Shadow the Hedgehog
|Shadow the Hedgehog|
|Sonic the Hedgehog character|
Shadow the Hedgehog as he appears in Team Sonic Racing (2019)
|First game||Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)|
|Created by||Takashi Iizuka|
|Voiced by||Video games|
David Humphrey (2001–2004)
Jason Griffith (2005–2010)
Kirk Thornton (2010–present)
Jason Griffith (Sonic X)
Kirk Thornton (Sonic Boom)
Kōji Yusa (Japanese)
Shadow the Hedgehog (シャドウ・ザ・ヘッジホッグ) is a fictional character in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series. He is an artificially created black and red hedgehog whose hover shoes propel him at extreme speeds that rival those of Sonic. He can also use the Chaos Emeralds to manipulate time and space through a technique called "Chaos Control", and use a variety of different powers. The character first appeared in Sonic Adventure 2, where he was depicted as a villain and later an antihero; making his own decisions. Suffering from a tragic backstory; on occasion, he becomes an ally to Sonic and his friends, but remains at odds with them due to their differing moral compasses.
Designed as Sonic's arch-rival, Shadow has been featured in a variety of Sonic series games, including a self-titled game, which received mixed reviews from critics. Reception to the character himself was initially very positive, but in later years has been lukewarm. Shadow was rated the second most popular character in the franchise (after Sonic himself) in an official poll from Sega in 2009.
Concept and creation
Shadow was first shown by Takashi Iizuka for Sonic Adventure 2, he was first shown to the public in a game trailer, but his name was not revealed. GameStop described what little was shown as Anti-Sonic – "similar in appearance, but with darker skin, more angled eyes, a fearsome scowl, instead of Sonic's trademark grin." Iizuka said that they maintained the mystery around Shadow and had wanted to feature him in his own game since he was introduced. After feeling that it would be inappropriate to give Sonic's character a gun as fans had requested in mailings, Yuji Naka believed that by focusing on Shadow for his own game, they could use his different identity from Sonic to build upon the Sonic brand. The character was featured as a guest announcer and performed other promotional work for the game's release during a wrestling show set up by the Japanese league, Pancrase, in December 2005. Shadow's design was influenced by films such as Underworld, Constantine, and Terminator.
Appearances in video games
Shadow debuted as a playable character in Sonic Adventure 2. The game sets up much of his backstory as a creation of Dr. Eggman's grandfather, Gerald Robotnik, who designed Shadow to be the "Ultimate Life Form", or the cure to the deadly disease called "NIDS". When the government deemed him a threat, though, his project was forcefully shut down, Shadow was placed in suspended animation and Maria, whom had the fore-mentioned "NIDS", and was Gerald's granddaughter, was killed in an effort to protect him. Dr. Eggman revives him in the hopes to use his power for his own goals 50 years later. Once awakened Shadow instead desires to exact revenge upon the world for Maria's death. He is eventually persuaded out of it, and instead works as both an ally and rival with Sonic to prevent the Earth's destruction, seemingly perishing in the process. In Sonic Heroes, Shadow is revived and teams up with Rouge the Bat and E-123 Omega to take on Dr. Eggman. Shadow encounters the androids of himself over the course of the game, leading him to question his own existence.
In the video game of the same name, Shadow, still suffering from amnesia remembers nothing other than his name and brief images of Maria's death. He meets an invading race of aliens called the Black Arms; their leader, Black Doom, seems to know Shadow. Throughout the game, Shadow searches for information about his past and for the Chaos Emeralds. He can use a variety of handheld weapons and vehicles. In the end, Shadow recovers from his amnesia and learns the truth about his past, including that Professor Gerald Robotnik created him using Black Doom's blood, and he defeats the Black Arms. In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Shadow appears as a playable character, and he works with Rouge and Omega to retrieve a dark artifact while clashing with Mephiles, an evil entity resembling Shadow.
After Sonic '06, Shadow became relegated to playable roles in spin-off and multiplayer games, and non-playable roles in the main games. In the console version of Sonic Generations, Shadow is a boss battle character in a fight that re-enacts Shadow and Sonic's fight on the ARK in Sonic Adventure 2. In the 3DS version, he is a character the player races in Radical Highway. He is a playable character in all Mario & Sonic, Sonic Rivals, Sonic Riders, and SEGA All-Stars games. Shadow appears as a party member in the Nintendo DS role-playing game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Shadow also appeared in the game Sonic and the Secret Rings, being an unlockable character for the multiplayer mode. In its sequel, Sonic and the Black Knight, Shadow appears as a bonus playable character in the single-player campaign, playing the role of Sir Lancelot in the game's narrative.
Shadow is briefly featured in the Sonic Boom video games, including Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal. He appears as a boss character, being mind-controlled by antagonist Lyric the Last Ancient. Shadow also makes a non-playable appearance in the Sonic the Hedgehog level pack in Lego Dimensions, being kidnapped by Eggman and inadvertently sent to another dimension before being rescued by Sonic. He later appears in the game's Sonic-themed adventure world, where he requests the player's help in creating the ultimate flower arrangement.
Shadow also appears as an assist trophy in the crossover fighting video games Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He also appears as a spirit in the latter.
According to official profiles, Shadow was created over 50 years ago by Prof. Gerald Robotnik as the Ultimate Life Form. Shadow is sharp witted, seemingly always on the edge, and is described as the dark incarnation or an Alter Ego look-a-like of Sonic. Once he has set himself to a goal, he will do whatever it takes to accomplish it, regardless of any danger. After the trauma of the death of his only friend, Maria Robotnik, Shadow strives to fulfill his purpose and keep the promise he made to her, despite his general loathing of mankind.
However, Shadow shares a lot in common with Sonic. Although Sonic's speed is described as "second to none," Shadow can skate at speeds fast enough to rival the speeds of Sonic's running. He can also perform spin attacks common to Sonic, which are a variation on the tendency for hedgehogs to roll into tight balls for protection. Additionally, Shadow possesses enhanced physical strength, with the ability to flip over a bus with one arm. Using his Chaos powers, Shadow can warp time and space with Chaos Control. Shadow is also able to use a variety of other Chaos powers, such as "Chaos Spear" and "Chaos Blast". Much like Sonic solely believes he is the fastest thing alive, Shadow truly considers himself the Ultimate Life Form, regardless if he knew he was the real one or not.
By harnessing the power of the seven Chaos Emeralds, Shadow is able to use a super transformation to transform into Super Shadow, and is bestowed with new abilities of flight and near invulnerability like Super Sonic, and his normal abilities of speed and Chaos powers are greatly enhanced. However, this form cannot be used forever, and has a time limit in which Shadow will return to his normal form. Although he is mostly a maverick, he sometimes works with his team (Team Dark) but is mostly portrayed as rough and cold. Despite this, he is not without positive emotions, and has shown these rare tendencies on a few occasions. Shadow has a very strong sense of justice, often going to extreme lengths in order to ensure such.
In other media
Shadow appears in the animated Sonic X as a morally conflicted character who is mostly on Eggman's side. He is voiced by his game voice actor, Kōji Yusa, in the original Japanese version; in English, he is voiced by Jason Griffith, who also voiced Sonic. Although his character has little difference from the games, the series is the first to introduce Shadow's ability to increase the powers he draws from the Chaos Emeralds when he removes the rings on his wrists, but he loses power after a short time. Shadow is only featured briefly in the opening sequence during the series, and he does not appear until Episodes 33 through 38, which are based on Sonic Adventure 2. Afterward, he makes short appearances in flashbacks, but he makes his real return in Season 3 episode 60, “Trick Sand” (dubbed 'Shadow's Rebirth' in Japanese). During this season, Shadow had no clear memory of his mysterious past and was still on Eggman's side. Only a fragment of his memory returns when he meets Molly, and decides to help her save her planet. At the end of the season, he sacrifices himself again to warp away the explosive seed of the dead Metarex. However, at the end of the Japanese and French version of the show, his shadow can be seen by the grave he made for Molly where he has placed a flower, so it appears that he is still alive after all, although in the Japanese version of Sonic X, he is still alive and he is seen near Molly's tomb. However, this last scene was cut in the 4Kids version, mainly for the reason that Molly's death never occurred in that version.
Shadow appears as an antihero in the Sonic Boom animated series, with Kirk Thornton reprising his voice role from the game series. Unlike the rest of the cast, Shadow's design remains mostly unchanged, other than having several cowlicked quills and a taller, slimmer build like Sonic, and his head quills are less spread out. He first appears in the episode, "It Takes a Village to Defeat a Hedgehog", when Eggman tries to convince him to join his army of villains, but Shadow refuses him and decides to challenge Sonic alone, but also attempts to defeat Eggman as well for using him. Shadow has then returned in Season 2 in the last two episodes that are both entitled "Eggman the Video Game" when Dr. Eggman tricks Shadow who then gets so angry that he wants revenge on the whole universe because of how many times Dr. Eggman has tricked him, but then when Sonic saves the universe, Shadow then admits to Sonic that he's impressed with how he saved the Universe.
The Sonic Boom incarnation of Shadow is noticeably more selfish and hostile, and can easily hold his own in a fight against both Sonic and Eggman at the same time. He is determined to prove himself better than Sonic, believing friendship and trusting others is a sign of weakness, and is dismissive of Eggman and his methods, believing that villains are a waste of time, despite the doctor's admiration of him for his popularity within the series. His characterization and lack of backstory and plot relevance was a point of criticism in the Sonic Boom games and TV show.
Sonic the Hedgehog (comic)
Shadow also appears as a hero in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series. His origin is similar to that in the games in that he was created by Gerald Robotnik to stand against the threat of Black Doom and the Black Arms. He debuted in an adaptation of the game, Sonic Adventure 2, with a few changes to accommodate the Archie version of Earth/Mobius. However, instead of the events of Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow later reappears explaining he was rescued by the alien race called the Bem to combat the Xorda.
Shadow often works alone to achieve his goal, which is to discover the truth about his mysterious history. He has at times allied with Sonic and the Freedom Fighters to fight greater evils, like the Xorda, and he has been known to work either for or against Dr. Eggman depending on the circumstances. Often, he will side with whomever he believes will bring him closer to the truth. This search has led him to interact with various other characters, including the robot Isaac, Brotherhood of Guardians member Locke, and various versions of Metal Sonic. Hope is one of the few living beings to show compassion towards him besides Maria, and also bears a striking resemblance to her (enough so that he nearly mistook Hope for Maria at one point). After discovering and resolving to fulfill his creator's wish to protect Earth/Mobius from the return of the Black Arms, Shadow joined the Guardian Units of Nations, or G.U.N.
Shadow's abilities in the comics are similar to those in the games, but this version can directly access the "Chaos Force" and does not require a Chaos Emerald for any of his Chaos powers. The Chaos Force (also referred to as "The Power of Chaos") is a mystical energy field that serves as a wellspring for all Chaos powers of which Shadow is the first known to be able to harness outside of the Brotherhood of Guardians. When he removes the "inhibitor rings" from his wrists, his Chaos powers are greatly enhanced.
In Sonic Universe, the first four issues are a sub-series that explore more of Shadow's multi-dimensional encounters and newest stories. In issue #61, he becomes a temporary servant of Black Death (Black Doom's successor) due to being brainwashed by Black Death. Once brought back to his senses by Rouge the Bat and E-123 Omega, Shadow defeats Black Death and escapes the New Black Comet. Team Dark then chases the one remaining Black Arm (Eclipse the Darkling) to Mobius and team up with Knuckles and several others to attempt to destroy him. Eclipse is presumed to have escaped in a G.U.N. ship.
The character was ranked as the second most popular Sonic character in an official Japanese Sonic character poll, missing 1st place by just 10 points. Many game reviewers, like GameSpot, have called Shadow a "clone" of Sonic. Game Revolution described his character as a "quintessential anti-Sonic." GameDaily included him in a top 25 list of video game anti-heroes, stating that while he sometimes fights for good, he also enjoys using firearms. Yahoo! Games listed Shadow on its April 2010 unranked list of the top nine "Sour Game Characters", calling him "a wise-cracking, free-wheeling free agent." Similarly, he was listed as the third best Sonic character by Official Nintendo Magazine based on his role in Sonic Adventure 2. He was also voted 25th out of the top 50 video game characters of all time in Guinness World Records 2011 Gamers' Edition.
Conversely, in a 1UP.com feature about "How Sega Can Save Sonic the Hedgehog," Jeremy Parish wrote that of the "tagalongs" that the series must ditch, Shadow's character was the most in need of it. In 2009 Levi Buchanan, an editor at IGN, referred to Shadow as an unnecessary "would-be mascot" along with a few other characters new to the Sonic Universe; Hilary Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of IGN's Xbox team mentioned the mechanics of Shadow's solo game, specifically the use of firearms, as part of the central problem nowadays with Sonic games, being there is less emphasis on both speed and the original hedgehog. GamesRadar saw his role in his solo game as the main reason for listing him as one of Sonic's worst allies as he gradually didn't have an important role to play. Cracked.com staff called Shadow "the Poochie of the Sonic franchise" and lambasted his solo game as "Sega's sad and laughable attempt to appear dark and edgy." 
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