Why Dr. Ivo Robotnik Will NEVER Win
Sonic Frontiers has officially been out for a few days, but as I wrote this, I still needed to get to play the dang thing because I got the VID. I’m better now, by the way, appreciate the prayers, good vibes, and check-ins.
By the time this nerdy deep-dive hits the airwaves, I will hopefully have been proven incorrect or correct about my theories in this one on the blue blur’s story in this game, but, in the interest of hopping on the hype, it’s worth noting that the level of Sonic never really changes in any media. Ultimately, Sonic the Hedgehog’s narrative doesn’t revolve around being the fastest - Sonic already is. So it’s instead, ‘who can be the most powerful?’
But the result always reveals that the question isn’t what it seems. So this deep-dive will explore the pursuit of power present in one Ivo ‘Eggman’ Robotnik and how he may be treading down a familiar path to the disciples of Jesus.
Welcome to Checkpoint Church - where nerds, geeks, and gamers come together to talk about faith, games, and being way past cool. I’m your Nerd Pastor Nate. If you like these weekly deepdives, be sure to sub and hit that bell to find out when our next one drops.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Appoint us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to appoint, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; instead, whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.”
So, I’m sure a few of those watching need an explainer on who Sonic the Hedgehog is… he fast, he cool, he blue - easy enough.
But, mainly, if you only ever played the classic Sonic of the 90s, you may have yet to learn just how deep the lore goes for the world of this leel guy.
First, it depends on the continuity you’re looking for - the story told by Archie comics is a bit different than the story told by the Sonic X cartoon, which is different from the Sonic Adventure series, etc.
It got to the point where SEGA recently put out a job application for someone essentially desiring to become a Sonic historian and canon keeper, which might be one of the few cooler jobs I’ve ever heard of
However, regardless of the villains, the side characters, or the game system, they are all tied together by these mysterious objects called the Chaos Emeralds.
The Chaos Emeralds are a collection of seven (well, initially six, but purple got added in there with Sonic 2) gems connected to the mysterious Master Emerald, an ancient object capable of UNLIMITED POWER.
The general gist of the Sonic game has been a game of cat and mouse as Dr. Ivo Robotnik; the ever-present baddie, seeks to get the emeralds for his domination. Still, Sonic inevitably collects them instead and becomes Super Sonic, usually defeating some kind of giant something.
By the way, if all of that sounds a little close to Dragon Ball Z’s plotline, you’re certainly not wrong - plenty of the ideas for Sonic started as fun little bits of parody. Now would the parody hold up on Twitter - who could say?
After the first few Sonic entries, SEGA decided to add Knuckles into the mix as the guardian of the master emerald, thereby also trying to protect the chaos emeralds.
With the Adventure series, this history was even further expanded upon, adding the ancient echidna people into the story. We learn Knuckles's ancestors stole the emerald and were attempted to be stopped by the priestess Tikal.
We’ve known since Sonic Frontiers first started putting out press that this story would feature further exploration into the history of the floating Angel Islands where Knuckles protects Master Emerald, so it stands to reason that’s likely where we’re headed.
With the Knuckles prologue trailer that dropped a few weeks ago, this was cemented to be the case. Knuckles vanishes into the world of Sonic Frontiers after finding a secret portal inside one of the ruins on the islands.
We’re likely to learn even more about the mysterious origin of Master Emerald itself, which sounds just fine to me. Maybe the emerald is just one of many, like the chaos emeralds?
I mean, it’s pretty stinking obvious that the teleporters that serve as waypoints are just giant royalty-inspired chairs, right? Imagine how big something must be to sit in that chair. Almost big enough for Master Emerald to be like the Chaos Emerald in our cast of characters
I’m just saying maybe it’s hedgehogs down. One emerald after another, each with the supposed ultimate power.
What a Thanos power move it would be for one of the giants to crush one of the chaos emeralds like a plaything?! Ah, that’s not happening. But it’d be cool, right?
Regardless, the Chaos Emeralds and Master Emerald usually just serve as the eventual turning point maguffin that ultimately allows Sonic to be the winner of that game entry. Still, the story always reverts, and Sonic and Eggman end up having the same old Joker-Batman-style harmony of disharmony. What would happen if Eggman DID win? Would it be what he wanted? Or would he be way in over his head?
It’s this idea that leads us to the scripture for this video.
This captures a moment that cements the disciple's inability to comprehend what Jesus came to live among humankind for.
It starts with the bonkers bold request by James and John for Jesus to fulfill whatever they ask.
Jesus, surprisingly, asks them to elaborate.
And they do, explaining that they want to take the seats to the right and left of Jesus whenever they all enter into glory.
Jesus responds with incredulity - you two have no idea what you’re even saying. Can you drink my cup and endure my baptism?
They say, “yes, we can do that.”
Jesus says, with a subtle menace, “Oh, you will. But I can’t grant what you request. That’s already been prepared.”
Before long, word gets out that James and John had the gall to ask this, and the fighting ensues.
Jesus calls it to order and explains things further - “Listen, humanity begs rulers and officials, but that isn’t how it’s going to be with you. The greatest among you is the servant. The slave is the one who is lifted. Why? Because I didn’t come to you to be served but to offer my life as a ransom for many.”
I have to remind myself often that we have a different perspectives on this side of history - we know what Jesus will do and what will happen after he does it. The disciples knew a good bit of what the scriptures said, what prophets said, and what Jesus said, but they hadn’t SEEN anything like it yet
For many of these disciples, the goal of the crusade of Jesus was a pursuit of ultimate power; the result was an uprising that would establish the kingdom of god as the ruler of humankind with an iron fist, one that would look like a human kingdom, just more giant.
But Jesus didn’t have that plan and still doesn’t. The solution to human problems isn’t a more extensive human solution. It’s inhuman and beyond understanding. The power that Jesus offers isn’t power at all. It’s weakness. The power that we get from following Jesus is the power to stop being so dang powerful and start serving others despite ourselves.
This was the most pressing issue in the gospel. The Pharisees were seeking out more power. Judas was seeking out more power. The disciples were seeking out more power. The desire and the hunger for that awful word drive humanity forward. That’s how I typically discern where the Spirit is moving today… if it feels like humans are making power moves, I’m not sure if it’s where Jesus’ mission is being best pursued
The truth of power is that it rarely ends up in a place where we’re satisfied; either we find that it never ends up being enough, or it’s never what we wanted to begin with
Dr. Robotnik gets this handed to him more than a few times as the lore behind him has built more profound.
In Sonic Adventure, when Robotnik gets ultimate power by capturing Chaos, Chaos winds up getting loose and overpowering Eggman.
In Sonic Adventure 2, Robotnik’s pursuit of power almost gets the planet destroyed entirely.
So on and so forth, pursuing power leads nowhere for Dr. Robotnik but disaster. My hope for this latest game entry is that Robotnik’s seeming pursuit of the origin of the power of Master Emerald, wherever Frontiers is based, will help him finally see that power isn’t the be-all, end-all to everything.
But what can this mean for us today?
Whether we’re pursuing power for good, like James and John, or power for evil, like Robotnik, the truth of power is revealed in Jesus. The real power that sets us apart as holy is the power of weakness and servitude. Especially given an election week that just passed, that’s always a good time for us to reflect on the strength of human structures like government, politics, and leaders that we set up. Honestly, in the UMC, we just had our elections for our episcopacy (bishops, etc.), and we need to consider the same.
What does it mean to drink from the same cup as Christ?
Those we elect should be held to a higher esteem - but that esteem should be more servant-like, not less. We need to lift people that illustrate that kind of power above the others who seek it out only for personal gain.
And we need to craft that within ourselves. Our three rules here at CPC are to do good, do no harm, and strive to grow… by striving to grow; we continually become more like Jesus in our servitude towards one another.
I want to love people better tomorrow than I did today. A friend of the church and guest of the Nerds of Pray podcast JateLIVE says he sets the mindset for himself to be 1% better than he was the day before. If we believe that we’re more like Jesus by being better, then this is where Jesus tells us what that means. We must become less because he became less to the point of death, so we might be wiped clean.
If you want to pursue that kind of power, then know that that is what we’re talking about at CPC as we look at games like this and discuss them every Wednesday on Twitch.
So whether you’re nicknamed after your egg shape (Eggman), way past cool (Sonic), or just a big cat (Big the Cat), know you’re always welcome at Checkpoint Church.
Thanks - now what?
We stream on Twitch MTWTh(e/o)F
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Question: Which do you prefer - 3D or classic Sonic? I grew up on 3D
Outro - Clip: