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Nightmare Fuel / Sonic the Hedgehog

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No, not even the Blue Blur can be trusted not to give kids nightmares.

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     Sonic The Hedgehog 2 
  • In the 2-player vs. mode, when one player finishes a level, it starts a 60-second countdown for the other player to try and finish. The drowning music is once again involved (see folder above).
  • The Chemical Plant Zone is mostly remembered because of the quickly rising purple water with no air bubbles known only as Mega Mack, making any comeback to the surface more and more difficult as time went by, eventually culminating in an inevitable instance of the drowning countdown. This is referenced in Sonic Generations, where Tails remarks about how "and that pink water really makes me nervous for some reason." drives home how even Sega is aware of the level's infamy.
  • Aquatic Ruin Zone features stone with Robotnik's face carved on it, randomly activating arrow traps, and of course, water for Sonic to drown in.
  • The teleportation boxes freaked out some people as well, what with the music and the whole screen turning white as seen here.
  • In the Genesis games 2 and 3/Knuckles, there's a few kamikaze enemies (Asteron in Metropolis, Jawz in Hydrocity).
  • Mystic Cave Zone has a particular part in which the player must grab a vine or else drop into an inescapable pit of spikes, able to trap even Super Sonic.
    • Thankfully, the 2013 mobile re-release of the game turned it from a death trap into a Warp Zone to Hidden Palace Zone.
  • Playing around with savestates on this game and Sonic 2 Retro Remix with an emulator can result in a messy outcome.
  • The infamous Sonic 2 prototype has the infamous blank stages: Wood Zone Act 2, both acts of Cyber City Zone, and both acts of Death Egg Zone. No level, just glitched (if any) background) and plummeting to your death three times. Even worse, playing Death Egg Zone, which has no music, shuts off the Z80 processor, preventing sound from playing again until you reset.
  • Oil Ocean Zone's music is a bit creepy. What elevates it into Nightmare Fuel territory is that if you input a code on the wrong menu (entering 1-9-9-2-1-1-2-4 into the Options sound test rather than the stage select sound test), which not only give the player 14 continues, the music starts playing throughout the entire game, even if you navigate outside of the options menu. Worse, all sound effects are disabled!

     Sonic Spinball 

     Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles 
  • To start, a very large portion of Hydrocity Zone is underwater, with all the series-traditional scares that go with it. Then Act 2 comes and it starts with an Advancing Wall of Doom with very loud rumbling noises.
  • Sandopolis Zone's Act 2, set inside a huge pyramid with a scarier version of Act 1's theme playing in the background. About a quarter of the way through, you'll land on a capsule that dispenses a crowd of ever-growing ghosts.
    • It's even worse when you're playing as Knuckles in that part of the act: Giving his story takes place after Sonic's one, the ghosts are in the red zone already, and ambush you as soon as the act starts, without rings.
  • Ice Cap Zone has a (normally) Knuckles-only section where you must glide from wall to wall while avoiding icy spiked balls. Hacking confirms said spike balls can hurt Super Sonic as well.
  • While the music for Carnival Night Zone sounds awesome, the stage the song plays in is not only That One Level due to the infamous red-and-white barrel section, but the sudden stop of all sound whenever the snares pop up can be unsettling.
  • The scene where Knuckles gets electrocuted when he tries to retrieve the Master Emerald can be scary to a few. Not to mention the device is plugged into his ears. That's gotta fucking hurt.
  • The Big Arms, when fought in standalone Sonic the Hedgehog 3, its grab attack is capable of knocking the rings out of Super Sonic. It's a shock to those used to the idea that Super Sonic is invincible to anything that isn't getting squished, a Bottomless Pit, or the time limit.
  • In the Doomsday Zone, if Super or Hyper Sonic's ring count drops to 10 or less, the already-frantic music will accelerate. If he runs out of rings, he falls out of orbit, and we can very much assume that he fell hundreds of kilometers and died of reentry burnup or the world's biggest freefall.

     Sonic R 
  • The Tails Doll. Even though fans "made him creepy," an Uncanny Valley Creepy Doll based off Tails that has a BLOOD-RED gem dangling over his head is rather creepy enough already.

     Sonic Adventure 
  • There are very few places in this game where you can drown without doing so on purpose. Accessible water that goes over the characters' heads is relatively scarce, and the water you do find that meets this criterion can usually be escaped with a single jump. However, if you do find yourself in a tight underwater situation (usually with Big the Cat), all your childhood nightmares will come to life as the infamous drowning music from the Genesis games plays, this time embellished with an entire orchestra.
  • Red Mountain, a Norfair-like U-rated hell, with the addition of walls with cells containing ghosts dressed in prison uniforms and scary spiders. A mission card in Director's Cut hits the Surprise Creepy home:
  • Perfect Chaos, as seen in the intro to the game. A gigantic snake-like beast made of water materializing out of a building.
  • The Lost World has creepy music, a spooky underground city, and dark areas. Kinda unsettling. And at the end, a mural of Perfect Chaos destroying Knuckles' entire tribe; Sonic, not knowing what it is, is flummoxed.
    • Falling off the snake can be traumatizing; as Sonic raises the water level, it eventually becomes impossible to make his way back up, leaving him to either drown or jump off into the endless abyss. And the snake is glitchy; it's all too possible to simply fall right through it as it's moving.
  • The flashbacks to the past that Tikal takes all of the playable characters on reveal the dark backstory to the reason Chaos exists, and why Knuckles is the last of his tribe. In his tribe, a girl named Tikal befriends the Chao. Her militaristic father, Pachamac, wants to take the Chaos Emeralds for himself and has no problems with slaughtering all of the Chao along the way; he doesn't even hesistate to throw back his own daughter. This naturally triggers Chaos' Berserk Button and he destroys the entire tribe, and to stop him from destroying the entire world, Tikal has to seal Chaos and her own soul inside the Master Emerald.
  • Eggman's "You fool. Away, before I make mincemeat out of you..." line. It's supported by the exhausted way in which he realizes that Tails beat him to the missile, and then he threatens to make them all pay for this before he summons the Egg Walker — this is one of those few times the Eggman makes a genuinely threatening line.
  • Amy's entire story, involving her being endlessly chased by a persistent robot called ZERO. It never stops following her. The worst part is that certain times, ZERO seems to disappear, only to crash through a wall and continue chasing you. As Tikal puts it in her calm, emotionless voice, "The robot that was following you is closing in on you. It'll be over if that robot catches you."
    • Amy's Twinkle Park. It starts out just fine, outside in Pleasure Castle's amusement park with the cheerful ride music playing. Then, unlike any other character who visits the level, Amy unlocks the castle's main doors and gets to go inside. It quickly becomes clear that something is very wrong with the rooms inside. And the best part? ZERO. Still following you.
    • In Hot Shelter, one part involves Amy collecting colored cubes to fit in slots that will supposedly do something. The area has video monitors all around it that all display static. Once the last cube is placed, the screens go silent, then cut to shots of ZERO threatening you... cue the real ZERO smashing through the screens and blasting you. You escape the room through the hole it made.
  • The Limestone cave level has yet another example of spooky music. The area itself inspires some acrophobia, especially as slipping just a little off the precarious ledges can send Sonic plummeting all the way to the bottom.
  • One NPC in the Mystic Ruins implies that his friend never found a way out of the maze-like jungle.
  • The Continue music, aptly called "Will You Continue?". It's like you're in a between-life-and-death limbo.
  • The depictation of Station Square after Perfect Chaos goes on a rampage in the Final Story is legitimately horrifying in a real sense, and it may even remind you of recent tsunamis and floods in various places, like New Orleans, New Jersey, and Tokyo.

     Sonic Heroes 
  • Final Fortress is perhaps Eggman's most massive Airborne Aircraft Carrier to date, and when you're in the level, you're surrounded on both sides by dark mechanical corridors, flashing lights (which do not light up the place), metal conduits, and caution markings. All of this happens thousands of feet in the air, in the middle of rough weather. The music is quite possibly the most mournful, ominous, and heavy piece of music ever made for a kids' game.
  • Neo Metal Sonic's transformation into Metal Madness in Last Story, and his scene in the cutscene before Sonic goes Super Sonic, can both be scary to younger audiences: perhaps as a form of Audience Surrogate to that, the six-year-old Cream is shown during the scene being hugged by Big due to how terrifying it is to her (probably doubles as a mini Crowning Moment of Heartwarming).
    • Even Eggman's army of Egg Pawns and Metal Sonic's army is fleeing the scene in sheer terror when Metal Madness appears.
  • Egg Emperor, Eggman's Implacable Man of a final mecha. The Boss Battle takes place on the aforementioned Final Fortress.
  • The last leg of Lost Jungle. It starts with a group of black frogs, which summon rain that kills plants, trying to drown you in the swamp by making the platforms beneath your feet disappear. Then, when you get away from them, a giant alligator bursts out of the swamp and starts chasing you. The rest of the level is a mad dash towards the finish line across a series of vine swings, with the alligator snapping at your heels all the way, where one mistake will likely mean instant death.
  • Arguably, the ghosts in Hang Castle/Mystic Mansion. They appear out of nowhere, have a creepy laugh, simply fade when hit (just before reappearing in a couple of seconds), and even the characters admit that they make absolutely no sense. And as if that wasn't bad enough, imagine dropping into a room swarming with them, with walls that appear to be made of TV static. And in case you were going to get vindictive and try to Chaos Inferno all of them... they're immune to Team Blasts. Have fun.
    • Also, in the Super Hard Mode version of Hang Castle, they will appear in much bigger sizes. Particularly, if you go to a small room, you will notice a giant laughing pumpkin head is appearing right in front of you, filling up the entire room.
    • Mystic Mansion in general. With switches that make statues and paintings come to life and attack, hallways that never end until you find the way out, doors leading into nothing, and the aforementioned TV static room, the entire place is one massive Mind Screw.

     Sonic Advance series 
  • Sonic Advance 2's That One Boss is the Egg Saucer, that can deliver insta-kill slap attack at will, and is piloted by a manipulated Knuckles (if playing as Sonic for the first time), although the special battle theme used only for Knuckles may be either a bit creepy or just plain awesome.
  • The first Sonic Advance uses a fairly pleasant and unused anywhere else in the game sprite depicting Eggman's "pointing" artwork as an after-credits message, as a stinger, telling the player "Hey, go collect all the Chaos Emeralds!"... with a pitch black background. The message in the second Advance game, on the other hand, has a slightly modified version of the Eggman "menacing-and-greedy" sprite from the Sonic Advance 1 intro, still with a black background, telling the player to collect the Chaos Emeralds, but this time in all caps with a Scare Chord thrown in for good measure. The image itself can be seen at the bottom of this page.
    • It doesn't help that collecting any of the Chaos Emeralds, especially the last two, is absurdly difficult. The Special Stages in this game are thoroughly Nintendo Hard.
  • Sonic Advance 2 is one of the only games in the series to pose the question "what happens when Dr. Eggman's space stations are destroyed?" Well, it turns out that they descend to Earth and destroy whatever area they land in a giant explosion.

     Sonic Riders 
  • Sonic Riders is a game you'd think has absolutely no potential for nightmare fuel whatsoever... until you race in the Digital Dimension track, the first half of which is a hellish landscape with creepy gargoyle statues and skeleton hands that try to drag you into a pit. Its potential for inducing nightmares is lampshaded in mission briefings as Storm the Albatross says he's scared of the place. The second half of the track is Fluffy Cloud Heaven. Sounds like a relief, but it comes across more as unnerving.
  • In the game, all characters can attack each other. These attacks change as the racers collect rings and level up. Most of the attacks are quite cartoonish and comical, but Sonic's Level 3 attack happens to be spinning into another racer and repeatedly and brutally smashing them into the ground as Sonic spins, while the sound of bones cracking is heard.
    • Those who aren't bothered by said attack, well, they've probably crashed into walls so many times they're pretty sure they're just hearing the usual collision sound.

     Sonic Unleashed 
  • Dark Gaia, when it goes One-Winged Angel, transforms in a really disturbing manner, and the final product is somewhere between Starfish Alien and Eldritch Abomination. Its head is a Venus flytrap filled with eyes, the whole thing enclosed in tongues with two huge ones hanging down.
  • In the opening, Eggman actually manages to split the Earth apart into seven pieces (akin to Sonic Advance 3).
    • And the way that we see Super Sonic struggling and getting forcibly de-powered by being electrocuted and having the Chaos Emeralds ripped from his body then drained. What really makes the scene disturbing is how Sonic is screaming in agony as this happens.

     Sonic Colors 
  • The closest Eggman has gotten to a true Moral Event Horizon in the games: He tried to capture an entire alien species, the Wisps, just so he can use their life energy to power his machines, which could've brought the Wisps to extinction if Sonic and Tails failed to stop him. Eggman's master plan was to use them to power a mind-control weapon that's powerful enough to enslave the entire universe.
  • From the Wii version, the Sonic Simulator theme, which in the DS version is orchestrated.
  • Run out of Drill power while still underground and you die. It's the ONLY wisp that can kill you if it runs out. Thankfully not the case if you're using Drill underwater, but then again, it's water.
  • Purple and Violet Wisps. They were once normal Wisps that were captured by Eggman and forced to obey him, and as such were turned into this and this.

     Sonic Generations 
  • The Time Eater kidnapping Eggman after the Death Egg Robot boss fight. Hearing Eggman begging Sonic to save him doesn't help at all.
  • The appearance of the Time Eater. We find out that it's actually an Eldritch Time-Destroying Mecha found and utilized by Dr. Eggman of the future right after his recent defeat from Sonic Colors. Even worse, when Eggman explains how he found the Time Eater, the player is shown gray scale images that show the rotund scientist discovering said monster in deep space with Orbot and Cubot, as his is their fate at the end of Sonic Colors. However, once Eggman sees the Time Eater, he goes after it on his own, leaving Orbot and Cubot in deep space forever.
    • Despite this, the robot duo somehow manages to return to the Earth.
  • The gate to the Final Boss fight with the Time Eater looks huge and daunting, the music stops when you're around it, and until you insert all seven Emeralds, it's completely silent.
  • The implications that Sonic's friends may actually be self-aware while petrified: According to Tails, when he was petrified, he felt like he was helplessly floating in a limbo without a body. Tails even says he's going to have nightmares from it, and we can't blame him.
    • If that doesn't convince you, also consider Cream's line if you complete Speed Highway with Modern Sonic.
  • The newly-designed GUN military truck. After exploring the high-def redesign of City Escape, a player who hasn't seen previews would expect the truck to simply drive down a hill at reasonable speed like the original, but now it's much bigger, it's even faster, and it's been equipped with three gigantic saw blades and rocket boosters, with the worst regard to human safety, as it proceeds to smash through a building quickly. As for all those cars that were just knocked about, they explode upon touch.
    • It's also pretty frightening during the Classic Stages. It skirts the line of the Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror, where its sporadic slamming into walls, crashing into you and anything else around you, actually smashing and flattening you against the wall if you aren't careful, and trying to drive into a wall while you're not even there is either terrifying or hilarious.
  • This fan theory involving Eggman's plan in the game. Made even worse in that Sonic Forces shows it to be absolutely correct.

     Sonic Mania 
  • The trash heaps in Flying Battery Zone, containing pieces of busted-up badniks. It's quite unnerving to see familiar enemies missing eyes, limbs, or even their entire face.
  • Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 has the seed capsules from Sonic CD that mark the end of a Round in CD and release seeds that sprout into flowers. That's not too bad. Then a vine grows out of it, with leaves that can be stepped onto and Man Eating Plants branching off of it.
  • Hydrocity Zone Act 1's boss. You're chopping Eggman up with a propellor. Granted, he tried to do exactly that to Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles back in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but still, thank God the game doesn't take itself too seriously.
  • Hydrocity Zone Act 2's boss is entirely an Underwater Boss Battle, and the only way to get air bubbles as you speed through the corridors is to touch the bombs and have them go off in Eggman's face. Missing too many bubbles or bombs is a one-way ticket to drown-town.
  • If you have a Flame Shield active in Oil Ocean Zone and you hit an oil slide, pool, or the titular sea itself, or one of the fire enemeis shoots its fire into the oil, the oil will ignite in a terrifying display of pyrotechnics, and yes, it will hurt you if you don't have a Flame Shield active. And then there's Act 2: The oil in the rigs start emitting toxic fumes around the zone that get thicker and eventually clouding it and draining Sonic's rings once it's thick enough. Sonic has to find switches to clear the fumes for a short while. Small wonder, since this is based off Sandopolis Zone Act 2, one of Sonic 3 & Knuckles' biggest sources of Nightmare Fuel, with the music having similar undertones to boot. Finally, the boss is a submarine shaped like a giant Octus badnik.
  • The final zone, Titanic Monarch Zone, has menacing background music and "HBH" banners with Eggman's likeness on them that make you feel like you're running through Nazi Germany.

     Other Games 
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has the haunted mansion racetracks: the scariness, here, is a given, considering they come from House of the Dead.
    • In All-Stars Racing Transformed, the X-Ray Sparks that are the result of being electrocuted reveal that the characters' skulls have no eye or nose sockets, or even teeth. Granted, the characters' skeletons were most likely drawn sloppily and featureless because the developers figured that they shouldn't waste tons of polygons on something that the gamers will only see for a few frames, but still!
  • The Game Over screen for Sonic 3D Blast: instead of the words "Game Over" simply flashing on screen after the last life is lost, the screen turns a pale blue as the letters for "Game Over" appear, set to the Game Over theme from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, then at the very end, the screen just shatters.
    • The Genesis version of The Final Fight has been considered unsettling by some, due to taking place in a featureless black void.
  • Metal Sonic's appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 4's alternate ending is a bit unnerving, when unexpected.
  • One of the most creepy moments was the open interpretation of the incomplete ending of the Game Gear version of Sonic 2, in which Tails gets kidnapped by Dr. Robotnik. If you don't collect all the Chaos Emeralds throughout the game, then you do not gain access to Crystal Egg Zone and have the bad ending credits, at the end of which Sonic looks up and sees a constellation of Tails in the sky, which could very well pertain to Tails' presumed death. Youtube user WhoIsThisGit had a field day with that one.
  • The bad ending of Knuckles Chaotix: The final boss overlooking a city (possibly Newtrogic High Zone) in flames.
    • The final boss is rather terrifying, with its blood-red color scheme and vicious fangs plus copious shading that gives it a truly menacing appearance.
    • And if the player fails to collect all Chaos Rings, he gets right back up after his defeat and everything goes red we can assume that he's viciously tearing you apart. Cue aforementioned Bad Ending.
  • The Game Gear game Tails Adventure has a boss where you're trapped in a room and must use Tails's mini-robot to defeat Dr. Fukurokov. To do this, you have to navigate the robot through a tiny maze to reach a rock you must push onto the boss's head. He looks startled momentarily, then falls on his back and stays that way.
    • Tails Adventure in general can be pretty jarring, going from robotic enemies for most of the Sonic series to live ones here. Noteworthy is Speedy's second boss fight. He blows up. And seems to visibly spasm while it happens.
  • The arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog can be a little frightening. The story of the game is that Dr. Eggman/Robotnik has captured Sonic, Mighty, and Ray and puts them on his island that contains various death traps. The object of the game is to run from the beginning to the end in each level in one piece. The catch is the aforementioned traps such as giant tornadoes, gigantic stalactites, spike walls, and circular blades (which Eggman can activate with a push of a button). There are more in the game; the point is that it shows how determined Eggman is and how far he will go to destroy Sonic and friends. You can hear in his voice during the course of the game that he really loves torturing Sonic.. That scream he lets loose at 1:14 proves this.
  • Sonic X-Treme, even though it is cancelled and this soundtrack may not be real, has a pretty unsettling game over tune.

     Non-Game Media 
  • Super Sonic in Sonic the Comic. Unlike in the games where Super Sonic is merely a super-powered form of Sonic's, he is Sonic as a super powered sociopath who wants nothing more than to kill and torture anything in his path, preferably slowly.
  • The plot of Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik's Laboratory is Robotnik transforming animals into robots. Not too different from his normal plans, you may think; but rather than capturing animals and throwing them into machines, he's invented a device that'll transform the physical body into something "useful". For example, Johnny Lightfoot is transformed into a mop. Worst of all, the creature that is transformed is fully conscious and aware.
    • Then there is a slight malfunction and the machine transforms a group of crawlers into "something resembling crawlers but made out of spaghetti", and they slowly fall apart with shocked expressions on their faces.

    Fan Works 
  • Sonic 2: Long Version has Genocide City Zone, a dark gloomy city with a Faceless Eye cloud looming over it, and chained skeletons hanging from the ceiling that look like rotten corpses with their brown rags. At least the original soundtrack of the game is kept, so the music works as a Nightmare Retardant.
  • The online continuation of Sonic the Comic shows what happened to Robotnik after the Sonic Adventure adaptation — reduced to a drooling madman who is said to "rarely sleep" and is focused entirely on revenge on Sonic. And as of #250, he's been wired into a Drakon war computer, speaking through a synthesiser, and it only partially restored his sanity.
    Robotnik: The Drakons found me a broken shell, but then they placed me in this machine. My brain is the control chip of a vast supercomputer. On a whim, I can direct millions of my robots to attack wherever I choose. All that they see, I now see.
  • Sonic.exe started as an urban legend of an unreleased Sonic game on the Sega CD that was possessed by some demonic force which caused the game to change into a hellscape, with Sonic having black eyes and red pupils that bled and a Slasher Smile. Of course, fan games and ROM hacks based on this urban legend were made, each one more nightmarish than the last.
    • One in particular is An Ordinary Sonic Rom Hack. The game begins like normal until you push start and the title screen is replaced with a more nightmarish version. The actual gameplay remains unaltered until thirteen seconds pass, then the zone you're in transforms into something more akin to hell, with immortal enemies and rings that actually reduce your ring count. After a while, an evil Sonic doppelganger appears and chases Sonic, accompanied by an off-key version of the drowning theme, and if he catches you, you die. If the player gets a Game Over, the game returns to the SEGA logo... until a digitized render of the "I AM GOD" picture appears with a distorted version of the SEGA voice. Witness the horror for yourself.
  • Sonic Gather Battle is frightening on two levels, the first important one being that the game is malware. When installed and launched, the game's DRM will send information about the player's computer to a remote server and monitor for either cheat engines or searches for cheats in a browser. If it detects either a cheat engine or searches for cheats, the DRM will interfere with the game in a nightmarish fashion: either changing the backgrounds to black and blue and adding red ghost enemies that render the game difficult to play, or changing the background red and adding creepy eyes before frightening ghosts invade the screen, followed by a "YOU DIED" screen. All this for the stupidest of reasons: the game's creator was paranoid about people stealing his sprite edits (it didn't work). The game has since been discontinued, all official download links are now dead (other download mirrors exist, but should be avoided), and the game has been rendered unplayable to everyone regardless of whether they did anything to trigger the DRM. The DRM's frightening effects have been recorded for posterity, and the developer has been permanently banned from all future Sonic Amateur Game Expos.
  • Metal Sonic is a creepy character when you think about him. How do you make him worse? Well, there's one fan theory as to why Metal Sonic remains Robotnik's greatest challenge to Sonic: it's because Metal Sonic is no robot, but actually a time-traveling, roboticized Sonic from the Bad Future seen on Little Planet. That's an unnerving idea in itself, that Sonic's deadliest rival is actually a Fallen Hero version of himself from an alternate timeline, but it gets worse: this same theory postulates that Metal Sonic is trapped in an And I Must Scream situation, with his consciousness locked away amongst the programming, aware of his actions but unable to control himself... worse still, being stranded in this alternate timeline with a doppelganger of himself may be driving him insane, and his hatred of Sonic is now less a matter of programming, and more a broken, twisted mind struggling to deal with a situation it can't handle. There's a video on the theory here, which really highlights just how unsettling it is.
  • This Sonic fan-artist had the idea of creating an AU in which Modern and Classic Sonic are separate entities (surprisingly though, this is not thanks to Generations - many of her artworks of this AU were posted in 2009) and are aware of themselves as video-game characters and SEGA's mascots. As a result of the harsh backlash against Modern Sonic and the tensions between SEGA and the fanbase, Modern suffers from a severe breakdown and lashes out at Classic Sonic, subjecting the poor hedgehog to bloody violence and abuse.
    • It's also a Tear Jerker because Modern Sonic's behaviour and his venting on little Classic Sonic provides an insight into a situation that could very much have happened between the two.
    • Thankfully this is an AU, and Generations and Forces have shown that the two Sonics are extremely good friends, with Modern acting as an older brother figure and mentor to Classic.