Knuckles the Echidna

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This article is about the video-game character as represented in video games, comics, and television. For the comic series based on this character, see Knuckles the Echidna (comics).
Knuckles the Echidna
Sonic the Hedgehog character
Knuckles the echinda.png
Knuckles the Echidna as he appears in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
First game Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994)
Created by Takashi Thomas Yuda
Voiced by (English) Video games
Michael McGaharn (1998)
Ryan Drummond (2000)
Scott Dreier (2001–2004)
Dan Green (2005–2010)
Travis Willingham (2010–present)
Animation
Brian Drummond (Sonic Underground)
Bill Wise (OVA)
Dan Green (Sonic X)
Travis Willingham (Sonic Boom)
Voiced by (Japanese) Video games
Nobutoshi Canna
(1998–present)
Animation
Yasunori Matsumoto (OVA)
Nobutoshi Canna (Sonic X)

Knuckles the Echidna (ナックルズ・ザ・エキドゥナ Nakkuruzu za Ekiduna?) is a fictional character in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series of video games. He is a red anthropomorphic echidna who is determined and serious but sometimes gullible. He can glide and climb up walls, and is a powerful fighter due to his spiked gloves. He serves as the guardian of the Master Emerald, a huge gemstone that controls the series' integral Chaos Emeralds.

Knuckles debuted as an antagonist in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in 1994; Doctor Eggman tricks him into opposing Sonic and Tails. He first became playable in Sonic & Knuckles later that year; he learns of Eggman's trickery and teams up with Sonic during that game's events. Since then he has appeared in dozens of playable and non-playable roles, as well as in several series of comic books, Western animated television, and Japanese anime. He is one of the series' most popular and recognizable characters.

His reception from critics has been mostly positive; he has been praised frequently as tough and cool-looking. However, some critics have voiced disapproval at the series' extensive cast of characters and singled Knuckles out as ushering them in. His likeness has frequently appeared in Sonic merchandise.

Conception and creation[edit]

During conception of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the development team wanted to create a new rival for Sonic.[1] The final design of Knuckles was the result of dozens of possible designs inspired by numerous different animals.[1][2] The emphasis of the character was to break walls.[3] He was originally planned to have a Jamaican accent.[4]

Knuckles was created by developer Takashi Yuda, who never intended him to be any more than a "supporting character."[5] Knuckles was introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 as an "intimidator" because of his powerful abilities.[6] He was given a headlining role in the next game, Sonic & Knuckles, where he made his first appearance as a playable character.[7]

Characteristics[edit]

Knuckles is a 16-year-old red anthropomorphic echidna, the only living descendant of a well-established clan of echidnas.[8] For many years, his clan guarded a giant gemstone called the Master Emerald, which controls the Chaos Emeralds, objects central to the Sonic the Hedgehog game series.[9] As such, Knuckles has spent most of his life atop a floating island called Angel Island, guarding the Emerald from harm.[10] He has grown up fairly introverted as a result.[8]

Knuckles has a serious, determined personality, described as keeping cool in combat.[11] However, he sometimes loses his composure and gets in fights with other characters, and is sometimes shy around girls.[12] His relationship with series protagonist Sonic is ambivalent: Knuckles enters the series as an antagonist of Sonic and later sees him as both a friend and a rival,[13][14][15] while envying Sonic's adventurous lifestyle.[11] He is depicted as somewhat gullible and very rash, especially when angered.[9][16] He has often been tricked by longtime enemy Doctor Eggman, but is stated in one game manual to have become more skeptical of him.[17]

While somewhat slower than Sonic, Knuckles is depicted as one of the series' strongest characters and a skilled martial artist: his brawny physique allows him to lift objects many times his size and weight, while his powerful fists enable him to smash through boulders.[8][9] He can also glide long distances by trapping air under his dreadlocks, and can climb up walls using the spikes on his knuckles.[9] Unlike Sonic, Knuckles is able to swim.[14] As is typical among Sonic characters, Knuckles can roll into a ball to attack enemies.[18] He also has an empowered "super" form: using the Chaos Emeralds allows him to transform into Super Knuckles.[19]

Appearances[edit]

In video games[edit]

Knuckles debuted in the 1994 Sega Genesis game Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Knuckles joins primary antagonist Eggman after Eggman tricks him into thinking that Sonic has attempted to steal the Master Emerald; Knuckles fights Sonic at several points throughout the game. Eggman's dishonesty is revealed late in Sonic & Knuckles when he steals the Master Emerald and attacks Knuckles.[20] A similar plot follows in Sonic Triple Trouble.[21] While Knuckles' canonical playable debut comes in Sonic & Knuckles, he is playable in Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 via the Genesis' lock-on technology.[20] In 1995, he starred in Knuckles' Chaotix for the Sega 32X, in which he serves as the guardian of an island amusement park and rescues his friends—collectively known as the Chaotix—from Eggman. He teams up with them individually, creating an unusual gameplay style involving two characters being tethered together.[22]

In Sonic Adventure, Eggman shatters the Master Emerald thus freeing Chaos who appears before Knuckles, the pieces are scattered, and Chaos flees.[23] To restore the Emerald, thereby protecting Angel Island,[24] he searches through various expansive levels for pieces.[25] At one point, he defeats Chaos,[26] and Eggman tricks Knuckles into thinking that Sonic is trying to collect Emerald shards for his own purposes.[27] Knuckles finds Sonic holding two Chaos Emeralds he thinks are Master Emerald shards, and attacks him.[28] This knocks them out of Sonic's hands,[29] so Eggman shows up to steal them and leaves.[30] He initially stays on Earth to look for pieces while Sonic and Tails follow Eggman,[31] but later joins them aboard Eggman's airship, the Egg Carrier, after seeing a vision of there being more pieces on it.[32] He finds the final pieces and is confronted by Chaos' final form,[33] then returns to the Emerald's island to restore it.[34]

Early in Sonic Adventure 2, Knuckles and Rouge the Bat argue over the Emerald;[35] she wants the pieces for her personal collection. Eggman tries to steal it,[36] so Knuckles shatters it aboard Eggman's hovercraft, sending the pieces every which way. He spends the game recollecting the pieces similarly to in Adventure.[37] He later helps Sonic, Tails, and Amy find Eggman's base inside a giant pyramid,[38] as well as a key to an inner chamber housing a giant space shuttle.[39] He follows them to a giant space station called the ARK with it, where he again scuffles with Rouge over the Emerald.[40] He saves her from falling into a constructed pit of lava;[41] she decides the shards are worthless and dismissively lets him keep them,[42] so he reassembles the Emerald and runs off.[43][44] The game's antagonist Gerald Robotnik, Eggman's grandfather, initiates a program to send the ARK on a collision course with Earth as revenge for an attack on the ARK decades earlier,[45] so Knuckles teams up with the other playable characters to reroute it.[46]

Knuckles serves as a power-based character in Sonic Heroes alongside Sonic and Tails, who respectively represent speed and flight.[47] They team up to defeat Eggman after receiving a letter saying that he will destroy the world in three days.[48] However, it turns out that Eggman is being impersonated by Metal Sonic, whom all of the other characters defeat together.[49] Knuckles helps Sonic, Tails, Amy Rose, and Cream the Rabbit stop Eggman from building an empire in Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2, and Sonic Advance 3.[50][51][52] With the same team, Knuckles recurs in Sonic Riders and its two sequels; in each game, they participate in board-racing competitions together.[53][54][55] In another team-based installment, the role-playing game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Knuckles is a playable character with a major role in the story. The game begins with Tails informing Sonic that Knuckles has been kidnapped, so a team beginning as Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Rouge must rescue him. He is eventually saved, and it is revealed that the echidna race is still alive in the form of the helpful Shade the Echidna and her villainous tribe, the Nocturnus.[56]

He is a minor character in Sonic Rush,[16] where he accosts protagonist Blaze the Cat under the impression that she has stolen Chaos Emeralds.[57] In the Nintendo DS version of Sonic Colors, Knuckles arrives at an amusement park Eggman has created after receiving a letter.[58] Frustrated at having been tricked,[59] he challenges Sonic to a race as a mission,[60] but shortly learns that Rouge wrote it.[61] He gives Sonic missions and helpful advice in Sonic Generations.[62][63] In Sonic Lost World, Knuckles and Amy Rose look after forest animals while Sonic and Tails rescue the animals' friends.[64] Later, the Deadly Six, the game's antagonists, take control of one of Eggman's machines to drain life from the world,[65] and Amy and Knuckles die, but they are brought back to life when Sonic and Tails replenish it.[66]

Knuckles has been a playable character in numerous spinoff games with little effect on the series' plot, such as the fighting game Sonic the Fighters,[67] the racing title Sonic R,[68] and the party title Sonic Shuffle,[69] as well as crossover games like Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games[70] and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.[71] He makes a cameo appearance in Sega Superstars Tennis, as a member of the audience in the Green Hill court[72] and in Super Smash Bros. Brawl‍ '​s Green Hill stage, where he, Tails, and Silver run through the vertical loop in the background.[73] Knuckles appears as one of four playable characters in the action-adventure spin-off property Sonic Boom.[74]

In comics[edit]

In Sonic the Comic, Knuckles plays a similar role to that of the games. When the Death Egg crashes on Angel Island, Knuckles is briefly tricked by Dr. Robotnik[75] and thus allows Robotnik to place his robot armies on the island and construct a base to rebuild his Death Egg.[76] Knuckles also assists him in fighting Sonic and stealing Sonic's own six Emeralds so they can be combined with Knuckles' into one set of Emeralds.[77] However, Knuckles does not trust Robotnik enough to tell him that he possesses a seventh Emerald that can control the others, and when Robotnik tries to absorb the Emeralds' power into himself, Knuckles uses this Emerald to defeat him.[78] From that point on, he works as an ally against Robotnik, starting by removing all traces of the doctor's influences from Angel Island.[79]

In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series published by Archie Comics, Knuckles is the eighteenth guardian of the Floating Island, which is also called Angel Island. He is also member of the Brotherhood of Guardians, a secret society that defends the island and is made up of Knuckles' predecessors/ancestors. In keeping with the incorporation of elements of the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon into the series, Knuckles lives on the planet Mobius. Knuckles is supported in his efforts by the Chaotix, and often works together with Sonic the Hedgehog and the Freedom Fighters.

When Knuckles was first introduced he was the lone defender of the island, but differences between this continuity and the games were quickly introduced. Writer Ken Penders built up a considerable backstory for Knuckles, in which he is abandoned by his father, Locke, as part of his Guardian training. He was later tricked by Robotnik into believing that Sonic and Tails were on their way to steal the Chaos Emerald and its powers. After a short melee, Robotnik blatantly betrayed Knuckles, causing him to join Sonic in a begrudging team-up, which eventually grew into a strong friendship.

Not too long after that, he formed the Chaotix along with Vector, out of the few refugee inhabitants on Angel Island at the time and would leave the island to their care if he ever had to leave. The Chaotix at the time were Knuckles the Echidna, Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon, Mighty the Armadillo, Charmy Bee, Heavy, and Bomb, but later saw the addition of Ray the Flying Squirrel, Julie-Su the Echidna (who became his love interest), and Saffron Bee (Charmy's betrothed), while Heavy and Bomb departed and later joined the King's Secret Service. Knuckles was also revealed to have a mystically significant destiny as "the Avatar," corresponding to similar destinies shared by Tails and Sonic. He and Princess Sally Acorn were also revealed to be childhood friends, having met when she and her father paid a visit to the Floating Island while Knuckles' father was Guardian.

After believing himself to be the last living Echidna for some time, Knuckles stumbled upon the existence of others; his earliest encounters with others of his people would earn him enemies. The first would be his great-uncle Dimitri, who had been possessed by a malevolent spirit and become an evil being known as Enerjak. He would then run across a cyborg army known as the Dark Legion-led by Dimitri's descendants-who had previously been banished to another dimension by one of Knuckles' ancestors. Julie-Su started out as a member of this group, but defected to join Knuckles after an Echidna sixth sense known as the Soultouch identified Knuckles as an ideal soul mate. Accompanied by Julie, Knuckles would come across others of his kind, including the city of Echidnaopolis-home to his mother after she divorced his father Locke-the Brotherhood of Guardians, and the hidden city of Albion.

Knuckles' early adventures typically involved protecting Angel Island or the various Echidna groups-only rarely would he join the Freedom Fighters against threats like Dr. Robotnik. However, Robotnik's encroachments on different areas of the planet-including Angel Island itself-eventually persuaded Knuckles to relocate to the surface to join the battle against the evil doctor and other threats. One of his enemies-a villainous Echidna named Dr. Finitevus-later made Knuckles into a new Enerjak after revealing that Robotnik had driven the Echidna race to the brink of extinction. Knuckles would become wracked with guilt over his actions, especially since the remnants of the Dark Legion chose to ally themselves with Dr. Robotnik.

The final blow would come when Knuckles responded to a distress call from his people and arrived in Albion to find it deserted. This would be revealed to be the work of Thrash the Tasmanian Devil, whose people were mutated by ancient Echidnas. Thrash's actions led to almost all the remaining Echidnas being banished from Mobius, with Knuckles failing to rescue them. In reality, the disappearance of these characters-among others-was due to a lawsuit by Ken Penders.

As a result of the continuity reboot that followed the crossover with the Mega Man franchise, Knuckles became virtually indistinguishable from his video game counterpart: he is the last known Echidna and the last Guardian of the Master Emerald, and the Chaotix no longer serve as his full-time support team.

In animation[edit]

Knuckles' animation debut came with the 1996 Japanese Sonic the Hedgehog OVA. Sonic and Tails meet him in an alternate dimension, and over the course of the film he helps them defeat Black Eggman (Metal Robotnik) and Hyper Metal Sonic, two robots created by Doctor Eggman (Doctor Robotnik). As Metal Sonic is about to descend into a lava pit, Sonic attempts to save him after all, but Knuckles holds him back, and Sonic is disappointed. Knuckles play-fights with Sonic a few times in the film as well.[80]

Knuckles is a minor character in Sonic Underground. Sonic, his sister Sonia, and his brother Manic meet Knuckles atop his home, the Floating Island, while searching for their mother. Knuckles is initially skeptical of them but soon accepts their help in protecting the Island and its guardian Chaos Emerald from villains Sleet and Dingo.[81] Later on, the siblings recruit Knuckles to help them deactivate Doctor Robotnik's giant fortress, as it is powered by Emeralds and he can control them.[82] They succeed, but Sleet and Dingo accidentally break the Emerald, unleashing gradually effective but massive energy upon the planet Mobius, and Knuckles enlists one of his relatives to help them control it, with mediocre results.[83] Reluctantly, Knuckles cuts a deal with Robotnik to turn over the hedgehogs in exchange for setting Mobius right; Robotnik succeeds and starts turning the hedgehogs into robots, but Knuckles betrays Eggman to rescue his friends.[84]

Knuckles appears in all three seasons of Sonic X. He takes guarding the Master Emerald seriously and has a fearsome temper with a "chip on his shoulder". After being stranded in the new world with Sonic, his only desire is to get back home quickly.[85] He spends most of the first season traveling alone, but as the series continues he begins to travel with Sonic and the others more often, as well as befriending other characters. After returning home for the third season, he joins Sonic on the spaceship, "Blue Typhoon", which is captained by Tails after their planet was invaded by the Metarex.

Knuckles will be among the main cast in the upcoming Sonic Boom computer-animated series. He has been redesigned: now taller and more muscular than before.[74] As a somewhat exaggerated reference to his mainstream counterpart's easily deceived personality (as well being based on the stereotypical team muscles), Knuckles is also portrayed as being somewhat slow-witted in this series.

Reception[edit]

The character has received generally positive attention. According to IGN's Levi Buchanan, fans "seemed legitimately happy" with the addition of the character of Knuckles, who was popular enough to get marquee billing in Sonic & Knuckles, but Buchanan felt that characters who came after him were going "overboard."[86] IGN's Colin Moriarty singled out the introduction of both Knuckles and Tails as when the series became "iffy" and listed them and all other characters in the series, sans Sonic and Robotnik, as being 2nd most in need to "die" on his top 10 list.[87] In contrast, he was listed as the best Sonic character by Official Nintendo Magazine based on the impact he brought to the Sonic games in which he first appeared.[88]

According to official Sonic Team polls, Knuckles is the fourth most popular character in the series, following behind Tails, Shadow, and Sonic.[89] Elton Jones from Complex listed Knuckles as his eleventh most wanted character in the next Super Smash Bros. game.[90] In another article, Complex regarded Knuckles as a better character than Sonic, and praised his gliding and climbing abilities, stating "even if his levels were a little more challenging than Sonic's, the thrill of being able to explore certain parts of levels that the blue-colored hero could not was worth it".[91] Riley Little from GameRant included Knuckles on his list of the "Top 10 Third-Party Characters that Could Appear in the New Super Smash Bros.", commenting "This punch-drunk brawler knows how to serve up a buffet of knuckle sandwiches, and there’s no question that he’s one of the most fitting characters to occupy a spot on the roster".[92]

Mega Zone‍ '​s review of Knuckles' Chaotix praised the introduction of a new protagonist, whom it deemed "rougher [and] tougher" in comparison to the "spineless" Sonic.[93] Mean Machines Sega called Knuckles' powers "impressive" and the character overall more useful and promising than Tails.[94] Sega Magazine stated that Knuckles "looks cooler" than Sonic, comparing him to Spider-Man, and suggested he be given his own game.[95] Sega Magazine later called him "groovy" and "ace", concluding that they "love him."[96]

References[edit]

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