There’s certainly been a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog news floating around the interwebs in the last two days. First there was the official reveal Tuesday that Sonic would make a return to the Super Smash Bros universe in the up-coming fourth title, and then Sega confirmed Wednesday that the rumored Sonic Boom cartoon series was more than just whispers on the internet. While the former has been celebrated by the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom, the latter has met with some very mixed feedback — largely with regard to the changes made to Knuckles.
Of course, all we have to go on at the moment is a set of silhouettes, which is far too little information to draw any real conclusions, especially since the cartoon won’t be hitting the airwaves for an entire year. Sonic Boom isn’t scheduled to begin airing until late 2014, and at this early stage, this design may not even make it past this teaser. Sega has been much more receptive of fan feedback in recent years, and if the consensus on this new hulking image of Knuckles is decidedly negative, they could scrap whatever they have now in favor of something closer to his traditional look. It’s worth noting that Knuckles’ silhouette — not Sonic’s — is centered in this image, so they could’ve released this specific teaser exactly for the purpose of testing the waters with the altered design.
But then, what do we really know about the redesign, other than that he’s taller? I’m not even willing to venture that he really is bulkier. If you look closely, there are enough details in the shadows (of all of the characters, not just Knuckles) to suggest that they might be wearing clothes. If that’s the case, Knuckles may not be the mammoth he appears to be; I think there’s a reasonable chance that he could be wearing a jacket of some sort that’s obscuring his physical outline. That having been said, however, there’s been a consistent trend in recent Sonic games of dumbing Knuckles down and devolving him into a witless brute, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little worried that this is just the next step in making him all muscles and no mind.
Still, if I had to guess, I’d say the odds favor Knuckles getting an overhaul for this show. It’s aimed at children ages 6-11, which means that the target audience is not the long-time fans. They’re targeting kids who, if they have any experience with the series at all, probably only have limited exposure. That essentially releases the creative team from the bonds of having to keep Knuckles true to his roots — but then, the same would go for any of the other characters, as well. We’re all worried about Knuckles because of the way he looks, but for all we know, the entire cast could be written like they spent a year locked in a closet with nothing but a can of beans and a toilet paper tube. The official Sega post notes that it’s a “character-driven comedy,” so it’s hard to predict how recognizable anyone will be depending on how they interpret the word “comedy.”
In the end, it probably won’t ultimately matter what they do with the cast; we’re not looking at an extension of the video games with Sonic Boom any more than we have with any of the other Sonic cartoons. A quick glance at the disparity between the games and Sonic Underground alone is enough to prove that one rarely affects the other. This is going to be another new continuity, and if they change Knuckles, it’ll simply be his persona within the walls of that storyline. Sonic himself has faced a range of varying portrayals before, so new looks and tweaked personalities in this cartoon won’t really rock the boat that much. (With that in mind, however, I would still hope that the creative forces behind this show at least aspire to make Knuckles well-written, no matter what they do with his character.)
Is the show going to take off or tank? I guess we’ll find out in a year. In the meantime, I keep imagining what might be waiting for us behind those silhouettes. I was going to doodle up a concept of what I meant by the notion that Knuckles might look bulkier because of clothes, but in the process of writing this article, I actually tripped over a concept by Tumblr user super-mama-ready that’s far better than I could’ve kicked out. (Seriously, I’m shit at drawing echidnas.)
He’s not wearing the poofy jacket I was thinking of, but this is still a great estimate at what could be hiding off-screen. If this is what we’re in for, I’ll definitely give the series a look.