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School's cool with Sonic!


— Tagline[5]

Sonic's Schoolhouse is an educational video game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series developed by BAP Interactive and Orion Interactive and published by Sega Entertainment. The game uses interactive classroom challenges to teach children from kindergarten through fourth grade mathematics, reading, and spelling.[2][3]

Sonic's Schoolhouse was released for PC in the United States on 18 October 1996.[1] It was set to be the first in a series of educational Sonic games, but no sequels were released.[6][7]


Gameplay[]

MathGame

Gameplay of Sonic's Schoolhouse.

Sonic's Schoolhouse is played from a first-person perspective in a world with little variation in height, made of mostly right angles. Sega Entertainment CEO 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.[8][3] 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.[8] 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.[8]

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.[9][10] 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.

Rather than being playable, Sonic 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[8] or, in the Ring Hunt mini-game, get in the way of collecting rings.[9][10]

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.[11][3]

Controls[]

Button formation[12] Movement
Keyboard (P1) Keyboard (P2)
[↑]/[↓] [W]/[X] Move forward/backward
[←]/[→] [A]/[D] Rotate left/right
[ENTER] [CTRL] Action

Objects[]

Items[]

Power-Ups[]

  • Playground Pass - Allows access to the recess mini-games in the playground.[13]
  • Field Trip - Allows access to a field trip.[13]
  • Keys - Opens one locked door without answering the question (single-player).[13]

Characters[]

SonicHallway

Sonic in the school hall.

Playable characters[]

Non-playable characters[]

Enemies[]

Exercises[]

  • Math Room[8] (blue, green)
  • Spelling Room[8] (red)
  • Reading Room[8] (yellow)

Playground[]

MatchingGame

A Knuckles statue in 3D Concentration.

The Playground is where the player can partake in recess. Here, puzzle-adventure mini-games can be played, though a Recess Power-Up (Playground Pass) is required for access.[14] There are two mini-games available, including:

  • 3D Concentration - 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.[9]
  • Ring Hunt - 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," which include Buzz Bombers and Moto Bugs, to intercept the player. Getting caught by one will result in the player losing all their rings, requiring them to start over.[9][10]

Other modes[]

Two Player Split Screen Play[]

Two Player Split Screen Play is the local split screen multiplayer mode 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. Additionally, both the playground mini-games and the field trips are accessible.[10]

Options Menu[]

MainScreen

The Options Menu.

Upon booting up Sonic's Schoolhouse, the player is met with the Options Menu.[15] Before playing, the player must enter their name or choose from the list of previously saved names. There are several other icons present on this screen, with each functioning as follows:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog - Sonic can be clicked on at any time for helpful hints and tricks.[4]
  • Character Selection (animal) - The player may play as one of 10 animal characters.[4]
  • Grade Level (books) - Can be set from kindergarten through fourth grade.[4]
  • 1 OR 2 Player Select (stick figure) - Switches the game between one and two-player mode.[4]
  • System Set-Up (sign) - Toggles the graphics quality setting between "Pentium" (high) or "486" (low).[4]
  • Control Device Selection (keyboard) - Adjusts the input device between keyboard and gamepad/joystick.[4]
  • Music (musical note) - Toggles the background music on or off.[4]
  • Gumball Count (gumball machine) - Tracks the player's Gumball collection.[11]
  • Print (gumball machine) - Prints out the player's Gumball Certificate.[11]
  • Stoplight - Allows the player to perform several tasks with the press of a key:[11]
    • Red Light - Brings the player back to the Options Menu from gameplay or closes the game.
    • Yellow Light - Pauses gameplay.
    • Green Light - Starts the game.

Development[]

Sonic's Schoolhouse began as an original, non-Sonic educational game fully developed by BAP Interactive (BAPI), titled Answer Hunt.[16][note 3][17] BAPI's production partner, Motion Picture Corporation of America, approached Sega, and a deal was made to retool the game into a Sonic product.[16]

Sonic's Schoolhouse was developed using Interactive 3D (I3D), a commercial game engine previously used in the BAPI-developed Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge.[note 1][18][19] The game's challenges were designed for both single-player and multiplayer, and an advisory panel of ten educators and child psychologists assisted in developing educational challenges in the game targeted at specific age groups.[1]

The game initially went under the title Sonic Schoolhouse, as seen in early box artwork and press material.

The release date of Sonic's Schoolhouse was initially set for 5 September 1996.[20] However, the game did not release until 18 October.

Promotion[]

Sonic's Schoolhouse was first announced by Sega on 16 May 1996, as part of an initiative to release four Sonic games across multiple platforms.[21] The game was later reannounced during Sega's Gamer's Day event in August 1996, and was stated to be the first in a series of educational games starring Sonic.[7][6]

Sega Entertainment promoted the launch of Sonic's Schoolhouse in late 1996 with print advertisements running from October through December, in-store displays, free demo offers on the company's website, and a sampler disk mailed to certain retail accounts. Additionally, copies of the game were packaged with coupons for discounts of up to US$40 on Sonic products.[1]

Sonic's Schoolhouse was included in the "Blue is Back" marketing campaign, promoting the release of six Sonic games during the holiday of 1996.[1]

Cast[]

Role English voice actor
Sonic the Hedgehog Meg Inglima

Re-releases[]

Image Title Description
Sega Proven Family Fun Sampler
Sega Proven Family Fun Sampler One of five demos included in the compilation, released in 1996.
Sega familyfunpak front
Sega Family Fun Pak One of five demos included in the compilation, released in 1996.
TridentGameSampler
Trident ProVidia 9685 One of seven demos included in a sampler CD-ROM bundled with Trident ProVidia 9685 video cards in 1997.[22]
Segasamplercover
Hershey's sampler One of four demos included in the compilation, released on 1 August 1997.
Sonic'sSchoolhouse PC US Box Expert
Sega PC Collection Released under the Sega PC Collection line by Expert Software in September 1997.[23]

Trivia[]

SonicSchoolhouseClock

The unused clock character.

  • There are several unused menu video files leftover from the Answer Hunt incarnation of the game that feature a cartoon talking clock character, providing guidance to the player the same way Sonic does in the final game.
  • Several game assets, such as the 3D Sonic model used in artwork, full-motion videos, and sprites, are reused from the canceled Sonic X-Treme.[24]
  • Various music tracks in the game originate from external sources:
  • The "Yahoo!" sound effect that plays when pressing the Green Light on the Stoplight is from the Warner Bros. Sound Effects Library.
  • In early versions of the game's box artwork, Sonic's arms are miscolored blue.
  • This marks the first of only three instances of Sonic being voiced by a female voice actor. The second was in the Cleaning Kit for Sega Saturn by an unknown woman, and the third was in Sonic in Sydney by Paula Arundell.
  • During the Sonic the Hedgehog panel at SXSW 2018, Sega made a joke announcement for a sequel to the game, Sonic's Schoolhouse 2. Published by "Ages" (the backwards spelling of "Sega," derived from the marketing slogan "To be this good takes Ages"), the game was set to release for the Dreamcast, Sega Pico, and Sega 32X in April 2050.[25]

Notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 A credit string with the text "I3D Tool Kit 2.1 (c)1993-94 Jim O'Keane" is present in the game's executable file.
  2. On the CD-ROM of the Expert Software re-release, a text file named "0606" lists the game's version number as 1.1.
  3. There are various references the game's original title in its data. These include all texture filenames being prefixed with "AH," strings present in the game's executable file containing the phrases "AnswerHunt" and "A.n.s.w.e.r. .H.u.n.t.," and the font file being named "ANSWHUNT" and titled "Answer Hunt" in its metadata.

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 SEGA ENTERTAINMENT, ORION INTERACTIVE BRING FUN AND GAMES TO PC LEARNING SOFTWARE. Sega Entertainment (10 October 1996). Archived from the original on 5 June 1997. Retrieved on 1 February 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Sonic's Schoolhouse. BAP Interactive. Archived from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved on 20 October 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 7.
  5. Sonic's Schoolhouse back cover.
  6. 6.0 6.1 BAP Interactive. Archived from the original on 18 April 1997. Retrieved on 28 September 2023. "Due to hit shelves in October, this will be the first edutainment title using a 3D, first person interface for kids ages 4-9. Sonic the Hedgehog® will host this first in a series of fun, learning games."
  7. 7.0 7.1 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."
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 10.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 12.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 13.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 8.
  12. Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 5.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 9.
  14. Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 11.
  15. Sonic's Schoolhouse (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 6.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Email Response from Britton Jackson. The Cutting Room Floor (December 2021). Archived from the original on 26 November 2022. Retrieved on 18 March 2023.
  17. Jeannette Draper. LinkedIn. Retrieved on 12 October 2023. "Associate produced "Soldier Boys"​ film and PC-shooter video game and Educational title, "Sonic Schoolhouse: Answer Hunt"​ (uncredited)"
  18. O'Keane, Jim (25 April 1994). Interactive 3D Tool Kit 2.0 Press Release. Google Groups. Retrieved on 11 October 2023.
  19. Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge (PC) United States instruction booklet, pg. 35.
  20. Gumby Damnit! (3 June 1996). SEGA PC Release Schedule. Google Groups. Retrieved on 25 December 2023.
  21. SEGA ANNOUNCES FIRST-EVER CROSS-PLATFORM LAUNCH FOR SONIC THE HEDGEHOG. Sega (16 May 1996). Archived from the original on 6 June 1997. Retrieved on 25 December 2023.
  22. TRIDENT ANNOUNCES SEGA GAMES SAMPLER NOW AVAILABLE WITH PC BOARDS FEATURING PROVIDIA CHIP. Trident Microsystems (7 February 1997). Archived from the original on 3 July 1997. Retrieved on 7 July 2024.
  23. Sega Chooses Expert Software for PC Distribution Agreement. Expert Software (20 June 1997). Archived from the original on 16 October 1997. Retrieved on 5 August 2023. "The first Sega titles to be released under this agreement are scheduled for a launch in September, 1997."
  24. Flynn, Ian; Sega (8 December 2021). "Sonic's Schoolhouse". Sonic the Hedgehog Encyclo-speed-ia. Dark Horse Books. p. 66. ISBN 978-1506719276. "Sonic X-treme was a title planned for the Sega Saturn system, but was ultimately canceled after suffering production setbacks. The sprites for Sonic were repurposed for Sonic's Schoolhouse."
  25. [SXSW 2018] - Sonic the Hedgehog. YouTube (16 March 2018). Retrieved on 18 March 2023.
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