- For other uses of this term, see Espio the Chameleon (disambiguation).
Espio the Chameleon (エスピオ・ザ・カメレオン Esupio za Kamereon?) is a fictional character from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. He is an anthropomorphic chameleon, who mainly serves as an intelligent ninja warrior and a member of the Chaotix Detective Agency alongside Vector the Crocodile and Charmy Bee. Together, the trio solves whatever cases they are given, where Espio is able to put his skills to good use.
While initially introduced as a hothead, Espio has since become a calm, soft-spoken, serious, and disciplined person whose wariness and soulful character makes him a vital member of his team, and balances out the foolishness of his friends.
Espio is an anthropomorphic purple chameleon with a yellow horn between his eyes. His muzzle and the heart-shaped pattern on his torso are as well peach. He also has a ridge of three spikes going down his spine and a coiled tail.
During his early years, Espio was shorter and stubbier. His purple skin color was also somewhat darker and he had black eyes. He also wore green, black and yellow shoes and simple white gloves. In addition, his back spikes were teal/green in color.
In the present day, Espio's skin is a brighter shade of purple and his eyes are gold-colored, with subtle black accents along their outer edges. He also wears dark purple shoes with black accents, metal-reinforced arm bracers, and white gloves with dark purple pads on the backs. Around his wrists and ankles are also bandage-wrapped cuffs with gold studs on the lower bands. The spikes on his back are also black in color.
A straight-laced detective, Espio is serious, practical, intelligent and wise. He has a militaristic discipline despite being quiet, calm and laid-back. Espio is additionally portrayed as being stubborn, opinionated and self-obsessed. Despite this, he has an excellent drive to all that he does and flourishes off of peril, getting himself into threatening situations to flex and polish his ninja skills, and, due to his extensive training, he can confront these troubles head-on unconcerned by danger.
Among his colleagues, Espio's opinionated attitude serves a key role in Team Chaotix, allowing him to reign in and balance out the more optimistic and zany behaviors exhibited by Vector and Charmy.
Due to his reserved demeanor, Espio hides a burning sense of justice and a refusal to let evil have its way. As such, Espio gives the impression of a rather ruthless demeanor when facing villains; when encountering Dr. Eggman in Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog, the usual civil and soft-spoken chameleon would make threats at the doctor's life. Espio is also seen as a ninja-based character; his battle poses and shuriken stars support that portrayal. Also in the Japanese script, the pronouns he uses to refer to himself is usually ware, and the more archaic onushi pronoun for referring to others.
Powers and abilities
By his own accords, Espio is a powerful adversary as he says it would take no less than a "mighty foe" to do him in. Having undergone extensive ninja training, Espio is a master of ninjutsu, a form of martial arts that employs stealth and trickery against foes. He is likewise a fierce foe in direct combat as he has been able to match Rouge the Bat in battle, who has undergone similar forms of combat training and could fight Knuckles the Echidna to a standstill.
As a Speed Type, Espio possesses great speed. As demonstrated in Sonic Rivals 2, he can run at speeds compatible to Sonic and Shadow's and his swiftness is potent enough to let him fool his enemies by appearing in different spots nigh-instantaneously. While not shown to the same extension as Knuckles, Espio has impressive physical strength, using sharp karate chops powerful enough to shatter obstacles and smash robots. Espio also has extreme acrobatic skills, doing complex and nimble jumps in midair and grinding on rails with ease. Espio also has very impressive durability and endurance, seen as he is able to withstand Sonic's Homing Attacks indefinitely and keep fighting in Espio: Master of Camouflage.
Being a chameleon, Espio possesses a stealth camouflage trick that lets him change his color scheme to match his environment. His camouflage is so effective that he is rendered completely invisible to the naked eye and allows him to pass by unnoticed. Being a skilled ninja he is also a master of non-camouflaged stealth which combined with his camouflaging abilities makes him virtually undetectable. Espio also possesses an extremely keen sense of awareness of his surroundings on both the physical and empathic plane, detecting Team Dark nearby despite the group being out his field of vision, Sonic's presence aboard the Death Egg, and the soul of the Time Eater.
Like a real lizard, Espio is able to climb along any surface and stick to them for an unprecedented amount of time. As seen in Sonic the Fighters, he also possesses a prehensile tongue which he can use as a short-range projectile attack in combat and as a grappling hook. Espio has also demonstrated the ability to harness chaos energy from the Chaos Emerald to enter Hyper Mode.
Though not a hedgehog, Espio is able to use the Spin Attack and the various techniques derived from it, where he curls tightly into a concussive ball while in locomotion to damage, mow down, or burrow through obstacles and foes. The Homing Attack allows Espio to dash in mid-air toward a target, the Spin Jump lets him curl into a ball and attack opponent by landing on them, and the Spin Dash lets him shoot himself forward as an acceleration roll at full speed while mowing down enemies and obstacles.
Espio's signatures moves are the ones that combine his ninja skills with his camouflage trick. The Leaf Swirl lets Espio combine his camouflage with a Ninja Leaf Swirl maneuver to create a tornado to blow opponents away while he disappears, his Chroma Camo maneuver hides himself completely from his enemies' perception while increasing his speed, and his Ninja Arts: Camouflage both hides himself completely from enemies' perception while he "warps" between places to disorient the enemy while attacking. Another ninja-based attack includes his Shuriken where he throws a shuriken star at foes.
As a member of the Chaotix Detective Agency, Espio has a keen, analytical mind and experience in investigation and gathering intel. While also having experience in solving mysteries, he is not as skilled in that field as Vector. He also has some skill in hacking computers for data as seen in Shadow the Hedgehog, although he has admitted it is not his specialty.
Thanks to his ninja training, Espio is proficient with several forms of ninja-based weaponry. He is especially a master of throwing kunai, capable of striking targets with pin-point accuracy while only barely looking at them.
As a ninja Espio employs ninja-based weaponry, such as kunai and shuriken stars. He uses his shuriken stars as a long-range offensive by throwing them at opponents and can do so in rapid succession. By attaching a rope on his kunai, he can also use as a grappling hook to swing between targets.
By harnessing different variants of Hyper-go-on from Wisps, Espio can use specific Color Powers to transform into a certain form, such as a drill, a laser or even a planet, each one possessing its own unique abilities. So far, Espio has been able to transform into the Cyan Laser, Yellow Drill, and Indigo Asteroid. However, these transformations require a steady supply of Hyper-go-on to be maintained.
Espio's camouflaging ability, while practical, is not perfect. Its maintenance is tied to Espio's concentration, meaning it will falter should he lose focus due to things such as being blinded by light or sneezing. His stealth is not flawless either as Rouge the Bat was able to detect his movements thanks to her heightened sense of hearing.
Shadow the Hedgehog
The relationship between Espio and Shadow the Hedgehog has changed very much since their first meeting. In Sonic Heroes, they fought against each other without a question due to their assumption that the other was the enemy. However, they put their differences aside and helped each other stop Metal Sonic and his plan to rule over the world.
In Shadow the Hedgehog, their relationship is more friendly. Espio gladly thanked Shadow for opening the portal to Eggman's computer and after Eggman claimed that he created Shadow, Espio told him to not believe Eggman and aided him in his battle against the doctor. Overall, Espio has put more faith in Shadow since their meeting and the two appear allies in most regard.
Silver the Hedgehog
When Espio first met Silver the Hedgehog, his mission was to find evidence that Silver was behind the kidnapping of several Chao. As such, Silver was a subject of doubt for Espio as he did not seem like a bad guy despite his actions. At first, Espio treated Silver like an enemy, but as he learned that Silver was working to save the world, he decided to follow his instincts and help him with his mission. During their adventure, the two of them built a good relationship as Espio proved his trustworthiness and helped Silver on many occasions. After finishing their mission, they gladly thanked each other, showing the great admiration and faith they had gained for one another.
- Charmy Bee (Partner)
- Vector the Crocodile (Partner)
- Mighty the Armadillo
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Miles "Tails" Prower
- Knuckles the Echidna
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- Rouge the Bat
- E-123 Omega
- Amy Rose
- Cream the Rabbit
- Big the Cat
- Silver the Hedgehog
- Blaze the Cat
- Classic Sonic
- Dr. Eggman
- Metal Sonic
- Black Arms
- Dr. Eggman Nega
- Metal Sonic 3.0
- The Time Eater
- John Szczepaniak (21 February 2018) (in English). The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Volume 3. SMG Szczepaniak. p. 303. ISBN 978-0992926083. "Naoto Ohshima: And this one in the middle here, with the horns, was designed by a manga artist named [Takumi] Miyake. He went on to be the art director for NiGHTS."
- ●SonicJPNews● on Twitter (12 November 2019). Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved on 12 November 2019.
- Sonic Channel (Japanese). Characters: Espio. Sega. Archived from the original on 26 May 2019. Retrieved on 3 July 2015.
- Knuckles' Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, p. 6.
- Sega (24 June 2016). Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Wii U. Nintendo. "Mii: Do you know what Espio's favorite food is? It's dango, or sweet dumplings! It figures a ninja would go for a Japanese dessert!"
- Devra Newberger Speregen (2016). Sonic: The Ultimate Character Guide. Scholastic. p. 45. ISBN 978-1338033243.
- Espio at the beginning of the Egg Emperor boss fight, Sonic Heroes.
- Sega. Official Sonic Heroes website (Japanese). Characters: Team Chaotix. Sega. Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. Retrieved on 25 May 2021.
- SEGA (23 June 2016). Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Wii U. Nintendo. Area/Level: Collectibles (Flags). "This straight-laced detective is the voice of reason in the Chaotix Detective Agency, but his reserved demeanor hides a burning sense of justice and a refusal to let evil have its way. Trained as a ninja, this chameleon is a master at throwing kunai, and can vanish using his Leaf Swirl technique."
- Sonic Heroes (GameCube) United States instruction manual, pg. 12.
- File:Espio profile SG.png
- Sonic Team (November 11, 2011). Sonic Generations. PC. Sega. Area/level: White Space. "Espio the Chameleon: It takes a mighty foe to trap a ninja. Be on your guard, Sonic."
- Sonic Team (November 11, 2011). Sonic Generations. PC. Sega. Area/level: Espio: Master of Camouflage
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- Sonic Team (November 11, 2011). Sonic Generations. PC. Sega. Cutscene: Rescuing Espio.
- Sonic Team (February 6, 2004). Sonic Heroes. PlayStation 2. Sega. Cutscene: Team Dark.
- Sonic Team (November 11, 2011). Sonic Generations. PC. Sega. Area/level: White Space. "Espio the Chameleon: Thank you, my friend. Beware, for I have looked into the soul of our enemy and I saw only darkness."
- Sonic Heroes (GameCube) United States instruction manual, pg. 18.
- Sonic Rivals 2
- Sonic Team (November 18, 2005). Shadow the Hedgehog. PlayStation 2. Sega. Area/Level: Mad Matrix. "Espio the Chameleon: Hey, back off! Data retrieval isn't exactly my specialty"
- Sonic Team (February 6, 2004). Sonic Heroes. PlayStation 2. Sega. Level/Area: Opening Sequence (Team Chaotix).
- Backbone Entertainment, Sega Studio USA (December 7, 2007). Sonic Rivals 2. PlayStation Portable. Sega. Level/area: Mystic Haunt Zone. "Rouge: Okay, who's there? I know you're following me. / Espio: Hey, how'd you know I was there... / Rouge: Espio, these ears of mine aren't just for show, you know. What are you doing here, anyway? "