such as Espy and X accomplished even better tournament results for Sonic, with them placing 5th and 6th respectively at MLG Dallas 2010, the final MLG Brawl event. At Apex 2014, StaticManny placed 33rd with Sonic, having lost only to Mew2King's Meta Knight and Player 1's Diddy Kong, but not before defeating Larry Lurr's Falco; an incredible feat considering the match-up. Even after Brawl's decline in interest, Sonic still found decent results in majors, perhaps most notably Meekspeedy placing 9th at Get On My Level 2016 and 6WX placing 3rd at Glitch 2. Sonic is currently ranked 22nd on the eighth tier list, as of April 2013. A few players still have a negative view of him, similar to Ike, but he is currently a stable mid tier character.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Sonic does not appear in the Subspace Emissary until the final battle with Tabuu, but unlike the secret characters (Wolf, Jigglypuff, and Toon Link), Sonic can be chosen to fight Tabuu after The Great Maze. When every fighter reaches Tabuu, he prepares his Off Waves, which had already turned every character into a trophy once before. As soon as he's about to release the attack, a blue blur rams into both of Tabuu's wings, weakening the attack. As the blue blur jumps up on a peak, he reveals himself to be Sonic. While he taunts, Tabuu's wings break apart, and then six fighters are selected to fight Tabuu in the final battle. Sonic's late role in the adventure mode is possibly a reference to the fact that he was added to Brawl's roster late in 2007.
In Event Matches