Obituary: Sonic the Hedgehog's 2010-2021 Voice
Continuing on our Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary celebration articles, we have to confront the ̶e̶l̶e̶p̶h̶a̶n̶t̶ hedgehog in the room...
It was a sad day on January 28th when Roger Craig Smith, the then current voice actor for Sonic in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, announced that he would no longer portray the blue-quilled critter. Smith was the longest-lasting Sonic voice in the video game genre, and one of the most controversial.
Smith's Sonic voice acting debuted with Sonic Free Riders (Xbox 360 Kinect) in November of 2010, followed days later with fan-favorite Sonic Colors. He continued to voice Sonic for the next decade, leading to shows like Sonic Boom, and my all-time favorite 3D game Sonic Generations.
It's scale and action were of course phenomenal. However, it wouldn't have worked without a great voice.
What I'm going to miss most about Smith is his unique blend of coolness and precision he brought with him. Smith delivered his lines with eloquence and ease: "Baldy nosehair? That's the best thing I've heard all day," a line from Sonic Colors. I remember when I first played Sonic Colors on the Nintendo Wii. It's scale and action were of course phenomenal. However, it wouldn't have worked without a great voice. That's when Smith, new on the scene, did his thing. As the newest Sonic voice and his first mainline title in the series, Smith knew he would have to bring it, if he wanted to win the fans over from the previously stellar voice actors who's shoes he would have to fill. And brought it he did.
From there he went on to Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games and other titles that featured Sonic. Focusing on mainline Sonic titles, we got to play the fantastic Sonic Generations, Sonic's 20th Anniversary celebration game. Now Generations was a great game. We finally got to see how modern Sonic (played by Smith) would handle seeing and reacting to his former "Classic" self-- who remained unvoiced. In my opinion, Generations was just magical. It brought a selection of classic levels to modern form, allowing you to play them in 2D and 3D. Every step of the way Smith was there, ready to deliver those lines with every red-shoe step, blasting sonic boom, and around every loop.
I'm going to miss Roger Craig Smith, but his career isn't over.
Of course there was Sonic Forces. A somewhat lifeless adventure that had few good aspects going for it. Yet, the best parts of Forces were the deliveries of the voices and some of the best acting in the entire franchise. It may have been a mediocre game overall, but I couldn't help but enjoy every scene Sonic and the others were in.
I often think back, Where would my life be without having played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the early '90s on that Christmas day? I'd still be a gamer, of course, but to what extent? Sonic gave me a confidence at an early age. He gave me something to strive to be: someone who doesn't let his friends down. When Sonic Adventure came out, my love for Sonic was reinvigorated, my love for the franchise grew stronger than ever. But over the last decade, Sonic really came into his own, and I will always be thankful to Mr. Smith for lending his voice to my all-time favorite video game character.
I'm going to miss Roger Craig Smith, but his career isn't over. I'm confident that he'll be back in the video game industry and other forms of media for us to enjoy. It was an honor to play these games, knowing Smith was there to bring Sonic the Hedgehog to life, and to deliver a voice that will be remembered for years to come.
Check out our interview with Mike Pollock, the current Dr. Eggman voice actor, and his thoughts on where the Sonic franchise has been and where it's going here: