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Rowl

The chosen animals species

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I always wondered, how do you fans feel about the animals species that Sonic Team has chosen for the designs of their main characters. I also asked me sometimes the question if some of the characters would have been better or worst received by the fans, if they would have been a different species. Like for example Silver was planned to be a mink instead of a hedgehog. Would Silver be received  better or worst by the fans if he would have been a mink?

When I studied 2D Animation the teachers also told us, that if you have an animals as one of your main characters, than you must design the character after the species her/she is based on. Your animal character must have visually some trades of the specific species and also must have some animals traits that also reflects their personality quit well.

Like for example good chosen animals designs for video game animal characters are the DK family, Sly and Spyro. DK's family are all apes and monkeys and the whole gameplay of this series reflects that. The characters climb, jump and eat bananas like real life primates. Sly is a raccoon thief, a character trade that people associate with raccoons and Spyro is a dragon that can fly and spit fire, something that dragons do in fairytales.

Some bad examples of chosen animal species are for me Banjo, Conker and Crash Bandicoot. All of them do not really take advantage of the species their designs are based on. Banjo for example could easily be any other animal, same goes for Conker and Crash. The only thing Banjo at least has in common with real bears if the cliché of bears loving honey, but that's about it. Not saying that those three are bad characters, but in the end all of them can be a different animals species.

Personally I'm actually okay with most of the chosen animals species in Sonic, but I have to say that their are some that are a bit questionable.

Knuckles for example reflects nothing from in his design and abilities from real life echidnas. He doesn't looks like one and he can glide and climb, something the real life echidnas can't do. Blaze is also a character that didn't really needed to be a cat. Because of her fire abilities it would have made more sense of he been a phoenix or a dragon. Same goes also for Shadow and Silver. Those two could easily be humans with superpowers, mutants or some super natural beings like the Zetis. They didn't needed to be hedgehogs. Sticks is also a character that also could have been any wild animal species. She also didn't really needed to be a badger. She also could have been an animal like a weasel, an opossum or another wild animal.

What are your opinions about this topic? 

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1 hour ago, Rowl said:

Knuckles for example reflects nothing from in his design and abilities from real life echidnas. He doesn't looks like one and he can glide and climb, something the real life echidnas can't do.

I don't think that's entirely true. The gliding and climbing come out of nowhere, sure, but echidnas resemble hedgehogs which plays into he and Sonic being rivals, their spikes obviously are the basis for his dreads, and they have large claws (thus the spiked knuckles) that they use for digging (an ability he gained in SA).

1 hour ago, Rowl said:

Blaze is also a character that didn't really needed to be a cat. Because of her fire abilities it would have made more sense of he been a phoenix or a dragon.

That'd be so obvious, though. I agree generally that, if you're going to make an animal character, other parts of the character should be influenced by and reflected in their species, but if you try to tie everything to their species you're just going to orbit around the same couple of cliches. Besides, what ties Blaze to her species is her personality and way of carrying herself. She's aloof and elegant but not without her temper, and her gameplay has a more acrobatic style compared to Sonic's which matches the agility of a cat.

1 hour ago, Rowl said:

Same goes also for Shadow and Silver. Those two could easily be humans with superpowers, mutants or some super natural beings like the Zetis. They didn't needed to be hedgehogs.

Silver could've been just about anything, the only valid reason for him to be a hedgehog is how he, Sonic, and Shadow come to represent past, present, and future by the end of '06 and being the same species reinforces that link, but that's pretty weak symbolism that doesn't survive past that one game anyway. Shadow, though, was explicitly meant to be a "dark Sonic", so being a hedgehog, or at least some kind of similar spiky mammal, is pretty much necessary.

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Rouge is suitable for her species , as bats are pretty interesting animals , in real life bats can see in the dark using echolocation and there is some bats species that has infra-sight to detect its prey in the dark , in addition to bats strong hearing sensation and ability to fly fast . I find that being related to Rouge being a spy/jewel thief as jobs like this require to work at night , flying ability could be used to escape and moving fast avoiding obstacles that animals on the feet would face , also she could use her wings as a shield . She could see in the dark , detect her enemies through using her ears to hear their movement , or even detecting ultrasounds that secret machine produce , like the night episode in Sonic X , she can sneak into secret place and use her strong hearing ability to listen to secret information .

BUT I still think choosing species based on real life fact would never 100% work and I don't find really essential . We are talking about fictional animals that are able to walk , dress , talk and act like humans , then why their abilities has to be a thing then ??

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@Rowl

Could've been neat to actually see a mink in the series.

 Spyro is a super generalized and nonspecific thing to cite there, dude.

Knuckles, possibly moreso than Sonic himself, is a case of artistic liberties benefiting the fact that Echidnas were not only relatively obscure, but look pretty weird. He at least has a comparatively pointed muzzle, claws, and the ability to dig. Plus, he was specifically conceptualize as a considerable foil to Sonic, so it sorta makes since they wouldn't wanna just do Sonic plus claws and an expressively hard to work with anteater snout.

Agreed on Blaze just being a cat, though; I was actually thinking about that yesterday. The fire thing isn't really an issue, though, considering who she's another foil to.

Didn't someone once say Sticks being a paranoid Jungle Badger was a thinly veiled reference to the Honey Badger?

1 hour ago, Diogenes said:

 

Silver could've been just about anything, the only valid reason for him to be a hedgehog is how he, Sonic, and Shadow come to represent past, present, and future by the end of '06 and being the same species reinforces that link, but that's pretty weak symbolism that doesn't survive past that one game anyway. 

Oh yeah, that was a thing.

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27 minutes ago, DabigRG said:

Didn't someone once say Sticks being a paranoid Jungle Badger was a thinly veiled reference to the Honey Badger?

With Sticks she was literally designed without any consideration of what animal she should be, and when they came to decide which animal she should ostensibly be an example of, they just made one up.  (Source: An article I once cited on SSMB, lost the reference in a forum crash, and haven't been able to find again since.)

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4 hours ago, Rowl said:

Knuckles for example reflects nothing from in his design and abilities from real life echidnas. He doesn't looks like one and he can glide and climb, something the real life echidnas can't do. Blaze is also a character that didn't really needed to be a cat. Because of her fire abilities it would have made more sense of he been a phoenix or a dragon. Same goes also for Shadow and Silver. Those two could easily be humans with superpowers, mutants or some super natural beings like the Zetis. They didn't needed to be hedgehogs. Sticks is also a character that also could have been any wild animal species. She also didn't really needed to be a badger. She also could have been an animal like a weasel, an opossum or another wild animal.

Blaze makes sense actually, because (in addition to what Diogenes said about her personality) cats are often associated with religion, witches and magic (all over the world, including Egypt, Europe and in Japan). Her wielding fire is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of that. Either way, I agree with your assertion about animal design only to a point. It's important to include features of the animal of choice if its species is a big part of its character. Like with Mickey Mouse or Goofy though, animal features are only used as a base for Sonic characters and are not so overt or integral to the design or personality as they might be for a lot of other series.

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1 hour ago, FFWF said:

With Sticks she was literally designed without any consideration of what animal she should be, and when they came to decide which animal she should ostensibly be an example of, they just made one up.  (Source: An article I once cited on SSMB, lost the reference in a forum crash, and haven't been able to find again since.)

Oh, okay.

Sounds in line with a number of Sonic Boom TV show characters.

 

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None of the Sonic characters are like their real life counterparts.

Real hedgehogs are not that fast

Foxes cant fly

Echidnas cant climb walls

Bats dont hunt for jewels

Bees, chamelions and Crocodiles dont form detective agencies together

Cats are not purple

 

Yeah no logic in this universe, never has had that luxury

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Some also seem tied to specific mythology, akin to Pokemon. 

 

Sonic is perhaps based on the Arkan Sonney myth, a Manx creature that was an extremely fast and hard to catch Hedgehog. 

 

Others are meant to be ironic. Tails is a fox, which are one of the top predators of hedgehogs. Even the very choice of a hedgehog as a major species is, as animals with little significance in most mythologies (they were even a good source in Egypt and Rome!), and one so slow and un-agreessive they grew quills to defend themselves, they were truly an ironic choice for many of the extremely powerful characters.

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Variety is key. I agree that Shadow and Silver did not need to be hedgehogs. Shadow could've easily been a Lowland Streaked Tenrec, due to the fact that SEGA wanted him to be a dark counterpart to Sonic and that LSTs somewhat resemble Hedgehogs. Silver's case irks me greatly. Wasted opportunity for another species. I would've loved to see Venice the Mink (then again, Venice the "Mink"s concept art looks more like a hedgehog anyway) and if not that, assuming they wanted to go with another animal that resembles a Hedgehog, a Porcupine. Why keep going with hedgehogs? In the classic era, we had 2 hedgehogs, a fox, an echidna, a chameleon, a crocodile, a bee, an armadillo, a flying squirrel, a jerboa, a woodpecker, and a polar bear. That's a diverse cast.

Design is also important. You can't just randomly design a character and call it an echidna. Same thing goes for games like Crash Bandicoot, whose titular character looks more like some sort of tailless dingo than a bandicoot (Hell, even bandicoots have tails!). If you're gonna make a character based off an animal, it has to look like that animal.

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34 minutes ago, Miragnarok said:

Some also seem tied to specific mythology, akin to Pokemon. 

 

Sonic is perhaps based on the Arkan Sonney myth, a Manx creature that was an extremely fast and hard to catch Hedgehog. 

 

Holy shit, really? 

Because that's exactly the animal I was thinking Blaze could've been--a Manx.

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3 hours ago, Mountaindewandsprite said:

Variety is key. I agree that Shadow and Silver did not need to be hedgehogs. Shadow could've easily been a Lowland Streaked Tenrec, due to the fact that SEGA wanted him to be a dark counterpart to Sonic and that LSTs somewhat resemble Hedgehogs. Silver's case irks me greatly. Wasted opportunity for another species. I would've loved to see Venice the Mink (then again, Venice the "Mink"s concept art looks more like a hedgehog anyway) and if not that, assuming they wanted to go with another animal that resembles a Hedgehog, a Porcupine. Why keep going with hedgehogs? In the classic era, we had 2 hedgehogs, a fox, an echidna, a chameleon, a crocodile, a bee, an armadillo, a flying squirrel, a jerboa, a woodpecker, and a polar bear. That's a diverse cast.

I don't really see the value in simply calling Shadow a tenrec. He makes perfect sense as a hedgehog and I don't see any point in hiding his similarity to Sonic behind an obscure species. We are agreed on Silver though, as I think his design would have benefited from going all the way back to the drawing board.

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48 minutes ago, Pawn said:

I don't really see the value in simply calling Shadow a tenrec. He makes perfect sense as a hedgehog and I don't see any point in hiding his similarity to Sonic behind an obscure species. We are agreed on Silver though, as I think his design would have benefited from going all the way back to the drawing board.

Shadow was pretty much pushing it as a hedgehog. Sonic and Amy were enough. He'd make a better tenrec than a hedgehog due to his stripes anyway.

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5 hours ago, VEDJ-F said:

I don't see the point of making them Tenrecs or Minks if they're gonna look identical to a Hedgehog anyway. That's picking other species for the sake of it. 

Because Rival characters being simular animals but not quite hedgehogs would be visually interetsing

That said in the shadow department if there's a point where they are rebooting the series so hard that the animal types are changing ( Which sounds like a pretty neat idea ) , I would prefer shadow kind of be nothing? I know that makes no sense, but I mean like he's just a weird alien experiment, like he kinda looks like an animal but he would like have transformations an mutations that would change his look and allow him to do different stuff.

Silver needs to go all the way back to the drawing board

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