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Sonic Championship is a fighting game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The game's original Japanese title, Sonic The Fighters, is used in North American and European releases of Sonic Gems Collection.
Dr. Robotnik (Doctor Eggman in the Japanese version. His North American name, Dr. Robotnik, was misspelled as "Dr. Robotonic") has built the Death Egg II, along with Metal Sonic. Tails alerts Sonic to this and they plan to fly into space via the Lunar Fox, a spaceship Tails built in an effort to stop it. However, as it is a single seater, only one of them can go and it requires the energy of eight Chaos Emeralds. The two set off in the Tornado to find them, detecting one in Knuckles's possession. Sonic demands that he hands it over, but Knuckles queries as to why Sonic should be the one to go. It's therefore decided that a tournament of sorts will be held to see who has the honor of piloting the Lunar Fox.
If a character defeats all eight opponents, they will go on to face Metal Sonic and Dr. Robotnik. However, the player has to defeat Dr. Robotnik within 15 seconds of his stage to get the ending. If he is not beaten on time, the player receives a Game Over. If the player wins, the playable character escapes the exploding Death Egg II. Dr. Robotnik and Metal Sonic are seen after the credits, seeking vengeance.
Masahiro Sugiyama, a character designer at AM2 added Sonic and Tails into the fighting game Fighting Vipers. Yu Suzuki saw this and decided to present the idea of a 3D Sonic fighting game to Hiroshi Kataoka. Suzuki then presented the idea to Yuji Naka. Initial thoughts about the game were that the game would give Sonic a negative and violent image, and Kataoka thought that Naka would not approve, but Naka loved the idea and approved of the game's development. This was Sonic's first 3D debut and had Naka's full support. The game was released in Japanese arcades in June 1996, running on Sega Model 2 hardware.
A soundtrack CD was also released containing the complete 24 track collection which was composed and arranged by Maki Morrow and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi. Similar to Yuzo Koshiro's works, the soundtrack has a notable influence from dance music such as House and Eurobeat.
- Sonic the Hedgehog — Sonic uses his Spin Dash and other normal abilities to attack his opponents.
- Miles "Tails" Prower — Makes use of his twin tails to fly and fight, giving him a distinct advantage over the other fighters.
- Knuckles the Echidna — Knuckles is the most powerful fighter with strong, repetitive punches.
- Amy Rose — Also known as Rosy the Rascal, she specializes in defensive abilities being able to deliver super-powerful counterattacks.
- Espio the Chameleon — Espio attacks using his chameleon-like abilities, his senses and instincts.
- Fang the Sniper — Fang uses a popgun and mainly uses long-ranged attacks.
- Bean the Dynamite — Another projectile fighter: his solution for everything is bombs and explosives, but his attacks are relatively weak. Based on the characters from Dynamite Dux.
- Bark the Polar Bear — A very powerful, yet slow, character who specializes in grabs and short-range abilities.
- Super Sonic — Sonic can transform into Super Sonic, the only secret character of the game, during Round 2 against Metal Sonic if he successfully defeats all opponents without losing once.
These characters are Non-player character#Computer and video games|NPCs.
- Metal Sonic — The game's "final stage", as Eggman's top robot, he has a wide range of effective moves, such as shooting a laser from the fan vent in his chest.
- Doctor Eggman — The game's final boss of the game, appearing in a "Bonus Round." To achieve the good ending, he must be defeated in 15 seconds or less.
- Clones — Grayscale versions of the eight regular characters that only appear when a character fights his or herself, but they are playable if two players use the same character in which case one of the players will have the shadow character. They play the same as their normal counterparts.
These characters are only accessible by hacking. They are in-game characters, but cannot be used if playing normally.
- Rocket Metal (a.k.a. Mecha Sonic Model No.29) - This character is present at the game intro, flying around the Death Egg II, but it is not the character you are fighting on the Metal Sonic Fight. However, it is accessible by hacking.
- Eggman's Robot¹ - This character is also present at the game intro, standing next to Eggman on the Death Egg II as he watches even more of these robots landing on earth through multiple screens.
- Mechless Eggman¹ (seems to be a bit smaller in some fights)
- Eggman in UFO¹ - The character that appears to create grayscale versions of the characters when both the fighters are playing as the same character.
- Honey — A yellow cat-like character with black hair, that never made it to the final version of the game. Little is known about Honey other than she is based on Candy (who is called Honey in Japan) from Fighting Vipers, which Sonic the Fighters was based upon. Her in-game data is near complete. Her model when squashed by the Piko-Piko hammer reveals she was based on Amy. She also has her own complete moveset which is based upon a combination of moves from other characters in the game. There is a bug in her eye system, causing one eye to look at the camera but the other to look in the opposite direction, making Honey look strange in some scenes. She does not have any artwork for the pre-level scenes, so it defaults to Eggman. Unlike other characters, when both characters select Honey, there is an actual alternate costume for her instead of a grayscale version.
¹These characters share the name "Dr. Eggman"; thus, their names are unofficial. Model data also exists for another character, which is Eggman in a vehicle resembling a walking tank, but the character itself does not exist. There has been a hack that replaces the normal Eggman Mech model with this one, but due to an incomplete modification, he sometimes flashes back to the normal Mech, but only for a single frame.
The game saw very limited release in North American arcades, as Sega of America considered the game's portrayal of Sonic and his friends to be too violent, and feared it gave Sonic a negative image. Nevertheless, many years Sega would shy away from this stance with a new and completely different fighting game for the Game Boy Advance called Sonic Battle, and later Sonic himself became an unlockable character in the Wii game Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
A Sega Saturn version of the game was also announced but never released, though some elements appeared in the Saturn game Fighters Megamix. The game was ported to home consoles on Sonic Gems Collection, for the GameCube and, in Europe and Japan, the PlayStation 2. In the port, model data of all unused characters was removed. Character data still exists, but upon selection, the game crashes due to the missing models.