The Retro Gaming Corner

The Legend of Blue Knuckles

The year was 1994, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was just released with hints of a hidden playable character. No, I’m not talking about Knuckles, I’m talking about Blue Knuckles; a character who has the color palette of Sonic, the mistaken identity of Tails, and who breaks the logic of most stages. Each stage in Sonic and Knuckles was designed for a certain character in mind, but Blue Knuckles lives in between a stage’s ability to decide which path is for whom. For example, Angel Island in Sonic 3; if the player attempts to take Knuckle’s regular path as Blue Knuckles, the player will instantly die. If the player attempts to take Sonic’s path as Blue Knuckles, the player will end up fighting RoboBotnik (the robotized version of Dr. Robotnik).

Is he Sonic? or is he Tails? or is he Knuckles – the game has no f”ing clue.

As stated earlier, hints of Blue Knuckle’s appearance can be found in Sonic 3. At the end of the first stage, if the player is quick enough to get a glance, the sign post will flash a picture of Blue Knuckles. Using a Game Genie code (ASCA-AAHC + ASCA-BA9Y), it is possible to play as Blue Knuckles with Sonic serving as a placeholder for Blue Knuckle’s logic. The only way to play as Blue Knuckles is if Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles are locked onto one another, and by using a Par (AX99-8AAL) or Game Genie code (FFFF0A:0004).

At first glance, it would appear Blue Knuckles is nothing more than Knuckles with Sonic’s palette. But, in the eyes of an expert, Blue Knuckles was actually put in Sonic 3 and Knuckles as a playable fourth character. The advantage of Blue Knuckles is the ability to move about a stage in a way regular Knuckles cannot. I’m well aware Knuckles can go into sections of levels that Sonic cannot using the debug mode, but Knuckles cannot enter the Hidden Palace Zone and fight himself (or pay a visit to the master emerald). I’m sure there may exist a code or hack that can place Knuckles in the alternate Hidden Palace zone – that was originally designed for Sonic or Tails. However, it’s not the same as entering the stage as Blue Knuckles, who is not only unable to fight Knuckles, but he cannot activate the cut-scene where Dr. Robitnik steals the master emerald. Blue Knuckles does encounter his red opposite in the Sky Sanctuary stage, which regular Knuckles could enter (again using the debug mode).

Hyper Blue Knuckles can access parts of the game Knuckles cannot. You can’t do this with Knuckles no matter how hard you try, even with debug mode enabled.

Like all the other characters in the game, Blue Knuckles has a super and hyper form, but unlike Knuckles he turns yellow (much like Sonic does). Unlike Sonic or Knuckles, if the player completes a stage as Blue Knuckles, it will say “Tails” has completed the stage (this also occurs in special stages as well). Blue Knuckle’s life counter displays a picture of Sonic as a placeholder, which is proof Blue Knuckles is a unique character. If Blue Knuckles was nothing more than a palette change of Knuckles, there should at least be a Blue Knuckles in the life counter section.

So why is it there is no way to access Blue Knuckles without using a hack? Is he just a flaw of the overall game’s logic of being able to determine which character is being selected? If somehow the player found a way to access a slot beyond Sonic, Tails and Knuckles – is Blue Knuckles the result? Was Blue Knuckles designed as a debugging tool for the programmers, so they could access any part of the game, regardless of who the character was? Does Blue Knuckles serve as a way for the programmers to patch bugs that would otherwise go by unnoticed with the regular cast of characters? Or is Blue Knuckles nothing more than an old prototype of Knuckles that got left behind and pushed aside when the final version of Knuckles was complete? My conclusion: If Blue Knuckles was designed as a debugging tool, he would have been accessible in the game’s debug mode, or in early prototypes of Sonic and Knuckles. Since there is not enough evidence to prove my theory, the legend of Blue Knuckles will remain a mystery.

We all know what that mural really portrays – Super Blue Knuckles vs. Robotnik.

References

1. “Blue Knuckles“ Sonic Retro. Web. 16, Sept 2012.

2. “Game Secrets:Sonic the Hedgehog 3“ Sonic Retro. Web. 16, Sept 2012.