The first response I got to last week’s article on Amy was “why Amy when you can have BIG FAT BAT TATS?”
Well, why not indeed? Rouge is, it seems, one of the Sonic series’ more popular female characters despite appearing relatively “late” in the grand scheme of things. And it’s not hard to see why.
But people like her for more than just those BIG FAT BAT TATS, so let’s take a closer look at her as a character and enjoy some fanart along the way.
Rouge the Bat first appeared in Sonic Adventure 2 as part of the “Dark” story. As we’ll discuss in our exploration of the Sonic Adventure games later this week, these games broadened the scope beyond just Sonic, Tails (and occasional Knuckles) into a variety of other characters, each of whom fell into a distinct category in terms of how they played. Rouge was the “Dark” counterpart to Knuckles.
Rouge is introduced to us as something of an enigma; a young woman who clearly has her own agenda that appears to revolve around nothing more than gathering shiny jewels for her own gratification. However, the narrative of Sonic Adventure 2 reveals her to be an undercover spy for the United Federation and the Guardian Units of Nations, reporting back on the activities of various other members of the cast in exchange for payment in the sparkly things she enjoys so much.
It’s easy to misinterpret Rouge as a shallow, self-obsessed flirt, but after spending a bit of time with her it becomes very apparent that she’s an absolute master at manipulating people. This is shown most clearly in her interactions with Knuckles throughout Sonic Adventure 2, but her mercenary nature tends to shine through after a little while in most other situations, too.
Despite all this, she has an honourable streak and is immensely loyal to the people she allows to get close to her. She’s shown as sharing a particularly intimate bond with Shadow the Hedgehog (also introduced in Sonic Adventure 2) and also clearly has a bit of a crush on Knuckles, though the single-minded echidna is having none of it.
BioWare’s RPG spinoff Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood notes that Rouge and Knuckles share an “unstated connection […] that neither are overly willing to explore” — somewhat mirroring the relationship Sonic has with Amy, only with two very different personality types. Much as there is between Sonic and Amy, there’s clearly a “spark” between Rouge and Knuckles, but neither really knows what to do about it.
Rouge is one of the most “humanoid” of the Sonic characters, with very little of her body being particularly animal-like aside from her head… and her bat wings, of course. Indeed, much of her body tends to be covered by flattering, form-fitting clothing that emphasises those BIG FAT BAT TATS, and the glimpses we get of her arms and shoulders in some of her depictions suggest that she has smooth, bare skin rather than fur all over her body. She’s also typically depicted as wearing makeup in contrast to other female Sonic characters such as Amy, and is very obviously designed to be “sexy”. The face that launched a thousand furries.
In gameplay terms, Rouge is typically treated as a counterpart to Knuckles, having most of the same abilities. Despite her wings, she is seemingly unable to fly, instead using them to glide much as the echidna does. She is likewise very good at climbing and fast on her feet — though not quite as speedy as Sonic and his Dark counterpart. And, like Knuckles, she is very strong — though while Knuckles’ strength comes from his punches, Rouge is more of a kicker, being shown numerous times throughout the series as being able to produce a pretty astonishing impact using nothing but her legs and feet.
Her position as a spy for GUN is a reflection of how bats are stereotypically perceived in reality — stealthy creatures that are good at hiding in shadows, often appearing when you least expect them. She’s also presented as having an excellent sense of hearing — unsurprising, with those ears — and is depicted as being able to hear even the stealthy Espio the Chameleon from Sonic Heroes, who is a ninja and thus regarded as one of the most discreet characters in the extended cast.
Likewise, her more… charismatic aspects are depicted through her skills in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, where she has a number of abilities that distract and debilitate enemies despite being a less formidable fighter than some of the other characters. She is also able to steal items and attack twice per round due to her innate quickness. Her thiefly characteristics have led some to believe that her name may in fact be something of a reference to the common misspelling of “rogue” as “rouge”, which is a rather plausible theory. Or it might just be a reference to the fact that she’s one of the only characters seen wearing makeup.
Rouge has remained a popular character since her first appearance, appearing in numerous advertising campaigns for various games in the series. She has been responded to positively by press and public alike; in an official poll conducted by Sonic Team, she came out as the tenth most popular overall character in the series and second most popular female character after Amy. Sadly, Matt Cundy’s article for GamesRadar UK in which he branded her one of “the sexy lady beasts of gaming”, noting that “voluptuous curves, thigh-boots, sexy eyes and rubber gloves can make any animal in the kingdom an object of lustful furverted desire”, has been deleted from that publication’s archives, but you know what they say — the Internet never forgets.
And why would you want to? Rouge is awesome, a great addition to Sonic’s enormous ensemble cast — and seemingly a complete fixture in the series ever since her first appearance. Long live the BIG FAT BAT TATS, I say.
More about the Sonic the Hedgehog series
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