How Sonic & Knuckles came to be and the journey of creating it

Good Things Utah

It’s Throwback Thursday and we are taking a step back into video game history with Pamela Kelly, Sega’s former Marketing Manager! She came by to share all about the fascinating story behind the journey of making the sonic & knuckles video game.

Pamela Kelly – Career:

-Pamala spent the first 8 years of her career in the Entertainment Industry in Los Angeles (New Line Cinema, a Manager, etc.)

-In 1992, Pamala was recruited by Sega to bring the big “Hollywood” marketing to the video game industry – and specifically to SEGA and The Sonic The Hedgehog Franchise. 

-As a business person, she is known for having a marketing vision, creating a fun and collaborative environment where people want to work and we make things happen!

-She has been super blessed and has won a couple of big-time marketing awards in her career. 

-After Sega, she went on to start up Mattel’s interactive business – which was super successful, was the business leader at LeapFrog for the Leapster business and turned that business around; was head of Global Marketing at Electronic Arts for The Sim’s business; was hired to build the mobile phone case brand, Speck, in order to sell the company, and ended up selling Speck to the largest case company in the world, Samsonite. She has also helped build lots of start-ups and mentored many along the way.

Sega Genesis video game “Sonic & Knuckles”:

-In October of 1994, Sonic & Knuckles was launched/marketed not like a video game but as a major motion picture. 

-In order to do this the question that had to be answered was: “How do we get all video game players involved everywhere – all over the world!?”

Answer: Have an open competition, and there will be one person who will be given the title of “The best video game player in the World!”

Competition:

-Round one of the game competition began with a WorldWide “Sonic 3” Video Game competition that took place in all of the HardRock Cafe’s all over the world – all on the same night. 

-At the end of that night, the winners were dressed in Prison Clothes, they handcuffed a briefcase to the winner and put them in a limo that whisked them off the airport to be flown to San Francisco!

-Round Two, The Finals: The next morning, they were put on a ferry and headed to the Island of Alcatraz, which is an old notorious prison.

-They partnered with MTV to create the Video Game Finals inside the PRISON walls. MTV made a TV show out of the Finals. 

What is the difference between video games now versus then? The story of “Sonic 3” and “Sonic & Knuckles”, etc.:

The “Sonic & Knuckles” genesis game was never part of their game plan. The only reason the Sega Genesis Game “Sonic & Knuckles” was created in the first place, was because the “Sonic 3” game development was running late and wouldn’t be finished in time for their McDonald’s Happy Meal promotion in February of 1994. 

So they had to think on their feet, make lemonade out of lemons! They cut The “Sonic 3” game in half! They released 1/2 of the game as “Sonic 3” in time for the McDonald’s Sonic The Hedge Hog’s Happy Meal Promotion in February 1994.

Then in October 1994, created the new, “Lock On” technology, so they could connect the two cartridges together to introduce the new character of Knuckles! The “Sonic & Knuckles” game cartridge was manufactured in an all-new way where there was a slot on the top of the game cartridge to insert another Sonic game cartridge inside it. By adding the two cartridges together now you could play “Knuckles” in the whole game with his unique style of gameplay. 

Pamela worked with the original “Sonic Team from Japan” to create their new character, “Knuckles”. They got to decide that he would be an Echidna, and Pamela got to name him. 

*Fun Fact* 

To video game fans, Pamela is known as Knuckles’ mom and even got to name her child, “Knuckles”!

What’s different today?

In today’s world, you could just do an update over the internet to add a new player into a game! You wouldn’t have to manufacture, distribute and sell a whole new game cartridge. Although, that would have been a lot less work! But not as much fun!  

Find Pamela online, and Linked In.

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