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Kids learn fast with Sonic the Hedgehog!


— Tagline[3]

Sonic's Schoolhouse is an educational computer game that teaches young learners mathematics, reading, and spelling. It was released on 18 October 1996[1] in the United States by Sega Entertainment (a joint between Sega of America and Softbank Holdings[1]) in collaboration with Orion Interactive and the private, California-based BAP Interactive.[1] The game features grade level settings to allow for learning for children from kindergarten up to grade four.[3][4] The game was originally meant to be part of a series of edutainment titles, but Sonic's Schoolhouse was the only one to be released.[6]

The game was re-released in late 1997 under the Sega PC Collection line by Expert Software.[2]

Gameplay

The title screen of Sonic's Schoolhouse.

Sonic's Schoolhouse is played in a world with little variation in height that is made up of mostly right angles. Sega Entertainment CEO at the time, Shinobu Toyoda, cited the game as being "like 'Doom' for kids, but instead of being in dark hallways fighting bad guys, kids are in a brightly-colored 3D schoolhouse."[1]

There are three subjects taught in the game: math (one addition/multiplication, one subtraction/division), reading, and spelling.[7][4] The player can choose which classroom to visit and answer questions written on the blackboards. Nearby answers, that include balloons with pictures on them and bouncing letters and numbers, can be picked up and inserted on the blackboard to answer.[7] If the player gets all ten answers correct, Sonic will hold up two sparklers in the post exercise cutscene, saying "You got all ten right! Great job!" Each level features four regular questions and six hidden questions, with the latter being behind locked doors that are opened by answering correctly.[7]

In addition, players can earn access to two mini-games on the playground, "3D Concentration" and "Ring Hunt," along with a field trip section that gives them numerous facts on the various animals in the game through video clips played on the school bus's windshield.[8] By going through the purple door at the end of the hallway, the player can access the playground where the recess mini-games take place. Once in the fenced off area behind the building, the player is given the choice between two drawings on the fence. Clicking on either of these will take the player to its corresponding mini-game. On the opposite end of the school is a yellow door with a school bus on it. This leads to the field trip portion of the game. By interacting with the bus that is parked in front of the school, the field trip will begin.

Sonic himself is not playable, but acts as the teacher. The player instead chooses from numerous animals to play as. Dr. Robotnik and his Badniks also show up to steal answers[7] or, in the Ring Hunt mini-game, steal all of the player's Rings.[8]

At the conclusion of the game, the player can physically print a list of all the correct answers, as well as a certificate showing the number of gumballs they earned in gameplay.[9][4]

Controls

Button formation[10] Movement
Keyboard (P1) Keyboard (P2)
[↑]/[↓] [W]/[X] Move forward/backward
[←]/[→] [A]/[D] Rotate left/right
[ENTER] [CTRL] Action

Objects

Items

Power-Ups

  • Playground Pass:[11] Allows access to the recess mini-games in the playground.
  • Field Trip:[11] Allows access to a field trip.
  • Keys:[11] Opens one locked door without answering the question. (single-player)

Characters

Sonic in the school hall.

Playable characters

  • Alligator
  • Cow
  • Elephant
  • Hippopotamus
  • Kangaroo
  • Monkey
  • Pig
  • Polar bear
  • Rabbit
  • Zebra

Non-playable characters

Enemies

Exercises

  • Math Room[7] (blue, green)
  • Spelling Room[7] (red)
  • Reading Room[7] (yellow)

Playground

A Knuckles statue in 3D Concentration.

The Playground[12] is where the player can partake in Recess. Here, puzzle-adventure mini-games can be played, though a Playground Pass Power-Up is required for access. There are two mini-games available, including:

  • 3D Concentration:[8] This mini-game features a large, fenced-off field that is filled with three-dimensional question marks. Interacting with one of these question marks will reveal a statue of a Sonic-related character or icon, such as Tails or Knuckles. The goal of the game is to match each statue to create a pair, and in doing so the player will earn one gumball per match.[8]
  • Ring Hunt:[8] Here, the player must race to collect all of the rings scattered around the schoolyard. The challenge is that Dr. Robotnik has sent his "spoil sports,"[8] which include Buzz Bombers and Moto Bugs, to intercept the player. Getting caught by one will result in the challenge starting over.[8]

Other modes

Two-Player Split Screen Play

Two-Player Split Screen Play[8] is the local multiplayer aspect of Sonic's Schoolhouse. There are both competitive and cooperative options available for two-player mode, both of which involve the players racing to see who can collect the most answers. When competing against each other, the players are able to steal answers, much like how Dr. Robotnik does in single player mode.[8] Also, both the playground mini-games and the field trips are accessible in two-player mode.[8]

Options Menu

The Options Menu.

Upon booting up Sonic's Schoolhouse, the player is met with the Options Menu.[13] Here, the player must input their name and choose an animal to play as, both of which will be displayed at the bottom of the screen as they play. There are many other icons present on this screen, with each functioning as follows:

  • Control device selection:[5] Below the animal selection is an icon of a keyboard, which adjusts the input device between gamepad and keyboard.
  • Grade level:[5] By selecting the books icon, the grade level can be set, with options including kindergarten through grade four.
  • 1 or 2 player select:[5] The yellow stick figure in the top left corner will switch the game between one and two-player mode.
  • System set-up:[5] The brown sign post in the lower right corner will adjust the graphics settings, allowing the player to "launch [their] 486 or Pentium processor into orbit."[5]
  • Gumball Count:[9] The Gumball machine displays the player's Gumball Count, along with allowing the Gumball Certificate to be printed out.
  • Music: The two eighth notes beside the books allows the background music to be turned either on or off.
  • Stoplight:[9] The traffic light on the right controls the pausing of the game; red brings the player back to the options menu from gameplay or closing the game from there, yellow simply pauses gameplay, and green starts the game from the options menu.

Cast

Role English voice actor
Sonic the Hedgehog Meg Inglima

Re-releases

Image Title Platform Description
Sega familyfunpak front.jpg
Sega Family Fun Pak PC Compilation of game demos and trials, including Sonic the Hedgehog CD, released in 1996.

Trivia

  • The model used for Sonic was borrowed from the cancelled Sonic X-Treme.
  • This marks the first fully 3D Sonic game to have a voice actor, as well as the first and only time Sonic was voiced by a female voice actor.
  • In the files of the game, a strange talking clock is present. It is possible that this clock was going to appear in place of Sonic, which implies the game was originally going to be a more generic game before having Sonic elements added in.
    • Reinforcing this theory is the fact that in the game files, there are multiple references to the game originally being named "Answer Hunt." These include all textures being labelled "AH" before their three digit code and the TrueType font file being named "ANSWHUNT".
  • On the Rating Pending version of the box art, Sonic's arms are miscolored blue.
  • The title screen music is the Bonus Stage theme from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 SEGA ENTERTAINMENT, ORION INTERACTIVE BRING FUN AND GAMES TO PC LEARNING SOFTWARE. Sega Entertainment (10 October 1996). Archived from the original on 20 December 1996. Retrieved on 1 February 2021. "The title will be available, for children ages five to nine, nationwide on October 18"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sega chooses Expert Software for PC distribution agreement. Business Wire. Retrieved on 18 October 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 2.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Sonic's Schoolhouse. BAP Interactive. Archived from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved on 20 October 2020. "Play together on the same computer using the keyboard or dual Gravis Gamepads"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 7.
  6. The Undercover Lover (November 1996). "Sega Gamers' Day: Return of the Scream". GamePro (98): 60. Archived from the original. Retrieved on 21 February 2022. "Sonic will also serve as host for several edutainment titles in a series called Sonic Schoolhouse"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 10.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pgs. 12-13.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 8.
  10. Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 5.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 9.
  12. Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 11.
  13. Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 6.

External links

Sonic the Hedgehog spin-off games
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