Before I begin, I would like to point out that there's a difference between a font & a typeface: A typeface is a collection of characters with common design features, whereas a font is a particular style of a typeface. For example, "Helvetica" is a typeface, whereas "Helvetica Bold Extended" is a font. However, I'm not a professional typeface designer, so screw that distinction; let's just call them "fonts" from now on. Typography lesson aside, this post is about certain fonts that have been used in the Sonic the Hedgehog games, plus their promotional & packaging materials.
First, let's kick things off by looking at the Sonic logo. I knew that at least one person had created a font based off of that logo, but I was surprised when I opened the manual for Sonic Mega Collection & discovered a font that was very similar to this one. A few months later, I discovered that it was called Syntax Ultra Black. Originally designed by Swiss type designer Hans Eduard Meier in 1968, the Syntax fonts were released in 1969 and distributed by the D. Stempel foundry of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. I don't know if Sega actually altered Syntax Ultra Black in order to create the Sonic logo, but it and the other Syntax fonts have been used in the manuals for a number of Sonic games since Sonic Adventure 2.
Century Schoolbook was used for the title cards in the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. Its genesis (no pun intended) can be traced back to a font called Century Roman, created by an American designer named Linn Boyd Benton in 1894 for Century Magazine. A few decades later, his son Morris Fuller Benton created Century Schoolbook in 1918, and since then, it has been used in many books, not just school textbooks.
Gaslight & RocoEdit
For Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sega chose another font. Many sources claimed that a font called Gaslight was used. However, upon further examination, I found out that the font in question is actually called Roco. I don't know who created either of those fonts or when they were created (before 1978, I estimate), but a good way to tell the two apart is by looking at the letters "A", "M", "U", "V", "W" & "Y", plus the numbers. Also, Gaslight has a different set of characters for "lowercase".
Continuing the trend of using Art Deco-ish fonts, Sega used Plaza for Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Also known under the name "Andes", Plaza was created in 1975 by British designer Alan Meeks. Although some of the actual letters in the Sonic 3 version are different, I have no doubt that this is the one that Sega used. Also note the "swash" characters not present in Sonic 3.
In Sonic Adventure 2, Sega went for a more squared-off font by the name of Vipnagorgialla. This oddly-named font was created by Ray Larabie, an American graphic designer who is probably best known for the font "Pricedown", which is based off the logo for The Price is Right and also used in the logo for the Grand Theft Auto games. That aside, I have no solid information on when Vipnagorgialla was created, except that it was created between 1996-2001. It was also used in Sonic Adventure DX & Sonic Heroes, but I haven't seen it used in any other Sonic games.
While we're on the subject of Sega, I should also like to point out that the Sega logo originated as an actual font. Back in 1975, when Sega created a totally new logo, they used a font called Yagi Double. It was designed by American type designer Robert Trogman, supposedly in 1968, although I haven't found any instances of it being used prior to it being featured in the Sega logo. Then in 1982, Sega revamped their logo a bit and has continued using it to this day. The image below illustrates the differences between the 1970's Sega logo & the current one.
Of special note: Certain Sega flyers from the 70's had a logo with a squared-off "G", much like the modern logo. I don't know much about this design variation, but I do know that Yagi Double is available in digital form. One form is called "Retro Stereo Wide", released by Gus Thessalos. Another is "DXS Yagi Double", by Dick Pape.
Miscellaneous info & conclusionEdit
While not a Sonic font, there is another font that I’d like to talk about due to its relation to one of the previous fonts (and because of its sheer coolness). See, Robert Trogman created another neat little font with the "Yagi" name: "Yagi Link Double". Like the similarly-named Yagi Double, it saw quite a bit of use in the 70's & early 80's. However, it wasn't available in digital format until recently. The best form I know of is "Retro Stereo Thin", also from Gus Thessalos. There is also a somewhat redesigned version called "Miyagi", created by Alex Haigh of HypeForType/Thinkdust.
Anyways, a word of advisement regarding Retro Stereo Thin: See, Yagi Link Double was released before the age of computer fonts. Before then, designers often used dry transfer sheets for lettering, with Letraset being a popular brand. Dry transfer sheets contained lots of letters, numbers & other characters. A sheet would be placed on a piece of paper, and the desired character would be applied by rubbing it with a pen, pencil, stylus or other such object.
But what does all this mean for you & this random font I'm blabbing about? With dry transfer sheets, there could be more than two variations for a single letter. With computer keyboards & digital fonts, we can only have two variations because of the limitations of the "Shift" key, although certain keyboards may have extra functions. Regardless, this limitation means that Retro Stereo Thin is actually comprised of two fonts: Retro Stereo Thin & Retro Stereo Thin Alternate, the latter being an incomplete font with a few extra "alternate" characters, hence the name. Therefore, you will have to use a font editor program in order to make the exact version of Yagi Link Double that you want, or just install both fonts & switch between them. To me, the latter method seems kind of tedious for word processing programs, although it may not be as much of a hassle for graphic design programs.
So, these are just some of the fonts that were used for the Sonic games (or around them). You might have some of them already. If not, then you may choose to go out and get some of them. In any case, I hope you found this post to be informative! Gotta juice!