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Knuckles: friend or foe?

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8 hours ago, Diogenes said:

 

But a complete commitment to him being unchanging makes the werehog aspect a narrative failure. It would've been easy enough to use it to explore a different side of Sonic, some "darker" aspect of his personality, and have him come to terms with it (to at least some extent) without requiring massive unsustainable changes to him as a character.

There should have been a natural frustration and  learning curve that came with Sonic having to lumber around in a slower, more sluggish body. That's what you'd expect them to do with a situation where Sonic gets "cursed" due to a negative trait he has but the story seems committed to giving Sonic a spring in his step instead, almost to his detriment. 

The part where Amy doesn't recognize him is the game's best scene because it's not afraid to have Sonic be sad or frustrated by his situation for a minute. The game could have done a lot more with that without actually employing fundamental changes to Sonic's character. 

Even then I'd argue that you actually can change Sonic a bit and keep him as a mascot. Nothing like making him want to stop adventuring or stop being Tails's friend, but it'd be easy enough for them to say, acknowledge that Lost World blunted some of his impulsive tendencies and made him more willing to communicate with Tails before he dove into a situation. You can tweak some aspects of him without changing fundamentally.

Tails is also a marketable character and has learned plenty of lessons across this series. Same with Knuckles or Shadow. Even if you argued they rolled some of their traits back sometimes they at least tried things that they would never try with Sonic.

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Once again, I'm not against Sonic changing. I'm just saying that it's not a requirement for him to do so and it doesn't make his character any less interesting because of it.

I disagree with the idea that a character has to change in order to garner interest. There's nothing wrong with a character who already has things figured out.

That said, I do agree that you can still employ some subtle changes in the character and I feel like that's what the comics are building up towards now given Sonic's beliefs are being challenged atm.

 

....I thought this was a Knuckles topic?

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22 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Once again, I'm not against Sonic changing. I'm just saying that it's not a requirement for him to do so and it doesn't make his character any less interesting because of it.

I'm saying it does, though. A flat character arc isn't necessarily a bad thing but you can't keep doing it forever without making the character feel inhuman. Nobody has everything figured out; Sonic may have a truth that he's steadfastly committed to but if he has all the truths he's not believable as a character, and if that one truth is always the solution to everything it's going to feel contrived and repetitive.

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45 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

I'm saying it does, though. A flat character arc isn't necessarily a bad thing but you can't keep doing it forever without making the character feel inhuman. Nobody has everything figured out; Sonic may have a truth that he's steadfastly committed to but if he has all the truths he's not believable as a character, and if that one truth is always the solution to everything it's going to feel contrived and repetitive.

Like I said, I didn't say it was perfect and you're absolutely right in that it doesn't make Sonic feel like a believable character.

But that's exactly why characters like Knuckles and Shadow exist, to be the type of character that Sonic isn't. Because they aren't the main character, they're allowed to have much more defined personalities and character arcs that might feel out of place with Sonic.

It's kind of the unfortunate consequence when you have such a large cast; because you have to properly balance character traits out to make it feel believable and without making the characters feel redundant. And more often than not, it's the colorful supporting cast that gets all of interesting plot lines while the main character becomes more "standard".

 

 

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On 5/15/2020 at 9:59 PM, Kuzu said:

I disagree; the story is literally about Chip learning about his purpose with the world tour being the narrative hook to make it happen. 

Nothing is perfect, especially in this series. But that doesn't mean there isn't any merit in them at all. Sonic's character being unyielding and unchanging can come off as boring, but in a series that is designed to go on indefinitely, it's honestly more ideal than constantly trying to revise his character. 

There's a reason characters like Shadow and Knuckles struggle to be utilized well; because their characters require specific circumstances to be written in order for them to function properly. Sonic isn't tied down by any baggage like that, and it makes it a lot easier on the writers. All they need to do is construct a world for Sonic to run around in. 

I shall now invoke @Sonic Fan J as they can probably help explain this better, and how Sonic's character functions for the series, and what makes him fundamentally different from the other characters that justifies his position as the main character.

 

 

 

And yes, the Werehog was indeed a missed opportunity on exploring his character and it's very apparent that this was never the intention of the writers. That said, I feel like the story presented with him and Chip was functional enough as it was to offset that. But that's just me.  

Well, wasn't expecting to see my name invoked, but I guess I'll do what I can here.

So, You have to consider before anything else the fundamental flaw with Sonic stories is that 99.9% of the time you are only going to be told the stories of Sonic's conflicts with Eggman. In short, you have two static characters bouncing off of each other and that just doesn't work. Now most people say the solution is to allow Sonic to change, but that kind of ignores Sonic's no regrets stance. Sonic doesn't regret his decisions. That is a character flaw which Lost World conveniently ignored for some angst instead of Sonic looking at correcting his mistake as a chance for an adventure. That is another thing people forget about Sonic as the superhero narrative typically distracts people from it; Sonic is an adventurer and not a career hero.

So, with that established what type of character does that really make Sonic? Well, you have to look past Sonic to see that and you'll quickly discover that Sonic's character type isn't in his flat arc, or his heroics, or sadly even his adventures. Sonic's character type is that of a motivator. He motivates others and it is why the whole "main character" bias that a lot of people have with Sonic allows him to be horribly misconstrued. Sonic in most games is not the main character. In Solo games, maybe, but even then those stories don't work for a motivator type character. A solo story is to introduce Sonic, and every so often you need one to reestablish him since this is a 30 year franchise. But as a motivator he can't be the main character. What Sonic is as a motivator is the "Title Character". For as much as I dislike Sonic X, it actually understood that. Chris is the main character whose story is instigated by the title character and his interactions with them, hence why you call it Sonic still, as he is the motivator and instigator of the main character ,even more so than the primary antagonist.

Now people who like Sonic as a character and want to see him "grow" won't like this reading, and understandably so. But Sonic is not a dynamic character. It's why I like him as a larger than life figure myself as it allows for the more dynamic characters, from his world itself to those actively motivated by him like Tails and Amy to react to his presence on the world. That's where his absence in Forces should have been interesting was the loss of how he motivates. And as an aside, the Tails argument really doesn't work as well as people think it does since in SA2 Sonic told Tails to step up and fill his shoes while in Forces he asked for help and went down leaving Tails failing him. To totally different scenarios that need to be respected regardless of execution. But back on point, Sonic may be static, but there is also a lot of depth and nuance to his character that most people don't see. These traits need to be highlighted based on who he is motivating at any given time, whether that is Eggman trying to overcome Sonic, Tails trying to be a hero like him, or some new character discovering what they can only discover because they interacted with Sonic. To an extent, Sonic's problem is that he is Obiwan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy, but we follow him instead of Luke and barely see the world affected by his actions and the motivation he brings. It's why I consider Sonic a horrible POV character as it undermines his role to humanize a character that doesn't work so blatantly humanized. I'll continue to forever vouch for tails and Amy to be the primary POV characters because they have room to grow and due to their hero worship can actually have conflict seeing both the good and bad caused by Sonic.

Before I go too off on a tangent outside of this thread's topic though, let me look at Sonic the motivator and whether Knuckles should be friend or rival. Frankly, neither to be honest. Sonic's impact on Knuckles versus Knuckles' role in the world don't agree with each other for either scenario without vastly changing Knuckles. That does not mean though that Knuckles should not trust Sonic or actually have conflicts with him either. In fact, Knuckles' trust in Sonic should be the very reason he has conflict with him. Knuckles is a naïve loner who doesn't understand the world beyond his island. But you know what. he knows Sonic is a good guy after the initial misunderstanding and when he goes out into the world will imitate Sonic and get burnt for it since he lacks Sonic's awareness. This will tick him off and have him lash out at Sonic. It creates conflict. Heck, Knuckles gets tricked by Eggman for the nth time; blame Sonic. He keeps sparing the guy so the good knuckles is said to believe is in everyone must be in Eggman too and it's worth giving him a chance. That's on Sonic as much as it Knuckles, and creates conflict born from trust, an angle frequently forgotten. Even Knuckles leaving Angel Island does not have to be an abandonment of his duties. I paraphrase it a lot, but the Japanese manual for Chaotix does tell you that the Master Emerald reacts to the activity in the world below and that as the Guardian of the Master Emerald Knuckles will go and investigate things it is reacting too. Again, his trust in Sonic can create conflict, and even rivalry if that is what you want if say Knuckles goes down, encounters Sonic, knows he can help, asks ignorant of whatever Sonic is doing, gets put on the back burner and decides to solve Sonic's problem for him to get help with his own. You get trust, conflict, rivalry, and Knuckles' ignorance all playing at once and it all stems back to Sonic as a static  motivator and not an ever changing main character. Comically, you also can use Knuckles more naturally this way when he is actually motivated and influenced by Sonic rather than just as the muscle of Team Sonic which goes against Sonic's approach of you can follow if you can keep up. It gives Knuckles back his agency as well looking at Sonic not as the main character who needs to be dynamic, but as the title character whose existence motivates others. Which is what Sonic excels at and is the part that Amy is more based on with the love of adventure coming secondary and being a hero tertiary compared to Tails who is heroics first with adventuring and motivating others coming after if at all. Knuckles meanwhile is the character who sees the bad in trusting Sonic but believes in the good in him because of seeing it first hand and the positivity it brings.

In summation, Sonic being static is actually useful if you remember he is the title character and effects others instead of trying to make him the main character because it's his name on the box and excluding everyone else. He is a motivator, and frankly for Knuckles that actually allows his dynamic character to be allowed to expand if you remember everything there is to his character, including the oft ignored Japanese manuals and the details they hold. Knuckles more so than anyone benefits from Sonic being static as it challenges his trust in Sonic and creates the conflict and rivalry the two are supposed to have without compromising his trust either. Or at least that's my read on it.

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I'm not going to tell how people should feel, but if you really want to know how Sonic and Knuckles` characters operate, just look at their respective theme songs, they both tell you everything you need to know about both of them to T really. 

 

 

Sonic's theme song is about how he won't compromise who he is for anyone, and how he'll act based on how he feels, and not what anyone tells him is wrong or right. That is pretty much his flat character arc described to a T. Its that steadfast belief in himself and his skills that influences people around him. 

Knuckles' theme establishes how much pride he has in his lineage and how he'll always defend his turf on his own without help. In relation to Sonic, he may not approve of Sonic's daredevil attitude, but he knows Sonic is enough of a good guy that he can trust him to get the job done. Sonic's nature is antithetical to his own, and so he tends to struggle in his relationship with him, it's much more elaborate and dynamic. 

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Okay, so I'm gonna rapid fire some general thoughts, rebuttals, or compliments without having parse through several walls of text:

  1. The first four years of Dreamcast era plus the Rush Rivals & Riders games were to an extent a good middleground, one many of us fans seek to return to for a variety of reasons. Shadow's Game and 06--the two games that people refer to negatively in part because of Sonic's place in them--are not among those. The former justifiably focuses primarily on Shadow, with the GUN Commander, President, and in small ways the Chaotix & Eggman having noteworthy places in the story/conflict. 06 is simultaneously a later hoorah for this middleground and also the principal example of where Sonic himself is ultimately mishandled.
  2. There is a distinction between a flat character and a flat character arc: a flat character describes a character that has very little to them beyond the bare minimum of what the story needed from them, while a static character is one that doesn't undergo much significant change per the flat character arc. Sonic is usually the latter and pretty much never the former, in that his strength & consistency comes from his confidence in himself and his way of doing things; this can be challenged, waver, or even slightly adjust, but the core idea should stay mostly the same. You know else can be called static characters? Toph and maybe Iroh from ATLA(the show itself).
  3. Likewise, Shadow and Knuckles were indeed characters with positive change arcs, as they start off varying degrees of antagonistic and misguided before literally learning the truth and changing their ways to make things right. Both also have unfortunately suffered as a partial reflection of that: Knuckles as I pointed out technically has further development that was sort of incomplete in regards to the paths & circumstances that made him who he is from Heroes onward, while Shadow notably changed the series due to having an extended arc or two over the course of about six games before reaching his end point that was maintained in his following appearances into the Modern era before the shakeup in the storytelling and harder pushed intentions within Sonic Team landed us with the current problems his characters has had since Free Riders(Forces notwithstanding).

 

 

 

On 5/16/2020 at 12:14 AM, Kuzu said:

I think some of you are misunderstanding Sonic's character and the role he plays in the series. He doesn't have to always be the center of attention to the detriment of everyone else, but he also shouldn't be shoved to the side while the actual story is happening to someone else. 

There seems to be this misconception that Sonic is a flat and boring character, and that the story needs to focus on him and develop him in order for him to be interesting when that's far from the truth. Sonic doesn't function like characters like Shadow, who are fundamentally built on positive change and being dynamic. Sonic's primary strength as a character is in the fact that he doesn't change; Sonic embodies a flat character arc.

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If Shadow's character arc was about overcoming the lies that he believes to become a more heroic character, Sonic is a character that already understands the truth and uses that knowledge to overcome the conflict. Sonic always pushes forward and never slows down and never falters. That's his character and no matter what happens, he always pulls through.  Sonic's character isn't built on change within himself, it's about how he changes the world around him. The world around Sonic is about how everyone believes in a lie, and it's up to Sonic to change that perception and showing them the truth that he believes. 

Characters that interact with Sonic tend to be positively influenced by his presence. Sonic is the main focus because unlike Shadow or Knuckles, who have character arcs that have endpoints, Sonic's character is ideal for an indefinite series like this one. It literally can't be anyone else.  His status as a mascot means Sonic can be used in any type of story, and the intrigue comes from how he interacts with the world around him. Sonic is flexible, and easily adaptable. 

Calling Sonic uninteresting and inoffensive isn't really fair because it devalues the type of character that he is, and his function in the story. I get that positive change character arcs like Shadow's are the most popular, but Sonic's type of character still has a lot to offer and I don't it should be devalued.  

 

Oh hi, Mark.

 

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Wow for being a topic about Knuckles, this sure has a ton of Sonic discussion instead.

For my two cents, I'm just going to say that the "foe Knuckles" character arc was neatly completed with Sonic 3 & Knuckles, cementing him on the side of good instead of mostly being an enemy (minor misundestandings aside). He's not the most enthusiastic about tagging along on adventures all the time since he's very dedicated to his duty as the Master Emerald's guardian, but if his friends need his help, he'll jump in without hesitation as long as the M.E's safe.

Now as for just being purely a friend or being a friendly rival, I say Knuckles being a bit competitive with Sonic and trading a few jabs while still working as a team is the best way to do it.

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Just now, DabigRG said:

Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to make you feel bad. Just thought of those videos.

I'm messing with you, but yea the inspiration is pretty blatant. 

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Yeah, I figured that. It was a little off since he was technically praising Sonic, but I caught on and just wondered how long it would take.

Anyway, I forget if I mentioned it in my post, but Knuckles' recent "Anything you can do" playful jock attitude is actually a little enjoyable and makes me wish we got a game with him being playable and/or having a part to play in the adventure to go along with that. Its a natural conclusion for the Friendly Rival moniker and would of course bring a different feel to banter than when it's just Sonic alone doing it.

In the other direction, it would be neat to have that appropriately inverted in a few games where Angel Island and/or the world as a whole is in danger and he naturally sees a certain delicacy that needs to be kept in mind while saving it that Sonic often doesn't, especially as of late. This would bring back the unease and even a little distrust that their clashing ideologies used to draw out of him. Of course, the fact that they go further back than once before and are pretty much friends now would temper how far this goes, but it would be enough to get his Adventure & in places Heroes thoughtfulness in while emphasizing what's at stake.

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It's funny because Sonic and Knuckles have more in common than they don't, which is why it never felt right to have them at odds with each other.

Sure, Sonic is much more of a people person, and Knuckles takes his responsibilities more seriously but unless Sonic's recklessness puts them in danger or Knuckles is tricked and screws things up, they honestly have very little reason for getting in each other's way.

If anything, Knuckles would just do his own thing trying to solve the problem independent from Sonic and team up with him if he met him.

 

So yea, they'd only come into conflict if Sonic did something monumentally reckless and jeopardized everyone, in which case Knuckles would get on his case about.

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For Knuckles and Sonic, it's not "friend or foe" but "friend and foe" — he's a knucklehead. He's a frenemy. They're friends, but they also butt heads on things with their clashing egos. Knuckles is a valuable friend to Sonic because he's an equal; he isn't a sidekick or admirer like Tails and Amy; he isn't struggling with a dark side like Shadow.

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On 5/17/2020 at 6:07 PM, Kuzu said:

So yea, they'd only come into conflict if Sonic did something monumentally reckless and jeopardized everyone, in which case Knuckles would get on his case about.

Hm...you think that should've been used more in recent games?

On 5/21/2020 at 2:20 PM, Moose the Cat said:

For Knuckles and Sonic, it's not "friend or foe" but "friend and foe" — he's a knucklehead. He's a frenemy. They're friends, but they also butt heads on things with their clashing egos. Knuckles is a valuable friend to Sonic because he's an equal; he isn't a sidekick or admirer like Tails and Amy; he isn't struggling with a dark side like Shadow.

True dat.

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