RetroVision – Sonic’s Popcorn Shop

As a staple of popular culture in the 1990s, it seems like Sonic certainly got around a bit.  Whilst most will remember the iconic hedgehog from his supersonic platforming adventures, he also found his way into a range of games that most will have never heard of.  One of these was the recently re-disovered Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car, and now we have one more to go alongside it.

That title is SegaSonic Popcorn Shop.  An Arcade game that came as part of a popcorn vending machine.  Yes you read that right, this game was part of a popcorn machine!

Sonic Popcorn Arcade
An original SegaSonic Popcorn Shop

Originally released exclusively in Japan in 1993, the Sonic branded vending machine allowed hungry gamers to kill some time whilst waiting for their popcorn to be ready.  The machine in question dispensed popcorn in one of three flavours, namely salted, butter or curry, after microwaving the contents in the background.  However, Sonic’s playable adventures inside the popcorn machine, would give users the illusion that Sonic and Tails were the one’s preparing the popcorn through the player’s interaction.

This illusion was created through the use of a crank handle on the vending machine, the sole way of controlling the game.  By turning the crank, players were able to control either the speed in which Sonic ran, or help Tails to load the popcorn kernals into the fire.  However, the popcorn was made regardless of an individual’s performance on the mini-game, with its main purpose mainly being that of distracting people from the time it took for the popcorn to microwave.

And now this title has been revived through David Haywood’s popular arcade emulator MAME.  This all comes thanks to ShouTime and the Dumping Union, who have been able to dump the ROM after purchasing an original copy of the game’s motherboard.  This ROM will become available to use in the next version of MAME, although understandably this won’t fully replicate the way in which the game originally ran.  This is something described by David Haywood:

It’s hard to really class this as ‘working’ because the mechanical side of the popcorn machine isn’t emulated, but the code does run so you can see how the machine would operate.

Nevertheless, whilst not what you would call a conventional game, it nonetheless featured one of the industry’s most iconic characters, and it is nice to see it running once again.  Moreover, it’s nice to see the title preserved for history’s sake.  Although it certainly has given me a craving for some Popcorn.

Now where’s Sonic & Tails when you need them.

Sophia Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she's written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DivaXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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