Sonic Adventure 2 – Why Knuckles’ Music is the Actual Best
We all know Sonic the Hedgehog’s rough and tough frenemy Knuckles the Echidna. He’s the defender of Angel Island and protector of the Master Emerald. All of his stages in Sonic Adventure 2 center around him hunting for treasure, usually shards of the Master Emerald. Come to think of it, this is the second time the Master Emerald’s been shattered on his watch. Maybe he should change up his defense plan. If he’d been successful, though, we wouldn’t hear some of the best Sonic Adventure 2 music the game has to offer.
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Each of Knuckles’ stages has its own, fully-fleshed-out rap song. From Wild Canyon to Meteor Herd, Knuckles’ entire story can be retraced with the power of music. It’s also implied through the lyrics that Knuckles himself is the singer/songwriter of these pieces, which begs the question: why is he on Angel Island and not making a musical career for himself?
Wild Canyon – Kick the Rock!
Kick the Rock! serves as an introductory song, framing Knuckles’ story. It starts with Knuckles introducing himself and proclaiming he’s back to kick butt and find emerald shards. But he’s all out of emerald shards (he’s planning on getting them back, though).
The song also gives us a look into Knuckles’ side of his relationship with opposing treasure hunter Rouge the Bat. “Rouge, she’s sexy and smooth/A double cross spy thief that’s out for my jewels.” Now, I wasn’t expecting double entendre in Sonic Adventure 2 stage music. This speaks to the relationship of these two, and also the fact that Knuckles likely doesn’t quite get the double meaning of what he just rapped. By the end of the second verse though he’s decided that the Master Emerald truly is his goal. “Give up the Emerald or die, I don’t love you.”
Pumpkin Hill – A Ghost’s Pumpkin Soup
This is the best track in the game, hands down. Sorry Escape from the City, Knuckles takes it. This one’s a deep dive into Knuckles’ mind exploring the haunted realm of Pumpkin Hill. It also gives us some insight, linking game mechanics to lore, which is my favorite thing to see in games. Knuckles lets us know “I know that it’s here, I can sense it in my feet/The great Emerald’s power allows me to feel.” He gained the ability to track the shards of the Master Emerald from the giant gem itself.
The verses depict Knuckles’ apprehension in this strange, spooky land, but his conviction to reclaim the shards he failed to protect. Throughout the song, he reassures the listener, “I ain’t gonna let it get to me, I’m just gonna creep.”
Aquatic Mine – Dive Into the Mellow
Easily the funkiest song Knuckes has to offer, Dive Into the Mellow gives us a look at the echidna as a reluctant hero. He’d clearly rather “chill and land,” but he knows he’s “the protector of the Emeralds and gems.” This is one of the first times we see Knuckles outside of the vigilant protector role. He’s dove into this mellow, and is reflecting on how his choices have gotten him here.
This doesn’t take away from his confidence, though. Regardless of how the “Hand tracks be trackin’ me to different doorways/In a maze, and I don’t know what to do,” he perseveres. The very next line, Knuckles comes back with the fire we saw in the previous songs. “Guaranteed though, I’ma find the Emeralds/Don’t call me Knuckles for nothing, I can’t lose!”
Death Chamber – Deeper
Deeper is a more esoteric song than any before it. With wailing sax accompanied by echo-y synths, the beats are as unfamiliar as the Death Chamber is to Knuckles. Throughout the song, the level name is whispered in our ears, “Death Chamber, Death Chamber, Death Chamber,” giving the eerie feeling of always needing to look over your shoulder.
The main verse depicts a conversation between Sonic and Knuckles as they meet within the Death Chamber’s walls. They both acknowledge that they don’t get along, but need to band together here. “You know me and you don’t get along/I don’t think that’s the point right now, Knuckles/I know how much the Emerald means to you, and I wanna help get it back.” Sonic and Knuckles are willing to put aside their differences for the greater good. The focus on this conversation within the song means this is a real turning point for Knuckles. He realizes he needs to put his ego aside and work with his annoying blue compatriot to foil Eggman’s plan. “You’re damn right, Knuckles!”
Meteor Herd – Space Trip Steps
With synth sounds galore, it’s clear we’re not in Kansas anymore with Space Trip Steps. The mantra we hear Knuckles repeat through this song is indicative to the playstyle required in this level: “Don’t let it hit you, move!”
While clearly uncomfortable with the idea of being in the cold unloving reaches of space, Knuckles takes solace in knowing that he’s got a team behind him. “At least I’m with friends, and I’m not all alone.” He also talks about how perilous space is and a mishap suffered on the journey upwards. “Bad thing was that the Emeralds spilled/Gotta search space, man.”
This is easily the most repetitive song in Knuckles’ discography. There’s good reason for it. Knuckles is frantically trying to recover the shards he just had, and is trying to keep himself from focusing on the bad by keeping himself occupied. “Don’t let it get your groove.”
All of Knuckles’ greatest hits were written by Tomoya Ohtani and performed by Hunnid-P.