Sonic characters and story motivations

The kids have been playing Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 lately (chao!). I’ve been helping them along, and watching over their shoulders. And enjoying the music. 🙂

It’s been funny to observe the ways the various writers have handled these characters over the years. But I think the most drastic (and saddest) change has been what’s been done to Knuckles.

Sonic, Tails and Knuckles
Sonic, Tails and Knuckles

Each character has a motive that they carry from game to game, or cartoon to cartoon. Sonic’s goal is to save the world. Tails’s goal is to be like his hero, Sonic (and help him out in all kinds of ways).

Knuckles started out with a goal. When he was invented, he came with a strong role–the guardian of the Floating Island, and the Master Emerald. This was in his very first game, Sonic 3 and Knuckles on the Sega Genesis.

Apparently this idea was too big for subsequent games, because Sonic Adventure 1 had the Master Emerald and the island. Sonic Adventure 2 had the Master Emerald only. And that was the last time any of that appeared in any games/shows.

Mine's bigger.
Mine’s bigger.

Now Knuckles is just this character who hangs around with absolutely zero goals. He’s become the musclebound marble of the trio, only good for a laugh. He went from being this driven, obsessed, paranoid dude with some spiffy real estate, to being a doofus with no purpose.

It’s valuable lesson in writing, really. Every character has to have a goal. It’s even better when everybody’s goals are at cross-purposes, because then you have fun conflict. If one guy doesn’t have a goal, he’s the one who usually gets killed off. But Knuckles can’t get the axe, because he’s one of the main Sonic cast. So he gets bounced from game to game, increasingly more useless.

Don’t do this to your characters. Give them something to do.


One thought on “Sonic characters and story motivations

  1. I like that, and as always profound. My dog and my chickens and of course my family, in order to be good characters, in the story need something to do. It just makes sense. 🙂


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