The Sonic the Hedgehog movie is here and it's fantastic family-friendly fun, so rest assured that it's a great time even if you aren't familiar with the games. However, as Tom’s Guide's resident Sonic expert, I'm here to confirm there are definitely a few references and Easter eggs to be found within Sonic the Hedgehog for those who are avid followers of the blue fella's storied gaming legacy.
There aren't as many Easter Eggs as you'd expect, and what references there are mostly pertain to the Genesis-era entries. Still, hedgehog historians have a few fun treats in store, so let's crack open all the Easter eggs hidden in the film, in no particular order. Potential spoilers ahead!
All the zones
The bulk of the Sonic movie is set in a fictional Montana town called Green Hills — a play on the name of the first level in the entire Sonic franchise, Green Hill Zone. In the movie, Sonic has a hideout in Green Hills complete with a homemade ping pong table that reads "Hill Top Rd," a reference to Sonic the Hedgehog 2's Hill Top Zone (you can see this Easter egg in the trailer). Finally, a recurring gag throughout the film has Sonic repeatedly dreading running away to an undesirable mushroom planet that’s a thinly-veiled spoof on Sonic 3's Mushroom Hill Zone.
There aren't many deep cuts into the lore of Sonic's arch nemesis in the movie, but two things stand out: he gets his video game counterpart's mustache and voice at the very end of the film, and earlier on he's seen with a panel that controls his "badniks," which are the game-given name of his mechanical creations.
A few of Sonic's most famous moves appear in the film. This includes his Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character portrait pose, the "I'm teetering on the edge of a platform and am afraid" animation (during the film's hotel scene), and even a reference to the dance moves found in this ubiquitous video supposedly composed of animation rips from Sonic Generations. At one point Sonic has a run-in with an explosion and makes the infamous :O face seen in the final cutscene of his story in Sonic '06.
A surprising nod to Sonic Unleashed
2008's Sonic Unleashed reinvented Modern Sonic and made his speedy platforming palatable to a whole new generation of gamers. And the film pays tribute to that important title by plopping one of its most famous levels directly onto the big screen. Dragon Road Act 1, the level where Sonic runs along a fictionalized version of the Great Wall of China, is in the movie — except here, it's the actual Great Wall of China. It's awesome.
Sonic's historically inexplicable interest in chili dogs is referenced very, very briefly in the film when he gives one a nibble during a particularly chaotic bar scene. He also says "gotta go fast," a phrase that's just a lyric in the Sonic X cartoon's theme song yet has somehow taken on a life of its own as a meme (the fine anthropologists and historians over at knowyourmeme.com can tell you more). And speaking of things Sonic says, he also references having a "bonus life," which is a forced bit of dialogue that's a clear nod to his games' lives systems. Lastly, Sonic 1's title screen's winged logo appears on a headband worn by Sonic, and though I know this is in the trailer, I can't recall seeing it in the film — maybe I blinked and missed it?
The (lack of) Sonic music
Given Sonic's reputation for consistently having some of the best music in the entire gaming medium, it's a shame there are only two big musical Easter eggs in the movie. One is a light and relaxing piano rendition of Green Hill Zone's theme that appears near the end of the film, and the other is Hyper Potions' "Friends" (the intro cutscene song from Sonic Mania), which plays at the beginning of the film.
Get hit, lose ring
At one point in the film, Sonic is hit and loses his rings in a way that's very similar, albeit not identical, to how it works in the games. The writers clearly put in some thought to orchestrate a scenario that'd allow for this particular game reference, much like how the writers of Battleship (2012) went to excessive lengths to incorporate the Hasbro boardgame's central gimmicks into the film. Sonic's ring loss isn't anywhere near as contrived as those Battleship Easter eggs, though.
The echidna tribe is here. What the heck?
Honestly, I can't tell if this is just something the writers chanced upon when Googling "Sonic" or if they actively chose to make a super deep reference to the franchise's lore, but in the beginning of the movie — mild spoiler alert — Baby Sonic is attacked by a tribe of echidnas that look quite similar to the ones seen and referenced in Sonic Adventure, Sonic X and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.
Yeah, Sanic's in the movie. A guy named Crazy Carl draws him, believing he's seen some sort of blue devil at a time when Sonic hasn't yet voluntarily revealed himself to the world. Congrats to the inventor of Sanic for getting their work onto the big screen.
The entire credits
Since it's one of the most traditional forms of Easter eggs in modern cinema, don't be surprised that Sonic the Hedgehog has a post-credits scene. It's definitely worth sticking around for (if you've seen Paramount's other recent nostalgia-baiting film, Bumblebee, then know they're doing the exact same style of franchise teasing here). And the credits themselves are chock-full of references to Sonic 1, 2 and 3 — complete with a neat Jim Carrey-looking 16-bit sprite of his Robotnik — which is nice.