Finding Christ in the Classics: Sonic the Hedgehog

Note: Finding Christ in the Classics will focus on finding Christian elements in old games. Not going crazy with it, such as comparing Mario's coin collecting with the Israelites collecting gold to melt into an idol, but just a general Christian theme. Hopefully I'll run this once a week.

As much as I loved Mario growing up, I have more fun playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog nowadays than I do on any of the plumber's classic adventures. And I realize that later Sonic games are vast improvements over the original (adding the spin dash, bigger levels, more characters), but there's something about the original that holds my imagination hostage.

It's your standard platformer with a speed gimmick, and looking back, there isn't anything too groundbreaking about it other than that speed. You move left to right, jump on bad guys to destroy them, collect things of value in each level, and fight a boss at the end of a section of levels. I could have just described Mario, Bonk or Sonic, so let's spare any "Sonic was innovative" arguments and just enjoy the game for what it was/is: a damn good platformer.

On the surface, there's nothing inherently Christian about the game. Sonic doesn't pray the rosary before each level. You don't visit any churches, and the game doesn't quiz you on Bible verses. But I do believe you can find spiritual themes throughout this game. Such as:

A love for animals: Other than Dr. Robotnik, there are no true villains in this game, just enslaved animals. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2418) says that causing animals to suffer or die needlessly is contrary to human dignity, something Sonic fights against. He saves these animals from this suffering, acting as a good steward of Christ. And if you equate animals to human life in this game (Robotnik is the only human in the game), then you are literally saving another person's life. Very noble of the Hedgehog

Freedom from sin: If you wanted to take things a bit further, you could equate Sonic freeing animals from being captive servants to Christ freeing us from the clutches of Sin. When we walk around in sin, we're like the animals in this game: enslaved. But Sonic (Christ) sets us free and gives us new life.

Who knew that you could find similarities in Christ with a spiky haired blue hedgehog?

Failure of Technology: No I'm not going to go into this whole rant about technology being the sign of the end times. But I like that, no matter how technologically advanced Robotnik is, he's still just as weak as he was to start the game. For all of his technical prowess, it isn't enough to stop good from conquering evil.

And don't we see that in scripture? People decided to build The Tower of Babel as a monument to their own greatness, thinking so highly of themselves. And God struck them down, scattering them with different languages. Isn't it nice to see Sonic strike down Robotnik, who thought so highly of himself that he decided to try conquering Mobius?

Robotnik is a good lesson for all of us. No matter how great we as a society think we've become, no matter how advanced we think our philosophies are, we've got nothing on the Creator. Just like Robotnik, our tech and skills are no match for the power of God.

Next time you play Sonic the Hedgehog, just think to yourself: I'm playing out a really intricate Salvation story. Or just have fun playing.


Matt August 31, 2010 at 10:53 PM  

Wow, um, O.K...

Miles Mariae September 2, 2010 at 4:22 PM  

Great post, I'm glad you are calling Dr Robotnic by his original name ;) It is great for you to point out the critique of over reliance on technology and the nobility of a traditional life in harmony with the land.

Looking forward to more reviews like this.

dustin (The Boston Celtics fan) September 4, 2010 at 2:33 PM  

He'll always be Robotnik to me. Some traditions should never fade! Thanks for the compliment!

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